What is a 3D printer?
A 3D printer is a machine that can create a solid object, rather than simply a pattern on paper.
How does a 3D printer work?
There are several methods for actually creating the object, however they all involve slicing a 3D model into layers and fusing material together on each layer to slowly build up the object.
What is RepRap?
RepRap is an international open source project to create a Fused Filament Fabricator. This is a type of 3D printer that creates objects by fusing plastic, layer by layer.
What other methods can 3D printers use?
Selective Laser Sintering is fairly common in industry, this method involves making a flat layer of powder, then fusing selected areas with a laser. Any material which can be powdered and subsequently fused by heat works with this method, including metal, glass, plastic and ceramics.
Another method involves projecting the layer pattern onto UV-cured resin. See 3d home made for an example of this method.
I have also seen printers that deposit droplets of glue and/or ink into fine sawdust, and other suitable materials.
How much does a reprap cost?
The project goal has always been a cost of less than $1000. A kit can be purchased for less than $900.
How much does the filament cost?
How many parts does a kilogram of filament print?
1kg of filament can print 392 chess pieces. An entire set of printed parts consumes about half a kilogram of filament.