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Meeting and Seminar Archive:


Date:  November 8, Monday, 2010


Subject:  Making 3D Printing Ideas Real: A Demo and Talk


Speakers:  J. R. Warmkessel, Founder Bay Area MakeBot users group



The 3D printer was first designed for rapid prototyping in the commercial arena. With the advances in technology, and the significant drop in price, this technology is now available to enthusiasts and hobbyists.  The RepRap project is an open source 3D Printer, designed for at home use. A RepRap 3D printer heats ABS or PLA plastics and extrudes it in thin layers to build the final product.


There are multiple implementations of the RepRap project, with the best-known version being the MakerBot CupCakeprinter The CupCake printer is a complete kit that includes everything that a user needs to build and use the printer at home.


The 3D printers use standard CNC (Computer Numeric Control) phases to design and print the products. CNC has three phases: CAD, CAM, and Cut.


CAD, or Computer Aided Design, is the process by which parts and assemblies are designed. The final product of this phase is a software file, often STL (Stereo Lithography).  Common CAD software includes SolidWorks, Rhino, and GoogleSketchup.


CAM, or Computer Aided Machining, is process of converting the STL file into set of sequential commands that serve as instructions for the printer (called G-code).  The MakerBot uses Skeinforge CAM software.


Cut is process by which the machine (in this case, the 3D printer) creates the final product through execution of the G-code. The MakerBot uses ReplicatorG Cut software.


Discussion will include the benefits of 3D printing, and of using the RepRap project for 3D printing, the pitfalls, problems, and limits of 3D printing, and finally, the future of 3D printing and the RepRap project.



J.R. Warmkessel, founder of the Bay Area MakeBot users group, is a self-taught Jack-of-all hobbies. He has not only been building kits for over 15 years (eg K2 radio, EggBot, MakerBot), but designing his own and other projects using the Arduino Platform, ShopBot, and the Epilog Laser Engraver.  Other hobbies include Flight Instruction, Aircraft Repair, and Ham Radio Operator. Professionally, he started his first software corporation in 2009.


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