3D Printers

The Dollo 3D Printer: Another Step Towards Complete Self-Replication

A couple of weeks back, I wrote about the Snappy, a new RepRap 3D printer that consists of over 70% 3D printable parts. As the RepRap project’s stated goal is to eventually develop a fully self-replicating 3D printer, the Snappy would mark a significant step towards that goal. After the article, I was made aware of the Dollo 3D printer, a project by a father-son team that may be even more self-replicating than the Snappy. With instructions available online and an upcoming Kickstarter, the Dollo 3D printer is something to look out for and will hopefully bring us closer to true self-replication.

dollo self-replicating 3D printer

Ben and Benjamin Engel started 3D printing about 5 years ago and, after the son, Benjamin, built his first RepRap, an i2 Prusa Mendel, their passion for 3D printing was forever cemented. Since then, Ben and Benjamin have been heavily involved in the RepRap community. They started dollo.org as a way to connect people with designers and Makers.  There, they express a common concern among those in the RepRap community that the interest in self-replication is diminishing in favor of designing printers that are simple and easy to use out of the box. While simplicity and ease-of-use are not bad things, they believe that such designs may stifle creativity. They aren’t wrong, as today’s commercial 3D printers contain components, and mechanics, that were originally designed for RepRap printers.dollo 3D printer with 3D printed rail system copy

The Engels say that their Dollo 3D printer can be printed with just a 1kg spool of filament. They minimize the need for a belt system, in favor of a 3D printed rail system and a Z-axis that moves using 3D printed gears. The Dollo 3D printer is easy to assemble, with its parts connecting without any support needed. Among the non-3D-printable parts are springs, a heated bed, end stop switches, the hot end, the extruder, 5 motors, a controller board and some nuts and bolts for mounting, all things which we haven’t quite figured out how to 3D print.

You can go to the Dollo website for more info and, hopefully, an upcoming Kickstarter announcement. Also, check out their Instructables page, where you can see the all the steps to making the machine and even give it a try yourself, if you so choose. You can also find a great video of the Dollo 3D Printer at work.

Projects like the Dollo and the Snappy are great at removing of all the “fat” when it comes to 3D printers, ultimately bringing the cost down and the efficiency up. It’s definitely an exciting time to be a part of the world of 3D printing and I hope that these kinds of projects are successful enough to maintain interest and excitement in the RepRap community.