Meet the MendelMax II a direct descendent of the original self-replicating robot, the RepRap 3D printer. Originally designed at the University of Bath as an opensource hardware project the RepRap has deep roots in the 3D printing world.
Here's a nice video on the origins and concept behind the RepRap printer. If I were you, I would only watch the first half of this video. It's great, but a little long. :-)
RepRap from Adrian Bowyer on Vimeo.While the RepRap is a great machine, the compromise for being entirely self-printable is that all of the parts are plastic and therefore less rigid. I chose the MendelMax II because its designers took all the great capabilities from the RepRap design including a HUGE printing area and created an all-metal-frame variant. Less wobble = better print resolution. I'm currently building a MendelMax II with the sharp kids at Chiaravalle Montessori Middle School. I spend an hour a week with the kids building this amazing machine. This project was partially funded by the amazing folks at [LiveWatch Home Security](http://www.livewatch.com/). **Week One**: The printer kit has arrived and my team of brilliant young men and women began inventorying the parts. A few things were missing but luckily they were parts that can be purchased at our local hardware store. ^^ The shipping box and two tools required to put this together. ^^ The students are counting every bolt, washer, and nut. ^^ This is the pile where we put things we had identified in the inventory. ^^ Ahhh! The final organized and inventoried parts. **Week Two**: Construction begins with the assembly of the frame. We were all suprised how tricky it was to get the frame to sit perfectly flat. Also, more parts were missing. ^^ These 8mm bolts and T-nuts are really tricky to get to slide into the extruded rails. ^^ Easy does it! **Week Three**: The super structure is mostly complete. The team is getting quite good at handling the small amount of tolerance when using 8mm bolts in aluminum extrusions. **Week Four**: Week for went really well! Today I worked with 4 students who didn't get to work on our project in the previous weeks. We completed the X / Y axis mounts in record time. **Week Five**: Our first motors are attached! This last week proved to be a bit tricky. A lot of different systems are being integrated into the frame and we're finding we need to loosen various parts to adjust it to get it to fit. This is problematic as loosening can quickly turn into too loose and a detached bolt / t-nut. Take a look at the progress. We're making it happen! **Week Six**: This week exposed the students to the fun art of redoing something. We had to deconstruct the Z-axis tractors and adjust them very carefully so the axis would travel freely throughout the full range.
In addition it looks like I'll need to bring a drill to class next week to ream out several bolt holes for a particularly grumpy motor mount. We spent 15 minutes trying to get the bolts to align and it was not going to happen.
Week Seven: Coming soon!