More RepRap Recycler Updates

So, it has been a while since the last update on the filament recycling project. Quite a bit has happened since then.

For starters, we came up with a name for the project, but later found out it was taken by a similar project. In the end we decided to just adopt the name of our senior’s old research project prototype “RepCycler”.

When the team heard that I had my blog they asked me to set one up dedicated to the project. Problem is, my blog lives on a virtual private server that I mess around with, and I didn’t feel like the project’s website should be affected by my shenanigans.  While I felt that was the better blog system/host, I didn’t want to hassle them with managing so many accounts just for the project, so I decided to set it up on Blogger, since we were already using Google Drive for sharing documents. You can find the project site here.

Anyways, to start with, we decided to work backwards from the price we could sell the machine at to get the approximate cost making our machine should be. We looked at the competitors’ products and compared various characteristics, such as the extrusion speed and how fine the tolerances are. We rated those characteristics on a relative scale and by weighting those ratings, and came up with a performance index for each machine.

So, to make something that is actually competitive, we could either make something

  1. low-end at a really cheap price;
  2. high-end at a reasonable price; or
  3. much better than the competitors at a premium.

We decided to go with the second choice. Which meant that our target was to make something that could be sold for around £500, and had the same performance of something like the ProtoCycler.

Yeah, I’m not sure how well we could achieve that, but hey, that was what we were aiming for.

Next up we had a look at the functions the machine had to do. There were stuff such as the breakdown of the old plastic parts, getting the optimal mix of old and new plastic, melting and extruding the mixture and controlling the final diameter of the filament. I picked the extrusion part since I did a quite a bit of initial research in that and had a good idea of what to do.

That’s all for now, I’ll write-up about the rest later.

Working on a RepRap Project

My engineering course this semester has a group business and design project where we work with a company on developing a product. Besides a couple of projects that you’d have to specifically sign up for, these projects were assigned to you and I was a bit nervous about it since I had no idea what the companies and projects were. I was incredibly glad when I ended up on a project sponsored by RepRapPro! 3D printing was something I’ve been meaning to dive into for a while now. I even got to meet Adrian Bowyer, the original RepRap developer (who used to give lectures at my university a few years ago!). It certainly was exciting and with their open source philosophy I was given the blessing to publicly discuss the project – something I wasn’t sure if I should do with my earlier projects. So now I can freely rant about it. Yay!

Now, about the project itself. The idea for the project is to develop an open source, desktop sized machine that can break down old 3D models and waste support structures and turn them into reusable filaments for more printing. There are a few similar plastic extrusion machines out there such as Filabot and ProtoCycler so we would have to work on setting ourselves apart from them. One thing we wanted to do was distribute ours under the GNU Public License, which does allow commercial derivatives, much like current RepRap machines. I do feel this is nice because I’m not entirely sure of the future of the project past the project deadline, and at the very least the project wouldn’t be dead if the group decides not to pick it up as a business when we graduate.

Nonetheless, it would be a fun project as one of the aims of the project is to produce a usable prototype before the project deadline in May.

Given that it’ll take time for me to write things up, my posts would be a while behind what’s actually going on.

Hunter of the Forest: Part 1

It has been a while since I’ve actually written fiction, so I’m not terribly sure how well it’s going to go or whether I’ll even continue it. Anyhow, here is the first part of what I’ve written so far. Enjoy.

Vella looked down below from the treetops, bow ready in hand. Her eyes scanned the undergrowth for any game she could hunt. It was a quiet day – she barely caught anything today. There was no breeze. It was too quiet.

Frustrated, she stood up from the tree branch she was sitting on. Sometimes you’d get bad days but this was certainly out of the ordinary. With a swift ease she started scaling down the tree down to the undergrowth below when a cold chill ran up her back and arms. She paused as soon as she could and drew her bow, scanning the forest. Nothing. Vella hopped down the final branch with a cat-like grace and carefully made her way to her camp.

As she approached her camp she saw at the campsite a figure. Metal plate armour. Perhaps they finally found her, but it was odd that there was only one. Normally the knights would search in twos or threes.

Peering from the bushes she could clearly see the heavily armoured person poking around at her belongings. The figure sported a heavy broadsword on its back and a crest of the Kingdom emblazoned on its shoulder piece. It’s definitely human. Arrow fully drawn, ready to shoot, she called out. “What are you doing at my camp?” The figure whirled around in surprise, unsure of where the voice came from. “Careful, or you’ll find an arrow between your eyes.”

“I was separated from battle and got lost in the woods,” a raspy voice quivered. Vella could tell that the figure was parched. After a short pause the figure added “It has been days. Could you at least show yourself?”

Slowly she stood up from the undergrowth, arrow still trained on the figure. “There’s a waterskin beside the tent. Take that and get out of here.”

It was hard to see the face under the full-faced helmet, but you could tell the expression turned from caution to unfriendliness. “An elf,” it growled.

Hello There

I finally got rid of my old website and this is my new blog. It has been a while but I would like to get back into writing stuff.

Suffering from the flu I spent most of the weekend cooped up in front of my computer tinkering with the design of the site, building the theme from scratch. The penguin I made at the top of the page was a brilliant stroke of inspiration while working with the random background I picked. For a rather quick weekend job I am quite pleased with the outcome. That said, do expect this site to break as I mess around with it further.

Anyways, back to the topic of the blog. I realised I’ve hardly been writing much lately and have gotten somewhat rusty. So to get back into the swing of things I plan on filling the blog with a mishmash of random things. Heck, I’d probably throw in a Fiction category if that’s what it takes to get the writing juices flowing again.

In the meanwhile do bear with the rather spartan website.