Introduction: Building a 3D Printer Under $200

About: So basically i am a crazy person, who loves to think the most odd way ever possible,who makes what he thinks and also let other also make those . Check out my crazy projects if you like do follow me :D

3D Printing Technology has been changing the world of quick prototyping and engineering rapidly ,Every hobbyist, budding engineer dreams of getting into the technology and use it to make their design better and fast.I was just like you wanted to start 3D Printing always to make my imagination into reality, but the best 3D printer are really expensive like the MakerBot Replicator, Ultimaker costing more than 1000$ .Which becomes impossible for a starter or hobbyist to buy. But there are very cheap kits nowadays to get started .
I just started my 3D printing journey with a kit recently ,and I will tell you all there are really great options to start but there are lot of things that you get missing to start with .
In this Instructables I will show how to get a 3d printer , build it , troubleshoot Misprint , and enjoy it.
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Step 1: 3D Printing Technologies

Before starting to make one 3D printer you should know what are the types of 3D printer that is available and how they work .I will try to give you a short idea about each type here.

  • FDM (Fused Deposit Type )
  • SLA(Stereo Lithography )
  • DLP (Digital Light Processing )
  • SLS (Selective Layer Sintering )
  • SLM (Selective Layer Melting)
  • LOM (Laminated Object Manufacturing )


FDM Technology build objects layer by layer from the very bottom up by heating and extruding thermoplastic filament.Firstly special software “cuts” CAD model into layers and calculates the way printer’s extruder would build each layer. Along to thermoplastic a printer can extrude support materials as well. Then the printer heats thermoplastic till its melting point and extrudes it throughout nozzle onto base, that can also be called a build platform or a table, along the calculated path. A computer of the 3d printer translates the dimensions of an object into X, Y and Z coordinates and controls that the nozzle and the base follow calculated path during printing. To support upper layer the printer may place underneath special material that can be dissolved after printing is completed.

Stereolithography (SLA)

The process of printing involves a uniquely designed 3D printing machine called a stereolithography apparatus (SLA), which converts liquid plastic into solid 3D objects.SLA 3D printers work with an excess of liquid plastic that after sometimes hardens and forms into solid object.After plastic hardens a platform of the printer drops down in the tank a fraction of a millimeter and laser forms the next layer until printing is completed. Once all layers are printed the object needs to be rinsed with a solvent and then placed in an ultraviolet oven to finish processing.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a technique that uses laser as power source to form solid 3D objects. SLS is more spread among manufactures rather than 3D amateurs at home as this technology requires the use of high-powered lasers, which makes the printer to be very expensive. This guy is an expert in making such printer as hobby

Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)

During the LOM process, layers of adhesive-coated paper, plastic or metal laminates are fused together using heat and pressure and then cut to shape with a computer controlled laser or knife. Post-processing of 3D printed parts includes such steps as machining and drilling.OM printers use continuous sheet coated with an adhesive, which is laid down across substrate with a heated roller. The heated roller that is passed over the material sheet on substrate melts its adhesive. Then laser or knife traces desired dimensions of the part. Also the laser crosses hatches of any excess material in order to help to remove it easily after the printing is done.

Step 2: Where to Get Started

All these terms might get you confused but I would tell the cheapest Type to get started is FDM .FDM are popular because of the rep-rap project. Its easy to build one , but from a beginner it difficult to source all the parts differently and match it .That where kits come into the play.Now in a kit you get the basic stuffs that you can use to make a 3d Printer .
Some popular kits are the listed below
Geekteek i3 300$

Anet A8 180 $

Prusa I3 Upgraded version 200 $

I guess the reason for choosing Anet was obvious , bcz of the low price but to be honest if you have budget get the geekteek it has dual extruder and ,nozzle diameter is also less.but the build volume is more in mine .
220 x220 x240 mm ^3

Step 3: The Frame

The frame comes with a lot of acrylic parts which is 8 mm in width,Start by assembling the frame as shown in the pictures . The Acrylic frame joins with M8 screws and is very easy to assemble.The nuts are a little difficult to put inside the acrylic ,I used a tweezer to put the nuts inside the slots ,My fingers are a little to hold nuts :P


The Manufacturer had all the steps documented well but some minor things were missing which was easy to figure . I will be mention some important check list to see so that your printer can work flawless , as I faced a lot of problems while building this being my first 3D Printer , Which I wanna Share with you all.This is applicable to all the printer kits and builds that you would do.

Step 4: Z Motor Axis Assembling

The most important part in a CNC are it's axes , The X,Y and Z .
In the cartesian type of Printer like mine there will be two motor for the Z axis.
Both the Z axis motor couples to a Lead Screw with the help of a coupler .

What is a Lead Screw

A leadscrew (or lead screw), also known as a power screw or translation screw, is a screw used as a linkage in a machine, to translate turning motion into linear motion.

What is a Coupler

A thing that connects two things, especially mechanical components or systems.

Step 5: Y Axis Motor Mounting

The Y Axis works on a Belt System .The stepper motor is attached to a timing belt which pulls the slider (bed ) ,We will talk about it in the next part , before that we will assemble the pulley , motor mount and threaded rod .
The threaded rod holds the mount and the pulley together , by changing the thread screw length we can increase the dimension of the build volume . The threaded screws are 8mm And therefore , you need M8 nut and M8 Washer to tighten the rod in place.

Step 6: Y Axis Rail Installation

The next task is to install the linear slide shaft , these shafts are also 8mm the linear shaft doesn't work alone they need linear bearing to work with .There are four linear bearing (sorry pic shows two as I was wrong that time due to the documentation being old :P) The Four linear bearing connect to the bed and also slides on the shaft providing the Y axis motion . There are End Stop at one end of the shafts to provide the home position.

Step 7: Y Axis Stepper Motor and Timing Belt

What is Timing Belt ?

Timing belts are a positive transfer belt and can track relative movement. These belts have teeth that fit into a matching toothed pulley. When correctly tensioned, they have no slippage, run at constant speed, and are often used to transfer direct motion for indexing or timing purposes

The very next Step is to attach the stepper motor the mount with four m3 Screw, if you have the timing belt pulley lose then it would need to be tightened then fast before proceeding further ,Now using the timing belt mount the belt through the pulleys and fix it to the Metal H bed mount .Take care to provide accurate tension on the belts else the stepper motor will skip steps and make you print even worse Keep it high tensioned state to get the best possible result .

Step 8: X Axis Rails and Timing Belt

Now When the Y axis is completed its time to work on the X Axis , we first Install the X axis Liner slide and linear bearing and mount, its a tricky to align the best way to align it to rotate the lead screws so the goes on the top or the bottom to make the x-axis perfectly align.Once the alignment is right,secure the motor in its place with the m3 screws the X axis mount .then place the timing belt and check the tension to be high before proceeding

Step 9: Extruder Motor ,Hot End and Cooling

Afte completing all the Axis ,its time to setup the Extruder ,

What is an Extruder

We should probably start with what an extruder is. In fancy terms, it is a positive displacement machine designed to apply shear forces to raw ingredients in order to process them into finished goods (whew!). More simply, it is a machine designed to take material and push it through a barrel with a screw. The idea of “extrusion”, though, is to take material and push it out of a container. This would be similar to pushing toothpaste out of a tube. Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s see what this thing can do.

The temperature of the extruder is an important reading , alway cross check your thermistor is intact or not if the thermistor is not intact use kaplon tape to fix it with the hot head

Step 10: LCD Mounting

Every 3D printer has an LCD to display all the information while the print is going on , some LCD modules come with Rotary encoder while some come with buttons like my one , Both systems has some pros and cons , The LCD mounts on the top with some m3 nuts and bolts . The LCD module is similar to the Arduino LCD Sheild ,But this connects to the board with ISP header Instead.

Step 11: Connections and Power


The main board is Anet Motherboard which runs on atmega128 has five motor controller and hot end and heat bed connection through screw terminal. The Terminal can be upgraded to a handle more current with a higher Current that means more temperature on the heated bed , mean you have the possibility to work with high-temperature Polymer.


The Whole 3D printer is powered by a 250W Watt 12 V PSU , the connections are simple you need to attach a power cable and the connection to the motherboard.

Organizing cables

The cables if left free will come in the way of motion and then tear away so it needs to be enclosed and organized properly .The manufacturer takes the care of this very great , you are provided with cable enclosure and zip tie so that you can organised properly

Step 12: Slicing

What is Slicing

A so-called slicer takes a3D drawing (most often in .STL format) and translates this model into individual layers. It then generates the machine code that the printer will use for printing.

3D printers can be either controlled through a small on-board control screen or through a (USB) interface with a computer or through both. User interface/control softwareallows a user to send a machine code file from the computer to the 3D printer, change some parameters on run time (e.g. speed, flow and temperature), and move the print head manually around the x/y/z axis


There are lot of software , Reptier host and Cura are popular , though I had worked with reptier host i don't like it as the result I get from it was not that good to me .
I switched to Cura and the result where good than previous

Step 13: Troubleshooting Print

Print Material

you can use a lot of materials with this 3d printer

  • PLA
  • PTEG
  • ABS
  • WOOD
  • Flexible
  • Nylon
  • Carbon fiber

Now I am telling you if you are building a 3d printer for the first time you have high chances of not getting a good print ,there are lots of is fail print you might face some of this problem which may be due to software or hardware .
I will encourage you yo take some to spend some time debugging the issue .
Mostly hardware issue can be Belt tension may be less,where software can be layer height ,layer thickness, extruder temperature.
I have Given below a link that I used to debug my setting , though I got a lot of help from my friend.

Step 14: Conclusion

With Printer under a 200$ you can still be able to print decent quality , it take some time to understand but it is really worth the time and money , with the power what you can do with it .

Future plan

The next thing I am Planning to do is to build an enclosure to keep it away from dust and keep in the temperature constant as it helps in giving good print . Second thing is that i wanna try printing some other material like PETG (ABS is good , but fumes are toxic )

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Design Now: 3D Design Contest 2016

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