Saturday, 14 June 2008


Kyle Corbitt has designed a RepRapable solar collector described here.

The structure is made up from a triangular lattice like this : -

The risers only overhang 30°C, so they are no problem but the horizontal beam looks like it should need support material. Kyle asked me to try building it without, so I gave it a go. Here is what it looked like after it was made: -

Very hairy but basically sound. This is it after being cleaned up with a scalpel: -

It took about 45 minutes to make and used only 7g of ABS, not including the raft. Head travel while not extruding was about 42% of the filament length but as I move twice as fast as I extrude that was only 21% of the time.

Despite the risers only being about 3.7mm thick it is very strong and rigid. I loaded the centre of the beam to 1.5Kg and it showed no sign of breaking. I also loaded one end to 6Kg with no sign of movement, so the beam could easily support 10Kg and possibly a lot more.

At the top of the base beams the triangular section goes down to zero width. The top four layers are only one filament wide so are very fragile. I don't think they add much to the strength so it would be better to truncate the top of the triangle. Interesting though because it is the first time I tried to make something this thin (0.6mm) in ABS.

Enrique added an option to make the infill go along the length of bridges but it is not actually needed for this shape. The top beam has an inverted triangular section so the first layer of it is just two parallel outlines which span the gap. The rest of the beam builds out from this at 30° so it does not matter which way the infill goes. The first few layers did sag a bit but the top of the beam is flat. An inter layer pause may have reduced the sagging.

So this looks like a good way to make large structures that are light and quick to build, but still strong.


  1. Excellent result. Next time you try extruding into fresh air, perhaps you could post a video?

  2. Fantastic result there with the bridge, but have you experimented with overhangs to see how far a cantilever structure can extend without flopping? This stuff's cooler than Lego