Instructables

Build a Polar 3-D Printer from Legos

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Have you ever dreamed of having one of those replicators from Star Trek? Ever wanted to make just about anything at the flip of a switch?

Well guess what? You're in luck, because in this Instructable I will show you how to make the closest thing to a replicator that current technology can manage; a 3D printer.

Wait a minute, isn't there another Instructable on how to make a 3D printer from Legos? Yep, there is, but this 3D printer is different; it's a polar 3D printer and it's capable of printing out so much more than just chocolate.

Now at this point in the intro you're probably thinking what do I mean by polar 3D-printer. Is it a 3D-printer that only works in the in the polar regions?

A polar printer is a printer whose principal axes, or how it can move, are radius(in and out), angle(spin clockwise/counter clockwise), and as opposed to a Cartesian printer whose principal axes are X(left/right), Y(up/down). In other words, it moves just like a polar coordinate system.

So why did I make a polar 3D printer instead of a good ol' Cartesian 3D printer?

1. I didn't have enough Legos to build a Cartesian printer.
2. I hope to eventually add a 3D laser scanner to it so I can scan in objects and send them to another printer somewhere else in world. Making sort of a 'teleporter'.

Before I begin this Instructable, I must remind you all of something; I have not yet finished developing control software for it.

Before you start posting variants of "This Instructable sucks" in the comments, I would like to remind you of something, the Altair 8800, the world's first successful personal computer, the computer that is the reason why you are able to read this Instructable and post derogatory comments, came with no control software either. But the Altair 8800 had prospects and it ignited a revolution. In fact, Bill Gates and some friends started Microsoft by writing software for the Altair.

I hope that this 3d printer will ignite the 3d printing revolution, so build one and join the revolution!!!

I would also like to thank the people at reprap.org for their help and support.
 
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Dzucky1 year ago
Where might you get a Mindstorms RCX smart brick cuz it doesnt come with the 2.0 set.
Mr.Stein3 years ago
You think I could modify this to use Arduino and servos?
When I first saw the instructable, I thought he would have used and Arduino. I think this is the perfect app for those remarkable little computers.
AJMansfield2 years ago
Just so you know: this is not a 'polar' 3D printer. The words 'polar' and 'cartesian' refer to coordinates in TWO dimensions. The proper name for this printer's coordinate system would be 'cylindrical' as opposed to the other two common 3D coordinate systems, rectangular and spherical. Although I understand that saying that this is a cylindrical 3D printer would be confusing because the word also refers to a particular shape, same goes for 'spherical' and 'rectangular'.
jam BD3 years ago
Lego can be so many things.
If you control Lego you control the WORLD!!!
I love this, I'm going to quote that lol. If you control LEGO you control the WORLD.
Mudbud jam BD3 years ago
word..
One of my pet hates is the pluralization of 'Lego'. It seems to be an entirely American thing. Here in Ireland we say 'I built a house out of Lego', as opposed to 'I built a house out of Legos'. Basically, we use the word like you would the word 'Wood' (Try saying that 10 times quickly!) Sorry for my little rant...
Ahh the Lego/Legos debate haha. I've read an announcement directly from TLG (The Lego Group) that neither LEGO nor LEGOS is correct when referring to individual pieces or sets. LEGO is a combinations of the Danish words for "play well" (leg godt) and is the brand name. When referring to individual pieces or sets, it is correct to say LEGO bricks or LEGO set but not LEGO by itself. This seemed to make sense to me and was a good answer to the debate but then I saw another announcement that said the company didn't care much so I don't know if there's anything official. Calling them Legos is definitely something I've heard a lot and seems to be the most popular way to refer to them in the US. I guess in the end whether you call them LEGO or LEGOS people still know what you're talking about and it's still a great line of building toys.
I think it's because we consider each brick or part to be one "Lego" (even if it's not Lego brand).
Algag Jaycub3 years ago
yeah, because i have x-many lego bricks so i have x-many legos, and sometimes we can pluralize wood, but it is kind of slang, as in I am going in to the woods, as a synonym for forest (but forest sounds much more significant and magnificent)
ninjaaa3 years ago
Nice ;)
jehan601883 years ago
really neat.
hope you develop this further!
dombeef3 years ago
Can the fabric extruder handle the plastic in regular printers?
Mirime3 years ago
Umm replicators are from Stargate SG1 not trek the closet thing i've seen is the borg
Replicators are from Star Trek. They're the devices they use to create pretty much everything, except when it's convenient for a plot for the material to be un-replicatable.
Ok we are talking about two different things i'm talking about a lifeform you are talking about a tool
Ahaha, yeah. I know. I'm a Stargate fan, too. I'm guessing the author meant the replicators from Star Trek, at least I'm hoping. If he intends to build the ones from Stargate, we're in for a lot of trouble! :)
Yep but when i first read that line i thought of the lifeform

take away all the metal objects and she still makes more of her little friends
macrumpton3 years ago
I wonder if you could simplify this device by mounting the work surface on a screw, and as the work surface rotates it automatically lowers the surface a precise amount. It takes some control away of your z axis but simplifies construction a lot. Another simplifying possibility is to use a pivoting arm (like a turntable) rather than a straight track. Of course you would need to compensate for the curved path of the arm as opposed to the simpler straight path of the track, but that is pretty easily done in the software.
EvilElvis3 years ago
Nicely done instructable... always love Legos being repurposed. Just wondering if this concept could be applied to a small dremel cutting tool rather than an extruder.
CactuzHero4 years ago
 Can you please post a video of how it works?
can it make more than mounds? :) i also agree
meztek6 years ago
This is a great idea! I have never seen a polar coordinate machine working, only the cartesian robot. Keep up the great work!
meztek meztek6 years ago
I almost forgot. If you want a material that will become hard, you should try fabepoxy. It was formulated for the Fab@Home project, which has a similar extruder to yours. See http://www.kraftmark.biz/order.html to look into it.
Gene Hacker (author)  meztek6 years ago
What's its viscosity? I use frosting because it's cheap and a good test medium.
...and tasty.
What does viscosity mean? It definitely will work in your fabric pen. I would ask kraftmark what the viscosity is. They created it.
viscosity just means how thick it is. eg: honey has a higher viscosity than water.
Gene Hacker (author)  meztek6 years ago
Resistance to fluid flow. Have you handled this stuff before? Is it about as viscus as frosting? Could you give me a comparison to other products? I am thinking of replacing the air pump I have with a tire air compressor, so I can extrude more viscus media, so this might not be a problem anyway.
I have not handled it before. I hope to get some in the next few weeks. When I do, I will get back to you.
CoolKoon3 years ago
Say, do you have any news on the control software? Or any tips which could help one do some programming should he decide to do something similar?
Silence3 years ago
Slap a cake under that frosting extruder and you can make a pretty funky happy birthday design !!
ARJOON3 years ago
how about the controllers
Frag3 years ago
unfortunately, this not being a cartesian printer you can't steal the programming from any old printer and modify it as needed. the only thing im unsure of in this instructable is if you have a motor set up under the turntable. i haven't gotten a chance to make one of these yet, but as soon as i do ill get to work on a code to manipulate both the turntable and the printing arm. GREAT IDEA BY THE WAY using a Polar 3D printer. im envious of your idea and manipulation of Legos
zack2474 years ago
now i just need $400 for the nxt set and im good to go!
KnexFreek4 years ago
 DUDE!!!! Make the fifth picture the intro picture!!! Than the ratings will go up substantially!!!!!OMG!!!
macrumpton4 years ago
It looks like a great project. I wonder how hard it would be to create a printer that uses hot glue. You could control the flow of  the glue with compressed air and maybe have a small air jet to cool the glue after it has been deposited.
conrad24685 years ago
ok i have an off subject question (kind of) i want to make a model only on a program but it has to have moving parts ex. a gun whereas the when its fired all the parts react like another round will go into the chamber and the firing pin will reset. does anyone have/know of a program with these reactive physics in it?
H3xx conrad24684 years ago
SR 3D Builder. Its an open source 3d Lego set. it has its fair share of bugs but its under active development and has a massive Lego data base.
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