Do 3D Printers Work?

Build Your Own 3D Printer

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.

Finding plans

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.

  1. 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:

  2. MendelMax Plans

    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.

  3. iPrusa Plans

    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.

Finding kits

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!

Your Thoughts

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.

Important Features of a 3D Printer

Hot End3D printers come in two forms. The Reprap type (which are what most of the 3D printers are today) like the MendelMax and Delta type like the Rostock or the Kossell type 3D printers. They do the same thing, but what is different is the configuration of the printer. The Rostok type 3D printers can print taller objects than the MendelMax type 3D printers. This is because a delta 3D printer is typically built taller. The two forms of a 3D printer do (in the end) produce the same results, an object printed by laying down layer upon lay of material.

Despite the difference in physical appearance, the two printers have a number of things in common. Things that you should be on the look for when you go to buy a 3D printer.

Things to look for when buying a 3D printers.

  1. Build area size
  2. Heated bed (or platform)
  3. Self-leveling Platform
  4. All metal extruder unit
  5. All metal frame
  6. Control panel with microSD slot.

These things form the basis of all you future 3D printing needs. Here is the breakdown as to why I see these things as important to a 3D printer.

Build Area Size

This represents that maximum size of an object you can print on the printer. If the object is bigger, then you are going to have to print it in smaller pieces, then assemble it for the final object. To break an object into smaller pieces, you are going to have to re-design it, making it like a simple puzzle. For most people, this may be difficult to do because you will need to know how to operate the 3D design software.

Heated Bed

cropped-Printrbot_Simple_Metal_-_personal_3D_printer_14164937223.jpgVarious materials cool at different rates then others. Some materials when they cool, can cool too fast new the edges where the object makes contact with the bed. When this happens, the object tends to curl up at the edges which deforms the object. This is usually not a good thing. By simply heating the bed, it eliminates this problem.

Self-Leveling Platform

For the 3D printer to print correctly, the print platform must be align to the printers X & Z axis. This means that when the printer prints things, no matter where the hot-end is located over the platform, it will always be at the same height. This is a tedious thing to do manual, but simple for the computer (micro-controller) to do. All you do is press a button on the control panel (if there is one) to auto-level to the platform, and the printer does the rest.

All Metal Extruder Unit

The extruder unit is made up of two pieces, the extruder and the hot-end. Some times, the extruder is made of plastic. Some times, parts of the hot-end are made of a type of plastic called, peek. When any parts of the extruder is made of some type of plastic, then it introduces limitations on the types of materials you can print.


The reason you want an all metal extruder unit is because the hot-end is where the material is heated then laid down on the platform. But some material require more heat to melt the material. Now, if the hot-end is not all metal, then it may be made of a material that will melt when the hot-end heats up to the required temperature for the material you want to print with. That is why you want a hot-end make of metal. The hot-end attaches to the extruder, which could melt the extruder depending upon the way the hot-end attaches to the extruder. Now, if the entire extruder unit is make of metal, then all the better.

All Metal Frame

This is really only a requirement from my point of view. Having a very sturdy frame, helps to ensure a good clean print; thereby making the quality of the printed object great. Frames can be made of wood, acyclic, or even printed plastic. If you are buying a completely assemble 3D printer (or if you are buy a partially completed printer where the frame is completed), then you are going to want the frame to be made of metal. This will give the best possible chance for the frame to arrive undamaged as it makes it way through the transportation system.

Control Panel With microSD Slot

The 3D printer does not need a control panel. Your computer, laptop, or tablet can do run the printer. But if you do decided to have a control panel, make sure that it has a microSD slot. This way, you can run your 3D printer without any external controlling device; like a computer, laptop, tablet, or cell phone. Just load the file of the object you want to print onto the microSD card, then put the microSD card into the slot for it on the control panel, press start, and off goes the printer, printing your object. This frees up the computer to do other things like surfing the Internet.

Now, come control panels may come without a microSD port. These work fine. You just will not be able to run the printer without the computer controlling things.

If the 3D printer you selected can do these things, then you have the makings of a very good 3D printer.

If you have a comment about the above information or, if you have any type of question(s) related to 3D printers, please just ask within the comment area below.  I am here to help.

Does a 3d printer work well if its prices are cheap?

A Two Color 3D Printer
A Very Nice And Expensive Two Color 3D printer.

In a word … Yes, sorta! Here’s why. 3D printers come in all kinds of shapes, forms, and layouts. From small (mostly for jewelry), to very large (what large object do you want to print?). The first question you need to ask yourself is, what do I want a 3D printer to print?

Are you printing automotive parts? Are you printing furniture? Are you printing drones? Are you printing a 3D printer? All of these questions are on the table, and are very valid. So, what do you intend to print with your 3D printer?

Read more

Why Are 3D Printers So Pricey?

extrude runit
The Extruder Unit

If you take a look at a lot of the available 3D printers on the market, they are really pricey. But what makes them cost so much?

Is it the parts, or the size of the unit, or is it just because the companies can charge a premium for them? Lets get you knowledgeable about the important parts of a 3D printer, so you can judge for yourself what you think a 3D printer should cost.

A 3D printer is made up of a number of different parts.  By themselves, many of the parts of the printer are not very expensive.  From the power supply, the micro-controller, the motors,  cables & wires, and the frame, each can go for around a hundred dollars if you not careful where you purchase them from.

Add in the cost of the table the object is printed on and all the components of that table, and you still only have about another one hundred dollars.  If the printer has a display panel, and can print for a USB stick will also add to the price.

Considering that a company would purchase these items in bulk, you have to dig a little deeper to understand why the cost is so high.

Well, here are a few components that make up a 3D printer that can easily push up the price.

Read more

Monoprice Maker Select 3D Printer Review

Product Description

Monoprice manufactures the Maker Select 3D Printer. Monoprice (the company) has been in business since 2002 and makes a number of different products including two 3D printers. The Monoprice Maker Select 3D Printer was selected for its ease of construction and relative inexpensive price.

Product: Monoprice Maker Select 3D Printer
Price: $349.00
Shipping: Free
Place to Buy: Amazon
Guarantee: 30 day money back guarantee
Warranty: 1 year replacement
My Rating: 6.5Comes in only one color: Black.

Read more

Are 3D Pens Safe For Kids?

3D pens are a new tool in the 3D creative world. Like a 3D printer, you can print just about anything you want. But unlike a 3D printer, a 3D pen can venture far outside the bounds of what a 3D printer can do. 3D pens do lack the precision of a 3D printer. So, if you are looking to create something with good accuracy, then a 3D printer is what you want. However, if you are looking to unlock your creativity, you need a 3D pen.

Read more

The most important part of a 3D printer is …

The PRUSA 3D Printer
The red surface shown above represents the build area of the printer.

Hi Everyone. If you have read any of my post on 3D printing, the one thing you may have noticed is that I talk about the build area, a lot. The build area is the flat area where the part is printed. In my opinion, the build area is the most important part of a 3D printer.

The size of the build area is usually given by a three dimensional set of numbers, (eg. 5” X 5” X 5” ) which refers to the maximum width, depth, and height of a printed object for that specific printer. When purchasing a 3D printer, you should buy one with the biggest build area that you can afford.

There is a method to my Madness.

Read more

Cheap 3D Printers for Newbies

640px-The_Bukobot_Reprap_3D_PrinterYou are at the point where you want to seriously look at a 3D printer you can own. Of all the things that may concern you, the prices is a very important factor in this discussion. So, what are some of the more inexpensive 3D printers on the market that are of good quality and cheap to operator? I have a few choices for you that I think you are going to like.

Many of the 3D printers on the market come from China, and will take four to six weeks to get here. Since many of the Chinese 3D printer manufactures are new startups (just a year or two old), I am going to stir clear of many of them for now. But I will keep my eyes on them as we move into the future. Read more

Scroll To Top