I am wondering if anyone here knows of any 3D printers that work by assembling models from parts instead of extruding or setting material.

The closest I have found is the pixelstone but it appears to only be a prototype and I haven't seen or heard of any progress on it in over a year.

There is a similar house printer fastbrick but it is also just a prototype.

There is research papers on rapid prototyping with lego blocks and software for this (brickify), but these don't have machine assembly.

And there are 3D printers that can do conductive filament in the model but none of these seem to do pick and place as well and they still need a human to add the electronics or to change the tool head. (firepick)

So are there any 3D printers that work like pick and place machines and just stick blocks together?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Your question already contains what could be (part of) an answer. $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2017 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ The examples I have mentioned are all only prototype or beta releases. Just want to know if this is all there is. $\endgroup$
    – user802599
    Mar 11, 2017 at 13:01
  • $\begingroup$ Sadly, pixelstone wasn't archived, they have a single YT video left. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Nov 13, 2022 at 12:25

2 Answers 2


Yes and no

Yes, there are machines, that assemble things from parts. For example, SMT placement equipment & pick-and-place-machines. Almost all electronics are made this way. In fact, a lot of items are made by using Pick-and-Place machines in the final assembly.

On the other hand: No, there is no 3D-printer, that works by just being a P&P machine: it simply is not inside the specifications of additive manufacturing to be just an assembly machine. That is an assembly or pick and place machine, no matter if they call it printing. It is not.

combo machines?

However, I have seen a recent (2018) makerfaire video and a talk that was showing a prototype of an E3D toolhead swapper, which - in its idea - would allow to combine a 3D printer with a P&P machine. Their idea is to fully automate the manufacturing process, including adding non-printed parts with grabbers or the like.

2022 update

Multi-Tool 3D printers based on the E3D-Toolchanger including a pick-and-place are in small-scale use in at least one fabrication shop in their prototyping stage. They also use conductive filaments in conjunction with their setup - but need to compensate for the considerable resistance of conductive filaments.


I've prototyped a design that used beads similar to these http://www.infostir.com/images/plastic-beads-350.jpg on a rod with a heated tip and then you just press them off into the design. But it wasn't too strong and had some pretty specific requirements of the model. Labelled it a failure.

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    $\begingroup$ This doesn't really answer the question. The question asks whether "pick and place" 3D printers exist, and the answer should be a factual one: either "yes, such printers exist, see these and these examples", or "no, such printer don't exist". Sharing your personal experience of a (failed) attempt to build such a printer is not an answer to the question. This is not a forum/discussion board, but a question and answer site. While your experiences may be related to the question, they don't answer it. $\endgroup$ Mar 12, 2017 at 12:57
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    $\begingroup$ If you could expand your answer, maybe with some examples of "pick and place" printers, that you may have come across during your research into your prototype, then that would be great. However, as Tom says, as it stands, your answer doesn't really answer the OP's question, unfortunately. $\endgroup$
    – Greenonline
    Apr 9, 2017 at 13:55

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