RS Components, the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc, the world’s leading high service distributor of electronics and maintenance products, has signed a landmark distribution agreement with RepRapPro Ltd that will deliver affordable, open-source, self-replicating 3D printing technology to engineers worldwide.
The completion of the deal coincides with the launch of the RepRapPro Ormerod low cost 3D printer, which is available first from RS.
3D printing is fast becoming an essential part of the electronic and mechanical design process. Increasing numbers of companies are beginning to see the benefits of using this technology to create quick-turn-around prototypes and save months in the design cycle. Barriers to adoption in the past have been the cost of hardware and a lack of easy-to-use design software for non-CAD specialists.
When used in conjunction with the free DesignSpark Mechanical 3D modelling software co-developed by RS and SpaceClaim, the Ormerod complete 3D printing kit will enable design engineers around the world to develop sophisticated concepts and products very quickly and inexpensively. The Ormerod is one of the most versatile 3D printers available: it is easy to expand in functionality, fast to replicate and fast to assemble.
The Ormerod uses the FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) process to build 3D objects in a range of plastics and in a variety of colours. This process enables the user to create almost any shape that can be modelled on a computer, including some that cannot be produced by traditional manufacturing techniques at all. While the Ormerod is a monochrome 3D printer that has been configured to work with one type of plastic at a time, the device is fundamentally designed to work with three-colour deposition; an upgrade kit is to be made available soon.
In addition, the Ormerod’s electronics have been redesigned and now enable connectivity via a web browser. Its construction is also far simpler compared to its predecessor, the RepRapPro Mendel, which took two days to put together, on average; whereas the Ormerod only takes two hours, making it significantly more accessible to non-engineers. All RepRapPro printers are capable of self-replicating their own plastic components. Hardware-only Ormerod kits, without the 3D printed parts, will be available soon for those wanting to use their Ormerod to make Ormerod printers for other people.
The RepRapPro Ormerod is shipped as a kit of parts containing all the required components, ready for assembly. The complete kit includes: all printed parts; all hardware, including threaded and smooth rods, screws, nuts, washers, belts and bearings; pre-soldered and programmed electronics; MicroSD card and adapter; heated PCB build surface; motors; nozzle assembly and extruder drive mechanism; 100m of 1.75mm-diameter PLA (polylactic acid) filament material (approximately 300g); power supply (for EU, UK, US and Australia); and finally, the open-source software to run the machine, including firmware for the electronics. Other specifications of the Ormerod include accuracy of 0.1mm, resolution of 0.0125mm, build speed of 1,800mm per minute and deposition rate of 33cm3 per hour.
“The availability of low cost 3D printing technology with the RepRapPro Ormerod, combined with the free and intuitive DesignSpark Mechanical and library of 3D component models from RS, is the dawn of a new era of 3D design and rapid prototyping that will see it move from a niche group of CAD specialists to a much wider spectrum of users,” said Mark Cundle, Head of Technical Marketing at RS Components. “It is no overstatement to say these are revolutionary times for engineers, which will massively increase the scope for innovation and faster time-to-market.”
"When I started the whole RepRap project I thought that it stood a chance of working,” said Adrian Bowyer, one of RepRapPro's directors. “By working, I mean that if you were to put the machine together it would print its own plastic parts. But I didn't expect there to be scores of RepRap-based companies all over the world just a few years later, and to be helping to run one myself. So RepRap also works as a global social and economic phenomenon, as well as an engineering success. And, of course, we are delighted that a major distributor like RS sees it the same way.”
500 limited edition RS branded Ormerod printers (pictured), complete with certificate of authenticity numbered one to 500, are available to buy on the RS website while stocks last. Standard Ormerod printers will be available to purchase from RS in January direct from stock.
The ‘Replicating Rapid Prototyper’ project, also known as ‘RepRap’, was founded in 2004 by Adrian Bowyer, a former Senior Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at Bath University in the UK, as an attempt to put 3D printing into the hands of everyone at low or at least reasonable cost. The RepRap project is an initiative to develop a low-cost open-source 3D printer that can print most of its own components.
RepRap printers employ Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) based 3D printing methods: using a computer-controlled plastic-glue gun with a very fine nozzle and a spool of plastic fed into a heated chamber. RepRapPro Ltd is a company directed by Adrian, Jean-Marc Giacalone, who designed Ormerod, and Adrian's daughter Sally. RepRapPro makes and sells RepRaps to the World.
About RS Components
RS Components and Allied Electronics are the trading brands of Electrocomponents plc, the world’s leading high service distributor of electronics and maintenance products. With operations in 32 countries, we offer around 500,000 products through the internet, catalogues and at trade counters to over one million customers, shipping around 44,000 parcels a day. Our products, sourced from 2,500 leading suppliers, include electronics, automation and control, test and measurement, electrical and mechanical components.
Electrocomponents is listed on the London Stock Exchange and in the last financial year ended 31 March 2013 had revenues of £1.24bn.