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Making a 3D printer?

Making a 3D printer?

Making a 3D printer?


A bit off topic I guess but I wondered if anyone like me has an interest in a low cost 3D printer i.e. like a Printrbot? The thing is that from what I see I can't easily get one in the UK because they are either out of stock or in any case where would I buy? The real gist of this question then is how do I make one myself? Has anyone already been down this route annd can help me out?

Being a SolidWorks designer I have no issues with the mechanics of the device. In fact I design precision motorised drives so that part I fully understand. I believe the software is open source so available but the problem I have is with the drive electronics. Anyone got suggestions on where I could get something to drive the essential features of the device i.e. the motors, print head etc? Does it have to be a purpose made controller or could I use something more general purpose? Where could I source a suitable print head (extruder)?

If anyone can help out with this I'm happy to share info.


RE: Making a 3D printer?

We have had some home-built stuff and currently have commercial machines from 3DS, zCorp, Dimensions and Stratasys.
Save yourself a lot of money and time. There are many good machines avialable for relatively low costs.

RE: Making a 3D printer?

Do a search for 'reprap', it's a complete opensource (software and component models) solution and they talk about building the extruder head and how to source the electronics, i think. Very cool project.


Kirby Wilkerson

Remember, first define the problem, then solve it.

RE: Making a 3D printer?

Freddy The print heads, as Kerby sezs, are available, as are the stepper motors and drivers.About 60 oz motors and the head is a ceramic heater gizmo for about $50.00 US. All you have to make is a frame (x,Y and Z) to suit your needs. It looks like a decent machine.I also have been looking around. EBay (electronics) turns up a lot of "stuff" Also a couple of name brand used machines.The used machines all seem to be older models, some well used and some fairly newish. Wish you luck. Art L buildparts.com,desktopfactory.com,sourcegraphics.com, some sites I found.

RE: Making a 3D printer?


It looks like a decent machine.

Looks, or is?

These might look like fun DIY projects, but significant R&D has gone into machines that really work.
If you want to experiment, that is fine - we have built machines that are fun to watch.
If you want to print parts - purchase a commercial machine that has millions of dollars of R&D and experience gained from thousands of units out in the field.

The cost of these machines is falling rapidy. In the near future I think it is going to be similar to 2D printers - the printer will be sold at nearly cost and the profit made from selling the build material.

RE: Making a 3D printer?

rollupswx, that sure is a familiar theme: rely on those who developed the technology to price it fairly and forget about open source work. I run into the same thing with my cloned radio control system with GNU sourced firmware updates and hardware mods. Right now it is better than the original.
I think you are right about the cost trend being downwards.
The RepRap system is fine now for hold in your hand and show marketing representations and scale modelling. It is developing into a real part system as thousands of people work on it.

Hardie "Crashj" Johnson
SW 2011 SP 4.0
HP Pavillion Elite HPE
W7 Pro, Nvidia Quaddro FX580

RE: Making a 3D printer?

Snow man That is what I am looking for.Show and tell, as opposed to making functional Parts.I really don't have a large enough volume of work to invest $ 15000 or so buckos. And I don't see the need expanding. I am 70+ old, and basically helping a few old friends get some projects off the ground.I am going to explore these "home brew" machines some more, but for my needs it looks good enough. I have a Solidworks licence,MasterCam CNC software,One series 2 Bridgeport with
4 axis, A couple of Hand bridgeports, a couple of engine lathes.A really nice "old guy" hobby shop.I just hobby on my old cars and bikes, and do a job or two to make money for my hobbies. Art L

RE: Making a 3D printer?


rollupswx, that sure is a familiar theme: rely on those who developed the technology to price it fairly and forget about open source work.

My opinion is that there is enough competition in this field that the available machines are priced fairly. Go ahead - build your "home brew". Be sure and come back and show off the results. I'm betting even show and tell results will be harder to come by than you might think.

Keep an eye out for sub $7.5k USD small build envelope machines making news.

RE: Making a 3D printer?

rollup do you have a web site? for this machine? As i said, i'm looking, and can't justify $15000.00 + cash outlay.

RE: Making a 3D printer?

Hi to all that responded to my post. I am surprsed that so much info about design and parts are already available. The quick look on eBay was a real eye opener! I'm going to continue with a paper configuration exercise to conclude what I can obtain to build my printer and at what cost.

Just a couple of points though; some have suggested that there are cheap printers already out there. The answer is yes and no - I have chosen to disregard those made in the US as not only are they made using imperial fasteners etc but having looked they are either out of stock or the shipping costs to the UK are ridiculous! In any case I really don't want to spend many hundreds or even a thousand or so £'s. Further than that, some have said that when you can already obtain parts of better quality from service suppliers in just a few days why bother? My answer to that is that I already do that - a lot. Sometimes though I need something of lesser quality but really don't want to wait days for it. And in any case it easy to run up a pretty big bill in no time at all.


RE: Making a 3D printer?

Just because something is made in America does NOT automatically mean that it was assembled using Imperial fasteners.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Making a 3D printer?

I agree with John about the fasteners.

For having a printer, I suggest leasing one short term to get the feel of having one before jumping into owning or building one.

SolidWorks 11
ctopher's home
SolidWorks Legion

RE: Making a 3D printer?

Leasing? We are just so not on the same planet!

RE: Making a 3D printer?

Have you taken into account the 'soft costs' of actually owning and running the printer?

Paying for ink whether you use it or not, having to presumably clean the damn thing occasionally, routine maintenance...

Many of the services provide very quick turns for the right price.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Making a 3D printer?

Having looked around at what is available, either as parts or complete machines, kits included, I decided to just get on and buy something. Truth is I'm so busy that building and designing something just wouldn't happen! On the other hand, having the facility to play with models in my hand quickly is not going away and I have spent a fortune on buying in FDM parts for customers who need ergonomic or 'show and tell' models etc. I realise that lower cost machines are not going to be as good as some used by service providers but then I can't afford, nor need, those machines much of the time.

So, I took the plunge and bought a dual extruder Leapfrog Creatr. Waiting for delivery in the next week or so and will report when I have it if that is of interest.

RE: Making a 3D printer?

I'm sure the subject is of interest to many here.
We await your experience and unbiased report.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Making a 3D printer?

Just printed some parts on this machine today.
This is not a cheap experimental.
This is an very inexpensive machine ($1300USD)that does a good job.
I am impressed with this machine.


RE: Making a 3D printer?

Good choice rollupswx

Now you need Alibre to go with it wink

The good engineer does not need to memorize every formula; he just needs to know where he can find them when he needs them. Old professor

RE: Making a 3D printer?

I'm looking seriously at on of these... www.solidoodle.com

Jack L Tate - Xtreme Tower Products - SolidWorks 2011 - Windows XP Pro - RocketFish Mouse - SpaceNavigator - Slacker Radio - Swingline Stapler - Pop Tarts - C8H10N4O2 - Rental Bowling Shoes - Titanuim Spork - And that's all I need!

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