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The Quest to 3D Print the Holy Grail

When Indiana Jones went on a dangerous quest to find the Holy Grail, he had to travel for miles, battle evil forces and get shot at… a lot. Andrew Lewis however went no further than his dining room, he just downloaded it and printed it using some wood based printer filament on his modified RepRapPro Ormerod 3D printer.

I asked Andrew how a former Marine Biologist and now The Global Head of Strategic Programmes for RS Components got into 3D Printing?

“Well,... I’m a Geek :-)  I enjoy making stuff, tinkering with electronics and writing code.  I guess it really all started when I was 17, when I built my first Robot.  From there I then got into computing. Then at 53 I built and created another Robot, The Forbin 2, which is my attempt at a multi-tasking robot with colour vision, object tracking and fully articulated body and arms".

I love Andrew's robot, it crosses a generation by having what looks like the body of Johnny Number 5 and Wall-e's head.

When Andrew had assembled his Ormerod, his first prints were the obligatory Snowman and Coat Hook.  He then spent many evenings and weekends printing out all sorts of things he found on websites like Thingiverse.  Then Andrew started to think about how he could make some improvements to his printer, and also experiment in printing in other materials.The Snowman and the Coat Hook. These became the benchmark during Andrews printer mods

Pimp my 3D Printer

So I asked Andrew, why he had modified his Ormerod, and what difference it had made?

"We'll, I made a few modifications that I got from talking to others of the RepRapPro forum".

Print Bed

The first big modification was a new triangular print bed made from laser cut aluminium, based on a bed previous design by DC42 (another RepRapPro forum member) This stiffens up the print bed and improves the print quality.

Printhead Modification

DC42's infrared head sensing modification that improves the Z-Gap (the distance between the printhead and the print bed).

A backwash deflector that helps keep hot air away from the print head and improve cooling.

Extruder Gears

A double helix configuration from Iamburny (another RepRapPro forum member) that tightens the print head and prevents the gears slipping.

"These simple modifications have not only been fun for me to do, but my printer now has the print quality of some printers worth more than twice the price!"


Pushing the Envelope

Andrew's modifications have produced some impressive results!  Using the "The Wall Test Print", Andrew can now print a wall 0.5mm thick and it even holds water!

The "Dodecahedron Test" is to show how good your printer is at bridging layers with no support when printing. The printer is basicaly printing in mid air to create complicated shapes.

Andrew is fascinated by "impossible things" that can only be 3D printed. Things like a whistle with no joins that has the pea printed inside.  He also really enjoys puzzles, like this 3 gear turning Heart he printed.

How to impress your wife with your hobby...(maybe!)

Next Andrew told me about how he had been experimenting with other types of filament.

"I was really keen to start experimenting in printing in other materials.  I had seen some wood based filament (30%Wood Pulp, 70% PLA), so I bought some from the Netherlands and gave it a try.  It worked brilliantly and when it was printing, you could even smell the aroma of wood in the air." 

What’s next on your 3D printing agenda Andrew?

“Well, my wife has challenged me to modify my Forbin2 Robot to pour her a glass of wine.  My plan is to use a 3D CAD Package like DesignSpark Mechanical to design a hand large enough to hold a bottle, which I can then 3D print and attach to the robot”.  

"I also want to look at printing more practical things, as well has try modifying my Omerod further to print in dual colour by adding another print head."

“I’ve also recently purchased a 3D Scanner.  The idea is to scan our dogs and then print them out".


Andrew has really caught the 3D printing bug!, and what's brilliant about the Omerod is that it's an open source platform that allows you to modify and improve the design for very little cost.

Follow me on twitter @petenwood


Read more about the RepRapPro Ormerod Printer

DesignSpark Team Geek Dad, Blogger, Gadget Junkie, Technology Evangelist. ***If you meet me, ask me for the Pete and Greet Badge code.*** DesignSpark Team. twitter - @petenwood
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