Open-source conversion of Stratasys FDM Vantage X rapid-prototyping machine : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Engineering in Mechatronics at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
3D Printing or Additive Manufacturing is quickly redefining how companies
design and develop products (Maxey, 2014). Increasingly, with advances in
technology and materials, end-use parts are now being manufactured.
Wellington Drive Technologies Limited (WDTL), a world leading supplier of
energy saving, electronically commutated motors (ECM) are based in Albany,
Auckland. They use fused deposition modelling (FDM) to prototype new
products and concepts. WDTL suffered a failure of a Stratasys FDM Vantage X
machine used to 3D print prototype parts. The cost of rectifying the problem put
the machine beyond economic repair. The machine was therefore gifted to
Massey University, Albany.
Mechanically the machine was in good working order, it made sense therefore
to attempt to resurrect the machine for research purposes. However, due to the
cost of OEM repairs, and the associated research limitations, it was decided
that where possible, open-source solutions should be sought.
The purpose of this dissertation is to prove the viability of replacing closedsource
proprietary hardware and software solutions with open-source. The
electronics and firmware were designed around the MakerBot Thing-O-Matic
while ReplicatorG was used for the front end, all of which are open-source.
Ironically on the 19th June 2013, almost a year after starting this project,
Stratasys bought MakerBot, taking a big stake in the consumer based 3DPrinter
market. Subsequent releases of Makerware (MakerBot's successor to
ReplicatorG) have been made closed-source.