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

Picture of Pictures from building the chassis
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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.

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cloning2 days ago
is there any need of extruder controller?
Gelstronic (author)  cloningyesterday

No, the arduino controls all the stepper motors incl. the extruder stepper

michaelgc22 days ago

Super cool! I have been looking into these for my middle school stem class.

Gelstronic (author) 2 months ago

update, see above !

wzor Gelstronic2 months ago

Very bad prints.

ruisantos10 wzor2 months ago

Well, such a small design ( less than 3cm high? ) with a 0.4mm needle, on a really cheap printer, is good enough!

Possibly still requires some fine tuning to get the best out of it, but that's a part of making it your self.

This project made me to make my own as well! I'm building a similar one, but instead, the extruder will be fixed! the base will do the job. I hope :D

Can you tell me how I can determine the power those motors need? Mine are different from each other and no info (apart from serial number) is there!

Gelstronic (author)  ruisantos102 months ago

With my first motor shields i use 5V for all kind of DVD steppers ( 3 different ones) and the motors were not too hot.

Now i use the A4988 steppers which operates with a minimum of 8 Volt and so i limit the current to 200-300 mA.

how do you limit the current with a44988 stepper?

That's it! a small screw that acts as a potentiometer. Just be very careful, as it is very sensitive to reach the current you need.

I regulated mine with very small increments until I reached the required Amperage for my motors, and double checked with a multimeter.

Gelstronic (author)  onecell23 days ago

The current is controlled with a potentiometer, have a look at the

A4988 stepper motor driver carrier

tnx man.

Well, that makes sense! I suppose they won't get that much hotter than on 5V.

I've been looking at the L293D shield which provides 4.5-36V and 0.6A continuous per phase, and allows 2 steppers each. And it can be stacked with more parallel H-bridges, to double the current! That's nice for upgrades.

Have you worked with those?

The A4988 seem more powerfull, but they're a bit more expensive too. Are they worth the difference in terms of performance?

Thank you!

Gelstronic (author) 28 days ago

also many thanks to Raphango and gravityisweak !!!!

Raphango28 days ago

WHOA MAN! Awesome!!!

Really gotta do myself one of those!

Thanks for sharing!

Incredible. I'm always amazed at what people can make by combining bits and pieces of other technology. Some parts from ebay, some scraps, some free code, and here is a 3d printer. Amazing. Also, nice print of the Make: robot!

I have been wanting to a me a 3d price printer for cheap and I have every part you made it with laying around the house thanks man good work.
Gelstronic (author)  limitlessIdeas1 month ago

sounds good, thank you and good luck !


i want to make it but i dont know about it programing and some sort of Gcode

Help me in programing at were i placed the Cad software Gcode

Kante Tech2 months ago

Does it have to be arduino mega and have you thought about printing out materials that are different than cubes to fully test the machine?

Gelstronic (author)  Kante Tech2 months ago

I think you could also use an arduino pro mini 324, and i have print other things, see step 12 !

g0l0v1nv2 months ago

I want to repeat your printer. Unable to compile the firmware Tonokip, the compiler Arduino writes error. Please tell me what I did wrong?

Gelstronic (author)  акостин3 months ago

do you use the newest Aduino IDE 1.0.5 ?

Yes, I have a new Arduino IDE 1.0.5. Maybe it in the library?
Gelstronic (author)  акостин3 months ago

Try to delete the AFMotor files in you library folder because the code brings his own libraries

I deleted the file AFMotor from the library, you still receive a compile error. The sketch is not specified files "AF_StepperA motorZ(20, 1)" and "AF_StepperA motorE(20, 2)".

AF_StepperA motorZ.jpg

hello, i have same compiler problem as like you. did you find any solution ? if you , please let me know. i guess it firmware (pin and Af motor) problem, thanks


Unfortunately I was not able to solve this problem. To control the machine I used firmware Teacup and 5 drivers pololu A4988.

onecell2 months ago

Hello, First of all i want say thanks to you for shear this project with us . I am half way to making one. I download all software and firmware as you recommend. And also understood methodology of mechanic. I am using same motor shield. But i got problem, when i go to upload the firmware(Tonokip) to my arduino mega 2560 , its giving me error(C:\Users\AppData\Local\Temp\build5230488994282191409.tmp/AFMotorA.cpp:424: first defined here). i did copy Tonokip folder to my arduino libraries. I just got confused here. Can you explain what to do about Tonokip firmware. I really look forward for your answer. Thanks again . Oh i also want to know how dose working your 3d printer . Thanks man

Gelstronic (author)  onecell2 months ago

Look at the bottom of the comments, user "акостин" got the same problems like you.

Maybe you could write him a PM if and how he fix the compiler problems.

cophoff2 months ago


awesome tutorial. Do you think it's possible using a TB6560 board instead of the arduino control boards?

keep up the good work.

Gelstronic (author)  cophoff2 months ago

yes, that should be possible but at the moment I'm working on ramps 1.4 that have become so cheap on ebay and there are lots of good working/supporting code.

Allright, thanks. It's because I bought a TB6560 once, but never did something with it. I'm hesitating between doing something like you did, or build one with real stepper motors that has larger build dimensions.

bergerab3 months ago

I love to see that someone actually used those old DVD/CD motors to make something awesome! Great instructable!

techboycr3 months ago

One last question! Did you make any changes to Tonokip to work with the cd rom Steppers o did work out of the box?

Gelstronic (author)  techboycr3 months ago

It didn't work out of the box, i had to make changes and add the libraries for the stepper shields.

techboycr3 months ago

Hi! Excellente project!

I am wondering if the following can be accomplished. Would be possible to use the toniko firmware with Arduino UNO and the "Easy Driver" from Sparkfun??


Gelstronic (author)  techboycr3 months ago

It's not possible with my modified version of tonokip but there's an arduino tutorial at sparkfun. It'll be easy to implement this in the orig. tonokip.

You could also use a ramps board with 4 pcs. Pololu stepper driver , it's much cheaper than the easy driver and you could directly use a reprap firmware like tonokip, teacup or whatever.

Thanks! I will port it to Teacup using the same build here.

Would you like to explain to me the temperature circuit? I can't quite understand how it goes.


Gelstronic (author)  techboycr3 months ago

Have a look at the ramps circuit, it's a little bit more detailed.

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