History and Literature

Where it came from, where it's going... 

 OIT RepRap Project

 The OIT RepRap project was started in Winter Term of 2008 at the Oregon Institute of Technology by Professor David Culler, Stanley Ames, and Noah Anderson. The project sprang from one created at the University of Bath in England by Dr. Adrian Bowyer called RepRap.

RepRap stands for REPlicating RAPid prototyping machine. It is a machine that is supposed to be able to--and can, recently!--make other rapid prototyping machines that can make more of themselves, etc...

Mr. Ames had gotten involved in the RepRap project on his own during the Summer and Fall terms of 20008 and had almost completed construction of a machine before bringing the idea of having the school create a project. David Culler immediately latched onto the idea as a great teaching aid and secured funding for the project from the Mechanical/Manufacturing Department.

Since the project start it has recieved wide support and approval from the other Professors at OIT most notable Randy Shih who teaches the Rapid Prototyping course and associated solid modeling courses. It is hoped that the OIT RepRap machine will be used by students in upcoming terms to offset the high costs of operating the commercial machine currently being used--Dimension bst 768.

RepRap Project 

The RepRap project itself had started with a paper on the web by Dr. Bowyer in February 2004 that talked about creating a method of fabrication that would be available to the masses and which would evolve. From that paper--and subsequent ones--grew the RepRap project.

A one page paper describing the project is available on the RepRap site for those interested in further reading.

Currently there are many RepRap machines in the wild and new ones being completed continually.  The project is growing rapidly and is nearing a point that it can be officially launched.

Rapid Prototyping 

Rapid Prototyping or Solid Freeform Fabrication both refer to additive fabrication processes developed in the 70's and 80's. Fused Deposition Modeling--the specific type of process used by RepRap and OIT RepRap--was developed by S. Scott Crump in 1989 and commercialized in 1990 by Stratasys Inc.

Other processes exist such as Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Stereo Lythography Aparatus (SLA) and others. These processes were developed by companies and are currently in use in industry.

Many papers and books exist on Rapid Prototyping in general and the specific processes which it encompasses. For the OIT RepRap project many of these articles and books were consulted even though the information therein was not specifically needed to build the machine. Part of the process of project design and creation is learning about the associated fields. This is one of the main benefits to project based learning.

ASEE Paper on the OIT RepRap Project

In the summer of 2009, a paper** was presented at the ASEE conference in Austin Texas by Prof. David Culler and students Stanley Ames and Noah Anderson on the OIT RepRap project. The paper received some small but decent interest both for the technical merit of the project but also, and more importantly, because of what such projects can teach engineering students. Ames and Anderson have both learned a great deal about actual engineering through this project and feel very strongly that this has helped shape them as engineering students.

A not to be overlooked aspect of publishing at a conference is that Prof. Culler insured a keen and continuing intrest in students Ames and Anderson because the conference paper was also in their names. More students would seek to be in research--at least in this author/student's opinion--if more professors included them in the research process as undergraduates. I (Ames) am very grateful to Professor Culler for what he has given Noah and I. I think of Prof. Culler as a very valuable mentor in my professional and academic development and I know Noah feels the same.

** "Design and Construction of a Rapid Prototyping Machine:
A Breakdown of the Machine Sub-Systems Used to Learn Multi-Disciplinary Engineering Skills" D. Culler, S. Ames, N. Anderson, ASEE 2009 Conference, Austin, TX