DIY 3D Printer progress piece by piece

One of my newly resurrected projects is my ambition to deign and build my own functional 3d printer. Eventually i’d love to just purchase a nice one, but i’d also like to build my own (besides i already have most of the parts and mine would be bigger too). The pre-made model i would buy is the Lulzbot mini. Mainly because they are fantastically built machines, but also because they are produced by a company here in my own town! Plus they have a philosophical commitment to open source which i love.

Anyway, building off of my original post in 2011, I’m designing from scratch a 2ft x 2ft 3d printer. I’ve been steadily making good progress piece by piece, step by step. My main design criteria are: as close to a 2ft x 2ft build area as possible (maximizing build area vs machine footprint), using 1″ 10 series 80/20 t-slot extruded aluminum, minimizing unneeded parts by using t-slot linear bearings (real aluminum ones and 3d printed working replicas), and trying to just have a simple design by default. I’ve had fun these last few weeks by printing out working 80/20 linear bearing CAD models into working plastic prototypes. My next step is to print out some motor mounts. I’ve designed two motor mounts so far. The first one is a snug mount that shapely fits around a motor and has built in t-slot mounts intended for the z axis lead screws. The second is a simple right angle slotted mount for y-axis that has a belt drive. I have them modeled in Solidworks 2007. I just need to print them out to see if they will work.

motor mount 1

3d printed linear bearing (80/20 t-slot)
Initial frame of diy 3d printer with 3d printed linear bearings in view (80/20 t-slot)

2nd batch of 3d printed parts!





Today I tried printed out more 3d printed plastic from the library Lulzbot mini. I printed 3 more 90 degree corner brackets for my old 1″ extruded aluminum 80/20 brand t-slot that I originally bought to make a rep-rap 3d printer and/or CNC mill. I never finished it I might add. Perhaps I will pick that project up again. It would certainly fit my trend this year of finishing old abandoned projects (like my xyzzy motor controller).

I also printed two spacers from my solidworks files for my homemade taffy machine. (They came out great). And I tried my hand at making a copy of my own house key. They key didn’t print the best, and in addition did not fit in the doorknob for some unknown reason. 😦

The biggest accomplishment today was printing plastic copies of the 80/20 t-slot linear bearings. I still prefer the aluminum ones, but my low cost ABS plastic ones are much affordable and should work fine anyway! The ABS is actually some what slippery and does work by itself despite it not being great.

The plastic with Teflon (actually HDPE) tabs screwed on works just as nicely as the aluminum ones do. I think I will print more (and bigger ones) in the near future. These should help greatly in turning this into a giant 3d printer!

collecting CNC parts

More CNC parts arrived in the mail today. I bought a bunch of T-Slot metal off of ebay for my custom CNC mill/router/repstrap. Hopefully it  will work out fine. I’ve never used T-slot metal before, so in a sense it was a blind purchase. I ordered 80/20 brand S 1010 t-slot bars in 2 foot lengths. I really only have room for a 2′ X 2′ sized CNC machine. It’s not super huge, but it should (if i can get it working) provide a fairly good sized work area.

T-slot metal

One problem with ordering 80/20 t-slot for the first time is that it turns out i ordered the wrong size i intended to. We had a large scrap piece of T-Slot that my dad scavenged from the HP or Agilent dumpster. I had assumed i was ordering the same size as that. …but somewhere in my mind i guess i also knew it was 1″ x 1″, and apparently i didn’t make the connection between the measurements and the actual size i was ordering.

one on the far right is 80/20 size 1010

So yeah, the one on the left is the piece of scrap we had that is probably 1.5″ x 1.5″, and the one on the right is the ones i ordered which are 80/20 brand, Size 1010 1″ x 1″.

makerbot stepper motors are super tiny!

I also ordered some electronics and “extra” stepper motors from Makerbot Industries. The ones they shipped are NEMA 17 size stepper motors. I had also assumed that they would be the same size as the other ones i already had. Boy was i surprised. They are even smaller than the others. I still might be able to use them though. I think i will actually try to build two CNC machines. A big one (my 2′ x 2′ one) and a smaller one. The smaller one should be a McWire Cartesian Bot. I like the McWire Cartesian design for a small repstrap, and hopefully i should already have enough unused arduino and stuff lying around that hopefully i can get two machines working.