Revolution in progress

These are my notes on my journey to the wonderful world of
the DIY 3D printing.

First baby steps were taken in 2008 when I
discovered the the Reprap DIY 3D printer for the first time. After
reading and discussing on the forums a bit, the actual building
process seemed to take too much of time. Besides, back
then, I didn’t have enough actual need to
build one – it was again just “oh, that would be a nice tool to
have”-thing for me… I have build few DIY CNC machines on my workshop that served my prototyping needs quite well.

Enter year 2009. Interest in DIY electric car conversions continued to
grow in Finnish ‘EV-scene’. As I designed some prototype UI’s for our conversions, I made the first ones with my own DIY CNC machines. My goals were that only one size mill bit would be needed, and milling only from one side. Makes parts somewhat limited compared to 3D printing.

Soon after someone saw my prototypes working, I was offered an opportunity to design the casing from gound up for 3D printers and get it build with commercial 3D prototyping machines.
So, I designed something I knew would need a few extra
axes and a very small router bits if made with ordinary CNC machines. After few weeks, I got my design made with commercial 3D printers.

The result really blew my mind!

I was totally sold for the 3D printers after I got the prints to my
hand. Everything was presicely the way I had modeled and the fit
was very good – parts just snapped together…

‘This is something I need to investigate further!‘ – I thought. ‘I definitely need to have an 3D printer, ASAP…’ – So there was my actual need for 3D printer – prototyping cases for our EV conversion display-variants.

After few months of getting those first commercial 3D prints to my hand, I bought an Makerbot Cupcake CNC. I
thought that it would be the quickest way to get working DIY
printer. I was very happy with the build instructions and material
quality of the kit. Nothing I had previously seen on Open Hardware
projects. The prints were very fine too – the whole process of DIY 3D printing was much easier than I thought it would be.

After few months of learning and testing various prints
with it, I’m ready to move on to the next level. As of now, at the end
of 2010, I have started to print another 3D-printer – Reprap Mendel
Prusa. First few frame-parts are ready and assembled, few more need
some work still. Don’t get me wrong, the Cupcake has been a great
printer. It’s just that as always when I tell people about the 3D
printing revolution currently on progress, one of my base
statements is that these things can truly replicate themselfs. So
this is as much as of ‘proof of point’ as it’s an usefull tool for
me. One for home, one for workshop – that’s the way tools should be
obtained đŸ˜‰

Here are few samples of my EV-related prints so far:

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