Introduction: Homemade 3D Printer / Laser Engraver
In this Instructable I will describe how I built my own 3D Printer which can also be used as a Laser engraver/cutter.
I also want to warn you that this only should be used as an inspiration if you want to build your own one because the buildspace isn't that large and it's probably cheaper to buy on with a larger buildspace.
- Ramps 1.4 Board with LCD
- 30x30 Aluminium profile but I think say that 20x20 would also work ( Length depends on your printer size)
- 3 Pillow blocks, lead screws with nuts and shaft couplings
- 4 Nema 17 stepper motors
- 1 Hotend
- 1 Extruder
- 6 stainless steel shafts. I used 12mm thick ones and realized that 8mm would be enough.
- 12 shaft holders if you dont make them by yourself
- Min. 8 linear ball bearings
- 3 Endstops
- 1 Power supply (old PC power supply is enough if you have one)
- aluminium sheets for the case if you want one
- cables for the electronics
Not necessary but I used them:
- arduino nano
- rotary encoder
- cooling fan (I used one from an old pc)
- 16x2 LCD
- spiral hose
- Green and Red LED
- Metal saw
- (Different) files
- Marking plate (for me the most important tool for exact cuts and holes)
- Soldering iron
Step 1: The Frame
I started with the frame which is made with 3030 Aluminium profiles. I connected them with corner joints. The result were amazing because the frame was extreme rigid.
To cut the profiles to the perfect length I used a manual metal saw and something I don't know the name but you can see it on the images.
Afterwards I used corner joints and nuts to assemble the frame. In addition to that I added to vertical profiles for the Y and Z axes.
Step 2: X and Y Axes
After I finished the frame I started to build the x and y axes. I used Leadscrews and stainless steel shafts with linear ball bearings.
I mounted the shafts with little corners which I built at home. These can be locked on the profiles and they can hold a 12mm shaft which can be hold in place with a M3 screw.
Between the shafts for each axis I mounted the Nema 17 Stepper motors with the leadscrew. At the end of them I placed a stand bearing to hold the leadscrew. To connect the motor shaft with the leadscrew I used shaft cupplers.
After I finished the setup for the x and y axis I made a prototype for the buildplate. To avoid wasting aluminium I first used a very thin aluminium sheet to test if everything fits. I tried to measure everything as exact as possible but at the end I had to increase some hole diameters that the prototype fits perfectly to all holes in the linear bearing. Afterwards I started to measure out where I had to drill the holes in a thicker plate of aluminium to use it as my buildplate. For this I used the sheet to check every measurement on the thicker aluminium plate. The new thicker Plate was a total succes for me. Everything fits and after some polishing the plate had a nice look.
Step 3: Z-Axis
First of all I have to mention that this design is not suitable for a good 3D Printer. The construction is very heavy and limits the build size unnecessary. In the future I definetly have to replace it.
I again started with a thin aluminium sheet to check if my plan was good. The result was that everything fitted good enough to try it with a stronger aluminium plate. One image shows how these sheets looked like. On this plate I mounted the stepper motor, a leadscrew and two stainless steel shafts with the bearings.
One problem was that the stepper motor had to be mounted directly about the bearings (Y-Axis). This forced me to do a counterbore and to use countersunk screw to have a flat surface. Luckily the plate was thick enough to do this.
Another bigger problem was that the bearings were not perfectly alligned so that there were strong tensions. It took a while to allign the two shafts with the bearings on it untill they worked smooth.
As everything worked I started testing the machine with a pencil attached. The first tries were horrible but after some trying I had nice results allthough everything was only half completed.
Step 4: Electronics and Software
The controller is a Ramps 1.4 Board. To this board I uploaded Marlin which is free and gives a good control system. All the stepper motors, the fan, the nozzle temperature Sensor and the endstops can be plugged in there. Very helpful was the Website https://reprap.org/wiki/RAMPS_1.4 where you can find a wiring plan below the point 5.2.
Pro tipp: never drop an endstop with unisulated contacts on your frame. This will immediately destroy your board.
I also installed an arduino nano to control a laser which I want to use and to control the cooling fan on the backside. The nano is also powered by the power supply with the 5V output.
As a 12V power supply I used an old pc power supply but you can buy nearly every power supply with a 12V output. Very helpful for this was a YouTube video by GreatScott where he shows how to make a "DIY Lab Bench Power Supply"
In my case it doesn't look that good but it works.
Step 5: Build a Cover
I wanted to have the electronics covered and protected from dust. In addition to that it looks better. I had a lot more aluminium sheets laying around so that I decided to use them for the cover.
But before I started destroying the aluminium sheets I used cardboard to have a pattern to check the dimensions. Then I covered the complete aluminium sheet surface with crepe tape. Now I was able to draw on the sheet and it was also protected against scratches while working with it. Then I drilled a lot of holes (picture 2) to "cut" out different shapes. To smooth the edges I used a file.
The last step was to mount the casing elements to the frame. With little countersunk screws the sheets are attached to the frame.
Then the LCD, two LED's, a on/off switch and a rotary encoder for the arduino were set-in to the front. The red LED signalizes that the machine has power and the green LED signalizes that the controller and the 12V power supply are activated.
The last picture shows the bottom side which is closed with a perfect fitting wood plate.
Step 6: A Working 3D Printer
Now the printer works but is still not finished. So I used the printer to print improvements. The first thing was a plate to replace the metal sheet on the z axis. The 3D printed part was easier to build for me and it was also lighter than in metal. To hold the nozzle I use the part on the last two pictures with M3 screws.
Step 7: Improvements and Other Additions
The Images fit to each point in the right order.
1. To hold all the cables together I used spiral hoses. Then I printed the little parts on the first images to fix them to the frame. The result is worth the little money because the look is ways better.
2. A spool holder.
3. I printed a small casing for the USB cable which is connected to the Arduino Mega below the Ramps board. This USB port can be used to upload the firmware (Marlin) to the board. Another advantage is that the port is good reachable.
4. To protect the electronics from dust and small filament pieces I cutted and filed a 3mm thick acrylic plate which fits perfect inside the frame. After cleaning the plate was nearly invisible.
5. Endstops were attached as you can see on the third and fourth image.
6. A laser holder which fits perfect on the plate with the nozzle. If you heat up the screw nut before you place it on your 3D printed part the nut will hold very good because of the molten plastic which cools down afterwards.
7. Look at the images 13, 14 and 15. They say more than every explanation.
8. A 16x2 LCD to show the temperature inside the frame, the laser power and the fan power.
Step 8: Latest Upgrades
The first improvement is that the y axis is replaced by a linear rail. Now the moving mass reduced significant because the hotend is now the only moving part. The positive impact is that the noise while printing is reduced and that the print quality is improved.
In addition to that I replaced the leadscrew with a gt2 pulley which works fine so far.
The z axis works completly without bearings because the leadscrews are tight fixed on both ends. To fix the stepper motors I printed two holders with the old printer setup.
Another small change is that I mounted the spool holder with a corner joint to the frame.
Step 9: Laser to Align Workpices for Lasercutting
On the backside of the y-axis are two line lasers mounted. Their lines are perpendicular to each other. The cross is exactly in the origin when the z axis is homed.
I use the laserlines as a reference when I fix something to lasercut. The lines are parallel to the x and y direction which helps to fix the workpice in the right place.
Both lasers are powered with 5V from the power supply.
Participated in the
First Time Author Contest