My 3d Printer: Part 1

I am currently building a 3D Printer that I have designed from scratch. Except for the circuit boards and firmware, everything else has been designed by me. This is where I will post my progress as I continue to work on it.


A little background first. I got my first 3D printer in 2010. I bought a Makerbot Cupcake cnc, which is pretty much the first consumer 3D printer, and it was an amazing thing. Before this you had to either buy a commercial 3d printer which cost $10,000 and up, or you had to build a Reprap, which at that time was still very experimental. The Cupcake cnc was a kit that included everything that you needed to build the printer and even included some of the tools to build it as well. One of the most important aspects of the Cupcake cnc was that you had to build it yourself, which means that you learned what each part on the printer did, and how to fix it if it broke. This knowledge was very helpful in shaping the 3D printers to come. After the Cupcake cnc, many other 3d printer companies popped up and started selling similar types of 3D printers based on the lasercut wood and t-slot connection assembly method. If you were to ask some of these companies what their first 3D printer was, they would likely say that it was the Cupcake cnc.


In May of 2013 I decided I wanted to get an updated 3D printer, as the technology had advanced alot since the Cupcake cnc. I considered buying a fully assembled printer, but I didn’t have all the money up front, and I kinda wanted to get my hands dirty. I decided to design and build my own 3D printer. Everything would be designed by me except the electronics and the misc hardware. I also wanted to create a different type of 3D printer than the ones currently available, and different from what other people were building. I decided to build an H-Bot 3d printer, as only a handful of people had built one at the time I started to design mine. An H-bot has a few advantages over other xy-carriage setups, one thing is that both the motors for the x and y axis are mounted directly to the frame so that there isn’t alot of weight on the xy carriage. This is good if you want run the printer at high speeds, but it can be problematic when dealing with the “racking” forces that the xy carriage endures.

To begin, I started designing the printer in Sketchup, and then later I would print the parts off on my Cupcake cnc. I decided to build the frame out of T-slot aluminum, as I can reconfigure and modify the setup easier than I could with a square tube frame. T-slot can get costly, but it is much easier to work with if you don’t want to keep cutting into the frame. I had the basic outline of the printer done when I started to cut the aluminum, so I new what the dimensions needed to be.


Next I started to build the x and y axis. I also attached the motor mounts.



The x and y axis slides on 8mm linear rod, and 8 linear bearings.




You can see in this photo sort of how the timing belt runs through the x and y axis.


Here I attached some feet and t-slot ends to the top and bottom.



  Here is the Z axis. It uses an acme threaded rod in the center, and 2 x 12 mm linear guide rods.



The platform is mounted to some 20 x 20 mm t-slot aluminum that is attached to the z  axis.



I have designed this to be almost fully enclosed, so I attached some cool white led lighting on the inside.



Here I test fit the belt, to make sure that it isn’t snagging on anything.



This is a new Y end that I printed off. I have changed almost every part on this printer at least once!




Here is the main board which will run the printer. It’s the RUMBA from reprap discount.


Here is a little more progress, including a fan on the x axis (has since been replaced) and the addition of a bowden extruder (which has also been replaced).






 Here I am dealing with the mounting of the lcd.



Here I am mounting all the electronics to a 1/4″ piece of Acrylic to the underside of the printer.


I wanted the sd card slot to be flush with the front of the printer, so I created a simple adapter with flex cable that can be mounted to the front.


I had the RUMBA for probably 4 months until the MOSFET for the heated bed released it’s “blue smoke”. Luckily I was bale to find the part number in the schematics, and ordered a new one. I desoldered the old one, and accidently pulled up a trace, but I was still able to solder on a new one. I took this picture, because I really cant believe that this solder job worked….I honestly thought I had to get a new board. One thing of note is that the MOSFET that was originally used, did not match the part number in the schematic. I wonder if this was to save a few cent’s, or they were just spares from another project, or just an error in manufacturing. Whatever the case, they did not meet the same quality as the original part that was listed, because other people have had a similar problem.



Not all of these photos are up to date. I have gone through a few different extruders, and I have printed out a few other printed parts, but here are a couple videos of it printing.



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