3d printer

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We got an older laptop to use for one of our 3D printer builds, and so we set out to set it up for 3D printing. The laptop is an IBM ThinkPad T41, and because the processor doesn’t support PAE, we weren’t able to use the latest versions or Ubuntu or Mint. Mint 13 installed okay, but the default window managers gave us some trouble, so we ended up installing Lubuntu 12.04. This version doesn’t require PAE.

After installing and updating the operating system, we set out to install pronterface (Printrun) and slic3r from the git repository. Here’s what we did:

First install python support for printrun, and git.

sudo apt-get install python-serial python-wxgtk2.8 \
 python-pyglet python-tk
sudo apt-get install git

Create a directory for RepRap stuff, and clone Printrun to it from the git repository.

mkdir RepRap
cd RepRap/
git clone https://github.com/kliment/Printrun.git

Next comes build-essential, perl, and cpanminus — all required for slic3r.

sudo apt-get install build-essential libgtk2.0-dev \
 libwxgtk2.8-dev libwx-perl libmodule-build-perl \
sudo apt-get install cpanminus

Go into the Printrun directory, get slic3r, and then dive into that directory where we’ll test it to be sure it all works.

cd Printrun/
git clone http://github.com/alexrj/Slic3r.git
cd Slic3r/

Grab the cpan modules required for slic3r, and test it to be sure it loads up properly.

sudo cpanm Boost::Geometry::Utils Math::Clipper \
 Math::ConvexHull Math::ConvexHull::MonotoneChain \
 Math::Geometry::Voronoi Math::PlanePath Moo Wx

Step up one directory and make sure pronterface works well.

cd ..
python ./pronterface.py

This is an SVG file of a Sanguinololu electronics circuit board for 3D printers, and it will likely be helpful if you’re  trying to layout a mounting board for your electronics that includes the Sanguinololu and other components. The drawing includes extra space required by connectors or wires that are plugged into it, and the holes have cross-hairs so you can tape it onto a board and easily drill it. (Right-click and Save As to download the SVG. In you need an SVG editor, check out Inkscape—it’s fantastic and free.)


Note that there’s extra space for the USB cable because it tends to be a beefier cable.

theFrankes.com proudly introduces ToddleBot: Your toddler’s first 3D printer! toddlebot


This all-team email went out three days before the third club meeting. In this case, the older club members (and most of the primary leads) were going to be on an out-of-town field trip, causing them to miss the meeting.

Hello 3D Printer Club Members!

The 5th graders will be on a field trip on Friday, so we will meet in [new location] this week. Many of you have been hard at work toward our common goal. By Friday, I believe we’ll have parts lists for almost all of the major subassemblies of the printer, a membership list with privacy information, a general accounting ledger, and even some great progress on the blog front. We’ve even gotten a couple of parts in the mail already!

Meantime, I wanted to share with you a diagram I made that illustrates many of the parts of the printer we will build. Please review it (or even print it out, if possible) so that you can familiarize yourself with the various parts of the machine — if any of your friends ask what you’re building, you can tell them it’s a “Cartesian robot.” It’s “Cartesian” because it has an X, Y, and Z axis, and this coordinate system was invented by a smart man named René Descartes in the 1600’s. It’s a “robot” because it’s a mechanical machine that’s guided by electronic circuitry and a computer.

You’ll learn more about these parts as we move along.

(The label at the top says “Z motor,” not “2 motor” — my Z looks way too much like a 2 in this drawing!)

Illustration of 3D printer parts. Click for a larger view.