South African technology blog htxt.africa, which describes itself as South Africa’s newest and most exciting tech blog (and the description seems accurate IMHO), pays very close attention to 3D printers. In fact it is their second favourite subject, right after games. They are reporting on what is quite a significant moment for the RepRap community, as local inventor Hans Fouche has built a giant 3D printer that is capable of 3D printing pretty even the largest components for another 3D printer. They got in touch with us to see if we had seen anything this size before. We obviously pointed him to the BigRep One, and that brought about discussion on size and resolution comparisons. But the upshot was, all agreed that big is great.
Fouche is quite an amazing innovator. He has built a gigantic RepRap 3D printer out in his own garage and last year he had made headlines when he developed another huge multi-printing-head 3D printer for creating incredible chocolate sculptures. Now he has used his gigantic home, or actually garage-made 3D printer to print out the entire frame of a RepRap Morgan, another fascinating South African invention.
I am not sure if the RepRap dream of having a 3D printer build another complete 3D printer has any specific guidelines; for example that the printer doing the printing has to print out the other printer in its own image or that it has to do it with a particular degree of independence from human interaction. It probably does not matter, as long as it gets the job done and it is functional. So Mr Fouche’s step of completing the RepRap Morgan chassis in only three print jobs is certainly a significant one.
Fouche said that it took only about seven and a half hours to print the entire frame in three parts while a regular size printer would need at least two weeks to get a comparable result through many more parts. Although its resolution is not a matter of microns as much as millimeters or even centimeters, the visual effect is not entirely unpleasant. Fouche is actually planning on using its aesthetic as an asset when he begins to commercialize the gigantic machine, to make RepRaps and anything else on a larger scale.