If you read my interests, you probably know that I love studying the 3D printer we have at school to see how it works. If anyone wants to know more about 3d printing, there is a really cool article here. Anyway, I spent about a month (as an engineering student I know how important research is) sketching designs and building prototypes. After that I finally found a design that fit my needs. This printer is based on the brain of a mindstorm NXT because it is easy to program and my arduino chip is burnt out and I'm still trying to save up to buy a new one. This printer only prints as accurately as you program it, but I will show you the best method of programming. The design includes x-axis and y-axis movement as well as z-axis movement used to pump down the printing material.
Time to make: about 4 hours if you have all of the pieces in front of you
Parts: Lego mindstorms kit and assorted lego box as well as a hot glue gun, tin foil, string, a printer, ink for the printer, a computer, and power to you house.
What did you make: I used the above parts and about a months worth of research to develop my design for a 3d printer that prints out a glowing material as accurately as you can program it. Not nearly as good as an industrial one, but a great project nonetheless.
How did you make it: I worked alone and used the 3D printer in my school as reference to how to build one. I had about 50 different design sketches before I started to prototype and then I had 3 prototypes.
Where did you make it: I created this in part at school (sketches) but mostly at home. I spent whatever extra time I had free from homework to work on this project.
What did you learn: I learned the importance of good and thorough research as well as refining my skills as an engineer.
Step 1: Before You Start...
Motor Uses: two motors for x-axis and y-axis movement, one motor for applying the hot glue.
How it works: The two motors move a base plate any direction and then hot glue is streamed down using the third motor.
Glue gun preparation: For this to work, you will need to open up your hot glue gun and remove the trigger. MAKE SURE IT IS UNPLUGGED FIRST. This will allow the hot glue to be freely pressed down. Be careful not to disturb any wiring inside and remember, these companies like to hide disassembly screws underneath stickers.
Step 2: Assembly X-axis Movement Part 1
There are some parts that are not included in this step that you can either find or you can find alternatives
Step 3: Assembly X-axis Movement Part 2
Step 4: Assembly X-axis Movement Part 3
Step 5: Assembly Y-axis Movement Part 1
Step 6: Assembly Y-axis Movement Part 2
Step 7: Assembly Z-axis Structure Part 1
Step 8: Assembly Z-axis Structure Part 2
Step 9: Assembly Z-axis Structure Part 3
Step 10: Assembly Z-axis Structure Part 4
Step 11: Assembly Z-axis Structure Part 5
Step 12: Assembly Z-axis Structure Part 6
Step 13: Assembly Z-axis Structure Part 7
Step 14: Assembly Z-axis Structure Part 8
Step 15: Assembly Z-axis Structure Part 9
Step 16: Methods of Printing
Step 17: Programming
Steps of programming:
1. Print out a picture of whatever you are printing. If you are printing something with multiple layers, do this one layer at a time and make sure you keep them in order. I would suggest making a separate MYBLOCK for each layer of the print.
2. Go into the NXT and move to "View". Then choose the motor and move it. You can then program the motors in degrees. I would keep motor speed between 20 and 40 percent. If you want to program curves, you can uncheck 'wait for completion' on the first motor block and keep it on the next one. Then they will run at the same time and if you have x and y axis movement you can create a curving motion. Throughout the build, features were added that make for easier data logging.
3. Use sounds to say when it is done or when the glue gun has run out of glue. These are very helpful.
Step 18: Start Printing!
You can print a large amount of things with this printer. I started by printing a few layers (5 I think) to make a 3d 'S' for Searx. Once you get good at programming layers, you can go for something larger such as a 3d head or something. If you make something out of this printer, post a comment with a picture! After printing, go ahead and turn off the lights and pull out an ultraviolet light to make your creation glow!