RepRap HELIOS is a highly printable SCARA 3D printer. It has an outrageous print area and can print on almost any flat surface.

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Current 3D printing practices never seemed quite right to me. Our tech world is full of amazing robots with amazing capabilities while our 3D printers are usually stuck in a box. I am hoping to do my part to peel that box back a bit and show off some possibilities.

RepRap HELIOS is a 3D printer that uses a SCARA arm while at the same time has no moving steppers. It is tiny, light, quick, accurate, and has a massive print area.

The design is parametric so all of the details can be modified.

Build Area: 5 times bigger than a 200x200mm printer.

Build Height: 100mm

Speed: Prints well at 30mm/s but have printed at 90mm/s with acceptable results. More testing is needed.

Accuracy: Calibration cubes have been shown to be square in all dimensions and dimensionally accurate +/-0.4mm

Precision: It is a SCARA so hard to say and microstepping helps but can't be fully trusted. Let's just say at full steps it is good enough and in practice it is awesome.

Auto Bed Leveling: Yes

Endstops: No. I use a magic accelerometer to fully characterize the machine.

LCD Panel: Yes. Why have I never used one before? They are awesome for standalone printing.

Controller: Smoothieware compatable

Firmware: Heavily modified custom Smoothieware

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  • Version 2 Arm Demo

    Nicholas Seward12/18/2017 at 22:39 4 comments

    It is way overtime for an update.  We have been working on it for months and have "wasted" tons of plastic.  We are now quickly conversion on an updated working prototype.  The video has some of the specifics of the updates.  More to come after the holiday break.

  • Brain Fart

    Nicholas Seward05/01/2017 at 20:14 18 comments

    I have been furiously working to get out v0.2 that fixes many of the issues I found in v0.1 (the first prototype). I did a fair bit of design work in Autodesk Inventor because I am most comfortable with it. Once I felt good about the design, I moved over to Onshape and started remodeling the design but this time I made it highly parametric. The idea is that you can change a few parameters to make the parts suit your on hand components and personal goals. Everything was going well until I took a break to work on the kinematics of the new layout. I immediately found a core flaw that caused the whole redesign to fall apart like dominoes.


    Can you see it? The bottom belt can't do anything. I swear I thought about this being a problem and then figured a solution around it but here it is. I have a solution for this but I have to start from the ground up again. This design is very interdependent and all the parts have to work in concert. I actually like the new direction better but it has delayed me a week.

    I am obviously still working on the design and am not ready to publish step by step instructions for this project. However, in a show of good faith, I have uploaded my working prototype files and firmware. I can't stress enough that no one should build it directly. There are some easy things that could be fixed. (belt tensioners, fixed arm lengths, increased mechanical advantage, plastic reduction)

    Prototype Files

    Warning: I provide the files as is. Please don't build this version. If anyone decides to build a HELIOS from these files, they will be on their own. I am working furiously (with precious little free time) to finish v0.2. I will gladly provide support for v0.2 builders. Any time that I have to spend supporting a v0.1 build will take away the time I have to devote to v0.2.

  • Adventures in Firmware

    Nicholas Seward04/24/2017 at 03:56 3 comments

    Alright. Lot's to cover here so let's dive in.

    This printer requires quite a special firmware package. I have been modifying Smoothieware but there are a lot of bells and whistles I had to add. Here is a short list.

    • Lazy arm mode switching (when you get to a place where the current arm mode can't go...switch but don't switch back until you are forced to.)
    • Machine coordinate moves when rapidly moving. (Say you move from one side of the build platform to the other. The quickest way is to swing the arm in an arc instead of going in a straight line.)
    • Codes for setting machine coordinates
    • Homing with a common end stop (accelerometer)
    • Incremental bed leveling (The bed is 5 times bigger than a normal 3D printer and you can reach most of it in 2 arm modes so the probing required is 10 more than typical. To combat that I have come up with a way to probe as you need where ever you need.)

    As of now, all of these items have been prototyped and put into firmware with the exception of the accelerometer probing. I have only done an offline proof of concept of the accelerometer probing but I am convinced it will work. Check out these videos for more details.

    It has been a wild quick ride. I will leave firmware for awhile to help let my brain recouperate. I am now on finalizing RepRap HELIOS v0.2. I hope to order parts tomorrow and have it working by the following week.

  • Background

    Nicholas Seward04/22/2017 at 05:16 0 comments

    I put pen to paper just 19 days ago. It has progressed faster than I would have ever dreamed. I would have posted more here but I didn't even know about this until a few days ago.

    I teach at a residential high school in Arkansas for gifted students. I had one of my students work on a 1-arm SCARA mockup that has been bouncing around in my brain since the first time I saw a RepRap Morgan.

    The results where more than promising. We quickly started making plans to turn it into a 3D printer. My intention was to bring my student along on the design journey but I was a dog with a bone and I could now see what this could be. I cranked up AutoDesk Inventor and quickly cranked out this.

    I ordered all the vitamins and started printing all parts. I quickly got a functional arm together.

    I then set to work on making the firmware take care of the kinematics. Shortly thereafter, printing!

    I have taken it so much further than this but I think this is a good place to wrap up the first post.

View all 4 project logs

Enjoy this project?



Jurre wrote 02/15/2020 at 09:16 point

Does anyone know were to find the files? Looks like an amazing project!

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jaymcd wrote 11/09/2018 at 21:00 point

Hey guys, any update - love to try and make one of these.

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Nate wrote 12/19/2017 at 15:35 point

He just posted an update on Youtube

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ray wrote 10/26/2017 at 01:37 point

This appears to have become Vaporware?   Will this project continue?  How many years from now?

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engelkind000 wrote 11/29/2017 at 22:55 point

Check out their G+ page, 2 weeks ago they said they are on track for a partial reveal in Dec.

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Florian Festi wrote 10/07/2017 at 00:13 point

I am so tempted to make a laser cut version of this. But I must resist and finish my other projects first. But it just screams "laser cut me". All those flat parts and a box and pulleys. I can't see any part that can't be made from flat material aka plywood.

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marty.swartz wrote 08/25/2017 at 15:48 point

Alas, summer crawls inexorably toward its end. How's it going, Nicholas? Can you spare us a photo or quick video?  We're all sitting on peas and noodles out here!

"I am on track to have a full release of all the files by the end of the summer."

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samern wrote 07/25/2017 at 14:27 point

Personally, I can't wait to see this ready to roll.  I even have the vitamins set aside for it.

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Tony Sun wrote 07/10/2017 at 06:15 point

Yeah really great to hear from you as well, was worried since didn't hear anything from you on the google+, but great to see you weren't assimilated :D

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sander wrote 07/03/2017 at 19:04 point

Great to hear from you and that all is well :)

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marty.swartz wrote 06/29/2017 at 17:55 point

Ironic?  You're a teacher, dad, husband, and (until recently) grad student. No end of busy. Can we beg of you, PLEASE, to give us one still photo a week? (We're dying of curiosity out here.)

P.s. Glad you didn't get assimilated. ;)

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Nicholas Seward wrote 06/28/2017 at 17:32 point

Haha.  No fear guys.  I am back to work on this project.  Its ironic that I am a teacher but summer break is busier than normal.  I am on track to have a full release of all the files by the end of the summer.

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Nocturnal wrote 06/30/2017 at 19:38 point

Just glad to hear you are alive and well.

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sander wrote 06/28/2017 at 15:21 point

But even if he is assimilated by the MakerBorg, maybe he can leave us a message :)

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marty.swartz wrote 06/25/2017 at 19:11 point

So, you know how happy your dog is to see you when you've been away for a while? It's because they were worried that you were eaten by a larger animal.  

I fear that Nicholas has been Borged by Makerbot. 

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sander wrote 06/24/2017 at 20:20 point

Hi Nicholas, i hope all is well with you?

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Nocturnal wrote 06/24/2017 at 05:47 point

So any chance of a quick update Nicholas? Even if it's just to let us know you are indeed still among the living.

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Luke C. Ruppersburg, Jr. wrote 05/30/2017 at 08:04 point

I was quite a fan of the Simpson printers, and now that I'm considering building a printer (partly as a learning experience, partly to get a better understanding of 3d printers, partly because I want a very large build volume printer for cosplay and other stuff) I decided to see if any advancements had been made on the simpson printers. I check your youtube channel and see this thing and wonder if it's yours... yep, it is. Yep, it's amazing.

When files are available I'll definitely build one just to see how it is. Until then, I'll have to research core XY designs and maybe try and set up a small simpson printer. 

What sort of costs are you expecting for this printer? Is it going to be as low vitamin as the simpson?

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marty.swartz wrote 06/05/2017 at 15:46 point

Watch all of the project videos. Indeed there are very few vitamins. I recall in some previous comments that Nicholas was predicting a built cost of $600. We shall see.

HEY NICHOLAS!   It's June now, time to let her rip!

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Nicholas Seward wrote 06/28/2017 at 17:34 point

I would definitely steer you away from Simpson to HELIOS.  Simpson is experimental while this printer has all the features needed to be a daily printer.

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marty.swartz wrote 05/26/2017 at 00:59 point

*crickets*   ....very -WATCHFUL AND EAGER- crickets out here waiting with their bated cricket breath.

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Peter Stojcsics wrote 05/25/2017 at 16:15 point

Can't wait for the 0.2!

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Robert Chave wrote 05/19/2017 at 22:55 point

Nicely done. A portion of this may work well for a colleagues need for a small, low cost, limited life, pick and place robot.  

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Klaverentwee wrote 05/19/2017 at 18:15 point

I just love this idea and will definitely build one. I especially love the high level of RepRap DNA and low level of vitamins. Have already started to source some parts I don't see changing. 

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