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Part of The definitive guide to open source hardware projects in 2009

3D printing – Open source hardware is now making things. Physical things you can print out, over the last few year 2-3 projects have really gained momentum and made some wonderful advances in low-cost desktop 3D printing. Projects include Fab@Home, MakerBot and RepRap. A new project was also added this year, s DIY open source construction set for experimental personal fabrication.


Contraptor
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Contraptor is a DIY open source construction set for experimental personal fabrication, desktop manufacturing, prototyping and bootstrapping.
Price: See site
Visit project page


Fab@Home
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Fab@Home is a project dedicated to making and using fabbers – machines that can make almost anything, right on your desktop. This website provides everything you need to know in order to build or buy your own simple fabber, and to use it to print three dimensional objects. The hardware designs and software on this website are free and open-source. Once you have your own fabber, you can also download and print various items, try out new materials, or upload and share your own projects. Advanced users can modify and improve the fabber itself
Price: $2,700 and up
Visit the project page


MakerBeam
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MakerBeam is a project to build a toy and tool for the open source imagination. Based on Mini-T, a new open source standard, MakerBeam will develop a construction toy for our times: open source precision hardware equally at home doing desktop fabrication or serving as a drawbridged castle for action figures.
Price: See page for details
Visit the project page


MakerBot
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MakerBot is an affordable, open source 3D printer. It makes almost anything up to 4″ x 4″ x 6″ using ABD plastic.
Price: $750 and up
Visit the project page


RepRap
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RepRap is short for Replicating Rapid-prototyper. It is the practical self-copying 3D printer shown on the right – a self-replicating machine. This 3D printer builds the parts up in layers of plastic. This technology already exists, but the cheapest commercial machine would cost you about €30,000. And it isn’t even designed so that it can make itself. So what the RepRap team are doing is to develop and to give away the designs for a much cheaper machine with the novel capability of being able to self-copy (material costs are about €500). That way it’s accessible to small communities in the developing world as well as individuals in the developed world.
Price: Various
Visit the project page

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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Comments

  1. timbudtwo says:

    How is the Mini-T slot different than what microrax developed? http://www.microrax.com/

  2. Shadyman says:

    Reprap project page is 404′d.

    1. Anonymous says:

      try http://reprap.org/bin/view/Main/WebHome

      This is an excellent project, I saw one in action at OSCON 2008.

  3. Shadyman says:

    Reprap project page is 404′d.

  4. Nick says:

    In the makerbot listing, ‘ABD plastic’ should be ‘ABS plastic’, and the reprap link should point to http://www.reprap.org/.

  5. Anonymous says:

    http://www.thingiverse.com is like a library for open source hardware parts.

    Also the captcha is broken if javascript is disabled.

  6. rbean says:

    Makerbeam and Microrax have different profiles. They know about each other, and they plan to make “adapter” parts so you can use both in the same project.

    Makerbeam was designed so that a circuit board will fit in the “slot”, which is handy for electronics. Microrax was designed for other types of connectors.

    Makerbeam is similar enough to 80/20 that you can make a mini prototype with Makerbeam and then scale it up by using the larger sizes of 80/20.

    Makerbeam is open source so other companies can make it. I think Microrax is proprietary.

  7. Brian D says:

    It should be noted that the RepRap shown above is a first generation “Darwin” version. This has been superseded by the newer, smaller, faster, sturdier, insert your favorite improvement here, etc., second generation “Mendel” version. In true open source fashion the Mendel was designed using the inputs and advice of the hundreds of people building and using the Darwin machines they have now made obsolete.

    See it here:
    http://objects.reprap.org/wiki/RepRap_Version_II_Mendel

  8. Anonymous says:

    First of all as Brian D said there is a new slicker design called the Mendel.

    Secondly the material price is €350.

    Thirdly it is designed that one reprap can build 50% of the parts of another reprap, that is the whole point behind the project (like evolution). So if you have a friend with any 3d printer (any of the listed above) you can make 50% of the parts.

    Lastly Reprap is an ongoing project that is designed to pass from one person to the next, like open software.

    If I’m not mistaken Makerbot is based on RepRap technology.

    1. Ralith says:

      Makerbot is indeed built almost exclusively out of RepRap tech, the major difference being mobile build platform instead of mobile extruder, and an original lasercut case design.

  9. Bob D says:

    That “MakerBeam” looks an awful lot like 80/20:

    http://www.8020.net/