A Guide to Make a DIY 3D Printer – Is it for you

With a 3D printer you have the power to print literally anything you can model. Learn how to build a 3d printer and what materials are used in the printing process.

diy_3d_printerThis is a guide on how to build a 3D printer so it is assumed that you are familiar with the basic concepts. If not, this guide from 3Dprinting.com should give you an idea of what it is. Second, you’ll need a DIY 3D printing kit, which should include all the components you need. These kits come complete with instructions on how to assemble the machine, but the following information will give you an idea of what to expect.

Part One: Assembling the Main Body

Open the kit and you should see all the components in the box, some of which may be in separate bags. Now you’ll need to put together the printer body, which is usually made of birch plywood or a similar material. Basically what you need to do is secure the printer body with the provided nuts and bolts. Depending on the printer’s complexity, this might take 90 minutes or more.

These pieces are usually letter coded and laser cut so you just need to fit them in the appropriate tabs and slots. The fitting should be straightforward, and once you have put the frame in place, lock the joints with a bolt, washer and nut with a hex driver. The kit should have all the necessary hardware and they will be properly labeled so it won’t be a problem. The kit will likely have the required drivers and tools as well so use those.

In some cases you’ll probably need to use a pair of tweezers to put the nuts in the slots. If the slot is tight, a bit of force might be needed, but not so much you’ll break it.

Part Two: Mount the Hardware

To build your own 3D printer you’ll need to mount the Y and X axis hardware for the purposes of moving the build platform and the extruder. Both axes have a motor that operates a belt to drive a part along a steel rail. The Y axis is connected to a wood component that should be preassembled, which powers the platform where the device will put the plastic used to construct the 3D object.

The X axis is hooked up to the printer head and is responsible for powering the extruder. If you’re interesting in learning more about how 3D printing works, check out this article from HowStuffWorks.

Now you need to attach the motor and rail. Make sure that you have a needle nose plier to keep the nuts in their position as you put the bolts in. If you have trouble with the X-axis alignment, just reseat the whole thing.

beltPart Three: The Belt Assembly

Your DIY kit should have a preassembled belt included that you can put between the X and Y axis support gears. What you need to do is get this on the gears, and if you are trying to construct a diy 3d printer this is one of the hardest steps since the fit is invariably tight.

The next step is to install the Z axis and the support rod, to be followed by the extruder head. Next you have to connect the build platform and its heating component. You also need to install the circuit board and connect the wiring for the temperature sensors, heating elements and the motors.

The steps needed for these are the same, as they involve screwing the hardware parts in the components you had installed or in the printer frame. Connecting the wires isn’t as difficult as it seems because the steps are no different from hooking up jumpers on the motherboard on your PC.

Part Four: Leveling the Build Platform

As this article from Forbes shows, there are a lot of things you can do with 3D printing, including car components, guns and it’s even used by NASA. But to get anything done with your DIY printer you’ll need to level the platform, and in most cases you just need to make adjustments to the screws in the springs.

To assess the level, set the extruder head to the platform’s corners and ensure that the distance from each position from the platform is the same. If the level isn’t perfect for your homemade 3d printer, that’s all right since you’ll be using the provided software to calibrate the settings.

The binder clips let you take off the build surface for project removal and cleaning purposes. With the binder clips you’ll be able to keep the mounting procedure relatively easy, and they are also inexpensive, which is always a good thing.

Materials Used in 3D Printing

Once you have the printer built, you can set it up and start printing. Various materials are used for 3D printing such as polycarbonate, photopolymers, wax, steel, titanium and silver. Stereolithography materials, glass filled polyamide, polyamide, PLA and ABS plastic can all be used for printing.pla

Your DIY kit may come with suggestions for printing, but your output will depend on the kind of computer you are using, the operating system and the CAD program you use. These printers can run on Windows and other systems, and you can use a wide array of 3D programs such as Blender and 3D Max.

The material you use for printing is also a matter of personal preference, although if you are just starting out there’s no reason to use an expensive material. If you’re serious about 3D printing you can try PLA (Polylactic Acid) or ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene). Of the two, PLA is more commendable because it melts at a lower temperature compared to ABS and it doesn’t produce any unpleasant smells.

Once you make your own 3D printer the possibilities are endless. The moment you get familiar with the software and how it works, you will have a pretty good idea of what material and 3D modeling software works best.