My name is Tomislav Kocet, I’m 25 years old and I’m currently living in Germany. I’m born in Croatia with a Croatian father and Czech mother, and raised in The Netherlands. As a y0ung teenager I got an interest in 3D design, but it bothered me that I never could hold an object I made in my hands and slowly forgot about it. Fast forward a couple of years, I found out about the RepRap Darwin, followed by the Mendel, and further, by the Prusa. Around this time, 3D printing was still quite new, printers were expensive or hard to source. I didn’t even know whether I will still be interested in a 3D printer if I would buy one, and hesitated. Year in year out, the idea came up, and didn’t get through with it until June 2015.
I looked on the Dutch second hand website called Marktplaats, and looked around for a cheap printer with atleast decent printing quality. I stumbled upon a Wooden Frame i3, built by the guy himself. It was made out of a wooden lasercut frame as the name suggests, and based off the Prusa i3. The turned out that it prints pretty well, and it costed 350 euro, which was roughly the cheapest printer I could find in the entire Netherlands. I figured that if I would get bored of it, I could sell it for about the same price. Ab, the guy who sold me the printer, explained me everything I needed to know to get the printer running. My first prints were some small things off thingiverse, and mostly keychains for friends which were just as amazed about 3D printing as I was.
Fast forward to September, I was moving to the Czech Republic for an internship at the national automotive company. Several weeks later, I found out that Prusa, the author of the now original Prusa i3 MK2 actually is from Prague, and decided to bring him a visit. We met briefly, he showed me his shop around, talked briefly about the i3 clone I have, a really great sympathetic guy! There were people everywhere, working on all kinds of things, I’ve seen the print farm (which is certainly several times bigger by now), simply amazing.
Around New Years Eve of 2016, I started to wonder what I could improve on my printer, and the thought of a second printer came up. I wanted to print a printer, source all the parts and make another functional printer for myself. I’ve looked around on Thingiverse and other communities, but I couldn’t really find a printer that could meet my expectations. Some printers needed lasercut parts, which turned out to be rather expensive, or the objects to print took an immense amount of time. As I was sitting at my desk, complaining that I couldn’t find anything that I like, I figured that since I thought I could do it differently, I should just give it a go and build my own printer from scratch.
I didn’t want to make a rip-off like countless people reworking a Prusa i3 and slapping their own name on it. I wanted to build something that’s truly mine, with minimal inspiration from what is out there on the market. Which explains my average knowledge of most of the printers out there, because I refused to look further into their design, so if my printer would end up looking similar to another, it would be atleast a coincidence and not concious copying. I wanted to build a RepRap, and keep the core of the RepRap intact. It should be mostly printable, sturdy, printing great quality and easy to source parts for. And most challenging of all, try my best to make it look good.
It’s Winter, and I started with the base, the Y axis. I wanted the bed to be moving as low as possible, even trying to make the lowest moving bed currently known among Cartesian printers. I have no idea if I’ve succeeded, but the bed is much lower than the bed on my Wooden Frame i3, so that’s a succes in my book. Slowly I got stuck, not knowing how I should design a part, and was left with the base with an incomplete bed frame. Making a Y carriage from a lasercut part is peanuts, but back then, it wasn’t easy for me to build a sturdy bed frame out of printer parts and threaded rods. I was still doing my internship, later I got a job in Spring and some other duties, and my project came to a standstill. On and off I would work weekends on it, slowly but surely getting the right ideas that allowed me to make progress and continue with new parts. Summer, I quit my job, moved to Prague with my family members, and took some time off doing a side-job to think what I really want in my future. It sounds so cliche, but being without a job has been better for me than staying for another couple of months. I have been in Germany, Netherlands, Czech Republic, until Fall where I decided to stay for a couple of months.
I worked hard on developing the printer, and myself, made lots of progress, learned alot about 3d printers, wondering why I haven’t chosen engineering, but reassured myself that school would make me hate it anyway, so I guess it’s a good thing I chose business and economics. I went on to look for a 1mm nozzle in Prague, but I couldn’t find a single store with a 1mm nozzle. The parts I designed didn’t have any detail that would benefit from a 0,5mm nozzle, or lost with a 1mm one. Frustrated, I went to hornbach, got myself a 1mm drill piece and drilled out my own 0,5mm nozzle, and it’s one of the better things I’ve done. I printed 4 times as fast, the parts I printed with just 1 perimeter were pretty much indestructible, and it was simply incredible. My progress went supersonic, and finished the printer by mid-December, almost working, where I presented at the Makerslab in Prague and discussed about the development. A week later, I made my first prints with the printer, calibrated everything, and parts come out pretty perfect, especially for a printer with a BOM worth of less than 300 euro.
Looking back, I’ve learned alot about design and 3d printing and seeing more or less the truth about 3d products and in general. Do printers really have to be that expensive? Well, if you want one that is designed by a professional industrial designer from a company where the average pay is about 3500 euro monthly, you might pay a similar price for the printer, and price and quality don’t always go hand in hand, just sometimes. The difficulty doesn’t lie in e.g. making a car. A car is pretty simple, and the average automotive company could develop one that look like a box within days, but the real challange is to make it safe, look good, feel good, lightweight and strong, and anything else I have forgotten.
Also, why don’t so many printers use different nozzle sizes? Most is printed with a 0,5mm nozzle or smaller, and bigger nozzle sizes are frowned upon (it seems to me), because they don’t give you the detail. Why don’t manufacturers implement a Filament Runout Sensor? Auto Bed Leveling with an Inductive Proximity Sensor? Seemingly few people knowing about the Auto PID Calibration with a simple M-Code and some minutes of time? There are so many convenient functions in the Marlin firmware which are left unused, and that’s such a shame. The FRS and ABL only cost 6 bucks in material, and would make your 3d printing experience so much better.
I want to build a printer which uses as many functions as possible from Marlin to make the 3D printing experience as easy as it can get. One that costs just a fraction of the high-end FFF printers and rivals their quality. A printer with the core values of RepRap. It’s thanks to the RepRap Project of Adrian Bowyer that I got a 3d printer and got into it, and this is my way of gratitude. I’ve spent months on developing my printer, and once I am satisfied with the printer and license it under GPLv3.
I will upload everything on this website you will need:
- Fusion 360 files to edit the parts of the printer (Fusion 360 is a free software of up to 100.000 dollars of revenue per year, after that you pay roughly 200 dollars for a license).
- .STL files
- Bill of Materials (current prices and shops where you can get all the parts from).
- Building instructions (frame, firmware, electronics).
- Possibility to print the original 3d printed parts from me for 3D hubs prices.
All I do ask is, that if you will buy electronics and hardware for the printer, please use the links that I provided on my website. They are affiliate links from which the websites I redirect you to. The prices of the products I link to will remain the same for you, but the stores will compensate me for promoting their product. That way I can sustain this website financially and free up time to keep working on the RepRap Kocet while I have a full time job and other duties, and it won’t cost you a single cent or penny more.