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Building Your Own 3D Printer

Posted In Industrial & Technology - By Techtiplib on Thursday, February 8th, 2018 With No Comments »

3D printing is getting better and better all the time. With a thriving community and ever more sophisticated technology, there has never been a better time to get in on the printing revolution.

If you do plan to take up 3D printing, then you have two options – buy a ready-made printer or build your own. We would highly recommend that you take the latter option, because not only is it likely to be cheaper, but you’ll learn a whole lot more about the project of 3D printing too. Oh, it’s also a fun little project in its own right.

3D Printers

So, how do you build a 3D printer? Actually, there are two ways:

From Scratch

If you want your 3D printer to be fully customized to your needs, you can use the available 3D printing technology to build your printer from scratch. This will teach you the most about 3D printing tech, but you will need to have a lot of technical skills to pull it off, and you will need to assemble a lot of parts.

From a Kit

Alternatively, you can build your own 3D printer using a printer building kit. Numerous 3D print manufacturing companies offer these, and they are much easier to fathom for the average person although you won’t learn quite as many technical skills as you would when building a completely custom machine.

Working Out What You Want

Once you have decided how your printer will be built, you need to think about the specs you want it to have. First of all, you need to think about how you want your machine to look. If you’re building your own 3D printer, do you want it to look amazing, or are you fine with it being functional but unattractive? If it’s the former, you’re more likely to achieve a cool look when using a kit – just take a look at the manuals to see what the finished products will look like and choose the option that best meets your tastes.

Specifications

Now, you need to decide what you want your 3D printer to be capable of. Do you want it to be semi-automated or would you like full control over it? Do you want it to have the capacity to use several filaments at one? Do you even know what this stuff means? If you don’t, visit the RepRap community, who will help you through the process. They’re a really knowledgeable bunch!

Getting the Parts Together

If you’re building your 3D printer with a kit, you can skip this step because the kit will include all of the parts you need to put your printer together ( or at least it should). However, if you’re building a fully customized device, you’ll need to do the following:

Identify the Parts You Need

Visit one of the many excellent sites that layout exactly which parts the most popular 3D printers use and write down what you will need to make your printer function in the way you want.

Then purchase an instructional ebook like 3D Printing: Build Your Own 3D Printer and Print Your Own 3D Objects, which will tell you how to put the components together. Study it!

Purchase the Parts

If you want to keep your 3D printer as affordable as possible, it’s probably a good idea to purchase them second hand. The many 3D printing forums on the web are a good place to start your search, but you must be sure to check the quality of the parts before you start adding them to your printer or they could prevent your machine from running smoothly.

If you are on a very tight budget, you may even be able to find some of the components you need in other common, cheaper devices such as DVD drives and if you have a little technical know-how, you can get them working as well as 3D printer specific technology.

Connect to Software

Once you have collected all of the hardware components you need, you will have to download 3D rendering software onto your computer, so that you can design the stuff you want to print and give the printer commands to create it.

Build Your Printer

Now is the hard part, but also the most fun part – building your printer. This is likely to take you several weeks, or even months depending on your technical knowledge of the technology, because there is a lot of soldering and connecting of wires involved in the process, but you should never try to cut corners because getting just one thing wrong – well not even wrong, but imprecise- can significantly reduce the smoothness of operation and end up costing you a lot of time and money when you then have to put it right.

If you’re new to building 3D printers and you aren’t using a kit with very clear instructions, then there is a very high chance that you will get stuck at some point, and when that happens, instead of giving up, you should get online and speak to the 3D printing community, who are a friendly bunch who will help you out. If you can upload images of the problem you’re facing, someone is bound to realize what you’re doing wrong, and if you’re polite, they will most likely walk you through the issue so that you can move on.

Once the Printer is Done

Once you’ve built your 3D printer, you’ll be itching to give it a go, but if you’re new to the process, chances are you will find it tough to use the software to render the shapes you want to create. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to use pre-designed object files to test out your printer and have some fun while you learn how to render your own stuff.

Downloading such files, which you can find online, is really simple and all you have to do is put them through your rendering software, and your printer will do the rest, providing that the files you choose are compatible with the setup of the printer you’ve created that is!

Have fun!

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