Tech fads come and go, but if there’s one buzzword that’s going to hang around for a long time, it’s 3D printing. Crafting your own designs in a 3D modelling program and watching a 3D printer slowly construct them layer-by-layer from a piece of plastic string is mesmerising, rewarding and still just about the coolest thing you can do with technology today.
Trust me, I’ve built one myself.
What’s better than reading about 3D printers? Owning one. What’s better than owning a 3D printer? Owning a multi-award winning 3D printer designed right here in South Africa. Oh yeah.
Hold your breath.
To celebrate the launch of our new magazine, htxt.africa’s Tech Made Easy, we’ve teamed up with the lovely folk at makershop and hardware hacking specialists, OpenHardware.co.za, to give away a RepRap Morgan. That’s the open source 3D printer designed by Centurion’s own Quentin Harley. You can read all about this amazing machine here.
This is what a Morgan looks like:
Not your typical 3D printer. Much better looking, in fact. It’s a genuine South African first. And it gets even better. Yours isn’t just a different colour to the render above…
It glows in the dark.
We’ve printed most of the plastic parts out of a PLA plastic that’s has fluorescent properties. Right here in our own office.
Because this is tied in with our new magazine, we’re going to let this competition run until the end of April. And to keep you going until we announce the winner, we’re going to be running a two-month series of weekly ‘How we built it’ posts and videos. Bookmark this link and check back regularly to see how we’re getting on – or better yet, follow-up on Facebook or Twitter.
To give away this printer we’ve teamed up with the lovely folk at OpenHardware.co.za. OpenHardware.co.za is one of just a few stores in South Africa which sells 3D printers, parts and spares, and it also offers other hobby and enthusiast electronics like DIY quadcopters, OpenBeam kits, laser cutting services and the like.
OpenHardware.co.za is more than just a shop. It grew out of the prolific hardware hacking community in Gauteng and specifically Centurion’s House4Hack. The company isn’t just on a mission to sell revolutionary technology like 3D printers, but to support and grow the community of people who passionately believe in the advantages of low-cost, open source designs for software and hardware in the country.
Not for the faint hearted
There’s a big caveat to this compo. Before you enter, you must understand that the printer you are hoping to win has been built by us, in our office, using another printer which we made. Because that’s how 3D printers rock. This is being supplied to you with no instructions, no support and no guarantee that it will work perfectly beyond the first print.
We’ll talk you through the basics, and if you live in Gauteng deliver it personally, but we take no responsibility for it once set-up.
3D printers operate at high temperatures and move at fast speeds. They can be dangerous if not used with care. They need constant care and attention and if it breaks, you’ll have to fix it yourself. Every time you move the printer or replace the tape on the heated bed, for example, you’ll need to recalibrate it. You are entirely responsible for its safe operation.
Successfully owning a 3D printer means being willing to learn about how they work. By owning a 3D printer, though, you’ll become part of an exclusive club of curious people who want to change the world. Not only have they contributed hundreds of pages of design and operation manuals for RepRap-style 3D printers, they’re welcoming of newcomers and extraordinarily helpful – if you’re prepared to join in.
The printer we’re giving away is known as a RepRap Morgan. RepRap, which stands for Self-Replicating Rapid Prototyper is a project to develop and publish designs for low-cost 3D printers that anyone can design and build.
RepRap Morgan is the internationally acclaimed variant of RepRap that was created by South African engineer Quentin Harley, which is both cheaper and easier to build than pre-existing designs. It also looks a lot cooler.
Not interested yet? How about some pics of the RepRap Morgan in question, as it was this morning? Check out the gallery below.