Easy to build 3d printer
Best 3D Printer for Beginners 2022 [The Ultimate 3D Printer Guide]
3D printing is a particularly difficult hobby to get into; there are confusing terms thrown around left and right, a million printers available, and enough specifications for each to make your head spin. It doesn’t have to be this, way, though!
Today’s article is dedicated to finding the 3D printers with the easiest operation and simplest configuration. We’ll examine each individually, highlight its strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately, say why it’s a good choice for novices. Take a look at the best 3D printers for beginners below:
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The 10 Best 3D Printers For Beginners In 2022
Before we jump right into our reviews, it’s important for beginners to know what to look for in a 3D printer. That’s why we’ve created a short guide to some of the things that will have a large impact on your printing.
The build area of your printer refers to the maximum allowable space for printing. You might see it listed as a series of dimensions (for instance, 5 x 5 x 5”) or it might be provided as a volume (such as 5”3 or five cubic inches). In these examples, both printers would have the exact same build area size.
Now, bear in mind that this doesn’t refer to the biggest items you can build. By including clips or other attachment mechanisms, you can combine several individual prints to create something far larger.
While most basic, beginner-level 3D printers use PLA and ABS filament, more expensive models usually allow you to use a wider range of materials. For instance, you may be able to print with carbon-fiber or wooden filaments, water-soluble support materials, or even glass.
The problem is that these coarser materials can damage your extruder. That’s why if your printer supports these filaments, you’ll likely need to upgrade to a metal extruder head. These are available relatively cheaply, and help guarantee an identical print every time.
You may also want to consider different support materials. Some, like PVA, dissolve in water, leaving clean edges without any further processing. If your printer only supports PLA or ABS, however, you’ll be stuck using simple snap-off supports like those found in plastic model kits. For general printing, this isn’t an issue, but if you want a more professional end product, we recommend a printer with support for more filament types.
Often, you’ll see print head speed listed in millimeters (mm). This number lets you know how far the print head can move in a single second. Higher speeds are better, but this isn’t a true depiction of how quickly you’ll be able to print. For this, you’ll have to find the “print speed” listing.
Now, it’s worth noting that the print speed listed will be the fastest that your printer allows. There are usually two settings: speed and quality. As you might expect, the faster you print, the lower the overall quality of the item. If precision and fine details are your number one priority, you’d be better off with a slower speed.
Usually, the printer’s supported layer heights will be listed in microns. The thinner the layer, the less obvious it will be, and the smoother the finish. On the other hand, with the thinnest layers, you can expect a print to take a lot longer to finish.
You’ll usually find the layer height that best allows you to compromise between speed and print quality early on. Afterward, you’ll know which setting works best for more detailed objects and which is best for everyday printing.
Usually, before you can begin printing, you first have to calibrate the machine. There are various different components that require your attention: the print bed has to be leveled to ensure a perfectly flat surface, the print arm has to be perfectly positioned, and the step distance has to be set to avoid printing a far larger (or smaller) item than intended.
In recent years, printers have begun to automate these processes so you don’t have to. Some include automatic-leveling functionality, while others come pre-configured out of the box. Generally, you can expect to pay a little more such models, but as we’ll show below, it’s still possible to find them at a reasonable price.
Entry Level 3D Printers
In this section, we’ll be discussing low-cost 3D printers that are excellent for beginners. Without further ado, let’s begin with the XYZPrinting da Vinci Mini.
At around $180, the XYZPrinting da Vinci Mini as among the cheapest 3D printers on the market. This doesn’t mean it’s low-quality, though! In fact, it boasts wifi connectivity, a generous build area, and even an auto-leveling bed. You are limited to using PLA and PETG filaments but we think that’s a reasonable trade-off considering this model’s low price point.
This is about as simple as 3D printers come. You’ll find modeling software and starter filament included in the box, and since the da Vinci Mini calibrates itself, you can go from unpacking to printing in as little as 20 minutes. XYZPrinting even offers 30 free printing tutorials on their website to help novices out.
Even the interface is easy to use. Printing is performed with a single button, and various colored LEDs alert you to any errors as they occur. This product is designed for beginners, and it shows.
This printer retails for about $190 but has the smallest build area of any on our list. What gives? Well, the Monoprice Select Mini offers more freedom than most: thanks to its heated plate, you’re free to print with almost any material be it PLA, ABS, PVA, or even wood.
Sounds complicated right? It’s really not. This printer ships fully assembled and ready to go. It works with any PC or Mac, and even includes an SD card (and wifi support) so you can move your models across effortlessly. Sure, it’s a little slower than most, but it’s also far smaller, meaning you don’t need a dedicated space for it on your desk.
The only real problem with this printer is that some materials need an enclosure to print well, which this model doesn’t have. That said, it’s easy enough to create your own and in a pinch, even a plastic tub will work.
The Comgrow Creality Ender 3 is a printer that you build yourself. Wait, don’t leave! This model only takes about half an hour to assemble, and this is a large part of why such a high-quality printer can retail for about $239. This is a surprise in itself since the Ender 3 includes many traits most printers don’t, like the ability to resume a print after a power cut.
This printer has it all: wifi support, fast travel speeds, a colossal build area, and even a fast heat up time (around five minutes to reach 110°C). The downside is that you’re limited to using PLA filament, but this is the most beginner-friendly material of all, so it’s not really an issue.
There’s an advantage here too. By building your printer piece-by-piece, you’ll have a greater understanding of what exactly each component does. This makes maintenance easier in the long term, so while there’s undoubtedly a bit of a learning curve, the Creality Ender 3 might not be such a bad idea.
The Kossel Mini is another DIY printer, one that retails for about $260. Notice its unique shape: the circular build plate is perfect for those looking to build larger models like figurines or interlocking parts. Better still, it’s incredibly easy to upgrade thanks to its simplistic design.
Although it looks a little basic, there’s actually a good amount of functionality here. The bed is heated, so you won’t have issues with material sticking to it. It’s even capable of leveling itself, which means that there’s very little fuss or configuration required when you’d like to get started.
Again, you’re limited to using PLA filament. That said, with a little tweaking and upgrading, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to use other materials too. As a result, the Kossel Mini is an extraordinary choice not only for 3D printing newcomers but also those looking for a long-term project.
One of the great things about this printer is that it’s so modular. This means that if one part stops working, it’s a simple matter to order and install a replacement. This prevents lengthy warranty processes, and ensures your printer is never out of action for more than a few days at a time.
Mid-Range 3D Printers
If you’re willing to spend a little more, you can greatly increase the functionality and ease of use that your 3D printer provides. Don’t believe us? Check out the products below to see for yourself!
The FlashForge Finder is one of the most popular 3D printers around, and for good reason. It offers a decent build volume, wifi connectivity, and even runs quieter than most, at around 50dB. You can only print with PLA, but as this is a beginner-friendly model, that’s to be expected.
Don’t understand calibration? No problem! The Finder makes it as easy as can be by simply telling you to tighten various screws until you hear a beep. This takes all the guesswork out of getting ready to print and allows you to focus on the fun part – the actual creation process.
This printer can be controlled via its 2.5” touchscreen or remotely on your PC. The menus are simplistic and easily understandable, written in plain English, so anyone can use them. Also included are various tools you might need, such as an unclogging tool and Allen wrenches.
There’s no need to worry about safety, either. The non-heated build plate relies on adhesive surfaces to prevent sticking, and means you can’t burn yourself my mistake. With wifi compatibility, SD card and USB support, and even the ability to send models from cloud storage, the FlashForge Finder has everything you’ll ever need.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this futuristic-looking printer cost more than it does! At around $230, the MOD-t is reasonably priced, but better yet, it’s also pretty strong. For instance, it boasts a 50-micron print layer; that’s half the size of numerous similarly-priced printers!
We really liked that this model can start printing right out of the box. Just import a model via wifi or SD card, add some PLA filament, and you’re good to go. The build area is a good size, although not cubic in shape. On the plus side, it is enclosed, meaning you’re less likely to see prints ruined by temperature fluctuation.
The print speed doesn’t seem that fast at first glance, but remember: this is an entry-level machine. Since you won’t be building massive items, the speed is less crucial. What really matters is getting the nicest finish, and luckily, the MOD-t makes this as easy as possible, even for inexperienced users.
If the previous products seem a little too simplistic, the Anycubic I3 Mega might be just what you need. It requires you to connect a couple of cables before use, striking a balance between full-DIY printers and ready-to-go models. It includes additional helpful features too, like filament detection, print-resume tech, and a non-stick build plate.
You’re not limited to PLA either. This printer can use PLA, ABS, HIPS, and wood-based filaments, allowing you to plan and create far more imaginative pieces than most other beginner-oriented models. With 50 micron layers and a print speed of about 60mm/s, the I3 Mega offers the best of both worlds.
Note the massive build area: it absolutely dwarfs that of many of this printer’s rivals. For less than $400, you can find a 3D printer capable of printing almost anything you can imagine. Sure, the upfront cost is a little higher, but you won’t have to upgrade for several years at least.
If you want the most options, you want the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus. It supports more than 15 different filament types, offers a gargantuan build area, and features a 3.25” touchscreen for easy operation. The best part? This printer retails for around $420, far less than most models with similar functionality.
Most of the common stumbling blocks are already taken care of. For instance, the heated bed prevents sticking, the fan prevents overheating, and the steel frame provides more than enough stability. You’re limited to transferring files via USB or SD card, but that’s nothing too unusual, particularly in a mid-budget printer.
So what makes this a good choice for beginners? Simply, it makes printing as easy as possible. There’s very little manual configuration required, and as this is a popular model, you can easily find help on a Wanhao-dedicated forum. There’s no mess, no stress – just high-quality 3D prints.
We were pleased to see that this printer comes with a one-year warranty. After all, while relatively inexpensive, it’s still a significant investment. Wanhao’s support affords you peace of mind, and if anything goes wrong, you can consult their FAQs or contact support via phone, email, or post.
Premium 3D Printers
While not everyone will be able to afford the following products, they offer additional functionality that lower-cost models don’t, while being easily accessible for people who’ve never used a 3D printer before.
Now, we know what you’re thinking: I don’t want to spend around $650 on my first 3D printer. Bear with us, though, because spending a bit more to get a high-quality product the first time means you’ll save money down the road. And believe us, the QIDI TECHNOLOGY 3DP is absolutely a high-quality printer.
The first thing which sets it apart is there are two extruders. This means you can either print twice as fast or use two different materials for a striking contrast. You could even mix ABS and PLA if you like since this model supports both.
Models not quite right? With this printer, you don’t necessarily need to fire up the CAD software. Instead, you can slice and edit your models directly using this printer’s minimalistic, easy-to-use onboard controls. With a heat-resistant, warp-resistant frame, you’ll get exceptional prints every time.
Finally, because you can choose an enclosed or ventilated build area, you’ll find that fewer prints fail. This, in turn, saves you money as you’re not wasting as much filament. Sure, these materials are fairly inexpensive, but the costs definitely start to build up, particularly if you plan to use the QIDI for several years.
The Dremel Digilab 3D20 puts user safety above everthing else. This model costs under $600 and features a fully-enclosed build area (which is particularly spacious), as well as a non-heated bed and third-party certification. Best of all, though, it places particular emphasis on consistency.
In practice, this means that you’re limited to using proprietary PLA filament. You might be a little disappointed by this, but it does essentially guarantee that prints only fail very infrequently. Plus, this filament is guaranteed to be non-toxic, plant-based, and recyclable, so it’s safe for kids and pets.
There’s no assembly required, either. In fact, the Digilab 3D20 is ready to print straight out of the box. It even comes with a small spool of filament, although only enough for a couple of prints at most. Model manipulation is as simple as can be, thanks to this printer’s compatibility with popular software like Cura.
As if this wasn’t enough, the 3D20 also includes a one-year warranty and access to a responsive, US-based customer support line. Reliable, high-quality prints, safety as a top priority, and exceptional customer support? What more could you ask for? How about a full-color touchscreen? Oh wait, that’s included too.
Best 3D Printer for Beginners: The Verdict
While all of the printers mentioned above are excellent for beginners, you’re probably wondering which is the best overall, especially since you’ve seen how advanced some 3D printers can be. Well, it wasn’t easy but we finally came to the decision that the FlashForge Finder is better for most users.
Our reasoning is simple: it’s an inexpensive, reliable printer that offers a good degree of freedom without being overwhelming to novices. Not only that but with automatic calibration, it takes the busywork out of printing. This makes it more appealing to kids, but also helps prevent user frustration, which is never a bad thing.
Top 15 Best DIY 3D Printer Kits
Published on May 13, 2021 by Alex M.
Most FDM 3D printers are now sold as Plug & Play models. However, this wasn’t always the case. The origins of these 3D printers trace back to the RepRap project, started by Adrian Bowyer in 2005. This movement still continues today through some 3D printer kits and DIY 3D printer enthusiasts, most notably the Prusa kits. We have already listed the Best Low Cost 3D Printers, but now we have searched for the best DIY 3D printer kits out there. We’ve ranked them from most to least expensive for your convenience!
Sintratec Kit, an affordable SLS DIY 3D Printer Kit
Based in Switzerland, the Sintratec startup has developed one of the first low-cost 3D printers, Sintratec Kit based on laser sintering technology. It first appeared following a fundraiser campaign on Indiegogo in 2014, the firm today markets its machine as a kit. This is the only 3D printer on this list that uses SLS, as it is a more expensive technology. It is available for €4,999 ($5,610) – SLS printers are usually around €200,000 – the Sintratec Kit is capable of producing PA12 nylon parts and presents a maximum build volume of 110 x 110 x 110 mm. The startup explains that it takes about 4 days to assemble this 3D printer, however you can see it as the price to pay to access laser sintering so cheaply! For more information, you can visit their site HERE.
This Sintratec S1 DIY 3D printer kit is the only SLS 3D printer on our list
Moai, an SLA 3D printer kit
In 2016, Chinese manufacturer Peopoly launched its Kickstarter campaign to finance its new SLA kit machine called Moai. After great success, it was quickly delivered worldwide thanks to a very attractive price for a photopolymerization machine – it costs approximately $1,295. Moai offers a printing volume of 130 x 130 x 180 mm as well as a laser beam of 70 microns and a layer thickness between 10 and 200 microns. It is compatible with any resin on the market. Allow about 4 hours to assemble the machine – for your information a pre-assembled version is also available.
Vertex Kit, a Transparent 3D Printer Kit
The Vertex 3D printer is produced in the workshops of the Velleman manufacturer, a reputable company in the electronics sector founded in the 1970s. It is one of the few printers to offer a transparent chassis, and includes a glass tray and double extruder option. With a build volume of up to 180 x 200 x 190 mm for a layer thickness of between 50 and 200 microns, it’s a solid option. The single-extruder version is available from €599 ($672). Compare the Vertex’s specs in our comparator HERE.
Prusa i3 MK3S, the well-established DIY 3D printer kit
The Original Prusa i3 MK3S is the successor of the award-winning Original Prusa i3 MK2 3D printer. With the rebuilt extruder, a plethora of sensors and the new magnetic MK52 heatbed with replaceable PEI spring steel print sheet, it is their best version as of yet. With a printing speed of 200 mm per second, this 3D desktop printer has a 250 x 210 x 210 x 210mm printing tray. It can print on almost all thermoplastics, including nylon and polycarbonates. On its official website, you can find the assembly instructions, validated by the whole community. It is available in kit form from $749 (€769.00 including VAT). For a cheaper price, there is also the Original Prusa MINI+ kit, starting at $349. 00 (€379.00 including VAT), which as the name suggests is a more compact printer. With a build volume of 180 x 189 x 189 mm or 7 x 7 x 7 in, it is not significantly smaller than its older sibling and still boasts a number of the same features.
Micro Delta Rework
The MicroDelta Rework is the new version of the Micro Delta 3D printer designed by the Toulouse-based eMotion Tech. Equipped with a rigid structure with two steel blocks, the 3D printer kit can be assembled in 3 hours according to the manufacturer, with around 200 pieces to assemble. Available with or without a heating plate, MicroDelta Rework offers a print volume of 150 mm in diameter and 200 mm in height. If one looks at its performance, it has layer thickness of 100 to 350 microns and can reach a print speed of 200 mm/s. It is available from €400 with the possibility of adding features.
FLSUN QQ-S Pro
The QQ-S Pro is the partially DIY offering from manufacturer flsun. With a retail price of $329.00, it is certainly not one of the cheapest on the market. However, the printer makes up for that with impressive features, including continuous printing from an interrupted position and automatic levelling. Additionally, the printer was designed for speed, printing 1.5time faster than printers based off of the I3 structure printer. Additionally, it has a “flexible three-axis linkage system, a powerful 32-bit motherboard, a 24V power supply, a lattice hot bed, and an all-metal side shell for better printing quality and a more stable structure.” The build volume is 255x255x365mm, making it another relatively large offering among the DIY printer kits. The print accuracy is 0.1mm and a layer thickness of 0.06-0.4mm, allowing for detail and accuracy. An additional benefit, it comes mostly assembled, meaning users should have it up and running in under an hour.
Starting at a price of €399, French manufacturer Dagoma’s Disco Ultimate is one of the most affordable DIY 3D printer kits, marketed as the most accessible bi-color 3D printer on the market. Supplied with an SD card, an inductive probe (for levelling the tray) and several 3D printed components, it requires less than one day of work to assemble. Despite its appearance, the Disco offers a decent build volume of 200 x 200 x 200 mm. In addition it offers 50 micron layer thickness, 50 micron XY positioning and a maximum print speed up to 30% faster than its predecessor the DiscoEasy 200.
The 3D printer Tronxy X5SA was developed by the Chinese manufacturer of the same name and is one of the most popular DIY 3D Printer Kits on the market. Based on FDM technology, this desktop machine offers a build volume of 330× 330×400 mm(12.992×12.992×15.75 in). Though originally based on the X3SA, the X5SA quickly overtook its predecessor in popularity thanks to its features such as the TITAN Extruder which is compatible with a variety of filaments including PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU, Wood, among others. It also has an automatic filament detector which will notify you when the machine has run out of filament saving time and trouble for the user. The manufacturer does note that this DIY machine is more suitable for 3D printing enthusiasts with some 3D printing experience, though they say that if you are willing to spend the time to learn how to assemble the machine, it could still be worth it. You can buy the X5SA starting from $258.00.
The Tarantula Pro is the latest version of the Tarantula 3D printer kit from the China-based 3D printer manufacturer, TEVO. It is based on the classic RepRap Prusa i3 3D printer, its structure is known for its simplicity and robustness. It presents a build volume of 235 x 235 x 250 mm and can print with a variety of filaments, from ABS, PLA, PVA, WOOD, etc. It is also equipped with a LCD screen for improved user experience. In terms of layer resolution, the manufacturer claims that you can achieve between 0.05mm-0.35mm and the extruder has been upgraded to a volcano extruder. This kit comes with a heated bed also. It retails for $229.
Founded in 2015, Chinese manufacturer Anycubic has become one of the more popular 3D printer brands on the market, especially when it comes to their DIY machines. With a variety of choices, it can be hard to choose just one. The most talked about in the line is the i3 Mega S. Neither the cheapest nor the biggest out of Mega’s options, its reliability as the mid-range option from the manufacturer has made it extremely popular with users across the globe. Starting at $219.00 and with a build volume of 210x210x205mm, anycubic is notable for its excellent adhesion, high quality accurate printing with a layer resolution of 5 microns as well as the variety of supported print materials (TPU, PLA, ABS, HIPS and Wood). Of course, there are choices for any number of needs among Anycubic’s other offerings. In the rest of the Mega series, the Mega Zero 2.0 has a larger build volume (220x220x250mm) for a cheaper price (starting at $169.00), though it has less features than the i3 Mega S. It is also comptabilie with PETG unlike the i3 S. For those willing to pay more for a more professional printer, the Mega Pro (210×210×205 mm³, starting at $309.00) and Mega X (300 x 300 x 305mm and starting at $359. 00) could also be good options. Finally, Anycubic also offers the Chiron ($379.00 and 400x 400x 450 mm) and Predator (370×370×455mm, starting at $519.00 but only available in the EU), for those looking for a large build size.
The 3D printer Colido DIY comes from the Chinese manufacturer Colido. This fused deposition technology 3D printer has a print volume of 200 × 200 × 170 mm, it also has an integrated fan which helps improve the print quality. According to the manufacturer, the assembly of the machine is very simple and only takes 15 minutes. The machine comes with a PLA coil, the only material it can use to print, as well as an USB key and two explanatory videos. You can find the Colido DIY from €180 ($202).
The Anet A8 is a 3D printer kit developed by Chinese manufacturer Anet. The Anet A8 uses FDM technology with a Cartesian FDM head that can print ABS and PLA filaments. The Anet A8 is compatible with a wide variety of filaments. It has a maximum build volume of 220 x 220 x 240 mm and comes with a heated print bed, reaching up to 100ºC. It is equipped with an LCD screen to provide an easier user experience. It is one of the most accessible machines on the market, with a starting price around $180. The manufacturer, Anet has also launched the Anet A8 Plus: an upgrade to its Anet 8 printer.
Voxelab, a subsidiary of 3D Printer developer Flashforge, has made it its mission to provide comprehensive 3D printing solutions for both 3D printing beginners and advanced users for a cheap price. They certainly deliver on the promise with the Voxelab Aquila DIY FDM 3D Printer. Currently priced at only $179.00 on their website (down $20 from the regular listing of $199.00), Aquila is one of the cheaper DIY options on our list. Additionally, it boasts a larger build volume 220x220x250mm than many of the other options in the same price range. Though it is marketed as a DIY machine, the manufacturer notes that the machine is almost entirely assembled, the user will just need to install several main accessories, cutting down on time. The machine is compatible with PLA, ABS and PETG and boasts certain notable features, including a flexible print bed, a colourful screen with a user-friendly UI interface and filament auto-feeding.
Photo Credits: Voxelab
Creality Ender 3
When you think of DIY 3D printer kits, you would be remiss to not mention Creality, and especially the Ender 3 3D Printer. With a starting price of $155.00, it is one of the most affordable kits on the market. The Ender 3 comes with several assembled parts, meaning that it will only take about 2 hours to fully assemble it. Additionally, the upgraded extruder helps to reduce plugging risk and the machine only needs about 5 minutes for the heated bed to reach 110℃. Customers can choose between the Ender 3, the Ender 3X (the Ender 3 + 1 tempered Glas and 5 nozzles), Ender 3 Pro, or Ender 3 V2 (the upgraded version). For those wanting a larger print volume (and not minding the higher cost), the CR 10 is also a popular DIY machine that is available from Creality.
Startt, the most affordable of all the DIY 3D printer kits
This DIY 3D printer kit belongs to the English brand Startt that produces its machines in China and the printer is distributed by the British company iMakr. It is undoubtedly one of the cheapest machines on the market, as it can be purchased from 100€ ($112). This FDM technology printer has a printing volume of 120 × 140 × 130 mm, can print with PLA filament and has interchangeable extruders to achieve different print qualities: 0.3, 0.4 or 0.5 mm. You can find more information about this 3D printer HERE.
Did we include your favourite one of your favourite DIY 3D printer kits? Let us know in a comment below or on our Facebook and Twitter pages! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly Newsletter, with all the latest news in 3D printing delivered straight to your inbox!
Building 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 is 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 built my 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 X-axis plastic parts, 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.
To build printers, the community has already developed a number of different platforms - 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 these two classic platforms should be considered by beginners, 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 approximately 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 polycarbonate products.
- Use only new and precise X and Y guides. Print quality will be affected. It is difficult to count on good quality with bent or deformed guides along the axes.
- Take care of cooling. During 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) simply goes down. In order to concentrate the heat from the table onto the part, it is possible to carry out an operation to thermally 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.
Subscribe to the Telegram channel "DOU #tech" so you don't miss new technical articles.
Topics: DIY, embedded, tech
How to 3d print another 3d printer
Already have a 3D printer? Want another one?!
Why is this needed?
Well, let's say you have your own large printer and you can print fairly large objects. Do you believe in the idea of the reprap movement, the printer should be able to reproduce itself!
Or you want to challenge yourself and finally understand how the 3D printer works.
Or your current 3D printer just sits and gathers dust in the corner of the room, because you have already printed everything that came to mind, and the most difficult task that worries all 3d printing professionals is how to clone the existing equipment on itself.
Step 1: Preface
Let's be honest... the is not the ultra cheap printer. This is not Chery 3D printer for $60. This is not a way to save money or time. This is not first printer.
Now let's talk about what is .
B 3Dtje mini 3D printer is:
- Damn easy to print
- Printed parts made of PLA
- Everything fits within 200x200 print volume
- Most parts can be printed in 100x100 print volume
- Most parts are printed without supports , only in some cases they may be needed to improve the quality of
- Very few few necessary tools
- Unlike most crafts that require a laser cutter, CNC
- You can probably get away with a drill and a hacksaw to prepare 2 rods of the required size
- No source of MDF, or wood, or acrylic sheets or aluminum profiles, which can be expensive
- A Prusa i3 Clone
- This design is not new, nothing revolutionary, but it is reliable, prints well and works with any slicer
- Open source
- All model files can be downloaded free of charge
- You can download them and modify them as you like
- You can even sell them if you need to!
- Simple and interesting printing
- 19 models
- All parts are different and look very interesting together
- Easy to assemble
- All parts are connected with M3 screws and nuts.
- Cutting 2 to 4 metal rails
- Some 3d printed parts are assembled intuitively , you can even ignore the photo
- Really fucking cool!
- Small, portable, low moving parts! This printer can print fast! (when properly configured)
- This 3D printer you can DIY , completely!!
Let's get started!
Step 2: Prerequisites
You will need the 3D Printer, or find someone with one.
- Printable area must be at least 200x200mm XY and maybe 200mm Z if you want to print with refills
- PLA 1 kg, can be different, but this is the most convenient option
- I honestly don't know how much it will take. Likely 500g or so
- Screwdrivers for screws
- Pliers, cleaning tools for printed objects (a clerical knife is sufficient)
- Metric drills for opening / cleaning the printed hole (you can also use a screwdriver)
- Knowledge on how to build a 3D printer from scratch
- These are not hard requirements, but knowing how to deal with common printer problems will reduce the amount of swearing when things aren't perfect the first time.
- If you understand firmware Marlin it would be very cool to talk about this, as there is a desire to improve some things.
- These are not hard requirements, but knowing how to deal with common printer problems will reduce the amount of swearing when things aren't perfect the first time.
Step 3: Parts
Just to be clear, I've made a list of exactly what you need and what you can buy to make the best possible quality. But it will be more expensive. Therefore, you choose which set to buy - in principle, they will not differ. In addition, you can order all this from China, it will be cheaper, but the wait will be longer. In any case, you need to look for all the components in English, so we take them from the table and, for example, insert in alliexexspress search .
The table is located at this link .
Step 4: Printing Parts
Now let's move on to the most interesting part, in my opinion - prototyping models. To be honest, I really like to print different things, you feel that you can handle any task when you have a 3d printer at hand. Okay, it's all lyrics.
Here is the project itself, where you can download 3d models for printer for free . Download and start preparing for printing.
The most important thing is to arrange the parts correctly on the table . The idea is to make the models have as few parts hanging in the air as possible. This will allow to drop support for . After all, they spoil the quality very much if you do slicing through Repetier Host with their auto-generation, and not draw them yourself.
You can watch a video showing the optimal arrangement of parts. Print settings I think you know how to do it, if not - there are articles about it with configuration files.
Step 5: Mounting
Let's assume that we have printed everything. Someone may have decided to use metal guides, buying them, for example, from IKEA, and cutting them into sections of the desired length. In any case, writing how to assemble this 3d printer does not make much sense, and it's too lazy, to be honest. In my opinion, there is nothing better than pictures!
First, I'll lay out how our miracle should look like at the moment of medium readiness. Then we will see how the modules were assembled.
9000 First we need to install the motor, put on the pulley on it. Then we install a freely rotating pulley on the other side and measure 9 for them0050 belt .
And now we will install the bed itself, which will fasten the two ends of the belt to us. Just don't forget to tighten the pulleys and anything that isn't tight yet. The substrate will be massive and it will be inconvenient to crawl there already. The connection will require 200mm x 6mm bolts, so have them ready right away.
It should be noted that the belt must be very tight . This will greatly affect the print quality of . If you cannot do this at the time of assembly, you can use special tensioner . It's basically a simple spring. As for the axes, in this case they are printed, although this is far from mandatory, just the name of the project obliges))
Depending on your printer, you may need to make a hole with a 3mm drill in the belt tensioner. This hole should be quite free.
- Attach the motor to the end of the x axis with the connector down
- Attach 20T gear
- Insert 6mm rods 6mm x 180mm into the holes on the motor side. You need to cut these rods if you bought 200mm.
- Assemble the x-axis tensioner with either your own or printed tensioner bearing. Make sure the m3 nut is in the tensioner before proceeding.
- Pass the belt from the left side (engine side), through the gearbox, through the idler bearing to the right side
- At this point, install belt tensioner to the right of the x-axis on the rods
- If you are happy with the length (make sure the x-axis of the tensioner is recessed quite a bit) you can cut the belt. Don't forget to leave extra strap length
- Attach LM6UU bearings in bottom bracket x
- All assembled, attach the straps to the carriage x
- Then it remains to adjust everything a little to make sure that nothing touches each other
Assembling the Z axis
Now we assemble the Z axis. If you have not installed the engines in the course of past work, it's time to do it. As you understand, they should stand on the left and on the right. We will install adapters for screw rods on them, where we will put them, holding them with a hexagon.
We stick the guides (parallel to the screw rods). We can say that we have finished assembling the case.
Step 6: Assembly of the electrical circuit.
How to lay the wiring is everyone's business. Here the options will be shown in the photo, but it's up to you to decide. The most important thing is to connect everything correctly. I'll also lay out the scheme, but it's better to see how this is done in ordinary 3d printers. For example, in order not to go far, you can go over the following articles directly on this site:
Exploring the features of a 3D printer
3D printer setup and calibration
Ramps 1.4 connection in 3d printer
It is not necessary to read everything - you can see the key places from the pictures and delve into their study.
The picture below shows the green power terminal. This is a very dangerous and unreliable thing that sometimes ignites - it is dangerous to leave a working 3d printer at home unattended. Therefore, in an article about Ramps, it is better to read how to be in this case.
Step 7: Firmware
Since you will (most likely) have an Arduino Mega as the brain of a 3d printer, uploading firmware to it will be quite simple. All you need is the Arduino IDE. The most standard firmware from Marlin.