Like many others, I want to create a machine that is capable of replicating itself. My project (Hopefully) will fulfill all of the requirements of the Gada Prize. Now that I have a working Makerbot, I've been exploring tons of new designs that previously only existed on paper.
So far, I've come up with a Printed Linear rail and a printed threaded rod. I've also gone through the motions and built a RepRap Mendal Prusa.
The rules of the Gada prize are as such:
-Print at least three different materials, including one that is usefully electrically conductive.
-Demonstrate the ability to print electronic circuit boards.
-Any print beds must be of a material which may be reused with minimal refurbishment for at least 20 print cycles.
-Maintain a total materials and parts cost under $200. (This is a tough one...)
-90% of the volume of the device's components shall be printed.
-Demonstrate a build volume greater than 300mm[11.81in] x 300mm[11.81in] x 100mm[3.94in].
-The capacity to print a full set of components for a complete replica of itself within 10 days unattended save for clearing no more than one printer head jam.
-The ability to print autonomously without a PC attached.
-Uses no more than 60 watts of electrical power. (This one is even tougher)
=Photos and Drawings=
=printable Linear X/Y gantry=
=The Connected X & Y axis
=Printed rod and Nut
 = single linear gantry rail in action
The goals of this project are many-fold: - Creation of an entire machine that is capable of achieving self replication - The target build area size for my machine is 12" x 12 x 6" - The majority of the machine will be printed, including fasteners, The goal is to have 0 metal (besides the motors) - A secondary goal will be to eliminate the stepper motors altogether. - The machine will also contain a system for removing items from the build area. - Creation of cross-platform software necessary for serializing and controlling the build process. - Development of mechanical systems necessary for completion.
11/25/2014 Wow - 3 years since I've updated this. Well this contest is long gone, but the idea of a self-replicating 3d printer remains. I've thought long and hard about this path towards a true self-replicating printer, and I've reached a few singular lines of thinking: Software will be the defining factor here, to this, I started a control software called 'Creation Workshop' to help solve this need. So far, it can slice and control DLP-SLA, Galvo SLA, SLS, FDM type machines. It uses a plugin system that allows new machine types and drivers to be used. The GUI is capable of re-designing and complex 'skinning' at run-time.
My current goal is to design a singular machine that is the first of 3 generations that can 'bootstrap' to becoming self-replicating. In this sense, I use the term 'self-replicating' to mean that, given time, energy and materials, the device could re-create and re-assemble it's parts to form a another device capable of the same.
To achieve this, I propose several generations of machines that will help achieve these goals: Generation One is already here, there are FDM machines and CNC Mills that create by additive or subtractive methods, the real trick here is being able to: Print, Mill, & Measure with a 3d scanner. There are many types of extruders that can be used to deposit material that solidifies. The milling feature can be then used to achieve fine details. The software that can control this will enable a new class of machines that can coordinate multi-stage and multi-step print, mill, move cycles.
11/21/2011 I think I need to step up my game. I've completed the Y-Axis for the version 8 of my MultiRep machine, however the printable threads are not behaving as expected. In lengths of 100 or 200mm, they seem stable, however there might be too much flex for the longer length needed. I think I'm going to break from printing this, and redesign.
Here is a link to the version 8 files of the MultiRep on Thingiverse:
 MultiRep Version 8
11/16/2011 - I know I haven't made an update for this wiki in a while. I have been busy redesigning my latest creation, the MultiRep Mark 8. What happen to versions 1-7 you ask? Well, most of them were "learning" experiences. I actually got fairly far along print Verison 5 before I realized there were too many design flaws that I was trying to overcome.
The Mark 8 version has printable Linear rails, similar to my Thingiverse post, I have also incorporated the threaded rod, which allows the motors to remain fixed and stationary, instead of being mounted on the shuttles. This allows for lower mass and greater speeds of the print head.
The basic shape is an A-Frame, similar to standard RepRap Mendal or Prusa. I have also been working hard on a printable peristaltic pump to pump viscous liquids/pastes/ceramics. The final version for that should be coming along soon as well. Stay tuned, I'm sure I'll be releasing some files and photos soon. -S
I've been posting most of my designs over at ThingiVerse:
 Printable Threaded Rod
 Printable X/Y Linear Rail
-What I'm targeting next is ceramic extrusion using a stepper-based peristaltic pump. This peristaltic pump will be able to accurately dispense a variety of materials, such as conductive graphite paste.
-Also in the works is a rotary cutting tool and a solder extruder.
I'm also working on a threaded rod based shuttle system based on my printed threaded rod.
Files and Parts
All information used from other sources will be documented here.