Athena top.JPG

This course provides an introduction to distributed additive manufacturing using open-source 3-D printing. First this course will provide an overview of open-source hardware and technological development in theory and practice. Both the use of software and user communities will be highlighted and demonstrated. Next, the course will detail the design, use and maintenance of the open-source electronics behind the development of self-replicating rapid prototypers. Then the technological evolution of the open-source 3-D printing technology will be covered with a focus on developing innovation for improved performance and materials selection. Each student will build a customized RepRap and the course will cover hardware, firmware, slicing and printer controller software for operating and maintaining the device. Finally the material properties, applications and ramifications of RepRap technology will be discussed.

The course is meant for advanced undergraduate and graduate students in Materials Science & Engineering, and Electrical & Computer Engineering, while students in other areas of engineering or science with a strong interest in this topic are also welcomed. Graduate students are expected to complete all coursework assigned to the undergraduates and an in depth project.

Credits: 3.0 Lec-Rec-Lab: (3-0-[0-3]), (3 lecture hours and 0-3 lab hours)

MSE4777 OA and MSE4777 OB/MSE5777/EE4777/EE5777 Open-source 3-D printing

(Fall 2019)

Why 3-D Printing? A recent report from data company Wanted Analytics found that in one month 35 percent of engineering job listings from a variety of fields, including biomedical, software, and transportation industries, required applicants familiar with 3-D printing.[1] Forbes explains why 3D printing is such a big deal.

Why open source? You will make more money, because OS is more valuable. Recent analysis shows that jobs with the keywords "Microsoft Windows" have an average salary of $64,000, while jobs with the keyword "Linux" have an average salary of $99,000. [2]

Required Course Material


There is a $500 course fee for this course. This fee will be used to purchase a MOST Delta RepRap 2 kit for you to use during the course. At the end of the course you keep the printer you built and modified. The design will be somewhat like the image above - but note that it is a rapidly evolving technology so by Fall the design will have improved.

Textbook: J.M. Pearce, The Open-Source Lab (Elsevier,2014). ISBN: 9780124104624 Other reading will be handouts in class, on-line reading, and emailed pdfs. See hyperlinks in schedule.

Course Organization

This course will be run as an intense seminar meeting as a group. Students will be expected to read the course material before class and actively participate in discussions. The majority of class time will be spent on projects in a flipped class format. Each student will be responsible for building a RepRap 3-D printer to use to complete the projects. Students will be responsible for giving short presentations on their projects on each sub-topic in front of the class at the end of the semester.

Graduate students will take the same lecture and projects as the undergraduates, however, they will also be expected to complete a significant improvement to the RepRap design by the end of the semester. They will demonstrate their mods for the class.

Online students will have identical assignments, but will provide their presentations via YouTube rather than in person.

Class videos are available for all students here.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn the fundamentals of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3-D printing with polymers, along with those for emerging materials (e.g., metals, ceramics, flexible materials, nanocomposites, biomaterials) and complex architectures.
  • Learn the fundamentals of free and open source hardware (FOSH) design, licensing, and culture.
  • Understand and demonstrate the fabrication, maintenance, trouble shooting and operation of self-replicating rapid prototype (RepRap) 3-D printers.
  • Understand operating principles, capabilities, and limitations of fused filament fabrication (FFF)-based 3-D printing.
  • Understand the principles of "Design for 3-D printing" and compare and contrast additive processes with conventional manufacturing in terms of rate, quality, cost, environmental impact, social control and flexibility.
  • Gain hands-on experience with RepRap 3-D printers; use these machines to fabricate example parts of increasing complexity, post-process the parts, and study the results.
  • Become familiar with the complete workflow of open source AM, including computational design tools, firmware, software, file formats, toolpath generation, and characterization.
  • Understand how to make a new part and alter an existing part for RepRap 3-D printing for custom applications.
  • Study applications of distributed manufacturing using 3-D printing including consumer products, scientific equipment, and appropriate technology.
  • Place open source 3-D printing in the context of the evolving distributed manufacturing infrastructure.


Letter Grade Percentage Grade points/credit Rating
A 93% & above 4.00 Excellent
AB 88%– 92% 3.50 Very good
B 82% – 87% 3.00 Good
BC 76%– 81% 2.50 Above average
C 70% – 75% 2.00 Average
CD 65%– 69% 1.50 Below average
D 60%- 64% 1.00 Inferior
F 59% and below 0.00 Failure
I Incomplete; given only when a student is unable to complete a segment of the course because of circumstances beyond the student’s control. A grade of incomplete may be given only when approved in writing by the department chair or school dean.
X Conditional,with no grade points per credit; given only when the student is at fault in failing to complete a minor segment of a course, but in the judgment of the instructor does not need to repeat the course. It must be made up within the next semester in residence or the grade becomes a failure (F). A (X) grade is computed into the grade point average as a (F) grade.

Grading Policy

Grades will be based on the following:

RepRap build 50
Appropedia user page, 4x mini projects 50
Educational Aide Project 200
Science Equipment Project 250
OSAT Project 250
Big Money Project or Science Equipment Advanced 200
Total Points 1000
  • Grad students must also complete an improvement to the RepRap OR a 3-D printed automated Scientific Apparatus worth 1000 points and be graded out of 2000.

Late Assignments

Deduct 10% per day, up to 5 working days, then 0 grade. Only exception is for documented illness. Missed projects are penalized by the negative square of the percent total.

Course Policies

Appropriate behavior, attendance, participation and collaboration with your peers on group assignments is expected. Collaboration/Plagiarism Rules Collaboration is encouraged on the group project but the individual project and exams must be completed alone. Calculators are allowed for exams but electronic communication devices are prohibited.

University Policies

Academic regulations and procedures are governed by University policy. Academic dishonesty cases will be handled in accordance the University's policies. If you have a disability that could affect your performance in this class or that requires an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, please see me as soon as possible so that we can make appropriate arrangements. The Affirmative Action Office has asked that you be made aware of the following: Michigan Technological University complies with all federal and state laws and regulations regarding discrimination, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. If you have a disability and need a reasonable accommodation for equal access to education or services at Michigan Tech, please call the Dean of Students Office at 487-2212. For other concerns about discrimination, you may contact your advisor, Chair/Dean of your academic unit, or the Affirmative Programs Office at 487-3310.

Course Schedule

Please Note: Readings will be updated periodically before we get to the module.

Date Class Class description Assignment
09/03 1 Intro to class, build, big money, grad and mod, assigned Syllabus, Schedule, M0.1
09/05 2 Get kits - Start Building Your 3D Printer! Bring bags/boxes for large part and a sealed container for small parts. Online students go to M&M 714 afternoon. Safety, Start building, M0.2
09/07 Bonus Monster Build Class! 8:05 - 16:55 Help Building Your 3D Printer! Bring everything. Solder stations, epoxy stations available, M0.2 800 - 1700 Dillman Hall 101
09/08 Bonus Monster Build Class! 8:05 - 16:55 Help Building Your 3D Printer! Bring everything. Solder stations, epoxy stations available, M0.2 800 - 1700 Dillman Hall 101
09/10 3 RepRap software chain M0.3,M0.4
09/12 4 OSH definitions, development, business M1.1
09/17 5 Intro to RepRap, 3D Printing Failure Database (micro project) M2.1-3
09/19 6 RepRap community, Printing tricks, Intro to wiki- Appropedia M2.1-3, Create and populate Appropedia user page Example 4777 user page
09/24 7 RepRap show and tell RepRap built, BRING IT TO CLASS - post YouTube Video (online students tag it: 777OS3DP)
09/26 8 OpenSCAD Tutorial part 1/ in class micro project MY4777 Rock wall project M3.3, M3.4,
10/01 9 OpenSCAD Tutorial part 2/ in class micro project - parametric script - Solve Everyone's Problems 777 Customizer project M3.3, M3.4,
10/03 10 FreeCAD Tutorial/in class micro project lens cover project M3.5
10/08 11 MSE4777 Viking mashup project Blender Tutorial/in class micro project lamp shade M3.2, M0.4
10/10 12 Microproject show and tell Appropedia-microprojects due on gallery your userpage, email print failure and bring best microproject printed to class (online students get it to Dr. Pearce's room by drop off or mail)
10/15 13 Mechanical properties of 3-D printed parts, Fix your boards M3.0 777 Educational Aid assigned
10/17 14 Arduino and automating your prints M1.3
10/22 15 OS scientific hardware – lab partners M4.1, M4.2, 777 OSH Science project 2019 assigned
10/24 16 Educational Aid show and tell 777 Educational Aid due
10/29 17 Science Teams, OSH Sci Policy Post lab partners-projects, M4.3
10/31 18 Science Teams Science prototype due (online post)
11/05 19 Test prototype, revise, trouble shoot Graduate students - choose project and list it on MOST Delta mods or Automated 3D printable scientific equipment
11/7 20 Science Show and Tell, 3D printing killer apps Science revisions due, with data posted NIH/Github/Appropedia Gallery
11/12 21 Open source appropriate technology 777 OSAT projects 2019 M5.1
11/14 22 OSAT project OSAT project chosen, M5.2
11/19 23 Photogammetry, OSAT Project/Big Money Project-Sci+ 777 Big Money Project Assigned, M3.7
11/21 24 Inventive thinking/OSAT Project/ Big Money Project-Sci+ mech properties ninjaflex M6.1 File:Husky statue.stl Why the world needs deep generalists, not specialists
11/26 No School Thanksgiving
11/28 No School Thanksgiving
12/03 25 Inventive thinking/OSAT Project/ Big Money Project-Sci+ category:4777 TRIZ 3D printers creative genius
12/05 26 OSAT Show and Tell OSAT final due
12/10 27 Finish final projects -- OS licenses, legal discussion Return Loaner Printers M1.2
12/12 28 Last day – The Future, Money Project-Sci+ and Grad 777 Big Money Project, Graduate Project Due: MOST Delta mods or Automated 3D printable scientific equipment

Readings and Media

OSL= Open-Source Lab textbook,class list

Module 0: RepRap Build

  1. Watch RepRap video, The RepRap project- Ranellucci
  2. RepRap build OSL Chap. 5, Delta Build Overview:MOST, Athena Build Overview, AthenaII, AthenaII-Franklin Troubleshooting, AthenaII part files , Athena board, Need help go here!forum/most-delta-users-l then use email:
  3. Software - Delta Software:MOST(old), Slic3r, Cura, Cura Lulzbot ed., RepRapPro Slicer, tweak AtoZ Cura plugin, Matter Control
  4. Franklin -- How to Install Franklin on your 777 printer, Franklin use video, Using Franklin (long), Hacking Franklin, Printer controllers - Printrun, Updated Franklin master (Franklin will crash when making changes to settings).
  5. Marlin on AthenaII
  6. Matter Hackers 3DP troubleshooting guide

Module 1: Introduction to OSH

  1. OSL Chap. 2 OSH Introduction, Cathedral and Bazaar, Microsoft OSH, OSH intro video, TEDxBoulder - Nathan Seidle (Sparfun)- How Open Hardware will Take Over the World, Lulzbot factory tour and discussion of OSH business by Jeff Moe, The Law of Accelerating Returns by Ray Kurzweil, Do Makers Propose a More Open Source Future? - Idea Channel, PBS Digital Studios, 2015 the Year OSS went nuclear, Can Open-Sourcing Transform Electronics Hardware?, The Economics of OS
  2. OSL Chap. 3 OS License OS License, Creative Commons copyright licenses, OS software for GNU-Linux, The Future of 3D Printing: Smarter IP Strategies, Less Lawsuits, Right to Repair
  3. OSL Chap. 4 OS microcontrollers Arduino Tutorials , Makershed comparison, Jeremy Blum TED talk, Nathan Seidle- SparkFun

Module 2: Community

  1. RepRap IRC, RepRap Forums, RepRap Groups, Lulzbot Forum Hacks
  2. Arduino Forum, MOST Delta Users
  3. Free and open repositories of designs, and now Wikimedia commons
  4. Tricks: support, raft, parts, orientation, fill, slicer choice, pictorial guide to problems,pictorial guide to reprap print trouble shooting, RichRap Slic3r is Nicer, living hinges, post processing, Nonplanar Slicing
  5. Appropedia, Example 4777 user page

Module 3: Open source CAD

  1. OpenSCAD, OpenSCAD manual, MOST SCAD Libraries on Github, Object oriented OpenSCAD, RapCAD, Aaltoblock, Customizer Thingiverse Format, Intro to OpenSCAD for science lecture notes, GraphsCAD , how to round in openscad using polygons
  2. Blender, Using Blender to Model for 3-D printing, 2D to 3D in Blender, Creating 3D models for printing with Blender: Advanced tips, Blender Design on Curved Surfaces Tutorial
  3. FreeCAD, Bram de Vries FreeCAD video tutorials Using OpenSCAD tricks in FreeCAD, OSE FreeCAD
  4. Tricks - Multicolor, 3D print from McMaster-Carr, 3DHubs - how to optimize design for FFF
  5. Converting 2D images to 3D for printing using open source software, Images to OpenSCAD Via Inkscape, Celtic Knot SCAD, Bezier curves and knots script for Blender
  6. MOST Delta mods - see also: Github MTU-MOST repositories, Open-source syringe pump, Open-source metal 3-D printer, MOST mods (incomplete but getting there), another approach to PCB design
  7. Open Source Photogrammetry, Open source 3D scanners, Lithopanes, Meshroom, Prusa tutorial
  8. Full control Gcode editor

Module 4: OS Science

  1. OSL Chap. 1 examples 3D printable science equipment, Tekla Lab requests
  2. OSL Chap. 5
  3. OSL Chap. 6
  4. OSL Chap. 7

Module 5: OSAT

  1. The Case for Open Source Appropriate Technology, 3-D Printing of Open Source Appropriate Technologies for Self-Directed Sustainable Development, Open source 3-D printing of OSAT, How 3D Printers Are Boosting Off-The-Grid, Underdeveloped Communities - MotherBoard
  2. Recyclebot, Open Source Ecology TED talk


  1. Post processing
  2. 3DP for injection molding
  3. MyMiniFactory's Design Handbook
  4. The Economist-- A third industrial revolution, Where we go from here - types of OS3DP Open-source metal 3-D printer
  5. Manufacturers demand open 3D printing ecosystem, study shows
  6. Tips for 3DP poster
  7. snap fit design tricks
  8. remix husky statue

Other good watching: First International Workshop on "Low-cost 3D Printing for Science, Education and Sustainable Development, 25. Hopes and Fears, 27. Open Hardware and Arduino, 31. Prehistoric Collections: Digitizing the Leaky collection and interesting perspectives on digital rights and proprietary museum collections, 33. Bringing a CAD model into a physical object: Ranelucci video, 54. The future of 3D printing: Another Ranelucci video.



Discussion[View | Edit]

Filament comparison charts with prices:

PLA Filament reviews[edit source]

place, url, type, cost, did it work? (place in order of descending price)

Flexible filament[edit source]

  • Great comparison of flexible filaments [1]

Other commercial filaments[edit source]

  • bambooFill combines recycled bamboo fibers 20% with premium colorFabb PLA 80% to create natural looking, light-weight 3D printed objects.
  • bronzeFill bronzeFill contains 80% finely ground bronze and 20% premium colorFabb PLA allowing heavy 3D printed objects that can be polished or oxidized to achieve the desired finish.
  • copperFill copperFill contains 80% finely ground copper powder and 20% premium colorFabb PLA, and printed objects have great post-processing potential allowing heavy 3D printed objects that can be polished or oxidized to achieve the desired finish.
  • woodFill combines recycled wood fibers 30% with premium colorFabb PLA 70% to create natural looking, light-weight 3D printed objects.
  • copperFill Filamet Copper filament, 88.5% Copper, up to 99% copper after post processing. Expensive. I noticed it's also very brittle and the filament sample broke in half when I tried to wrap it around a spool. Also found a lump of filament that i had to break off which would never have gone through the extruder. Must print slowwwwwwly. First print impression: prints surprisingly well and looks super nice. Lastly, this filament does not go a long way. A 15g print of pla = ~50g of this.

Places to find other components[edit source]

Adhesives[edit source]

Source [2]

  • Superglue

Suitable with: PLA, ABS, SLA Resin Unsuitable with: Nylon, PETG, TPU Strength Data:

Tensile Strength (complete part): 3903 PSI Tensile Strength (halved part w/ Cyanoacrylate): 783 PSI

  • Gorilla Glue

Especially suitable for: TPU (Gorilla Glue’s elasticity and urethane base provide an exceptional bond) Suitable for: PLA, ABS, SLA Resin, PETG Strength Data:

Tensile Strength (complete part): 9218 PSI Tensile Strength (halved part w/ Gorilla Glue): 2076 PSI

  • Friction stir welding with filament

Suitable For: All FDM Materials Unsuitable For: SLA Resins Strength Data:

Tensile Strength (complete part): 3903 PSI Tensile Strength (halved part w/ Filament Weld): 376 PSI

Security[edit source]

Per our campus network security officer, you will have to use VeraCrypt ( Students will have to use the portable version on either a USB flash drive or installed on their laptop. It cannot be installed on our Windows lab systems.

Portable version can be found on this page (second version under Windows) and should be able to be run from anywhere (H drive, USB, etc):

Wood[edit source]

There are no dimensions on the donut/base because we use a CNC router to cut them. I use LibreCAD ( for that sort of designing. It has an easy-to-use dimensions tool or a point-to-point tape measure tool that can extract the dimensions. We do indeed cut both the donut and the base out of a single piece of 12mm Baltic Birch plywood. Baltic Birch is the best choice as it is extremely stable and has more plies than normal plywood. It also is less tend to expand and contract with humidity and temperature fluctuations. That stability comes at a cost, however.

Blender WASP[edit source]

Silent steppers[edit source]

The extruder motor seems to not like the "stealthChop" drive mode used by the TMC drivers. I had issues with retraction and incomplete layers. Tried a few other settings, but I noticed the extruder motor was getting pretty toasty, so I replaced it (and it only, since the other motors were fine) with the a4988 board, and it works fine, while still being essentially silent.

On Thursday, September 19, 2019 at 6:33:36 PM UTC-4, Andrew Boerman wrote:

   Update: I decided to go for it. I bought these TMC2208 v3 "silentstepstick" clones that I expected to be a drop-in replacement for the a4988 boards. They come with 5 driver boards and 5 heatsinks, as well as 5 socket-socket 0.1" leads (presumably for setting up serial control - which I don't use).
   As usual, the only reliable way to orient these is with the pins - the trimpot is on the opposite side of the stepsticks! They ship with 5, which I'm glad about as I may have one that didn't work - one motor didn't move after installing the new boards, so I quickly installed a different one and it worked. Important note - TMC drivers have flipped motor leads compared to a4988 boards! This means you have to either swap the motor leads or invert the direction in software (easy to do in the "Motors" tab of Franklin). Also - Actively cool these TMC boards! The special drive mode they use generates more heat.
   How are they? Fantastic! They worked perfectly after configuring, and remove at least 80% of the noise from the printer. Here's a video I recorded with the noise (pardon the clicking fan in the background). At points I forget the printer is running until I see it out of the corner of my eye. I have a suspicion they also smooth out the movement. They run a little hotter, so I keep a small fan running on them so things don't get toasty. Also - they're taller than the allegro boards with heatsinks - such that if you don't put shorter heatsinks on or put feet on your printer, it'll rest on the heatsinks - NOT the motors! This would be bad. All things considered I'd definitely recommend this mod for people that find their printers a bit loud or jittery - and for $30, if you're willing to eat a bit of risk from unknown suppliers.
   On Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 4:00:14 AM UTC-4, Andrew Boerman wrote:
       I'm thinking about swapping my motor drivers pretty much exclusively because of noise concerns. I have a very small apartment and my printer makes a good amount of noise, so the quieter drive mode is a big draw for me. Would pretty much not use any of the other fancy features it offers.
       Wondering if anyone has any experience swapping the A4988 boards to TMC boards (especially paired with the new AthenaII OrangePi setup), and what to look for regarding breakout board layout, reference voltage, etc.

Why is my imported STL file only showing up with F5 but not F6?[edit source]

This is mostly caused by bad STL files, the best bet is to verify the STL file in a tool like Blender, MeshLab or NetFabb and fix the issues. In essence the model needs to be manifold to be processed in OpenSCAD.

The reason for the model still showing up in preview mode is that there is no real geometry calculation going on yet. The preview simply draws the triangles from the STL.

There is one specific issue that causes problems called "Zero faces" (meaning the STL contains triangles with zero area because all 3 points are on one line) which are currently not handled well in OpenSCAD.

Using MeshLab

MeshLab has a filter to remove zero faces by flipping edges of polygons

Filters -> Cleaning and Repairing -> Remove T-Vertices by Edge-Flip.

Set the Ratio to a very high value (e.g. 100000), otherwise it's possible the model gets distorted.

Size of AM market[edit source]

  • The global Additive Manufacturing Market is expected to reach USD 23.33 billion by 2026, growing at a high rate of 14.4%, according to a new report by Reports and Data.[3]
  • AM materials such as Metals and Thermoplastics acquired the largest share in the market with revenues of USD 3.7 billion and USD 3.4 billion respectively, in 2018.[4]
  • The global additive manufacturing market is expected to grow to US$ 36.61 billion by 2027 from US$ 8.44 billion in 2018 [5]
  • The global additive manufacturing market accounts for $ 9.3 billion in 2018 and polymeric additive manufacturing has reached nearly $ 5.5 billion this year alone.[6]
  • Overall the Global Commodity Plastics Market is accounted for $342.65 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $686.56 billion by 2026 [7]

5.5/342.65 - now 1.6% of plastics Scale from 9.3b to 36.6b roughly a factor of 4 while plastic market doubles; 4*5.5=$22b 22/686= about 3% of plastics market

Franklin package install[edit source]

NOTE: This information has been relocated to the Athena Board Firmware page. Check there for the latest installation information.

  1. Log in on the OrangePi zero in your printer using directions found here. While you're there, set up wireless connection (you'll need it to clone the git repository). You can connect via SSH using a wired or wireless connection (just change the IP address to match)
  2. Check what's in your current directory using the ls command. If there is a 'franklin' folder, it must be removed or renamed before you can get the latest version.
    • To do this, enter mv franklin backup-franklin. This renames the directory using the Linux move command. If you ls again, you'll see that the folder has been renamed.
  3. Clone the repository: git clone
  4. Enter the newly created directory: cd franklin
  5. Create the package: make. This will take several minutes.
  6. It will probably complain about some missing dependencies. Install those: apt-get install <insert package names>
  7. Repeat steps 3+4 until the build succeeds. The packages are automatically installed as part of the build process. You'll see something like this when it's complete: debian@athenapi:~$

When it's all done, the new package is installed and running.

knots[edit source]

Minerva[edit source]

Minerva to Athena - The build instructions are incomplete, but the instructions for Athena should work almost unchanged.

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