Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Computer Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Advisor 1

Joshua M. Pearce

Committee Member 1

Zhaohui Wang

Committee Member 2

Gowtham S.


This thesis attempts to show how an open source 3-D printer platform, the self replicating rapid prototype (RepRap), could be used to accelerate the development of research and manufacturing tools. Two projects are shown as examples, both utilizing components of the 3-D printer platform.

The first project is to develop an instrument capable of performing automated large-area four-point probe measurements. A modified RepRap 3-D Printer with a four-point probe in place of the 3-D printer head is utilized as a precision positioning platform. The printer together with custom designed measurement circuit and software performs automated measurement on multiple points on the sample. Three-part experiments were performed to validate the system performance and it was found to be comparable to existing commercial equipment. The developed system is fully open sourced and cost 70% less than manual proprietary systems.

The second project tried to build large size fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3-D printers (2 x 1 x 0.6 meters) by retrofitting an existing CNC machine frame with FFF print head and single board computer running open source 3-D printer controller software. A variety of 3-D object was printed to showcase the printer capability to print simple and complex objects.

The result of both projects is comparable to existing commercial equipment and showed how researchers, engineers and makers could use existing open source 3-D printer platform to accelerate the development of research and manufacturing tools.