Building a 3D Printer


Ever wondered what it would be like to be able to design a part on your computer, click a button and the part is there right in front of you? “Amazing you say, but let’s get back to the real world.”  Well, it is amazing and yes you can do it, but maybe not by just clicking a button.

You need a 3D printer. And you can now make one at home if you are a little bit handy and have got patience and don’t mind stumbling over a few hurdles now and then.

The kind of 3D printer that I am thinking of uses plastic as “ink”. Most printers use 3mm diameter plastic (like a long spagetti string), but there are some using 1.75mm diameter as well. You can swap between the sizes but you need to have the correct extruder and nozzle (printerhead) to suit. You also need to have your firmware/software setup correctly as well. The plastic comes in many colours and types. Some use ABS and others use PLA. PLA is a more “healthy” option as it is made from starch and is biodegradable. ABS is “real” plastic (like Lego blocks).

The printer feeds the plastic (filament of ABS or PLA), into the “printer-head”, melts it and spits it out as a very small string. It builds the parts by printing over and over again in layers as it builds the part higher and higher.  Fascinating to watch, and to be honest, quite amazing.

There are many 3D printer designs and there are many ways of making one. Some are quite sophisticated, but in a nutshell you need to be able to move a nozzle (printerhead) in x, y and z axis (directions).

Hope you find some interesting or maybe useful information here on my pages.


Jan (IceMan)

Next (Building My First 3D Printer)


2 Responses to Building a 3D Printer

  1. I found some nice NEMA23 stepper motors at a Hamfest today. 2.7v@1.8A 1.8 degree/step. Has 5/8″ long knered 1/4″ dia shafts that will take pulleys for belts, or drive a screw shaft with a suitable coupler. Also looked at some drawer slides to use as linear rails. The type of slides I found at the HomeDepot need to be limited to half their length in travel so the overhand won’t be unsupported by the bearings. So with 16″ long slides I can get a good 7″ of travel. That would yeild a 7″x7″ build area. A 14″ long slide can give me a good 9″ of travel in the Z direction since the support for the extruder needn’t be more than 4″ tall. I might try a direct drive extruder with a NEMA17 moter (was told it should work with 1.75mm filaments.).

    Glad I found your page. Hope to build a printer soon.

  2. 3dprinterman says:

    I use Nema17 with a direct drive and bowden with 1.75mm filament and it works great.
    All the best with your build.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.