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Affordable 3D printing

26 February 2014

A landmark distribution agreement between RS Components and RepRapPro looks to deliver affordable, open-source, self-replicating 3D printing technology to engineers worldwide

3D printing is fast becoming an essential part of the electronic and mechanical design process. Increasing numbers of companies are beginning to see the benefits of using this technology to create quick-turn-around prototypes and save months in the design cycle. Barriers to adoption in the past have been the cost of hardware and a lack of easy-to-use design software for non-CAD specialists.

Increasing numbers of companies are beginning to see the benefits of using this technology

When used in conjunction with the free DesignSpark Mechanical 3D modelling software co-developed by RS and SpaceClaim, the Ormerod complete 3D printing kit will enable design engineers around the world to develop sophisticated concepts and products very quickly and inexpensively. The Ormerod is one of the most versatile 3D printers available: it is easy to expand in functionality, fast to replicate and fast to assemble.

The Ormerod uses the FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) process to build 3D objects in a range of plastics and in a variety of colours. This process enables the user to create almost any shape that can be modelled on a computer, including some that cannot be produced by traditional manufacturing techniques at all. While the Ormerod is a monochrome 3D printer that has been configured to work with one type of plastic at a time, the device is fundamentally designed to work with three-colour deposition; an upgrade kit is to be made available soon.

Web connectivity

In addition, the Ormerod’s electronics have been redesigned and now enable connectivity via a web browser. Its construction is also far simpler compared to its predecessor, the RepRapPro Mendel, which took two days to put together, on average; whereas the Ormerod only takes two hours, making it significantly more accessible to non-engineers. All RepRapPro printers are capable of self-replicating their own plastic components. Hardware-only Ormerod kits, without the 3D printed parts, will be available soon for those wanting to use their Ormerod to make Ormerod printers for other people.

The RepRapPro Ormerod is shipped as a kit of parts containing all the required components, ready for assembly. The complete kit includes: all printed parts; all hardware, including threaded and smooth rods, screws, nuts, washers, belts and bearings; pre-soldered and programmed electronics; MicroSD card and adapter; heated PCB build surface; motors; nozzle assembly and extruder drive mechanism; 100m of 1.75mm-diameter PLA (polylactic acid) filament material (approximately 300g); power supply (for EU, UK, US and Australia); and finally, the open-source software to run the machine, including firmware for the electronics. Other specifications of the Ormerod include accuracy of 0.1mm, resolution of 0.0125mm, build speed of 1.8mm per minute and deposition rate of 33cm3 per hour.

"The availability of low cost 3D printing technology with the RepRapPro Ormerod, combined with the free and intuitive DesignSpark Mechanical and library of 3D component models from RS, is the dawn of a new era of 3D design and rapid prototyping that will see it move from a niche group of CAD specialists to a much wider spectrum of users," said Mark Cundle, Head of Technical Marketing at RS Components. "It is no overstatement to say these are revolutionary times for engineers, which will massively increase the scope for innovation and faster time-to-market."

"When I started the whole RepRap project I thought that it stood a chance of working,” said Adrian Bowyer, one of RepRapPro's directors. "By working, I mean that if you were to put the machine together it would print its own plastic parts. But I didn't expect there to be scores of RepRap-based companies all over the world just a few years later, and to be helping to run one myself. So RepRap also works as a global social and economic phenomenon, as well as an engineering success.  And, of course, we are delighted that a major distributor like RS sees it the same way.”

Key Points

  • Used with DesignSpark Mechanical, the Ormerod complete 3D printing kit will enable the development sophisticated concepts and products quickly and inexpensively
  • The FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) process enables the creation of almost any shape that can be modelled on a computer
  • RepRapPro Ormerod is shipped as a kit of parts containing all the required components, ready for assembly

 
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