If it cost to much, build it yourself
3D printers are starting to become more available now. With the number of available 3D printers, you are sure to find one that fits your needs; but maybe not your budget. 3D printers can be very expensive to buy, even if you spread the payments over time. What about taking a different path to getting a 3D printer?
You could just build one from scratch. Instead of getting a fully assembled 3D printer, you could get a printer in kit form. Or you could just get the plans for a 3D printer and order all the parts yourself. It not easy building a 3D printer from scratch; but it is fun. And you learn the inner workings of a 3D printer, which gives you the opportunity to enhance your device if you so choose.
Remember, that a 3D printer kit is not an easy undertaking. If you have experience building large electro-mechanical devices, then press on.
If you have no experience in building large electro-mechanical devices, I recommend that you purchase a fully assembled unit. Or a partial assembled unit (around 90% assembled).
Otherwise, if you are still determined to build your own 3D printer, then at least find a local electronics and/or robotic club that you can join and ask its members to assist you if problems should arise.
Kit vs Plans
If you are going to build your own 3D printer, you are going to need the plans to build it. You can purchase 3D printer kits with all the components needed to assemble the unit. Or, you could buy a 3D printer that is mostly assembled, which would only require a little work on your part.
Or, you can go totally rogue and get your hands on the plans to build a 3D printer, then source all the parts yourself.
Either way, you need to first decide which type of 3D printer you are going to construct. You have the Rostock type. This type of 3D printer is typically taller than the other types of printers, and its base is normally between 6 inches to 12 inches in diameter. When a Rostock printer is modified, it is usually modified in the vertical direction. You would be able to build taller objects.
Next, is the MendelMax version. This type of 3D printer is very stable, due to the triangle shape of the frame. It has been shown that an average adult male can stand of the frame without any problems (though I would not try that if I were you). The plans for this model are available in versions 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, & 3.0; so select the one that most appeals to you. FYI, version 1.0 is considered to be the most stable framed version.
Lastly, is the Prusa i3 3D printer. This is a sturdy model built into a kind of an “L” shape. What is great about this model, is that it is easily customizable. You can alter with the Y axis (the build platform) or the vertical structure to enhance this build.
The model that I have the most experience with is the MendelMax 1.0 version. However, the model that can be expanded the simplest, is the Prusa i3 model. If you are going to build your own 3D printer, then the Prusa i3 model is the one I suggest you purchase.
You should be able to find the plans for a 3D printer on the Internet. To simplify things for you, I have compiled a short list of the different kinds of 3D printers that you may want to use to build your own 3D printer.
Delta (Rostock) Plans
The plans for the Rostock MAX can be found here: RostockMax
Look for the BOM (build of material) files with the options to build the file using either wood or acrylic. If needed, go here for a forum on the deltabot printers:
The plans for the MendelMax version 1.0 through 2.0 can be found here: MendelMax
You will also find instructions to assemble the device, & the BOM list as well.
This plans for the Prusa i3 can befound here: Prusa i3
The Prusa i3 assemble documentation can be found here: Prusa i3 Documentation
Most of these plans, tell you from what supplier(s) you can order the parts from. Pay close attention to the measurement system; you do not want to mix different measurement system parts. If you do, you will have a hard time getting things to fit together properly.
Be careful when purchasing a 3D printer kit. Make sure that it is a complete kit. Here is an example. Look at this image of parts for a 3D printer. Can you tell what is missing?
To save you some time, what is missing is the frame, nuts, screws, bolts, and other hardware pieces needed to build a complete 3D printer.
Most of the time, you will find that 3D printer kits are actually a subset of a complete 3D printer. So, if you are looking for a 3D printer kit, make sure that it is a complete 3D printer kit.
Work space needed
You are going to need a large space to assemble your 3D printer. In a pinch, the floor will do. Many a person has use the floor as their workbench for large projects to assemble.
Time frame to build
There is a lot of parts to a 3D printer, so assembling one will take some time. From a few hours to a couple of days, depending upon your skill level. When I built my MendelMax 3D printer, I took my time to ensure that I got it right. So, it took me about four and a half days to assemble it. I just was not in a rush. The good thing about taking your time, is when the printer is fully assembled, it works the first time, and works well. In the assembly phase, taking your time pays off.
Must Calibrate Printer
3D printers need to be calibrated before you can use it. This is to ensure that all axis move the right distance as they travel round the build platform area. Typically, when you buy an assembled printer, the calibration is already done; so you have nothing to do calibration wise. Just plug in the printer and start printing, in accordance with the directions supplied with the printer.
The calibration numbers produced for a printer, can be very different from one printer to another printer of the same type. So, don’t just go and copy someone else’s calibration values thinking that they will work n your printer. They just may not!
Building your own 3D printer from a kit or plans is one way to get what you want. It is fun, a learning experience, and a challenge for anyone to undertake. But the reward is having an assembled 3D printer that you fully understand. A printer that you could modify if you wanted too! A printer that you can look as being uniquely your own.
So … do you still want to build your own 3D printer?
I hope you found this information useful. If you have any thoughts about this post (positive or negative), or any questions, please add them to the comment section below.