D3D Thesis Project Plan

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Critical Path


Team Charter



While production machinery have gotten more efficient, work hours have increased and wage growth has slowed down for the average Western worker during the past 30 years. Ownership and control over means of production gravitates towards fewer people who don't consume their fortunes fast enough to maintain economic growth of the nations.(Piketty)

While increasingly centralized production has been the norm since the Industrial revolution, one notable university project started in 2007 has now achieved the opposite.(Bowyer et al) The RepRap project created a machine capable of reproducing its own parts, and released all technical details on line with user instructions.(Sells) New versions of the design started appearing in all corners of the world. Research in all related areas accumulated in the online community wiki and in its forums, which established a meritocracy similar to that of FLOSS projects. In addition to being able to self-reproduce, the RepRap machine, a FFF 3D printer, was capable of producing valuable goods.(Pierce) It was shown that a 3D printer would be a worthwhile economical investment for the average household.(Wittbrodt, et.al) It was also shown that the open source model was a viable model for development of physical objects.(de Bruijn) Those who had joined the RepRap community early formed successful enterprises around their new won technical skills. By ca 2013, it was widely believed that means and knowledge of 3D printer would have to centralize again in order to penetrate the household market. (refer to Stratasys/Makerbot aquirement)

But looking at 3D printer design statistics in 2016, it is clear that 7.8 - 20 % of the worlds 3D printer population are still RepRaps. (3Dhubs, Smarttech Publishing report, Ultimachine sales numbers) More so, the majority (better with exact percentage here) of RepRaps are based on designs named after one single RepRap community member, Josef Prusa. There are more Prusa-designed 3D printers in the world than the combined number of printers produced centrally by the two largest brands. (Build under with data!) He learned FFF 3D printing entirely within the community and started the effort that became the first design to be realistically buildable during a weekend workshop. Members of the community called it Prusa Mendel or just "the Prusa printer". Josef Prusa himself travelled across Europe, giving workshops and meeting RepRap community members in person. This formed the printer designs Prusa i2 and Prusa i3 to be workshop-friendly with several known modifications and a large base of workshop-educated users that are still active today. Many former workshop participants base enterprises on remixed designs, but few base their enterprise on workshops.(ref)

This makes the RepRap Prusa the first open source hardware (OSHW) designs to channel (some significant share) of a billion dollar market(ref) towards the spread out, small scale makers, scientists, hackers and dealers costituting of the OSHW community all over the world. Many papers have been written on how RepRap distributes production power and economical opportunity. Build something from them here and list what parts of the RepRap project they mention as distributing production power and economical opportunity.

  • Self-reproduction?
  • Internet?
  • Expired patents?
  • Open source licences?
  • Hacker culture?
  • Others?

The Prusa workshops had the limitation that they continued only as long as Prusa travelled. Others have tried to make workshops based on Prusa designs economically sustainable without the travelling, and failed.(refer to Berlin fablab, Barcelona fablab)


This project aims to design a 3D printer workshop with self-reproducing properties. Focus will be on shaping workshop plan trying to identify and include the right tools and incentives for reproduction. The workshop plan is the inheritance material in this story, and we will modify and evaluate it through four workshop/evaluation iterations. On each iteration, data will be collected and analyzed to improve our understanding of how to facilitate workshop self-reproduction.

Similarly to how the RepRap project focused solely on making its 3D printer design capable of self-reproduction, this project focuses only on the self-reproduction of the workshop. Any technical features and explicit functional requirements should be seen as consequences of the self-reproduction goal that might change as our understanding of workshop self-reproduction changes.


First 1 day 3D printer workshops where machines for every participant are built, before April 2016. Identify 3 major workshop replicability metrics, backed with data, before May 2016. Describe 3 major metrics’ usage and interpretation, backed with data, before June 2016. 4 successful D3D workshops arranged, with increasing relative measured replicability, before July 2016. Publication of Master’s thesis before August 2016. Achieve workshop replication before September 2016.

If we do extraordinary well we hope to see a period of self-sustaining workshop reproduction and gradual improvement through evolutionary/free market selection mechanisms. This would then serve as a proof-of-concept for an enterprise model that relies on actively training new market competitors and thereby sharing all research results. This enterprise model, called a Distributive Enterprise, is the goal of this projects' parent project, D3D Fusion.


  • Hosting four 1-day workshops
  • A 3D printer design tailored for 1-day workshops
  • Coherent documentation of everything involving the workshop, called the "Workshop Plan"
  • A Master's thesis underpinning the Workshop Plan with data and theory

Scope and Limitations

We improve the workshop plan with the intent of making it self-reproduce. The delivered 3D printer design's other specifications will not be superior to those of other 3D printer designs on the market. We will focus on achieving the first self-reproduction and work on the part of the Workshop Plan we find most efficient at the time.

As soon as that is achieved, we will stop development and rely on the plan "improving itself" through evolution/free market- like selection mechanisms. Market plans, recruitment plans, tax-plans and other parts of a normal enterprise are not included in the Workshop Plan. We will not develop serial- or mass production of 3D printer parts within this project.

SWOT Analysis

The project is dead if we don't get:

  1. Hardware
  2. Participants
  3. Data

... in that order. Securing these three must be prioritized before anything else.

Strengths and Opportunities

  1. Marcin's experience with workshops
  2. Torbjørn's experience with RepRap
  3. Long project (6 months)
  4. Aligning interests with
    1. Other OSHW enterprises (Lulzbot, Prusa3D, E3D, Ifixit, etc)
    2. Other Researchers (MOST lab, etc)
    3. Existing active communities (RepRap, Arduino, Instructables, Fablabs/Makerspaces, etc)
  5. Marcin and Torbjørn both plan to make use of deliverables
  6. Philosophical, ethical and legal background already worked out and well known
  7. Income from workshops gives opportunity of economical sustainability

Weaknesses and Threats

  1. Scope creep, loss of focus
  2. Visa application processing time
  3. Delivery times for hardware orders
  4. Difficulties with recruiting participants
  5. Too high work load
  6. Printer design has unexpected technical difficulties
  7. Torbjørn bankruptcy
  8. OSE bankruptcy
  9. Conflict between OSE needs and university requirements
  10. Torbjørn gets distracted by side projects

SWOT Matching

Strength/Opportunity Weakness/Threat Comment
1, 2 1 Focusing on what we already know avoids dead ends and wasted time
3 3 Good planning and early orders can prevent having to wait too much for hardware deliveries
4 3 Asking the community where to buy and using known suppliers increases chance of getting stuff in time
1, 4 4 Reaching out will be invaluable to find enthusiastic participants
come back to this

Related Projects within OSE

The super-project, D3D Fusion focuses on people and Distributive Enterprise. This thesis project focuses on the workshop, including the D3D Printer.

Backlog of Tasks

Use Scrumy:

  • Evaluate RAMBO fitness for purpose (can it handle enough current). Otherwise use RAMPS with drv8825.
  • Set correct V_ref and steps per mm (drivers/firmware)
  • CAD l_module, including interfaces
  • Order parts for l_module prototyping
  • Design tests for l_module prototype
  • Build l_module prototype
  • Test l_module prototype, possibly iterate design
  • Estimate costs for l_module design in $ and prep-time
  • Record build time l_module (when built by non-developer)
  • CAD frame, including corner brackets
  • Order parts for frame prototype
  • Design tests for frame prototype
  • Build frame prototype
  • Test frame, possibly iterate design
  • Estimate costs for frame design in $ and prep-time
  • Record build time frame (when built by non-developer)
  • CAD the tool mount part, including bed probe
  • Order parts for tool-mount prototype
  • Design tests for tool-mount prototype
  • Build tool-mount prototype
  • Test tool-mount, (test reliability of bed probe)
  • Estimate costs for tool-mount design in $ and prep-time
  • Record build time tool-mount (when built by non-developer)
  • Order hot end for extruder prototype
  • CAD the tool extruder
  • Order parts for extruder prototype
  • Design tests for extruder prototype
  • Build extruder prototype
  • Test extruder, possibly iterate design
  • Estimate costs for extruder design in $ and prep-time
  • Record build time extruder (when built by non-developer)
  • Milestone: Build times for l_module, frame, tool mount and extruder recorded
  • Milestone: All modules have module-tests created
  • Milestone: All modules pass module-tests
  • Milestone: First complete D3D Printer prototype built
  • Order Prusa Steel kits
  • All instructors test out documentation and kit by building kit themselves
  • Define "workshop reprodicability"
  • Define what data to collect during WS and how
  • Define which workstations should exist in WS (before WS1)
  • For each workstation plan what hardware is needed
  • Design testing procedures for each workstation
  • Write instructions for each individual workstation
  • Print out two sets of documentation for every workstation
  • Plan and draw WS local layout and flows (workstations' relative placement and parts/participants-flow between them)
  • Put chairs and tables in place in WS local
  • Build complete example-printer and all example-modules for WS workstations (before WS1)
  • Place example-modules, tools, instructions, test-rigs, nuts and bolts on workstations (before WS1)
  • Create WS1 time schedule
  • Simulate complete workshop (time: between USA arrival and first workshop)
  • Compile data-collection routine, build-steps, schedule, workshop local layout and hardware flows and welcome letter into one document: "WS1 Plans". This will evolve into project main delivery
  • Milestone: First version of Workshop Plans released
  • Send out WS1 Plans to participants
  • Host WS1 according to WS1 Plans
  • Depending on type of data-collection: ask participants to fill out form.
  • Milestone: First WS completed
  • Collect instructor experiences through WS retrospective/evaluation meeting
  • From WS1 data determine bottlenecks for reproducability (cover at least build-process, participant satisfaction and instructor satisfaction).
  • Compile "WS1 Experiences and Key Metrics", thesis quality, presented on wiki (Were Prusa Steel design suitable for paralell WS production?)
  • Do design improvements for D3D Printer for workshop (prepare design for WS2 action)
  • Order for WS2:
    • steel
    • PLA filament
    • stepper motors (and lead screws + coupler if not already lead screw shaft on motor)
    • electronics
    • endstops
    • BuildTak or similar
    • linear bearings
    • smooth rods
    • hot ends (with thermistor, resistor, maybe PTFE tubing)
    • hobbed bolts
    • nuts and screws
    • power supplies
    • Force Sensistive Resistors
  • Compile BOM for WS2 with sources and prices
  • Print parts for WS2
  • Cut steel parts for WS2
  • Adjust WS local layout to match D3D Printer build (instead of Prusa Steel)
  • Compile "WS2 Plans"
  • Send out WS2 Plans to participants
  • Host WS2 according to WS2 Plans
  • Depending on type of data-collection: ask participants to fill out form.
  • Collect instructor experiences through WS retrospective/evaluation meeting.
  • From WS2 data determine bottlenecks for reproducability (cover at least build-process, participant satisfaction and instructor satisfaction).
  • Compile "WS2 Experiences and Key Metrics", thesis quality, presented on wiki
  • Improve WS Plans
  • Decide whether to use Prusa Steel or D3D Printer for remaining 2 workshops.
  • Prepare WS3
  • Host WS3
  • Compile "WS3 Experiences and Key Metrics", thesis quality, presented on wiki
  • Improve WS Plans
  • Prepare WS4
  • Host WS4
  • Torbjørn returns to Sweden
  • Compile "WS4 Experiences and Key Metrics", thesis quality, presented on wiki
  • Milestone: Four workshops hosted
  • Finish thesis
  • Present

Needed Resources

  • Prototype hardware
    • Motors
    • Frame parts
    • Hot end
    • Lead screws, nuts and lubrication, different kinds and materials
    • CAD files
    • Electronics (including different kind of motor drivers)
    • Stopwatch
  • Prototyping lab in Sweden (or Norway)
  • Prototyping lab in the USA
  • Visa & airplane ticket
  • Workshop helpers (instructors)
  • Participants
  • Parts for D3D Printers
  • Quetionare/questions for participants after WS (expert say: "Use semi-structured interview form. Questions on paper, record answers and transcribe is ideal. From Wikipedia: '... allowing new ideas to be brought up during the interview as a result of what the interviewee says'")
  • 16-20 WS tables
  • Tools for all WS tables
  • Prusa Steel kits
  • Complete workshop plans (including instructions)

Map of Deliverables

Mindmap via mindmup.com

Map of Resources in Swedish

Mindmap via mindmup.com

TODO this page