Wednesday, February 15, 2012

RapMan 3.2: The Build Experience - Part 1

While I have watched, for a long time, the development of the RepRap 3D printers, I resisted the urge to buy one because I'm more interested in PRINTING in 3D than BUILDING a 3D printer.

Let's face it.  It IS quite an undertaking.

But, because I want to be ready for the Cube, when it arrives later this year, I thought it wise to bite the bullet, buy a RapMan 3.2 kit and build one.  Had I opened the box before making the commitment to buy I think my instincts for laziness would have kicked in immediately and I would not have been writing this series of articles.

There are a LOT of parts in that box!!!

I had hoped that a friend, who is inclined to build things, would be able to help me out.  But, he's busy building much more important things that will allow schools to send experiments into space.  So, that evasive idea fell apart.  Thus.... I forged ahead.

Thankfully, the documents and 3D active images that you can download from the Bit From Bytes site are very well done.  And that helped boost my confidence a bit.  But, it is STILL a big job.  So, I decided that organizing the process was my only hope.

Craft stores carry small bags meant to sort beads.  So, I purchased some of those to hold the parts and hardware.  Using a Dymo LabelWriter printer, each part was labeled and bagged.  Then I arranged the bags in order of the identification numbers in the RapMan documentation.    

I felt this was more helpful than trying to find the parts in the sheets, from which they are cut, as I was building.  The sheets are large and would also limit my build area.  As it is, I am using a 4'x8' table along with two other small tables.  As I said, there are a LOT of parts to a RapMan.

By the way, I also felt that it would ultimately save time if I put the correct bolt/washer/nut combinations together as I bagged the variously sized bolts so that I don't have to go hunting for the right combinations during the subsequent build process.  In the USA, we are not as familiar with metric sizes.  So, sorting ahead of time and having a separate bag for each size is probably going to be helpful.

I've finally gotten to the point where I THINK the task is organized enough to proceed.  Sorting, as I have, also let me find that I'm missing one 3M Nylon washer, which I can easily pick up locally.  And, it's also been helpful in identifying ALL the tools I will need to proceed.  So, at least for now, taking the time to sort, bag and label seems like a good idea.  We'll see how much it helps or hurts as I dive into the real work of building a RapMan.

And, that begins in earnest this evening.  Wish me luck.  I'll need it!  :)

No comments: