3D Printer

3D Printer Project.

After taking a course in 3D design and printing given by MakeShop last week, I finally took the plunge and started to invest in a 3d printer. I just thought it'd be a cool project to start and since I could start printing other 3D printers it would be a good way to spread the idea of small-scale home prototyping and design.

Unfortunately my bank balance isn't too healthy at the moment so I've taken on the added challenge of making it for as cheap as possible. Prusa Mendels are about $550 accordng to 3ders, so the plan is to aim for under 300 euro. 


So, I did some research into the many varities of 3D printers (there's about 100 now. List here: http://www.3ders.org/pricecompare/3dprinters/) and I settled on the Prusa Mendel iteration 2 as shown here: http://reprap.org/wiki/Prusa_Mendel_(iteration_2). 


I chose this design as it has the most standardised parts, most printed parts and judging by a youtube series on Mendel assembly a fairly easy and quick printer to build. I'm only starting so I didn't want to get into difficulty too quickly.

Regarding  sourcing the parts for the printer, one advantage of this Mendel is that it's a European design. Many of the US designs assume that you have access to speciality websites and Radioshack and that you can easily obtain parts that are much harder to come by in Ireland. Also US designs go by imperial measurements and it can be hard to convert this to metric, especially when the printed parts require specific sizes. 


So to start off I took the BOM and divided it into 3 sections: 1) Printed parts, 2) Mechanical parts, 3)  Electronics.


Firstly, to get the printed parts I asked one of the guys giving the course in MakeShop, 3D Dave, if he'd be interested in printing off a Mendel. He emailed me back a few days ago saying that he would, when he has time in the next few weeks, so hopefully that aspect is sorted. 

Second, to get the mechanical parts I wrote out a list of all the nuts, bolts, washers and bars and gave it to my dad, so hopefully he can pick some of this stuff up at work. Told you this is being done on the cheap. There's no great hurry on getting anything as I'm going to wait till I have all the parts before I start building. 


Now the expensive bit. I wrote out the list of electronics and it's fairly substantial. There's no real way of getting this stuff for a discount or even getting it second hand, so I did have to pay for most of it. 

Here's what I have ordered so far: 

From Ebay: Arduino Mega                :       €25

                LM8UU bearings x10 :     €29

                608ZZ bearings x8     :     €9.20

                Nema 17 Steppers x5:     €45.00


From RepRap World:

                RAMPS Arduino Shield:   €62

                Pulleys x2                   :  €9.10


I also got an 300W ATX power supply from an old computer so that's gonna power the printer. 

Total cost so far is about €190, but that's most of the expensive stuff out of the way. Hopefully the printed parts won't set me back too much. The mechanical parts shold be free, though there might be some problems getting the M3 parts, they're not too common outside of electronics and can be fairly expensive to order if Dad can't get hold of some.


The only part I have so far are the 608 bearings which arrived in the post yesterday. The plan is to get started on this during reading week at the end of the month, though it's doubtful I'll have everything assembled by then. I still haven't decided on which hot end to use, though I'll probably go for whichever is cheapest and then upgrade in the future. One  of the advantages of the Prusa Mendel it seems is the ability to upgrade everything on it at some point so i'd say it's going to be a conitinual work in progress. 




So far I have all the electronics, most of the nuts, washers and threaded bars and the printed parts should be done by the end of the week. 

I bought the last few components today. I'm going for Wade's Extruder, since most of that is printed. The hardware for that cost about  €14 and I bought an assembled hot end from ebay for about  €40. I also have aluminium pulleys on the way and they set me back about  €10 and opto-switches for  €3. 


I think that's everything, so all I need do is wait for it all to be delivered and get assembling over Christmas.