I built this printer out of completely salvaged materials from dot matrix printers, scanners, and scrap wood. The only things purchased were the hot end, threaded rod, and the ramps board.
I am a high school student on a tight budget, so the goal of this project was to bring 3D printers to anyone willing to put their mind to building one. The final cost of my printer was $47, and a lot of time.
Step 1: Tear Apart Some Printers
From three printers, I was able to salvage:
4x nema 17 stepper motors*
4x 8mm linear rails
4x 8mm bushings
2x timing belts
2x gears for motors
(I also plan to build a filament extruder to recycle all of the injection molded parts from the printers.)
*A general rule is that you are most likely to find stepper motors in older printers.
Step 2: Other Materials
I was also able to pull 8 bearings out of an old pair of roller blades. After soaking them in WD40, they spin great.
You will also need:
- various pieces of scrap wood
- old USB cables, or other scrap wire
- ramps board 1.4 (purchased from ebay for $20)
- hot end (purchased from ebay for $12)
- wood glue
Step 3: Tools
You will need:
- drill with various bit sizes
- hand or miter saw
- screw drivers
- table saw (optional, but helpful)
- drill press
- soldering iron (and materials)
Step 4: Assemble X and Z Axes
1. Glue the parts for the ends of the X carriage to the Z axis nut holder.
2. You should now have two parts that look like the third picture. Now glue nuts in each of the holes.
3. Glue the bushings into the other block. This will later be used to hold the extruder.
4. Take two of your 8mm rods and put them into the holes of one end.
5. Place the extruder carriage on the rods.
6. Put on the other end.
7. Cut a 36in threaded rod in half to get two 18in pieces.These will make the Z axis.
Step 5: Y Axis and Base
1. Cut a piece of plywood to the length and width of your linear rods.
2. Cut two 1x4s to the width of your x axis as shown in picture 2.
3. Drill holes to allow for the smooth rods in the 1x4s.
4. Make another piece out of a 1x4, but put bushings in it instead. This will be the platform for the printbed.
5. Glue and screw both ends onto the plywood.
6. Insert the smooth rods into the base, along with the bed platform as shown in picture 5.
7. Glue on the back bearings for the timing belt.
8. Attach the stepper motor to the front of the base.
Notice: I had to cut the groove all the way down so my belt would fit under the platform.
Step 6: Finish Z Axis
To attach the Z axis motors to the base, I had to use 4 pieces of wood because I did not have screws long enough. I first attached the motors to thin pieces of mdf, which were then screwed to the longer supports that connect to the base. I then attached the motors to either side of the base with the correct spacing to attach the X axis assembly.
Step 7: Build the Bed
1. To start off, cut a 10x10 square of glass and cover it in painters' tape.
2. Make the nylon bushings by drilling a 5/16 in hole into each piece, then cut them in half.
3. Make screw holes in either side of the bearings to allow for the tension to be adjusted.
4. Then attach the bushings to a cross beam to connect them together.
5. Cut two 12x10in pieces of plywood out to form the bed platform.
6. Screw one piece to the bushing. Attach the other with a screw in each corner to the one below. This allows the bed to be trammed (leveled).
8. Drill three holes in the top to allow access to the screws below.
9. Attach the bed to the base by inserting the 8 mm rods into the nylon bushings.
10. Connect the bed to a timing belt and loop it around the stepper motor.
Step 8: Put It All Together
1. The X axis assembly is then connected to the base using the couplings on the threaded rod.
2. Build a box around the X axis assembly to provide support to the printer.
3. Connect the hot end to the X axis using an L shaped piece of sheet metal.
4. Use PTFE (Teflon) tube to connect the extruder to the hot end.
5. Bend a short length of copper pipe into an inverse h shape to hold a spool of filament.
Step 9: Extruder
For the extruder, I decided to use a bowden style, however I adapted it to use only hand made parts.
1. To start, attach the motor and gear to a piece of mdf.
2. Cut out a piece of mdf in an L shape the same size as the other piece.
3. Attach a bearing to the L with a 5/16 bolt.
4. Screw the L to the motor so that it can pivot on the short side of the L.
5. Attach a spring and screw so the tension on the filament can be adjusted.
Step 10: Wiring and Electronics
Extension wires need to be soldered from each motor to the ramps board. I chose to attach it to the side because it was one of the few places that I still had room.
1. Solder female header pins on to each wire. (I salvaged mine from and old ATX power supply that no longer worked.)
2. Then, attach all the components to the ramps board.
3. Another ATX power supply is then used to power the ramps board. Remember to bridge the green wire to ground or the power supply will not turn on.
Step 11: Final Thoughts
The printer is not currently functioning as the extruder motor is broken, but I hope to fix that soon.
Once I get it working, I plan to print some of the wood parts in plastic to strengthen the machine.
I have run through dry prints and have all the axes working and calibrated.
When I completed the instructable, it was reentered into the contest and I lost all of my votes so far. I would really appreciate it if you would consider voting for me in the contest.
Thank you for reading. If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments below.
Remember that everything I did for this printer can be done in a different way. All you have to do is imagine and you can come up with a solution!