How to Transform a Makelangelo 3 Into a 3D Printer




Introduction: How to Transform a Makelangelo 3 Into a 3D Printer

About: I want to build my moon base with remote controlled robots and solar sintering.

The Makelangelo 3 is an easy way to start learning how to make a 3D printer. It basically makes one layer of a 3D print, without the expensive plastic filament or the burning hot nozzle that can hurt someone. It would be great in a classroom, a library, or at home for the self-starting young genius.

I've planned the M3 so that when you've built one you know how to make a machine that moves. When you take this step and build a 3D printer the complexity goes way up BUT the only really new part is heating plastic.

It would mean a lot to me if you could like and share this with your friends. Your support helps me continue making.

Step 1: Bill of Materials

Printed parts

I printed the parts for this machine on my first printer.

Laser cut parts

I cut my parts from 6mm Baltic birch pine on a 60w laser. Your local hackspace probably has a laser cutter.

Other parts

Here is a complete list of parts you may need to buy.

The Arduino MEGA, the RAMPS board, and the stepsticks can be replaced with the Makelangelo RUMBA board and the LCD.

The belts, pulleys, screws, nuts, and the two Z stepper motors can come from the Makelangelo 3.

In north america I recommend for the metal rods. They will cut it to length and deburr the ends if you ask.

I only need the tiniest piece of kapton tape (polyimid tape). Get a small roll only 10mm wide.

Your local glazier can cut glass plates to any size you want. Get at least two so you have a backup.

On the glass plate I like to put a sheet of Buildtak. I have tried many other surface covers and this is the best. Get one for each piece of glass and then you can swap quickly between prints.

Many places online now will sell a Hot End Kit that has a few of the parts on your shopping list all in one place. Even better, these parts are tested to work well together.

I've included a photo of the power supply I used in all my printers. To make them work you have to "bridge" two pins with a wire, as shown in the second picture.

Leave No Trace

The wood parts from the Makelangelo can be composted. The servo will be good in another robot project. The zipties are the only thing that might go in the garbage. Comment if you have an idea how to reuse them.


I have everything except the metal rods and the glass for sale, because they are hard to ship.

I may already have them on

Step 2: Assembly Steps

Here is an excellent instructable that will lead you through the assembly.

Here is another. Do your homework: read both and compare notes.

Step 3: Some Notes on Calibration

To program your robot you need to use Arduino to upload printer control code like Marlin.

Walk before you can run

Marlin has some default speed settings for each motors - moving and extruding. These settings include velocity, acceleration, and jerk. In my experience with a new machine these default settings for extruding and z movement are WAY TOO HIGH. You will avoid a lot of mysterious calibration problems if you halve the speed and acceleration at the start. You can always raise them higher later.

You've seen the rest before

If you've built a Makelangelo before, you've seen the rest. XYZ Calibration challenges are the same. GCode is the same, with a few new codes. Movement is the same, but more complicated. Uploading code to the robot is the same. You've learned your letters and words, now we can start to share Big Ideas.

The newness is melting plastic

You can push plastic into the hot end too fast and it will jam. You can push too slow and it will drip out the hot end, which is bad. You can overheat or underheat and jam. It is better to drip than to jam. It is better to start with a plastic like ABS which you can't overheat. After that feel free to experiment with PLA or any of the other exciting new flavors on the market.

Step 4: Final Thoughts

Here are some additions you might want to try. Remember you can print them on your new machine :)

cable chain: keep your wiring nice and tidier than mine.

z endstop adjustment: make it easier to get the nozzle to the right starting height (which is hard to do and very important).

Don't bother trying a servo-mounted z probe. It doesn't help. I'm going to try a proximity sensor, instead.

I hope this has been useful to you. Thank you again to everyone who's got a Makelangelo and supported me in my quest to put construction robots on the moon. Together we can make it happen.

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