Introduction: Robotic 3D Printer

Picture of Robotic 3D Printer

Update - 04/08/2K14

Hi everyone, I have just logged back in to my instructables account after loosing the login info. Its been a long time. I am amazing by the popularity of this project and what has become of such a simple concept. A number of people have been looking for code, and I have had quite a few companies wanting to go into business with me.

I can confirm that I WILL be bringing out a Newer version (open source) that will be a little more expensive that £50 but far more accurate and reliable. It will involve metal parts. I am hoping that the design will be out 2015 and hopefully I will be able to sell these as kits. Once again thank you for your time and sorry i haven't been very resourceful these past years


This is a very simple yet effective way of printing 3D materials for under £50. Using a USB Robotic Arm Kit, a Chocolate fountain and a load of programming I have put together this amazing 3D printer!

To complete this you will need:
A USB Robotic Arm
Servo motor and tracks or wheels
A Pump (Or chocolate fountain)
A Heat Source
A Metal Piping funnel
Advanced Visual Basic and Robotic Programming Knowledge
Good soldering skills

1.The Arm
To Build the Arm It is simply a case of following the instructions provided.

2.The Pump
Since I did not have a pump I decided to make My own from scratch using an old chocolate fountain. Since this also provided a heat source this was perfect. I put together the chocolate fountain and placed a funnel on top so the funnel will fill with malten plastic and flow into the tubing.

3.The Robotic Base
For this I picked up a cheap Servo Motor and combined it with some lego parts. The servo was then wired into the grabber port (M1) as you do not need that. I took the servo out of the grabber and used it there instead. A lot of soldering took place!

4.The tubing
Simply wire the tube from the funnel of the chocolate fountain into the little metal piping end on the robotic arm. Stick it all down with a glue gun.

I didn't go as far as to make this bluetooth however USB seems to be working just fine. Using Visual Basic I created a calculator to work out the degrees the motor needed to turn. I did this by analysing the pixel RGB colour of an image I prepared earlier using 2D  
Design V2. Each colour represented a different hight. Then using the software that comes with the robotic arm all you have to do is program in the instructions that my VB program gives you.

Turn everything on and press go!


PS118 (author)2012-05-18

Have you actually tried it? Do have any prints to show off??

Ben Dunicliff (author)PS1182012-06-10

Yup... I will post some samples soon. I use it mainly for cake decorating.

xsj706 (author)Ben Dunicliff2013-12-25

This project looks awesome! Are you still working on this project? is it OK to share your source code?

dmagryta124 (author)2013-10-22

Are the rollers/ tracks necessary? would the machine still work if I hung it upside down?

mister2 (author)dmagryta1242013-11-03

Sure it would, but you couldn't just put it down and go like you can with the tracks. There are advantages to both.

lyoko12 (author)2012-08-22

Could you tell me the brand of the robot arm?

mjvaughn (author)lyoko122013-09-30

It is an OWI robotic arm, i have the same one. You can buy one on amazon for $38.00 without the usb interface kit. The kit has to be bought separately, also found on amazon for $26.96 (I believe the kit is just a timer program, so the movements are not very accurate).

mjvaughn (author)mjvaughn2013-09-30

Sorry, I forgot to mention that the arm is also a kit, you have to put it together yourself.

Ben Dunicliff (author)lyoko122012-08-24

I have no idea but most robotic sites like maplin or active-robots will sell them cheap.

profort (author)2013-09-16

How much would it cost to construct the entire printer?

ADG01 (author)2013-08-12

what kind of things are you printing with this?

tanu88 (author)2013-08-09

Hi Ben
We would like to discuss a potential link up. Can you contact me at

robochick (author)2013-04-17

That's sooo awesome! I have the same robotic arm. I've never plugged it up to a computer though. Is the programming effective on it?

Michael_Bell (author)2013-03-20

can you upload your program source code, and any other files you have?

Zoraster (author)2013-02-11

You mentioned some visual basic programming. Are you going to make that available?

Ben Dunicliff (author)Zoraster2013-02-19

The program or the Source?

Krayzi99 (author)2012-07-31

I have the same arm, This must be a sign to fix it! this is PERFECT for me. i dont haz near the money for a 3d printer, so thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou

Ben Dunicliff (author)Krayzi992012-08-09

You are welcome. Please be aware that this takes along time as each layer needs time to dry before the next one is printed. if you manage to finish it... Well done. let me know if you find a more efficient way. Good luck. (;

I have the same robotic arm ready and put together but it's not USB. I don't think they would make a robotic arm that's USB and one that's not USB but if they did, I don't think mine would work as well. My robotic arm is controlled by a remote, not USB.

jduffy54 (author)knexpert17002013-02-15

I got the same one in a surplus box, and it will not work, as that model uses DC motors, not servos, and thus (if I'm not mistaken about presence/lack of position sensing) will not have the control resolution needed for this.

A lot of the newer robotic arms come with a USB pack, but if not ( like mine ) you will have to perchace a seperate pack.

A pc fans helps quite a lot in situations like that.

jackjackboom (author)2013-02-07


Not yet got a video camera. I will as soon as I get one. Im trying to borrow one

tom10122 (author)2012-10-08

If you use a Bowden hotend for plastics, this could be the future of 3d printing, no more size limits!

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