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What are the basic necessities needed to build a 3d printing machine.

  • Workforce
  • Technology
  • Money
  • etc.

I'm an undergrad and my friends and I would like to make a printer for a project. We wanted to get an idea of the prerequisites for this work.

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    $\begingroup$ What kind of printer are you trying to make? FDM? SLA? Something else? Please be specific when asking a question. What is "workforce"? $\endgroup$ – Tom van der Zanden Jul 12 '17 at 8:25
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It really depends on what you mean by "make a 3d printing machine"

  1. You could buy and assemble an FDM printer kit. This is "making" in the same way you can "make" a cake. This is low cost and little experience is required.

    My 15yo son built the TronXY X3 kit I bought for $200. enter image description here. There are lots of kits.

  2. You could design your own FDM printer from stock parts. This is also pretty easy to do with minimal mechanical experience. Its pretty much just 4-5 stepper motors (X,Y,Z(1/2),extruder), and extruder, some mechanical parts, a power supply. and off the shelf electronics. Parts are readily available on eBay and firmware is available on GitHub. There are designs available on the internet that you could start from. Here is a video one maker made of his build. This is how the whole industry got started and were often called RepRap printers.

  3. You could try building or designing a much complicated style printer (SLA, DLP, SLS, etc.). This would require a bigger commitment with more experience.

  4. ...

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This is a pretty vague question. First of all you have to ask what kind of 3D printer you want to make, what do you want to be able to print (size/resolution?) what tools/resources you have access to, how much you want to spend vs how much time you want to build. The more time and money you put into the thing the better your final results will be.

These guys built a pretty decent looking delta model for ~$170. Seems pretty reasonable. Deltas are pretty simple to put together and allow for a good build size. Building yours from scratch gives you total control over materials used, which means durability and price is in your hands. You will need to think about the following steps.

  • Research
  • Design
  • Materials/Hardware (acquiring, fabricating)
  • Coding/Software (choose a flavor)
  • Troubleshooting/Failing
  • First Print

If you care less about the experience of building and more about getting a working printer, there are plenty of build kits. These will give you all the essential pieces and instructions to follow. Prices range from \$100 to \$1000, from what I have seen.

Do some research in your region, if you are in a city, there may a collective or club where they specialize in this stuff. I know where I am in Portland there is a workspace where they actually give classes where everyone builds their own Delta model printers. Finding enthusiasts in your area can be a great way to get parts pointers, as well as inspiration.

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you attend CTRL-H or 3D Printer Workshop? $\endgroup$ – markshancock Jul 12 '17 at 2:36
  • $\begingroup$ I actually haven't Although I was thinking about checking out CTRL-H a couple months ago. I'm actually working right now at hedron. Edit: It looks like maybe Hedron are the guys who host/run 3D Printer Workshop. Would make sense. $\endgroup$ – DMrFrost Jul 12 '17 at 2:52
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting, I saw they met in the Hedron Makerspace but I didn't know what that was. I usually discover these places at Makerfaire. All this sounds interesting; but, I stay so busy it is hard to imagine ever finding the time to go. Between work and Mentoring and family, my time is pretty full. $\endgroup$ – markshancock Jul 12 '17 at 5:44
  • $\begingroup$ I hear you, only so many hours in the day. Hedron is pretty rad. They got About 20 3D printers, 2 laser cutters, an auto router, a mill, some lathes, all basic shop tools and welding equipment. The guys that run that place are super nerds, possibly genius. $\endgroup$ – DMrFrost Jul 12 '17 at 5:53

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