3D printer diy enclosure
9 Amazing DIY 3D Printer Enclosure Ideas – Clever Creations
Open-frame 3D printers, like the Ender 3, have become a common sight amongst consumer printers. Open frames help to keep the manufacturing costs low but make it difficult to 3D print with high-temperature filaments such as ABS and Nylon.
A 3D printer enclosure is an ideal solution for this issue. It increases the safety of your printer and isolates it from the external environment. 3D printer enclosures can be bought off-the-shelf, but there are also plenty of DIY enclosures made of cardboard, plastic, or metal.
Let’s take a look at some of the best DIY 3D printer enclosures that you can build for your printer that do not cost a fortune!
Why Use a 3D Printer Enclosure?
Open-frame hobbyist 3D printers offer limited material compatibility and safety. They expose components to dust and dirt and have no air-filtration system. There is also a risk of pets and children interfering with the 3D printing process or touching the hot elements of the printer.
An enclosure minimizes these drawbacks by isolating the 3D printer in an enclosed space. It helps to maintain a constant temperature which comes in handy when 3D printing with high-temperature filaments like ABS and Nylon. It further aids in noise reduction, making 3D printing at home or in offices more convenient.
You can also add an air filtration system to the enclosure to filter out any 3D printer fumes, thus increasing the safety of your 3D printing area. Not to mention, enclosures also make 3D printers more aesthetically pleasing and easier to integrate into your workspace.
To summarize, a 3D printer enclosure increases the material compatibility, print quality, and usability of your printer.
Which Enclosure to Get?
There are a few options when it comes to 3D printer enclosures. You can buy an enclosure off-the-shelf or make your own from scratch.
DIY 3D printer enclosures can be cheap if you want them to be, but they do require a bit of effort and time to put together. The best enclosures are made from materials that are both sturdy and have good thermal insulation properties.
If you’re looking for an enclosure that is easy to set up and does not require any DIY skills, then we suggest buying an off-the-shelf 3D printer enclosure. These are typically made out of plastic or aluminum and come with all the necessary fixtures and fittings.
Another alternative is to simply buy an enclosed 3D printer, but those come at a significantly higher cost.
The 9 Best Enclosed 3D Printers
Whichever direction you choose to go in, make sure to measure if you have enough space on your 3D printer table or workbench.
If you want a 3D printer enclosure that is fully customized to your 3D printer model and specific needs, then you will have to make your own. Now let’s look at some cheap and creative DIY 3D printing enclosures!
Cheap 3D Printer Enclosure Ideas
IKEA LACK 3D Printer Enclosure
Image: Mikolas Zuza via Prusa3D
The IKEA Lack enclosure is a recognizable and robust DIY 3D printer enclosure. It is cheap, easy to build and customize, and is modular enough to accommodate any future changes in the enclosure design.
This enclosure uses a couple of IKEA Lack tables stacked on top of one another. You can use these tables as per your preferences. Usually, though, the top one is used as a 3D printer bay, with the bottom one for storing tools. The design allows you to move your power supply outside and protects the electronics from high temperatures.
There are a variety of designs available for free with detailed guides, and you can build them within a day. The IKEA Lack table enclosure is great for small to medium-sized 3D printers like the Prusa i3 MK3S+ and Creality Ender 3 as it is. And with some 3D printed leg extensions, you can even fit taller printers like the Creality CR-10 Smart Pro.
If you want to make things as easy as possible, you can even buy the required plexiglass panels as a pre-made kit.
DIYE Pack of 5 Plexiglass V1 1/8 Acrylic Sheet for IKEA Lack 3D. ..
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Aluminum Extrusion Enclosure
Image: Namsted via Imgur
Aluminum extrusions are a great and easy way of building a structural frame. These are lightweight, strong, and easy to machine, making them ideal for building a 3D printer enclosure.
This aluminum extrusion enclosure gives better stability and durability than the IKEA Lack design. The maker has used custom-sized aluminum extrusions to accommodate a Prusa i3 MK3S+ 3D printer in the middle. The top is used for filament spools, and you can store your tools in the bottom section.
The enclosure is covered up with acrylic panels on all four sides, giving the print chamber good visibility. You can adjust the height of all four feet to get a leveled horizontal plane.
The project is not for beginners, as you will need to have some experience with machining and building things. But, if you’re up for it, it will prove to be an excellent learning project for you. An aluminum enclosure is very customizable, lasts longer, and acts as a perfect house for your 3D printer.
DIY Smart 3D Printer Enclosure
Image: Jure Korber
This smart 3D printer enclosure comes with a suite of electronics and sensors. It has a 3.5 inch LCD screen, a smoke detector, door sensors, air filtration, temperature, humidity sensor, and controllable LED lighting.
The 3D printer enclosure is divided into two compartments. The bottom one is explicitly designed to fit a Prusa printer and the top one to store eight spools of 1 kg filaments at a time. The enclosure has a custom PCB board that lets you easily wire up and control its various features.
You can get the STL files of certain 3D printed parts for free on Thingiverse. But if you want a detailed guide, along with BOM, build photos, and other aids, you will have to pay a fee to the designer. If you have the time and money, a smart 3D printer enclosure like this is an excellent DIY 3D printer enclosure for most popular open-frame 3D printers
Image: Spare Time Shop via YouTube
Open-frame 3D printers can get noisy, and the constant buzzing and the whirring of stepper motors can get irritating after a while. This issue is most relevant if you 3D print in a living space or an office environment. This is where this sound-insulated enclosure steps in.
As far as traditional enclosures go, they reduce noise up to a certain extent; yet, a sheet of acrylic can only do so much in terms of noise reduction. This sound-insulated enclosure, on the other hand, is made of wood, which has an acoustic foam lining to absorb the 3D printer noises.
This enclosure is big enough to accommodate a Creality CR-10 with filament spool and has dual doors and a transparent window to easily view your 3D printer. You can place the electronics of the CR-10 on the outside of the box, letting you control your 3D printer without opening the build chamber.
The enclosure is relatively easy to build and reduces noise considerably. The sound-insulated enclosure is a great option to get rid of any noises and 3D print in your living areas.
IKEA Pax 3D Printer Enclosure
Image: DollaSign via Reddit
This IKEA Pax enclosure is a wardrobe for your 3D printers. It is cost-effective and saves a lot of floor space when you want to enclose many 3D printers. Compared to the Lack enclosure from above, it offers similar functionality, albeit in a smaller footprint and relatively budget pricing.
You can stack up to three 3D printers in the PAX enclosure and still have some room left for filament spools, tools, and other electronics. All power supplies can sit outside the enclosure, thus protecting them from high temperatures. To add to its functionality, you can include some Neopixel LED lights.
Adafruit NeoPixel Digital RGB LED Strip - Black 30 LED [ADA1460]
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Because the shelves are modular, you can easily move them around to fit 3D printers of varying heights. The major drawback of the PAX design, however, is its lack of transparent panels. Other than that, the IKEA PAX enclosure is an easy, quick and cheap solution for enclosing many 3D printers at once.
Resin 3D Printer Enclosure
Image: majorbrogains via Reddit
Even though resin 3D printers come with an enclosure, you need a separate space to store the printers, resin bottles, and prints like your 3D printed miniatures. This enclosure is an IKEA BRIMNES cabinet with ample space to store and display all your resin 3D printing equipment and minis.
The entire cabinet is divided vertically into two separate parts, giving you the ability to efficiently sort out your goodies. You can store the 3D printer itself in one half, while the other half can take in a washing station. And with a bit of DIY, you can vary the shelves’ heights and customize them to perfectly fit your minis’ collection, resin bottles, and other resin 3D printer accessories.
There is air ventilation within the enclosure with the exhaust on the top. It helps to throw out harmful 3D printer fumes and keep away the foul smell. You have enough space to accommodate popular resin printers like the Elegoo Saturn S and Phrozen Sonic Mighty 4K.
Considering the price, ease of use, and accessibility, using an IKEA BRIMNES as DIY 3D printer enclosure is an excellent solution for clearing up your resin workplace.
Repurposed Dishwasher Enclosure
Image: antialiasedpixel via Reddit
Repurposing things is an excellent avenue in the DIY area, and what better way than to use an old dishwasher as a 3D printer enclosure. This one easily fits an Prusa i3 3D printer and still has room at the top to mount a filament spool.
The Prusa’s footprint is 16.5×16.5×15 inches, while the area within the dishwasher is 21x23x25 inches. This dishwasher has enough room to fit in the Creality Ender 3 (Pro/V2) and others of similar sizes. And the spare room that’s left can be utilized to fit in some LEDs, a Raspberry Pi, and a webcam for remote monitoring and control of the 3D printer.
The main disadvantage is that there is not much room for further customization. You will need to change the dish washer to accommodate any future updates to the 3D printer, not very practical!
Otherwise, the enclosure is one of the best ways to repurpose an old machine into something useful and save some money.
Official Creality Enclosure
The official Creality enclosure is one of the best ready-to-use designs to cover up your 3D printer. While it is designed for Creality 3D printers, you should have no issues using it for other 3D printers of similar sizes.
The enclosure uses aluminum rods for its structural strength and an aluminum-lined fabric to enclose the 3D printer on all its sides. The internal aluminum lining is made up of flame-retardant material.
The Creality enclosure does a good job at keeping hot air inside and maintains stable temperatures well. It also comes with a single window on the front of the box to view your 3D prints in progress.
With a little bit of wiring, you can move out the LCD controller and power supply to the outside of the enclosure to work with even higher temperatures. For just under $70.00, the Creality’s Enclosure is an effective solution to print with warping filaments while keeping fumes in and dust out.
Creality Ender Enclosure for 3D Printer, Fireproof Dustproof 3D...
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While a photo lightbox is not designed for 3D printers, it does a great job as a 3D printer enclosure. It doubles as both a photo studio tent and an enclosure and gives you great lighting for pictures of your 3D prints.
This lightbox has two adjustable LED bars that cumulatively house 126 LED lights giving you a bright and well-lit inside area. It also gives you four PVC backgrounds for shooting various scenes and highlighting different shades of your 3D prints. And you can adjust the front cover to either fully cover up the 3D printer, or keep it open for ventilation.
It is a decent step up over the Creality enclosure and aids in photographing and taking videos of your 3D prints. The enclosure is easy to assemble and use, while also being convenient to store when necessary.
This enclosure is an ideal choice for enclosing your 3D printer and still having the flexibility to use it as a photo lightbox when you need it.
Photo Box, SAMTIAN Photo Light Box 32x32x32 Inches 126 LED Light...
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Buying or making a DIY 3D Printer enclosure: What to consider
The size of the DIY enclosure should be just enough to fit your 3D printer. It should not be too big, as this makes it more difficult to heat the print area and makes it harder to move around if you need to.
Ease of Access
You should be able to easily access your 3D printer when it is in the DIY enclosure. Locking latches are a great addition that lets you lock and open the enclosure at will
A DIY 3D printer enclosure should be made of a durable and heat-resistant material. The material should also be easy to clean. Plexiglass is a good option for 3D printer enclosures as it is durable, easy to clean, and heat resistant.
Installing a reliable smoke alarm at the top of the enclosure can alert you in time if your 3D printer catches fire. It is a worthwhile investment that can help keep you safe.
First Alert SCO501CN-3ST Wireless Interconnected Combination Smoke...
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If you want to be extra safe, you can install a fire suppression system that kicks in when the 3D printer enclosure gets too hot. A popular choice is the Blazecut T-series.
One of the main disadvantages of 3D printing is the noise it produces. This can be a problem if you are trying to print in a shared space or if you just want to keep the noise down.
3D printer enclosures can help with this by soundproofing the area around the printer. Adding acoustic foam panels to your enclosure will help reduce sound levels significantly. Always make sure you get fire resistant ones, however.
TroyStudio Acoustic Studio Absorption Foam Panel, 12 X 12 X 2 inches...
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Adding a window to the 3D printer enclosure can help you monitor the progress of your 3D prints.
You might want to consider installing LED lights inside the 3D printer enclosure. This will help you see the 3D prints better and also aid in taking pictures or videos of them.
The price of 3D printer enclosures can vary depending on the size and features. 3D printer enclosures can be bought or made. If you are making your own 3D printer enclosure, you will need to factor in the cost of all the materials as well as your time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a 3D printer enclosure necessary?
A 3D printer enclosure is not strictly necessary, but it can be beneficial in terms of safety and maintaining optimal printing conditions. Enclosures can help to minimize drafts and other external factors that can impact the print quality, and they also provide a barrier between the hot printer components and curious fingers (especially important if you have young children or pets in the home).
If you are interested in purchasing a 3D printer enclosure, there are many different options available on the market to suit a variety of budgets and needs.
How do 3D printer enclosures work?
3D printer enclosures work by creating a controlled environment for the 3D printer. This helps to protect the 3D printer from dust, debris, and fumes. It also helps to maintain a constant temperature around the 3D printer, which is important for preventing warping of high-temperature filaments.
How do you enclose a 3D printer?
A 3D printer can be enclosed in a variety of ways. Some printers come with an enclosure that is already built in, while others use the addition of an enclosure for safety reasons.
One common way to enclose a 3D printer is by using a box made out of cardboard or plastic. The box should be large enough to fit the printer and the printing material, and it should have openings for the print head, filament feeder, and other cables. The box can be sealed shut with tape or clamps to keep fumes and heat from escaping.
Another option is to build an enclosure out of plywood or acrylic sheeting. This type of enclosure is more permanent and can be customized to fit the specific needs of the user and 3D printer.
Do 3D printer enclosures need ventilation?
3D printer enclosures do not need ventilation if the material being printed is not fumes-emitting. If you are printing with PLA, for example, there should be no issue with keeping your enclosure sealed. However, if you are printing with ABS, it is recommended that you provide some form of ventilation to deal with the build-up of fumes.
Do I need an enclosure for PLA printing?
PLA prints very well without an enclosure, so you likely don’t need one unless you’re printing in extremely cold temperatures. If you do want to use an enclosure, make sure it’s well-ventilated so your print doesn’t overheat.
How hot should a 3D printer enclosure get?
There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on the specific 3D printer and filament being used. As a ballpark range, a temperature somewhere between 30 and 60 degrees Celcius is the right range for FDM 3D printer enclosures.
Should I enclose my Ender 3?
You should enclose your Ender 3 if you want to protect it from dust, dirt, and other debris. Additionally, enclosing your printer will help to maintain a consistent temperature and protect against accidental contact.
An enclosure is one of the top Ender 3 upgrades we recommend people to start with when modding their printer.
The Best Ender 3 (V2 / Pro) Upgrades
Should a 3D printer enclosure be airtight?
There is no single answer to this question as it depends on the specific printer and application. In general, though, airtight enclosures can be helpful in preventing fumes and particles from escaping the printer and contaminating the environment. They can also help protect the printer from dust and other debris.
However, if the enclosure is too tight, it can create problems with heat retention and airflow, which could lead to a decrease in printing quality or even damage to the printer. It’s important to find a balance between creating an effective enclosure and maintaining optimal printing conditions.
A 3D printer enclosure is an effective way to increase your 3D printer’s material compatibility. It further aids in printing with warping filaments like ABS and Nylon by maintaining a constant temperature. It saves the printer from external dirt and dust and improves the print quality.
With DIY 3D printer enclosure designs, you have the flexibility to customize the enclosure to your specific needs and install as many features as you’d like in it. It is also relatively easy to build a cheap, low-cost solution, for example with a simple cardboard box.
But, it can be tedious for many users, requiring lots of time, effort, and money. Whereas the ready-to-buy designs lack customizability but offer an easy, quick, and cheap solution.
Let us know your thoughts on the list, and if you have anything else to add, feel free to comment below.
What Is a 3D Printer Enclosure & Can You Build Your Own?
File settings, printer parts, and an array of other factors impact the quality of every 3D print that you produce. An enclosure can be an excellent tool for those who want to improve the quality of their 3D printing projects, but what exactly does a 3D printer enclosure do?
Let’s take a look at the key features of a 3D printer enclosure, along with some ideas that can help you to build your own.
Enclosed vs. Open 3D PrintersImage Credit: ESA/Wikimedia Commons
When most people think about 3D printers, they will imagine a bony-looking frame-type design like the one in the image above. For hobbyists, common printers like the Creality Ender 5 and the Original Prusa i3 are very popular choices, but most of the printers in this price range don’t come with enclosures.
The Strateo3D IDEX420 3D (pictured above) is a fully enclosed 3D printer featuring plastic paneling that is wrapped around a heavy-duty steel frame. As you can see, this type of machine looks quite different from the types of 3D printers that most hobbyists choose to buy.
Fully enclosed 3D printers aren’t the only option. Many of today’s 3D printer manufacturers offer enclosures to fit specific printers, and you can even find generic enclosures that can do a good job. It’s important to keep in mind that some “enclosed” 3D printers actually have open tops, making them far more similar to open 3D printers.
The Key Benefits of an Enclosed 3D Printer
Keeping your 3D printer enclosed can seem a little over-the-top, especially when you’re used to very forgiving materials like PLA. There are plenty of excellent reasons to choose a 3D printer with an enclosure, though, and this goes beyond simply making your machine look cool.
More 3D Printing Materials
Warping, poor adhesion, and other 3D printing problems can often be caused by the environment around a printer. Warping, for example, is usually caused by a temperature differential between the top and bottom of the object that is being printed. With materials like PLA and PETG, a heated bed can be enough to solve this issue.
Materials like ABS and nylon are near-impossible to print effectively without an enclosure. You need to be able to control the temperature surrounding your prints, stop airflow from cooling the material early, and minimize dust and other debris while printing. An enclosure can help you to achieve all of these goals, making it possible to print with a wider range of materials.
Improving 3D Printing Quality
Improving 3D printing quality takes time, effort, and knowledge, at least in most cases. Using an enclosure can be an easy way to skip the hard steps, giving you higher-quality prints thanks to the greater control we mentioned in the last section. Most 3D printing hobbyists are very happy to be able to achieve this goal by simply covering their printer.
Health & Safety
There are a lot of questions around the web surrounding 3D printing and safety. PLA is widely considered to be safe to print with adults, children, and pets in the room, but materials like ABS can be more dangerous.
As an example, ABS releases a carcinogenic substance called styrene gas when it is heated up. Using an enclosure can help you to trap this gas, venting it out of the building using fans and ducting, to make your print space safer.
Having an enclosure on your printer also provides a line of defense between the machine and your children/pets. Young people and animals won’t always understand the danger of a working 3D printer, but you can keep them safe without having to stop your project.
It’s no secret that 3D printers can be very noisy. Fans, stepper motors, and even PCBs can make a racket when you are using your printer, but an enclosure can help to dampen these sounds and make the printer easier to live with. This is great for 3D printing hobbyists who have to share their space with other people who may not be quite as enthusiastic about 3D printers.
Buying a 3D Printer Enclosure
Getting your hands on a pre-made 3D printer enclosure can be achieved in a couple of different ways. Budget will often be the most significant constraint that people will face when choosing an enclosure, so we have organized this from most expensive to cheapest.
3D Printers With Enclosures
Buying a 3D printer that already has an enclosure is arguably the most expensive route to go down. This is only because you are also buying a new printer at the same time, though, so it may not be such a bad option for those already in the market for a machine.
The Creality CR-200B represents the most affordable end of this market, but this printer comes with a small build volume: just 200mm x 200mm x 200mm. The FlashForge Creator 3 is considerably more expensive but features dual extruders and a much larger build volume, and you can find other fully enclosed printers from different companies.
An Enclosure for Your 3D Printer
As 3D printing retailers stock an increasingly wide variety of printing materials, enclosed printers are becoming more popular. This has prompted companies like Creality to sell their own 3D printer enclosures that are “designed” for the printers they sell. In reality, these enclosures are very similar to indoor plant growing tents, though this doesn’t mean that they don’t perform.
Generic 3D printer enclosures can also be found on the market. Buying the right product can be trickier when you go down this route, as you will have to measure your own printer to make sure that you buy the right size.
Related: The Best 3D Printers
Building a DIY 3D Printer Enclosure
Finally, it’s time to discuss the most popular way to get your own 3D printer enclosure: building it yourself. DIY 3D printer enclosure projects can be found across the web, making it nice and easy to get started. You even have one of the key tools you’re going to need: a 3D printer.
DIY 3D Printer Enclosure and Standing Desk
This DIY 3D Printer Enclosure and Standing Desk by Morley Kert is a large option for printers that have significant build volumes, but it can be scaled down to fit your machine. You will need woodworking skills (and some power tools), a range of materials, and, of course, a 3D printer to complete this project.
Once completed, this tall 3D printer enclosure can act as a standing desk with an additional cabinet for your 3D printing tools and accessories.
DIY 3D Printer Enclosure for Under $50
While you may not be able to get exactly the same materials as used in the project video, this low-cost DIY 3D printer enclosure by Just Barran demonstrates creativity and ingenuity. Very few projects of this nature can be achieved so affordably, especially when the end result looks so good.
The enclosure itself can be upgraded with fans to give you the ability to ventilate the enclosure with ducting or simply into the space around you.
IKEA 3D Printer Enclosure
If you’ve been interested in 3D printing for some time, it’s likely that you’ve seen ideas like this IKEA 3D printer enclosure by BaldGuyDIY before. You will need to 3D print some brackets, get your hands on some acrylic, and put together some IKEA furniture, but this option is easy, tidy, and fits many of the most popular printers on the market. Adding some lighting, fans, and even cameras can be excellent upgrades for this enclosure.
Using a 3D Printer Enclosure
3D printer enclosures are great tools for hobbyists and professionals alike. Improving your print quality, the range of available printing materials, and the safety of your 3D printing, even DIY enclosures are a great choice. That said, you could always choose a 3D printer that already comes with an enclosure.
Build a home 3D printer with your own hands: recommendations from personal experience
3D printing and assembly of 3D printers is my hobby and passion. Here I will not share detailed diagrams and drawings, there are more than enough of them on specialized resources. The main goal of this material is to tell you where to start, where to dig and how to avoid mistakes in the process of assembling a home 3D printer. Perhaps one of the readers will be inspired by applied engineering achievements.
Why do you need a 3D printer? Use cases
I first came across the idea of 3D printing back in the 90s when I was watching the Star Trek series. I remember how impressed I was by the moment when the heroes of the cult series printed the things they needed during their journey right on board their starship. They printed anything: from shoes to tools. I thought it would be great someday to have such a thing too. Then it all seemed something incredible. Outside the window are the gloomy 90s, and the Nokia with a monochrome screen was the pinnacle of progress, accessible only to a select few.
Years passed, everything changed. Around 2010, the first working models of 3D printers began to appear on sale. Yesterday's fantasy has become a reality. However, the cost of such solutions, to put it mildly, discouraged. But the IT industry would not be itself without an inquisitive community, where there is an active exchange of knowledge and experience and who just let them dig into the brains and giblets of new hardware and software. So, drawings and diagrams of printers began to surface more and more often on the Web. Today, the most informative and voluminous resource on the topic of assembling 3D printers is RepRap - this is a huge knowledge base that contains detailed guides for creating a wide variety of models of these machines.
I assembled the first printer about five years ago. My personal motivation to build my own device is quite prosaic and based on several factors. Firstly, there was an opportunity to try to realize the old dream of having your own device, inspired by a fantasy series. The second factor is that sometimes it was necessary to repair some household items (for example, a baby stroller, car elements, household appliances and other small things), but the necessary parts could not be found. Well, the third aspect of the application is "near-working". On the printer, I make cases for various IoT devices that I assemble at home.
Agree, it is better to place your device based on Raspberry Pi or Arduino in an aesthetically pleasing "body", which is not a shame to put in an apartment or take to the office, than to organize components, for example, in a plastic bowl for food. And yes, you can print parts to build other printers :)
There are a lot of scenarios for using 3D printers. I think everyone can find something of their own.
A complex part in terms of drawing that I printed on my printer. Yes, it's just a figurine, but it has many small elements
Ready solution vs custom assembly
When a technology has been tested, its value in the market decreases markedly. The same thing happened in the world of 3D printers. If earlier a ready-made solution cost simply sky-high money, then today acquiring such a machine is more humane for the wallet, but nevertheless not the most affordable for an enthusiast. There are a number of solutions already assembled and ready for home use on the market, their price range ranges from $500-700 (not the best options) to infinity (adequate solutions start from a price tag of about $1000). Yes, there are options for $150, but we, for understandable, I hope, reasons, will not dwell on them.
In short, there are three cases to consider a finished assembly:
- when you plan to print not much and rarely;
- when print accuracy is critical;
- you need to print molds for mass production of parts.
There are several obvious advantages to self-assembly. The first and most important is cost. Buying all the necessary components will cost you a maximum of a couple of hundred dollars. In return, you will receive a complete 3D printing solution with the quality of manufactured products acceptable for domestic needs. The second advantage is that by assembling the printer yourself, you will understand the principles of its design and operation. Believe me, this knowledge will be useful to you during the operation of even an expensive ready-made solution - any 3D printer needs to be serviced regularly, and it can be difficult to do this without understanding the basics.
The main disadvantage of assembly is the need for a large amount of time. I spent about 150 hours on my first build.
What you need to assemble the printer yourself
The most important thing here is the presence of desire. As for any special skills, then, by and large, in order to assemble your first printer, the ability to solder or write code is not critical. Of course, understanding the basics of radio electronics and basic skills in the field of mechanics (that is, "straight hands") will greatly simplify the task and reduce the amount of time that needs to be spent on assembly.
Also, to start we need a mandatory set of parts:
- Extruder is the element that is directly responsible for printing, the print head. There are many options on the market, but for a budget build, I recommend the MK8. Of the minuses: it will not be possible to print with plastics that require high temperatures, there is noticeable overheating during intensive work, which can damage the element. If the budget allows, then you can look at MK10 - all the minuses are taken into account there.
- Processor board. The familiar Arduino Mega is well suited. I didn't notice any downsides to this solution, but you can spend a couple of dollars more and get something more powerful, with a reserve for the future.
- Control board. I'm using RAMPS 1.4 which works great with the Arduino Mega. A more expensive but more reliable board is Shield, which already combines a processor board and a control board. In modern realities, I recommend paying attention to it. In addition to it, you need to purchase at least 5 microstep stepper motor controllers, for example - A4988. And it's better to have a couple of these in stock for replacement.
- Heated table. This is the part where the printed element will be located. Heating is necessary due to the fact that most plastics will not adhere to a cold surface. For example, for printing with PLA plastic, the required surface temperature of the table is 60-80°C, for ABS - 110-130°C, and for polycarbonate it will be even higher
There are also two options for choosing a table - cheaper and more expensive. Cheaper options are essentially printed circuit boards with preheated wiring. To operate on this type of table, you will need to put borosilicate glass, which will scratch and crack during operation. Therefore, the best solution is an aluminum table.
- Stepper motors. Most models, including the i2 and i3, use NEMA 17 size motors, two for the Z axis and one each for the X and Y axes. Finished extruders usually come with their own stepper motor. It is better to take powerful motors with a current in the motor winding of 1A or more, so that there is enough power to lift the extruder and print without skipping steps at high speed.
- Basic set of plastic fasteners.
- Belt and gears to drive it.
Examples of elements appearance: 1) MK8 extruder; 2) Arduino processor board; 3) RAMPS control board; 4) motor controllers; 5) aluminum heated table; 6) NEMA 17 stepper motor; 7) a set of plastic fasteners; 8) drive gears; 9) drive belt
This is a list of items to be purchased. Hardcore users can assemble some of them themselves, but for beginners, I strongly recommend purchasing ready-made solutions.
Yes, you will also need various small things (studs, bearings, nuts, bolts, washers ...) to assemble the case. In practice, it turned out that using a standard m8 stud leads to low printing accuracy on the Z axis. I would recommend immediately replacing it with a trapezoid of the same size.
M8 trapezoid stud for Z axis, which will save you a lot of time and nerves. Available for order on all major online platforms
You also need to purchase customized plastic parts for the X axis, such as these from the MendelMax retrofit kit.
Most parts available at your local hardware store. On RepRap you can find a complete list of necessary little things with all sizes and patterns. The kit you need will depend on the choice of platform (we'll talk about platforms later).
What's the price
Before delving into some aspects of the assembly, let's figure out how much such entertainment will cost for your wallet. Below is a list of parts required for purchase with an average price.
The community has already developed a number of different platforms for assembling printers - the most optimal case designs and the location of the main elements, so you do not have to reinvent the wheel.
i2 and i3 are key platforms for self-assembly printer enclosures. There are also many modifications of them with various improvements, but for beginners, these two classic platforms should be considered, since they do not require special skills and fine-tuning.
Actually, illustration of platforms: 1) i2 platform; 2) i3 platform
On the plus side of i2: it has a more reliable and stable design, although it is a little more difficult to assemble; more opportunities for further customization.
The i3 variant requires more special plastic parts to be purchased separately and has a slow print speed. However, it is easier to assemble and maintain, and has a more aesthetically pleasing appearance. You will have to pay for simplicity with the quality of printed parts - the body has less stability than i2, which can affect print accuracy.
Personally, I started my experiments in assembling printers from the i2 platform. She will be discussed further.
Assembly steps, challenges and improvements
In this block, I will only touch on the key assembly steps using the i2 platform as an example. Full step by step instructions can be found here.
The general scheme of all the main components looks something like this. There is nothing particularly complicated here:
I also recommend adding a display to your design. Yes, you can easily do without this element when performing operations on a PC, but it will be much more convenient to work with the printer this way.
Understanding how all components will be connected, let's move on to the mechanical part, where we have two main elements - a frame and a coordinate machine.
Assembling the frame
Detailed frame assembly instructions are available on RepRap. Of the important nuances - you will need a set of plastic parts (I already talked about this above, but I'd better repeat it), which you can either purchase separately or ask your comrades who already have a 3D printer to print.
The frame of the i2 is quite stable thanks to its trapezoid shape.
This is how the frame looks like with parts already partially installed. For greater rigidity, I reinforced the structure with plywood sheets
An extruder is attached to this part. The stepper motors shown in the diagram above are responsible for its movement. After installation, calibration is required along all major axes.
Important - you will need to purchase (or make your own) a carriage for moving the extruder and a mount for the drive belt. Drive belt I recommend GT2.
The carriage printed by the printer from the previous picture after it has been assembled. The part already has LM8UU bearings for guides and belt mount (top)
Calibration and adjustment
So, we completed the assembly process (as I said, it took me 150 hours) - the frame was assembled, the machine was installed. Now another important step is the calibration of this very machine and extruder. Here, too, there are small subtleties.
Setting up the machine
I recommend calibrating the machine with an electronic caliper. Do not be stingy with its purchase - you will save a lot of time and nerves in the process.
The screenshot below shows the correct constants for the Marlin firmware, which must be selected in order to set the correct number of steps per unit of measure. We calculate the coefficient, multiply it, substitute it into the firmware, and then upload it to the board.
Marlin 9 firmware constants0022
For high-quality calibration, I recommend relying on larger numbers in measurements - take not 1-1. 5 cm, but about 10. So the error will be more noticeable, and it will become easier to correct it.
Calibrating the extruder
When the frame is assembled, the machine is calibrated, we start setting up the extruder. Here, too, everything is not so simple. The main task of this operation is to correctly adjust the supply of plastic.
If underfeeding, the printed test item will have noticeable gaps like test cube 1. Conversely, the result will look bloated if plastic is overfed (dice 2)
Getting Started Printing
It remains for us to run some CAD or download ready-made .stl, which describe the structure of the printed material. Next, this structure needs to be converted into a set of commands understandable to our printer. For this I use the Slicer program. It also needs to be set up correctly - specify the temperature, the size of the extruder nozzle. After that, the data can be sent to the printer.
As a raw material for printing, I recommend starting with regular ABS plastic - it is quite strong, products made from it are durable, and it does not require high temperatures to work with. For comfortable printing with ABS plastic, the table must be heated to a temperature of 110-130 ° C, and the extruder nozzle - within 230-260 ° C.
Some important details. Before printing, calibrate the machine along the Z axis. The extruder nozzle should be about half a millimeter from the table and ride along it without distortion. For this calibration, a regular sheet of A4 paper inserted between the nozzle and the surface of the heated table is best suited. If the sheet can be moved with little effort, the calibration is correct.
Another thing to keep in mind is the surface treatment of the heated table. Usually, before printing, the surface of the table is covered with something that hot plastic sticks to well. For ABS plastic, this can be, for example, Kapton tape. The disadvantage of adhesive tape is the need to re-glue it after several printing cycles. In addition, you will have to literally tear off the adhering part from it. All this, believe me, takes a lot of time. Therefore, if it is possible to avoid this fuss, it is better to avoid it.
An alternative option that I use instead of scotch tape is to apply several layers of ordinary light beer, followed by heating the table to 80-100 ° C until the surface is completely dry and re-applying 7-12 layers. It is necessary to apply the liquid with a cloth moistened with a drink. Among the advantages of this solution: ABS plastic separates from the table on its own when it cools down to about 50 ° C and is removed without effort, the table does not have to be peeled off, and one bottle of beer will last you for several months (if you use the drink only for technical purposes :)).
After we have collected and configured everything, we can start printing. If you have an LCD screen, then the file can be transferred for printing using a regular SD card.
The first results may have bumps and other artifacts - do not worry, this is a normal process of "grinding" the printer elements, which will end after a few print cycles.
Tips to make life easier (and sometimes save money)
In addition to the small recommendations given in the text above, in this section I will also give a short list of tips that will greatly simplify the operation of a 3D printer and the life of its owner.
- Do not experiment with nozzles. If you plan to immediately print from materials that require high temperatures, then it is better to immediately take the MK10 extruder. On MK8, you can "hang" special nozzles that support high-temperature conditions. But such modifications often cause difficulties and require special experience. It is better to avoid this fuss on the shore by simply installing the right extruder for you.
- Add starter relay for heated table. Improving the power supply system for this important printing part with a starter relay will help solve the known problem of RAMP 1.4 - overheating of the transistors that control the power of the table, which can lead to failure of the board. I made this upgrade after having to throw away a few RAMPS 1.4s.
- Select the correct filament diameter for printing. I recommend using 1.75mm plastic for MK8 and MK10. If we take plastic, for example, 3 mm, then the extruder simply does not have enough strength to push it at an acceptable speed - everything will be printed much longer, and the quality will drop. ABS plastic is ideal for MK8, MK10 will be able to produce products from polycarbonate.
- Use only new and precise X and Y guides. This affects print quality. It is difficult to count on good quality with bent or deformed guides along the axes.
- Take care of cooling. In the course of my experiments with various extruders, the MK10 showed the best results - it prints quite accurately and quickly. The MK10 can also print plastics that require a higher print temperature than ABS, such as polycarbonate. Although it is not as prone to overheating as its younger brother MK8, I still recommend taking care of its cooling by adding a cooler to your design. It must be permanently enabled, this option can be configured in Slicer. You can also add coolers to keep the stepper motors at an acceptable temperature, however, make sure that their air flows do not fall on the printed part, as this can lead to its deformation due to too rapid cooling.
- Consider heat retention. Yes, on the one hand, we are struggling with overheating of the elements. On the other hand, a uniform temperature around the printer will contribute to high-quality printing (the plastic will be more pliable). To achieve a uniform temperature, you can put our printer, for example, in a cardboard box. The main thing is to connect and configure the coolers before that, as described above.
- Consider insulating your desk. Heated table heats up to high temperatures. And if part of this heat leaves properly, heating the printed part, then the second part (from below) just goes down. To concentrate the heat from the table onto the part, you can perform an operation to insulate it. To do this, I simply attach a cork mouse pad to its bottom using stationery clips.
I am sure that during the assembly process you will encounter a number of difficulties specific to your project. Neither this text nor even the most detailed guides will insure against this.
As I wrote in the introductory part, the above does not claim the status of a detailed assembly manual. It is almost impossible to describe all the stages and their subtleties within the framework of one such text. First of all, this is an overview material that will help you prepare for the assembly process (both mentally and financially), understand whether you personally need to bother with self-assembly - or give up on everything and buy a ready-made solution.
For me, assembling printers has become an exciting hobby that helps me solve some issues in home and work affairs, take my mind off programming and do something interesting with my own hands. For my children - entertainment and the opportunity to get unusual and unique toys. By the way, if you have children whose age allows them to mess around with such things, such an activity can be a good help for entering the world of mechanics and technology.
For everyone, the vectors of using 3D printers will be very different and very individual. But, if you decide to devote your personal time to such a hobby, believe me, you will definitely find something to print :)
I will be glad to answer comments, remarks and questions.
What to read/see
- what can be printed;
- 3D printer forum;
- RepRap community site with model descriptions and assembly instructions;
- printer that prints electronics.
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Topics: DIY, embedded, tech
Build your own GearMaker P-One 3D printer
With this article, we begin a series of publications on assembling a 3D printer with our own hands. We will try to make it as detailed as possible, with pictures, diagrams and explanations. We hope that the article will become "live" - periodic updates are planned (various versions of boards / drivers, etc.).
The first build will be based on electronics from Makerbase: Robin Nano v3. You can find each spare part not only on our website, but also on Aliexpress. However, I note that we at least visually check every detail. In addition, there are components that require special attention, such as shafts, which we purchase from trusted suppliers (Technix, SKF, NBS, IrTech, etc.). The entire kinematics of the ultimeker is based on the quality of these shafts, so the quality requirements in this case are increased.
In general, let's go!
BOM (Parts List)
This list is complete and all references are valid. Those. if something is not specified in this list, then 99% of what it is not required for the assembly. Links will be updated as the site grows. If the part can be printed, cut, planed, links to drawings will be posted. If there is no link to the site, write us a letter, call, send SMS - we always have the details in stock and we will promptly put them on the site for purchase.
| Power supply Meanwell LRS-100-12 ||1||We do not recommend buying Chinese power supplies. Meanwell is practically the standard of quality for a slightly higher price tag. Because we use a heating table powered by 220, then there is no need to buy a powerful PSU, 100W is enough for all needs0064||1|| Switching to another switch (without button) is planned. Current drawings suggest exactly this model |
| Solid state relay 40A ||1|| Please note that all (99%) "Fotek" sold on Ali are fake. We have chosen the highest quality available. |