Have you ever wanted to build your own 3D printer but felt like you didn’t know where to start? This tutorial is the perfect starting point for any beginner in the field of 3D printing. This will be a detailed account of how to create a DIY RepRap 3D printer. RepRap stands for “Replication Rapid-Prototyper” and it generally describes a printer that can be used to create parts for continuous improvement. I will begin with the physical build and continue into the coding and electronic components aspect in subsequent tutorials.
Final printer specs:
Desktop Footprint: 11in x 13in x 13in
Maximum Build Space: 5.5in x 4.5in x 5in
The list below shows the exact materials used in this tutorial. Components can be switched out depending on your preference, however, it will change the necessary dimensions of some parts. The fabricated wooden parts will also have accompanying CAD models for ease of fabrication.
Plastic milk crate, 11in x 13in x 13in
3D Printing filament PLA
5 m GT2 timing belt, cut to size
4x GT2 5mm bore timing pulley
4 x Diameter 8mm Linear Round Shaft
4 x NEMA 17 Stepper Motor
Signstek 3D Printer MK2 8 x 8 mm glass plate
2 x Thread Screw TOOGOO(R) 3D Printer 8mm Lead Screw Rod Z Axis Linear Rail Bar Shaft 400mm
2 x TriGorilla Silver Tone SHF10 10mm Linear Rod Rail Shaft Support for 3D Printer
1 x MK8 Metal Extruder for RepRap 3D Printer 1.75mm Filament 0.4mm Nozzle 12V 40W Heater NTC3950 Thermistor
4 x BQLZR SCS8UU Linear Motion Ball Bearing CNC Slide Bushing 34.5mm Length
2 x TriGorilla 3D Printer Accessories 5mm to 8mm Blue Aluminum Alloy Motor Shaft Coupler Coupling Connector
16 x M4-0.7 x 16 mm machine screws
8 x #8 x 2 in screws
4 x #8 x ½ in screws
4 x M6-1 x 25 mm screws
4 x M6-1 flange nuts
4 x 608ZZ rotational bearings
2 x 5/16th 3 in screws
4 x 5/16th nuts
6 x 1 ½ in diameter 5/16th bore washers
8 x 1 in diameter 5/16th bore washers
4 x 4 cm x 3.5 cm x 2 cm 8mm bore wood blocks (linear guides)
2 x 13.5 in x 3 in x 0.25 in wooden plates (top plates)
2 x 2.5 in x 1.5 in x 0.75 in wooden blocks (linear plates)
4 in x 1.5 in x 0.5 in wooden blocks (extruder sled)
12.5 in x 7.5 in x 0.5 in wooden plate (build plate support)
The idea of a 3D printer has been floating around since the 1970s. However, until recently, 3D printing technology had not been commercialized or made available for personal use. Now, it’s entirely possible for an average hobbyist to construct their very own 3D printer. However, there is still an equipment gap to bridge. Most 3D printer kits and RepRap printer tutorials assume that the user already has access to a 3D printer. This seemed redundant to me, and therefore, I sought to design a printer that did not require any 3D printer parts to function. The intention of this printer was to introduce beginners to printing and allow them to create a printer, which they could continuously improve from this point on.
The first step in the design process was finding the most straightforward printer design for beginners to follow. As such, I used the Maker Mendel and many RepRap printers as inspiration for a box-shaped printer. The extruder would then move in the X and Y directions while the bed moved in the Z direction.
For ease of use and stability, I decided to use a milk crate base with wooden parts that could be swapped for 3D printed parts later. Then, I choose the corexy belt configuration in order to familiarize beginners with the popular belt configuration and to ensure the base design was efficient. Finally, the RAMPS controller was chosen for its ability to interface with Arduino and its overwhelming popularity within the RepRap community.
Figure 5: Components needed for constructing the top plates
3) Using the two steppers, mark mounting hole positions on one top plate near each corner. Drill mount holes using 7/64 in drill bit. Drill center stepper shaft hole using 3/8 in drill bit. Connect the steppers to the top plate using the M4 screws.
Figure 6: Top view showing the steppers Mounted In position on one side of the top plate
4) On the other top plate, mark holes for the bearings and screws near each corner. Drill the hole using 5/16 in drill bit. Insert the 5/16 in screws into this hole. Add these parts in order: a 5/16in nut, a 3in washer, a 1.5in washer, a bearing, a 1.5in washer, a 3in washer, a 1.5in washer, a bearing, a 1.5in washer, a 3in washer, and a 5/16in nut. These parts will serve as guides for the belts.
Figure 7: A side view of the belt guiding mechanism assembled in step 4
5) On both top plates, mark the center of the board. Place the center of the linear shaft support on this mark and designate the hole placement for its other two holes. Drill these three holes. Connect the linear shaft support with the M6-1 screws and M-1 nuts.
Figure 8: Top View of Z axis guide that was connected to the top plate in step 5
6) Place the linear guide blocks against the stepper motor and line it up with the outer edge of the motor. Make sure the hole in the block is facing the other top plate, not the other stepper. Use a clamp to hold it in place. Use the #8 x 2 in. screws to connect the two. Repeat the step for the other stepper motor, as well as the other top plate. Place the blocks just within the plate boundaries.
Figure 9: Picture showing fully assembled top plates