Electronics and Software.
Once you have your hardware together you can start to make it move and do stuff.
The Reprap printers are Belt driven from stepper motors (X & Y) and a pair of lead screws for Z.
T5 Belts have been superceeded by T2.5 belts.
We use NEMA 17 Motors. Must have Good Holding torque.
Something like SY42STH47-1684B from Zapp Automation in the UK are ideal.
DO NOT scrimp on the X, Y and Extruder stepper motors. You can howeve use lower power motors for the Z.
The RepRap Community (and others) have developed their own electronics and it is a minefiled out there.
Most RepRap stuff is based around the AT Mega chips and Arduino boards. i'll try and summerise the options here.
Gen3: Obsolite and will not work with current firmware.
Gen3+: Obsolite but will (with some work) Work with current firmware.
All the Gen 3 Series requires separate Motor Drives and End Stop Boards.
Gen 4 and 5 never took off.
Gen 6: developed by Mendel-parts.com is a really nice attempt at a 1 board solution.
It's stepper drives will only do 1/8 stepping. This makes your printer noisy as hell.
It has no Heated Bed support.
Current Firmware will run with some work.
I have one of these boards gathering dust, it's simply far far to noisy.
Gen7: A well respected low cost and full featured DIY solution. Well worth looking at but still being developed.
RAMPS: The most popular current electronics. It's a shield that plugs into an Arduino Mega board.
Works with all current software and Firmware.
Uses 4 separate 1/16 stepping Polulu Drivers
Has support for 3 end stops, 2 Heaters (Nozzle + Bed) and 1 fan.
A very good choice.
Sanguinolulu: My Preferred Choice.
Missing the Fan controller that RAMPS Has. That's about all.
It's a stand alone 1 board solution.
Easy PTH Soldering (except for the FTDI chip).
Image attached from my Reprap mendel.
There are Other Electronics solutions out there that may or may not perfom well. I have not seen used or tested anyning not in this list so am unable to pass comment.
You then need 3 End stops for X, Y and Z.
Many People use Micro switches. They are low cost and easy to buy.
I prefer Opto End stops. They seem to be more repeatable than the switches, especially for Z.
Aim for 22 - 30 W of power.
@ 12 volts that's between 5 and 7 ohms
I use 6.8 Ohm 3 watt wire wound resistors.
Bed Plate Heater: Aim for 100 - 150 watts.
@ 12 Volts that about 1 Ohm.
Minimum 300 watts @ 12 volts.
You can hack about an old PC Supply but put a load on the 5V rail or the 12 V supply will drop causing Brown outs.
Without a Heated bed 100 W will happily run the printer.
Software tool Chain.
To drive a reprap you need 3 things.
Tell the motors what to do.
Control the Temps of you Bed Plate and Nozzle.
Look after end stops etc.
Look after Calibration (Steps per mm)
There are 2 Current Firmware tool chains, Marlin and Sprinter, that are worth looking at.
I prefer Sprinter myself. Config / Calibration is quick and easy and I get some really nice prints from it.
Marlin is also very popular but i have not used it myself.
The firmware is uploaded to your board using the arduino software from www.arduino.cc
The Slicer software eats your .stl Object files and converts them to g-code files that your Firmware can convert to movement and Filament feed
Again several choices here.
Slic3r is considered to be the best around at the moment but I have not used this myself.
I Use SFACT, which is no longer being developped.
It works just fine for everything that I have ever wanted to print.
Repsnapper is great but very limited. I suggest you avoid it.
This one is easy. Pronterface is by far the leader here.
It's full featured and well put together.
This is where you start your print jobs from and do things like Home it and set Temperatures.
Again, theer are other Software and Firmware packages available. No doubt some are very very good but i'm writing this from my own personal experiences.
All the Soft / firm ware will run on Mac, PC or Linux.
Full Details of all the products can be found on the Reprap Wiki at http://www.reprap.org