In late 2012, I became interested in additive manufacturing/3D printing. I learned about the RepRap (replicating rapid prototype) community of makers and got the itch to build my own. The premise of the Arduino-based RepRap printers is that a number of the components that comprise the structure of the printer have been printed on other devices. In the image above, almost all of the black plastic parts were printed by another user and offered for sale on eBay.
After I returned from South Korea in December of 2012, I gathered my bill of materials and spent nearly $1000 on parts (prices have changed a lot since then). Over two weeks I assembled, modified, programmed, and tuned the printer in the dark basement of my friend’s house. Just seeing the printer move for the first time was fantastic, and when I finally tuned it well enough to make successful parts, it was even more so. Up to this point, I had been on the fence about going back to school, but the experience made me realize that I truly enjoy designing and building products. I applied to the University of Minnesota Duluth shortly after finishing this project to pursue Mechanical Engineering.