In this article I need to share my experience with first homemade 3D printer. I have used Arduino as a main controlling electronics and followed Prusa i3 design to build my own custom 3D printer.
I love to do some experiments in my free time. As a hobbyist, maker, and an inventor; a 3D printer is a very useful device for my experimental projects. Because, this awesome machine can print small parts, prototype objects very accurately. If you are a maker or an inventor I would recommend you to invest some money to owe this useful machine. Building plans for these machines are now available as an open hardware designs. If you could spend reasonable time to study these open hardware plans, you can build your own custom 3D printer. If you watch my YouTube video, there you will see my custom built machine. I have named my machine as Expo3DBot. Looks nice name isn’t it? You can find the couple of free open source designs available on RepRap web site. I have built my 3D printer few years ago by following Prusa i3 open hardware designs. However I have customised my printer as I needed. I would say, this lovely useful machine unlocked my major barrier to the technical world. This machine helped me to print some useful parts for my experimental projects.
Few years ago 3D printer was a luxurious item to keep for home use. In early stage 3D printers were using advance technologies. Specially to create a 3D model you may need to study CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. Nowadays by using these advance techniques, it’s getting simpler. Specially comes with user friendly interfaces to draw objects. Within last few years 3D printers have become reasonably cheaper household item and it’s getting cheaper and cheaper every year.
3D printer can categorise as a CNC machine. These machines are using additive processes to create a 3D object. During this process an object is created by laying down successive layers of the material until the entire object is created. Due to this multi laying process most of the 3D printers take considerably higher time to finish the final object. Most of the home use printers using ABS or PLA plastic as a base material.
Simply these printers can print any small object that you imagine. If you want to a print flower vase, yes these printers can print it for you. Printing process starts with making a virtual design of the object that you want to print. Nowadays you can download pre made digital files for physical objects you want to print. Or if you are talented CAD Designer, you can make your own files and you can publish those to the 3D printing community. One of my favourite web site is Thingiverse.
These digital designs are made with CAD (Computer Aided Design) using a 3D modelling program or with the use of a 3D scanner. A 3D scanners can convert physical shape that you need to replicate into the digital version. Then the 3D printer can convert these digital file into solid objects.
I wanted to print an air flow direction controlling mounting part for my micro fan. I decided to Google because that save my time on designing new 3D model. Then I found pre designed 3D model that perfectly suits for my project. I downloaded that 3D file(.stl file) and then I pre-processed the file to send to the 3D printer. This process is called slicing. 3D model is slicing multiple layers during this process. One of my favourite slicing tool is Slic3r.
Now let’s see what I have printed using my 3D printer. Don’t forget to watch my YouTube video to see how I was printing those objects.
Airflow direction mount for micro fan
Figure 1 – Airflow direction mount for micro fan, printing in-progress
Figure 2 – Successfully printed parts on the heat bed
Figure 3 -Printed parts ready to assemble
I also printed a knob for the potentiometer for one of my another project.
Figure 4 – Successfully printed potentiometer knob on the heat bed
Figure 5 – Printed phone case
Spool holder locking knob
Here is the cool part I printed using my 3D printer. This is a locking knob for the spool holder. After printing this part, I inserted m8 nut into the plastic groove part and applied some supper-glue. These knobs gave a fancy look to my 3D printer and also these locking knob hold my plastic spool safely.
Homemade 3D printer
Figure 6 – Spool holder locking knob printing in progress
Figure 7 – Successfully printed spool holder locking knob on the heat bed
Figure 8 – Assembled locking knob to hold plastic spool safely
3D printed some random parts
Figure 9 – 3D printed random parts
I leave you to decide whether if you really need a 3D printer at home or not.
You can watch my YouTube video related to this post. Please subscribe my YouTube channel for upcoming experimental projects.