Back in December, RepRapPro debuted a new Atmel-powered (SAM3X8E ARM Cortex-M3) RepRap 3D printer kit that can be assembled in just two hours. Aptly dubbed “Ormerod,” the versatile printer kit was named after the famous entomologist Eleanor Ormerod.
The Ormerod 3D printer features a heated bed, lightweight high-powered hot-end with an integrated cooling fan (ducted to cool the top of prints), a simple elegant drive for 1.75mm diameter filament, a pre-assembled wiring loom and an industry-standard ATX power supply. The Duet (Ormerod board) is equipped with both USB and Ethernet ports, allowing Makers to drive the platform with a conventional RepRap app like Pronterface or control the platform via a standard web browser.
The new RepRap’s firmware also features bed-plane correction and orthogonal axis compensation. Recently, RepRap creator Adrian Bowyer sat down with Simone Cicero of OpenElectronics to discuss the future of open source desktop 3D printing and RepRap. Regarding the Ormerod, Boyer emphasized that the new model was designed to be quickly and easily assembled.
“Plus it has [Atmel-based] 32-bit ARM electronics and ethernet, so you can drive the machine from a web browser,” he said.
In terms of upcoming 3D printing trends, Boyer said one of the most important is likely to be multi-material machines, or platforms capable of putting down mixtures and separating materials with diverse physical characteristics.
“This requirement is much easier to meet with fused filament fabrication (FFF) and inkjet machines than it is with stereolithography or SLS. Having said that I think that SLS will have a growing role at the low end, once one can get reasonable-cost solid-state lasers that will do tens of watts,” he explained. ”We have subtractive technologies already of course. I personally think that combining subtractive with additive is a bit of a dead end. It reintroduces all the problems that we invented additive manufacturing to get away from.”
Bowyer also noted that most of the innovation in fused filament fabrication originated from the OS community.
“A lot of that is now being commercialized, [yet] a lot of that commercialization is staying OS,” he confirmed.
In addition, Bowyer commented on the rapidly growing RepRap community.
“I rather think that it has all the robustness and the agenda of a colony of microorganisms. Which is to say that it is pretty robust because it has no agenda. This is not to say that the people involved are not like-minded – they are,” he continued. ”But their distinguishing characteristic is their desire to solve technical problems and to tell people about the answers. I suppose that that is some sort of agenda, but it is not really an agenda as a synonym for plan.”
Last, but certainly not least, Bowyer offered his perspective on what other major fields could benefit from a RepRap-like approach.
“The biggest has got to be genetic engineering and synthetic biology. Both those are ideal candidates for the RepRap approach – they are easy for individuals to do; they require no very fancy or expensive equipment, and the results can be profound. I’m actually rather surprised that there isn’t a bigger community of biohackers than there is,” he added.