Build a reprap

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This page has been flagged as containing duplicate material that PartsSupplies also attempts to cover.
These pages should be merged such that both pages do not attempt to cover the duplicate topics.
This page has been flagged as containing duplicate material that Darwin/Buyers Guide also attempts to cover.
These pages should be merged such that both pages do not attempt to cover the duplicate topics.
This page has been flagged as containing duplicate material that What Tooling Do You Have also attempts to cover.
These pages should be merged such that both pages do not attempt to cover the duplicate topics.
This page is out of date
--Sebastien Bailard 04:34, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
This page is not only out of date, but contains in part simply nonsense
- especially the "Software installation" section. For the lack of editors,
this page should be removed. --Traumflug 21:18, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

Build a RepRap

There are multiple ways to build a RepRap or RepStrap; the method selected for these instructions has been chosen to minimize skills and tools needed. If you wish to explore other options click Alternative Build Documentation.

All 3 axes fdmd sml.jpg

The Classic RepRap Design is "Darwin" pictured on the right. There are very full and accurate building instructions in Make Your Own RepRap.

The RepRap was carefully designed to use only parts that can be made on a RepRap and other cheap parts that you can get anywhere. It was also designed to require few skills to assemble. The one snag is you have to find someone to supply you with the parts that must be made on a RepRap.

RepStrap Darwin Clones are RepRap designs which are fairly accurately copies of the Darwin design but the RepRapped parts are replaced by parts created some other way, Perhaps molded plastic or laser cut acrylic or plywood. Generally parts of one of these machines are interchangeable with RepRapped Darwin parts. Here are some Parts Suppliers.

Other RepStraps, these are 3D printers capable of making RepRap (Darwin) parts but are not structurally similar to Darwin. These machines may vary a lot but may be separated into two kinds. Those like Darwin in which the extruder (print head) is moved in the x and y directions and the work is slowly lowered as the print progresses and others where the work is moved in the x and y directions under a stationary head which gradually moves upwards as the print progresses. Here are some references to various RepStrap Machines.

If this is your first RepRap that you are building, here is a basic guide of which build option you should choose:

  • If you have a friend nearby that can print out the RepRap part on their RepRap or some other 3D printer. Choose the Classic Darwin
  • If you don't have access to a 3d printer then you have 3 options.
    • You can build a Classic Darwin, but this means you will have to use a commercial service to print out parts for you; it can easily cost over $1000 for just those parts depending on what deals you can get. This option is probably the most expensive option.
    • You can build a RepStrap Darwin Clone. This means you can either buy a lasercut acrylic kit from Bits from Bytes or make some part yourself by machining them. This option is becoming the more common option especially because soon you will be able to buy a lasercut kit from Ponoko which has offices in the US. This is also usually cheaper than the first option.
    • The third option is to build non-clone RepStrap that does not have the same frame as a Darwin, such as McWire which uses pipes for the frame. This option is usually the cheapest, but each RepStrap has it own weaknesses. The good thing is that when complete they can print out parts so that you can build a Classic Darwin. The electronics are compatible with Darwin so you only have to buy them once.


A RepRap or RepStrap (A RepRap can build itself, a RepStrap can build something that can build itself) can be divided into several key areas:

  • Object creation Software
  • System control Software
  • Thermoplastic extruder
  • Positioning system (the Cartesian Bot)
  • The electronics to control the positioning system

Object Creation Software

Art of Illusion is currently the software most recommended for designing objects to be printed. It's not a CAD package but it is easy to use. The software allows you to create and manipulate 3D shapes. You can store these shapes in STL file format. STL files are object files that are used in Rapid Prototyping. These STL files can be printed off into real 3D objects using your 3D printer (RepRap).

The software is free (GNU GPL version 2) and it is available for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. If you want to try it out without installing it's available bundled in the Linux distribution liveCD with the rest of the hosted software for the RepRap project.

System control Software

RepRap is controlled via USB or an RS232 interface. You may find a description or download from RepRap Host Software.

There is a RepRap variant which allows you to print an object from a file saved onto a SD card.

Installing the Software (experimental)

This set of instructions tells you how to set up all the software you need for a Reprap in one big blow under Linux Debian.
It involves 5 steps that anyone should be able to complete in a few hours of his/her spare time.
It's easy.

Warning: Proceed at your own risk. The instructions are not double checked yet.

You'll need

  • a PC (not too old)
  • broadband internet access
  • some time

Step 1: If you have Windows, go to [Here], get your copy of the Debian installer with one click and start it.

If you already have Linux: Install Debian Lenny some way or the other (you know how to do that ;-)) and continue with Step 3.

Step 2: Follow the instructions. I suggest installing on a 4GB USB stick - but you can also install it all on your hard disk. Be careful to select "testing" instead of stable - this installs Lenny instead of etch. Otherwise the standard settings should be ok in most cases. Don't say "yes" to things you might regret. After a while, a standard system should be installed. Don't forget to install the GRUB boot loader.

Step 3: Log in and say

       sudo apt-get install firefox

on the command line.

Step 4: Start firefox and download this script.

Step 5: Run the script from the shell with

       sudo ./"

Now all the software specific to Reprap is retrieved and installed.
This includes the AVR-Tools, Subversion, Java3d, the Reprap-source tree etc. Installing all that will take some time.
Having successfully reached this point you should try to start the software in reprap-host with:

       ant run

If you now see the main window of the host software, you're done.
Congrats! You have made it!
You still have to learn how to use it - but that is another story and another tutorial.

Thermoplast extruder

There are three different extruders all of which, in the end, perform the same function. There is the "official" extruder that can be made by another RepRap. Then there are the kits which are mass produced so it is easier to start printing your first parts. Both kits are designed to be interchangeable with the official extruder.

  • RepRapable Thermoplast Extuder
    Can be made by another RepRap or commercial rapid prototyper. These are not the only ways the parts can be made but are the easiest. Some builders have made them from machining aluminum or plastic. Others by making molds and casting from resin. This is only for the main pieces of the extruder. The drive screw and other mechanics must be bought or machined.
  • Kit from Bits from Bytes (laser cut acrylic)
    There is an extruder kit currently available from Bits from Bytes who are based in the UK. The kit is part of the silver or gold kits and doesn't need ordering separately unless you want a spare. Assembly instructions are available on the Bits from Bytes website in the 'Assembly Instructions' area:
    Bits from Bytes Extruder Assembly instructions
    Bits from Bytes Extruder 3d Model - the model requires a recent copy of Adobe Acrobat.
    There are videos of the construction process, in the 'Tutorials' section of the website.
    Bits from Bytes Heater Barrel Assembly
    Bits from Bytes Extruder Drive Assembly
  • Kit from Ponoko (laser cut plywood)
    A kit will soon be available via Ponoko which has offices in the US.

Positioning system

The positioning system is the greatest part of the size of a RepRap. It is what moves the extruder head from place to place. Kits are available from Bits from Bytes, either the FULL Mechanical Kit - Silver or Gold contain all the components necessary to build a positioning system and extruder. Assembly instructions are available on the bits from bytes website in the 'Assembly Instructions' area:

Bits from Bytes Assembly Instructions

Shopping list

The following list contains all the components necessary to build a RepStrap and enough plastic to print a RepRap. Some handtools are required for assembly, but the only power tool used is a soldering iron.

Extruder and Positioning System

Bits from Bytes - FULL Mechanical Kit - Silver or Gold

Ponoko - coming soon

(only one required)



The extruders all use 3mm diameter plastic filament/wire. ABS is the recommended plastic for its combination of strength, availability and dimensional stability. Suitable plastic is available from RRRF in 5lb reels. It is also available by request from


Shipping and tax vary by country of order but $1000 total is a reasonable approximation.