Picture of Poor Man's 3D Printer

My goal was to build a cheap and inexpensive 3D Printer for less than 100 Dollar/Euro

What are the features of the Poor Man's 3D Printer ?

- Fused deposition modeling ABS/PLA

- Heat bed

- use of open source firmware, modified version of Tonokip

- free host software, Repetier-Host

- bowden-extruder

- max. build size 40mm x 40mm x 40mm

- resolution 0.08mm

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Step 1: Parts

Picture of Parts

Parts i bought:

- Arduino Board Mega 2560 (on ebay from china): 10 Euro

- 2 pcs. Stackable Motor Driver Shield L293D 6 Euro

- Hotend MK7 MK8 noozle 0,4mm+thermistor+cartridge 20 Euro

- PTFE Tube 4 x 2mm & 2 pcs. 1/8" BSP 6 Euro

- Fan 30mm x 30mm 2 Euro

- MOSFETs,resistors,caps,LEDs,thermistor 5 Euro

Recyled PC/printer part:

- 4 pcs. DVD/Blu-ray drives, with stepper motors ! old cd drives can't be used because they work with dc-motors

- old PC power supply, 12V/5A and 5V/2A are required

- stepper motor nema17-like from old printer for extruder

- i use a modified gear (see pictures) from an old hp printer for the bowden-extruder, optional you could get an airtripper extruder for about 25 Euro

Things that every hobbyist has in his garage :-)

- many screws, nuts and washers M3,M4,M5

- lots of wires

- aluminium-sheet for the frame, you can also use wood

- some alu/metal profiles, see pictures

Step 2: Pictures from building the chassis

Step 3: Endstops

Picture of Endstops

use endstops from dvd drive !

Step 4: Counterweights

Picture of Counterweights
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I had to made counterweights for the z-axis because the x- dvd drive + Hotend are too heavy for the small steppers

The counterweight is simply connected through a cord and a pulley with the drive.

The weight of one counterweight = weight of (x drive + hotend) /2

Step 5: Extruder

Picture of Extruder
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The Extruder was build of a gear of an old hp printer deskjet 300. I remove the original stepper (too weak) and

replace it with a bigger one, i find two of them in an epson stylus color 600.

The shaft was shorten and milled grooves with a dremel, then a metal gearwheel was placed near the shaft.

The gearwheel has one groove too.

Step 6: Hotend

Picture of Hotend

The Hotend is a MK7/MK8 i found on ebay.

i cut some aluminium plates for a better cooling and place a small fan beside

the bigger alu plate above separates the hotend from the BSP fitting via two small screws

Step 7: Heat Bed

Picture of Heat Bed
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the bed is heated by two parallel resistors 22R/7W/axial and reaches 110°C

Step 8: Schematic

Picture of Schematic

I uploaded a hand drawn schematic, feel free to comment/ask questions.

In the picture you can see how to modify the second shield, cut the connector pins D12 and D7,

bridge D12 with D13 and D2 with D7, now the mega can talk with the shields separatly

Step 9: Firmware/Software

I use Tonokip in a modified version and added Adafruit Motor shield library also modified to use 2 shields.

The Software i use is Repetier Host

See Settings.zip for Repetier-Host and slic3r settings

Step 10: Results

Picture of Results

here you can see the first results before/after calibration and some final changes in the firmware, the cube was printed with 1.75mm ABS filament, the edge length in the gcode is 10mm the final result 10.06mm !!!

Step 11: First Update

I change the driver board to ramps 1.4 with A4988 Stepper driver because they have become very cheap on ebay.

( board + 4 stepper drivers about 20$ incl. shipping)

I have supplied the x/y/z steppers with 8 Volt, 12 Volt is to much for those tiny things, with only 5 Volt the drivers won't work. i also limit the current to 300mA (with the poti at drivers)

Here are my results with using Marlin as Firmware.

I uploaded my configuration file from Marlin and also the slicr settings.

Step 12: Photos from printing

Picture of Photos from printing
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Step 13: Update 2

Picture of Update 2

Because of the great demand, I have uploaded a drawing from the ground frame.

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upload a video of this printer while printing

ggraikousis19 days ago

you write : I have supplied the x/y/z steppers with 8 Volt, 12 Volt is to much for those tiny things, with only 5 Volt the drivers won't work. i also limit the current to 300mA (with the poti at drivers)

How you do that :i also limit the current to 300mA (with the poti at drivers)

please be more specific.

Can you upload photos from rapm1.4 and how to connect voltage ???

ggraikousis19 days ago

You said:

I have supplied the x/y/z steppers with 8 Volt, 12 Volt is to much for those tiny things, with only 5 Volt the drivers won't work. i also limit the current to 300mA (with the poti at drivers)

Please by more specific.. How do this:(with the poti at drivers)

Hvents423 days ago

Wow, this is impressive! I really appreciate how you did step by step and were so helpful.

I was just wondering where this printer stands compared to a commercial grade 3D printer, like this one http://www.monomachines.com/shop/office-supplies/3... ?

I am curious as to what the specific functions are and the drawbacks of creating my own printer compared to buying one. Thanks for a great instructable!

Kikus31 made it!1 month ago

Hi, Great instructable, i trying to make one like you. It's not finish...

Chers amis francophone, si vous voulez aussi participer à la conception d'une micro imprimante, venez me rejoindre sur : http://www.open-mind.cc/

hcsaki6 months ago

Why is there a need for 4 dvd/blu-ray drives with stepper motors. Isn't 3 motors enough for the 3 axes?

Xixfas hcsaki1 month ago

You need 2 for the z axis.

VictorH44 months ago

what is the model of nema17?

Xixfas VictorH41 month ago

nema 17 is the model

JaunS1 month ago
Hello, I have built all the hardware: physical structure, and have completed in entering the GRBLtoArduino and all the software. I have used the Universal GCodeSender and has successfully interpreted the software for is says " Grbl 0.8c ['$' for help] ". I've soldered the stepper motors (for I'm using steppers from dvd roms) to some salvages wire from a printer I took apart. I installed some female sockets in order to connect to the male pins on the CNC Shield ver. 2.01 . The orange light from the arduino flashes and in the Universal GCodeSender ver. 0.8 completes the operation b/c is says " ok " . I have no idea whats wrong. I know the steppers work b/c ive used a 9v battery to pulse the motors and they do indeed pulse. Ive used a multimeter to check its resistance and it works. I've checked the current on the motors once connected to the cnc shield and there's current. I have tested if the drivers are in fact getting power and they are. I've attempted the code " x=100 " , " $7=225 " but no motor movement. Can ANYONE help me ?
JuneC22 months ago

let me just ask one thing, can i use "RepRap J-head MKIV/MKV hotend" instead of that mk7/mk8 hotend?? as i live far away from germany, i need another one.

Gelstronic (author)  JuneC22 months ago
of course, you can use any hotend

can you explain the difference, please? i'm very new to these things. now i'm making the extruder, and it's not so easy..

JuneC2 JuneC22 months ago

also what's the difference between mkv and mk7?

Gelstronic (author)  JuneC22 months ago
mkv version 5 ("V")
mk7 version 7
dintid4 months ago

Anyway to tell if a drive's motor is stepper motor or DC motor? I just salvaged some old CD drives and some old DVD drives.. and some of the motors are identical across the devices!

Hopefully you've found the answer to your question by now but just in case: the easiest way to tell the difference is that stepper motors have 4 wire leads and tend to be more boxy looking, while DC have 2 and are more cylindrical. Hope that helped :)

Thanks. Yes I did. Also made a similar Instructable based on Ramps where I go Down to the very basics for novices.

I'll be sure to check it out :)

The various DVD/CD DC motors looked rather similar to the Stepper motor versions. Some DCs were boxy though, but not all.
Paulo132102 months ago


how did you calibrate the printer? i've got troubles with X ans Y motor, RepRap_printDoctor said that it could be L293 High temp so I cool it with fans then it could be current calibration of the pololu but i've got L293D. Is there a way to put a resistor somewhere to reduce current?


profort2 months ago
please tell me more I would like to build one but have very little financial resources.
kudrat923 months ago

fter everything done, i am getting problems with repetier host. the stepper motors are moving when I click on the axis home buttons but when i give a particular distance to travel, the axis are not moving. please tell me why?

marcc63 months ago

I am looking into building this printer. I do not know much about 3d printing yet. I found this kit on ebay - http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/3D-PRINTER-KIT-ELECTRONI...

Would it be better value for my money to buy this kit to build this printer?

Gelstronic (author)  marcc63 months ago
hmmm, now it works...
the kit is good but the price is a little bit expensive,
maybe you'll get it cheaper directly from china/HK ?
Gelstronic (author)  marcc63 months ago
the link doesn't work !
Denis3105023 months ago
Gelstronic (author)  Denis3105023 months ago
Yes, but don't use the L293 motor shield anymore, the ramps shields have become so cheap, look here for ramps 1.4 + 5 stepper driver + Mega2560.
thank sir i done moving all steppers coming soon I'll print something

I checked with as given photo but repitier host cant drive any of my stepper motor.

i connect all things as in given photo, only extruder and hotbed not connected and end stop too.

schame poor 3D.jpg

Hi gelstronic
i have done all as your given information and i upload Tonokip code in my arduino mega board and it's successfully uploaded,
but when i connect mega board with repeterhost software connecting is done, but after than no any motor response,

whats problem in this??

Paulo132104 months ago

Hello, I try to copy your printer but how did you manage in order that it don't become Hyperstatics mainly for up and down?

best regards

CK1014 months ago
jad519 months ago

Is it possible to run servo's directly off the Arduino without a shield if I use separate servo drivers and a separate temperature controllers?

Very nice work by the way :)

Gelstronic (author)  jad519 months ago

Servo drivers don't work for stepper motors, you need stepper motor drivers like these:
or buy them on ebay from china for much less.
And of course you don't need a shield but it's easier to work with.
Take a look at ebay for a ramps shield and 4 drivers from china
and you'll now what i mean !

what is the model of nema17 ?

where I can buy it

jad51 Gelstronic9 months ago

Whoops sorry I meant Stepper motors :) I really just need the pulses and limits from the Arduino. Thanks very much for the reply +1


I'm decide to make this using easy driver,

so is it easy to same drive with easy driver same as L293D stepper driver?

Gelstronic (author)  Brijesh Sondarva5 months ago
I recommend RAMPS
smartmiltoys5 months ago

Very nice! A larger build area could probably be had by scavenging three
printers. A fair amount of inkjets nowadays even come with A3 size

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