When we started the school term, we had just finished a new Prusa Mendel. After the students saw the Prusa, it seemed that everyone wanted to make one. As part of our RepRap breeding program, I set a goal of 10 Mendels over the course of a ten-week school term (seemed like one a week would be reasonable based on last spring term’s success). However, we ran into some electrical / control issues in debugging our first Prusa and time in the term kept ticking, ticking, ticking into the future.
A year ago, I had thought about creating a set of molds to cast the plastic parts for a Classic Mendel. I concluded that there were too many parts and consequently too many molds (which would exhaust our budget for the RepRap Breeding project).
The Prusa Mendel, however, has way fewer parts. Fewer enough to try the experiment. I took all last week outside of class to redesign Prusa parts for mold production. Most of the parts required only minor modifications, but several parts, such as the X-Carriage assembly, required redesign. All modified parts were placed on mold plates to allow for the production of silicon RTV molds. Makers will have to have a drill press available, as all holes will need to be drilled (their locations are clearly marked).
As soon as each mold plate was printed on one of our 3D powder printers, two students (Scott Tandoi and Travis Nicholes) worked to make the molds. They also started to produce molded parts for their own Mendels.
I came into the lab one morning last week and there was a Prusa frame completed to the point of mounting Y-motors and Y-Carriage. Our first Clonedel. Much lab excitement.
We are quite sure that we can produce ALL of the plastic parts for a complete Prusa in under 30 minutes.
We consider these molds to be in alpha status. We are still checking things out. Once we are good to go, we expect to release our working STL files of the mold plates to the community at large (hopefully, within a week).
The STL form files are now up see the following article.