How To Make Your Own 3D Printer

If you are thinking about how to make your own 3d printer, it means you are already a 3d printing enthusiast. Well, you may be a hobbyist or just a first-timer who is excited about owning a DIY 3D printer.

How to make your own 3d printer
Photo Credits: brian nz, Flickr.com

What Is a DIY 3D Printer?

A DIY 3D printer is a type of printer built manually by an Individual. It can be built from scratch or by assembling a printer kit. A DIY 3D printer is usually affordable and easy to operate. In addition, it can be designed according to personal specifications.

There are tons of 3d printer brands in the market. Most of them work straight out of the box but you will need to use the specified filament.

What Are the Types of 3D Printer Brands?

The types of 3D printer brands are:

1. Formlabs

2. Ultimaker

3. MakerBot

4. Monoprice

5. Peopoly phenom

6. Toybox

7. XYZ Da Vinci

8. LulzBolt Mini

9. Polaroid Playsmart

However, if you are thinking about getting one of such brands, ensure you read reviews from various customers.

Furthermore, some of us love to build stuff from scratch and would prefer a DIY 3d printer. From research, it was discovered that members of the 3d printing community are keener on DIY 3d printers than the other brands.

What Are the Methods Of Building a DIY 3D Printer?

The methods of building a DIY 3D printer include:

1. Complete customized printer

2. 3D printer kit

These methods will be discussed in detail as you read on.

Complete Customized Printer

In this method, you will build the printer from the very beginning. You will have to fix every nut, screw, bolt, and wire.

What Are the Advantages of Complete Customized Printer Method?

The advantages of complete customized printer method are:

1. It provides learning opportunities

2. It helps you to understand how the machine works better

3. It makes repair easier. If it develops any fault, you can easily trace the problem and get it fixed.

So, if you are a first-timer or an amateur 3d printer user, you just need to take some time out and get trained. This is because a 3d printer has a lot of smaller parts that may be confusing when you try to assemble them.

Is It Easy to Build a Complete Customized Printer?

It is not easy to build a complete customized printer. It requires time, patience, and skills to create it. Therefore, you need a high level of technical know-how to build a complete customized printer.

3D Printer Kit

What is a 3D Printer Kit?

A 3D printer kit is a box that contains the various parts of a 3D printer for assemblage. It comes with the necessary hardware tools needed for creating a DIY 3D printer. Additionally, it is necessary to read and understand the user manual before you start coupling the parts.

If you are in a hurry or do not have the required skill to build a complete customized printer, this is for you. This 3d printer kit can be found in various online stores.

It comes with a manual that contains detailed instructions on how to assemble the parts. The kit also contains every bit of what you need to know about your DIY 3d printer. In case anything was misplaced, you can contact the company and place another order.

Unlike the first method, building from a kit will not offer much learning opportunity. Since everything has been pre-made, all you will do is fix the different parts according to the manual.

What Are the Benefits of DIY 3D Printer Kit?

The benefits of 3D DIY printer kit include the following:

1. It saves cost

2. It is easier repair if the printer develops a fault

3. It consumes less energy

4. It harnesses in-built creative traits in an individual.

5. It creates opportunity to learn how the printer works

6. It is time saving. As a result, it is faster to assemble a 3D printer kit than building it from the scratch

The replicating rapid prototyper (RepRap) is commonly used by most 3d printing hobbyists and enthusiasts. 3D printers from RepRap are very efficient when built to specification.

What is a Reprap 3D Printer?

A RepRap 3D printer is a printer that can be used to reproduce another printer of its kind. It is also referred to as a self- replicating printer. Similarly, it can produce 3D printed parts of itself to create a new printer. A common example is Prusa 13.

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Starting Out

As soon as you have chosen a method, you have to decide on the kind of printer to start building.

What Are the Factors To Consider Before Building a DIY 3D Printer?

The factors to consider before building a DIY 3D printer include:

1. The outlook of the printer

2. The printer’s specifications

3. Type and size of nozzle

4. Number of extruders

5. Type of Printer. You can choose to build either a Delta or Cartesian printer.

How Do You Make A DIY 3D Printer?

To make a DIY 3D printer, do these:

1. Do a review of the parts needed. You can window shop to get more acquainted with the parts and their uses.

2. Purchase the parts. 

3. Cut the parts to make angle bracelets

4. Fix the basic frame of the printer

5. Attach the printer bed to its base. However, the position of the bed depends on the type of printer

6. Fix the springs, motion controllers, extruder, PSU, and feeder system

7. Then, attach the motherboard or control panel

8. Afterward, attach electronic cables to the printer and test-run it.

With these steps, your 3D DIY printer is ready to use.

The Outlook of the Printer

How do you want the printer to look? You have to be sure that the printer you are building will look amazing. This will boost your confidence especially when you want to show off your DIY 3d printer to friends and colleagues.

More so, if you belong to any 3d printing community, you do not want your printer to fall short of expectation. But if you want something really cool, it means you have to opt for an out of the box 3d printer brand.

Nevertheless, you can decide to go for a 3d printer kit. But ensure that the printer will look exactly like the image in the manual after it has been built.

The Printer’s Specifications

The printer’s specifications include:

1. The abilities of the printer

2. The units of power that the printer can consume when in use

3. The size of objects that the printer can print

4. The printer’s ability to use more than one filament for printing

5. The presence of a heated bed

6. If the printer will be semi-automatic or completely manual

When it comes to specifications, a lot of tiny details are involved. It is important to note that the more accessories you need your printer to have, the more complex it becomes to build.

What Are the Important 3D Accessories?

Important 3D accessories include the following:

1. Kapton tape

2. Filament storage. This is used to store the filament properly after use.

3. Masking rape

4. Pliers

6. Extra print bed

7. Glue stick

8. Tweezers

9. Removal tools

10. Sandpaper. This is usually used to clean the print bed and remove filament stains.

11. Nozzles of different sizes and types

12. Carving set

So, it is advisable to build a simple printer that can carry out the basic function of 3d printing. As time goes on, you can add other features and customize it to suit your desires.

Assembling the Parts of the Printer

assembled extruder
Photo Credits: kantzhao80, Flickr.com

For the completely customized printer, you actually need to get every single part of the printer by yourself. But if you are building from a kit, it comes with the various parts that are needed in building your printer.

What Are the Parts of a DIY 3D Printer?

Here is a list that includes some parts of the printer that you can scout for when building your own 3d printer:

1. Controller board

2. Power supply unit

3. The print bed

4. The print head

5. Fans

6. Stepper motors

7. Lead screws or threaded rods

8. Belts

9. End stops

10. Spool holder

11. Used interface or connectivity

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In order to put the parts together, you need a good guide. There are tons of great instructional materials and eBooks online that provide an adequate guide, especially for newbies.

Now that you have the list of what you should buy, the next step is to scout for a reliable source. There are online stores where you can buy cheap parts or fairly used ones.

Where Can I Buy a DIY 3D Printer Online?

You can buy a DIY 3D printer online from:

1. Shapeways

2. Amazon

3. 3D online printers store

4. 3D jake

5. AliExpress

6. Gearpost

7. BangGood

8. eBay

If you belong to a 3d printing community, you can inquire about where to purchase the parts at a fair price.

Since it is a DIY 3d printer, it is advisable to go for the fairly used printer parts. The aim is to cut down on costs while still increasing efficiency. All you have to do is test the parts to know if they are functioning properly before purchasing them.

What Is the Difference Between a DIY 3D Printer a Fairly Used 3D Printer?

DIY 3D printers are made by assembling different parts of the printer. They require coupling different parts bit by bit until a working printer is formed. In addition, some of the parts used in DIY 3D printers are new.

On the other hand, fairly used, also known as second-hand 3D printers, are printers that have been used by someone else before. Hence, they are not brand new. Furthermore, they do not require assembling different parts for them to work.

However, keep in mind that some parts need to bought as very new if you need a printer that will function smoothly. Since you are a DIYer, you can get some parts like the stepper motors, from electronics. You can also get it from your DVD in the basement. Recycle that old guy!

Commence the Building of Your Printer

Video: How to Build A 3D Printer

This video shows how you can build a 3d printer from the comfort of your home.

Now that you want to start building your printer, you should put on patience as a virtue.

How Long Does It Take To Build a 3D DIY Printer From the Scratch?

Building a 3d printer from scratch can take up to a month or a year to finish. Indeed, it is not an easy process. It requires patience and hard work.

Ensure that you have the tools required such as the multimeter, soldering iron and solder, wires, bolts, etc. Do not start the process in a hurry. Ensure that you are settled and at each point where you become confused, take a break. When you feel ready, come back to it with a clear head.

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Mistakes are bound to occur and when they do, reach out for a helping hand. There are lots of experienced people in the 3d printing community who will be willing to guide you. All you have to do is take photos of the parts that you have to assemble or the areas of difficulty.

Upload the photos and the members of the community will be on standby to interact with you. You can also have one of them come over to your place. This depends on the location of the members, but you will certainly find a member who is close to your residence.

When you have completed the building of your printer, the next step is to test it. You have to confirm if it can actually print. Before trying to print, be sure that the item to be printed is the actual size for your printer’s frame.

How Can I Test My 3D DIY Printer?

You can test your 3D DIY printer by following these steps:

1. Press the power button to switch it on

2. Allow it boot. Then, check the parts to see they are properly fixed

3. Place your filament in the feeding system

4. Check the control panel settings

4. Upload an STL file. This should be small object

5. Start Printing. Pay keen attention to check for any errors or malfunctioning.

Here are some other detailed articles you may find useful:

General Notes on Building Your Own 3D Printer

On a general note, when building a 3d printer first, decide on the type of printer you want to build. Write down the specs of the printer. Make a checklist of all you need. Then, get started.

It is important to note that you can not cut corners when trying to build your own 3d printer. There is no easy way out. Since we assume that you are a 3d printing hobbyist or enthusiast, we trust that you are equal to the task.

You have to make this decision as it will determine the parts that you will buy. Both types of printer differ in some ways which implies that their components will differ.

Your checklist should include the printing speed; size of the printer’s 3d printed object; compatibility of the printing material or filament; the printing resolution; and options for connectivity.

The spec of the printer will determine the outlook of your printer and the cost of buying the parts.

If you do not have several years of experience in 3d printing, you have to keep away from extruders with dual setup. Such setups are very complicated when building and quite expensive. As time goes on, you can upgrade your printer to include another extruder.

Your 3d printer may not look appealing at first sight. It will be raw with so many wires dangling from point to point. Well, you should not fix your gaze on aesthetics. This is the point where you have to put in your best to ensure that you come up with a machine that is functioning.

As soon as your printer is ready to work, you can start thinking about the casing or frame. You can even decide to add features that are fancy. Your printer can be automated by adding a touch screen user interface and WiFi connection.

Furthermore, when thinking about getting the right frame for your printer, do not choose an acrylic frame. It is very fragile and does not support printing in temperatures that are high.

Plastic can be used when choosing some other components. However, you can not choose plastic for the main bodywork.

When you are building your own 3d printer, you need a checklist. It will help you to stay focused and organized. If you have one, you will know the step where you are in the building phase and the next step to take.

Most importantly, you need a lot of patience when building your own 3d printer.

Buying the required components may take up to some weeks. Also, do not forget the time that you will put into designing the outlook of the printer.

If you cannot go through the pain of getting these done, you are better off with the 3d printer kit.

How To Make Your 3D Printer-Related FAQs

Is It Hard to Build A 3D DIY Printer?

It is not hard to build a 3D printer. However, this depends on your level of expertise and knowledge about building it. Building a 3D printer requires time, patience, as well as accuracy. If the nuts and bolts are not properly fixed, it will not work.

Nevertheless, you can also try buying a 3D printer kit. It is much easier to assemble a kit according to the users’ manual than building it from the scratch. Do note, though, that assembling on its own part also consumes time. It could take up to 4 hours to fully assemble the parts. 

Can Old Printers Be Turned into a DIY 3D Printer?

Old printers can be turned into a DIY 3D printer. Instead of disposing of them, they can be put to this use. Making a 3D printer from old printers and scanners requires the following:

  1. Stepper motor drivers
  2. Cables
  3. Extruder
  4. Heated bed
  5. Ball bearings, thread, bolts, and nuts
  6. Metal angles
  7. ABS filament
  8. Screwdrivers
  9. Terminal switch, and 
  10. Ramps board

These parts are assembled systematically to form a working DIY 3D printer. However, this process may be gruesome and tiring. But it is worth trying if you are adventurous as it only requires a basic knowledge of how a DIY 3D printer works.

Is 3D Printing Difficult?

3D printing is not difficult. It seems challenging at the start but over time, mastery breeds perfection. It requires a basic knowledge of mathematics.

It also uses different Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software packages to draw and build the dimensions of 3D models. These models can also be downloaded online. As a result, it makes 3D printing easier.

Furthermore, it might look difficult or hard because it is not completely free from mishaps. Problems like feeder burst, overheating, temperature fluctuation can affect it. It is, therefore, important to pay keen attention and be conscious of mishaps while printing.

How Do You Make an Arduino DIY 3D Printer?

To make an Arduino DIY 3D printer, follow these steps:

Step 1: Review the parts needed and purchase them from a store. 

Step 2: Fix the basic frame of the printer by using angle bracelets, bolts, and nuts

Step 3: Assemble the X-axis, Y-axis, and Z-axis. This should be done systematically and carefully to avoid mistakes.

Step 4: Place the extrusion head, feeder system, motion controllers, and heat bed above the printer bed.

Step 5: Fix the electric connections with cables. This will serve as the power source

Step 6: Download a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software, then start designing and printing. 

Arduino 3D Printing machines are one of the most common DIY printers for beginners.

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Can a DIY 3D Printer Print Metal?

A DIY 3d printer can print metal if It is configured accordingly. Indeed, DIY printers offer countless opportunities to build them according to your specification. As a result, you can use materials suitable for printing metals while building them.

To print metal with a DIY 3D printer, you need to first print a mold with a plastic material. Afterward, pour molten metal into it and allow the plastic to melt away. This process requires the use of heat and pressure. It is also called 3D metal casting. 

However, this method has its peculiarities and as a result, not all metals can be used. This is because all metals do not have the same melting point.

How Do You Fix a Blocked Nozzle in a DIY 3D Printer?

To fix blocked nozzle in a DIY 3D printer, do these:

  1. Switch off the printer
  2. Remove the filament from the feeding system
  3. Go to the “printer settings”, then select “heat- up nozzle”
  4. Increase the heat to accelerate melting point time
  5. Get a small pin. Use it to carefully bring out the material blocking the nozzle
  6. Continue with the process until the nozzle is unblocked.

A blocked nozzle can affect the speed of printing, and as well cause a burst while printing. 

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