I thought as a fun project to make my own 3D printer out of a normal printer parts + some parts out of old CD-ROM drives that are lying around. The printer of my choice is an HP PSC 1315 one. HP PSC 1315 All-in-One Inkjet Printer

But I have these questions:

  1. Does this printer users stepper motors or is using a combination of DC ones and some sort of position sensor?

  2. What kind of electronics and firmware I can use for this type of builds?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to 3dPrinting.SE! $\endgroup$ – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 28 '18 at 23:33

No, Printers are not good sources

Common printers contain at best one stepper motor in the scanner, and it is usually too weak for use as an X or Y stepper, but for a very slow printer they might be useable, especially if you could source 2 or 4 of the same type.

The main motors in the printer are almost universally DC motors that get their turning signal as a voltage from the main board, which again uses positional information from an encoder strip/disk. Using both of these to make a 3D printer is usually not feasible.

However, they usually have good rails (sadly often of non-standard diameter) and might be salvaged for a decent optical sensor. See also Thomas Sanladerer's video about this.

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    $\begingroup$ However, the rails are frequently non-standard size diameter. It is hard to find bearings for them. My colleague is building a 3D printer from scavenged normal printer parts (using the rails) as we speak. We ended up printing Igus style bearings for his rails diameter. $\endgroup$ – 0scar Nov 29 '18 at 6:53

"Yes" you can, but "No" it is not a good idea.

A colleague of me is building a Anet A8 clone from salvaged rods from a bunch of printers he had. The rods are 9 mm in diameter for which you cannot find affordable linear bearings. We printed bearing blocks from PLA with integrated glide surfaces to solve that.

Furthermore, practically nothing of interested can be obtained from a 2D printer/scanner. The steppers are too weak, the belts too flimsy, and the electronics are not useable. Only on optical sensor (used as an endstop), but these literally only cost about $0.40 (then you get the whole module including the cable). Also, linear rods of good quality are best obtained locally from a local (web) supplier, there are mixed experienced with those found on cheap internet auction sites.

Considering the amount of parts that can be salvaged from a 2D printer/scanner, and the part you actually need to order to complete the build, you better spend a few extra bucks and order all parts.


I'm in the process of making a printer out of DVD/CD drives. I haven't progressed particularly far (I have the stepper drivers and obtained three (non-identical) CD/DVD drives last night for 100 baht), but I can state what I know to date, and then update as I go along.

Note: I'm not using any recycled printer parts, so this answer skirts that issue entirely.

Firstly, there are a number of resources out there, which I have attempted to consolidate here, Something for nothing.

The principle recycled printer that most searches seem to throw up is the E-waste printer by Miquel Lloveras, @mikel_llc, see EWaste 60$ 3DPrinter by mikelllc in 3D-Printing. However, the blueprints are missing and the Instructable's guide is a bit sketchy at best. I am currently in communication with the designer on Twitter, and hopefully will obtain more details at a later date.

A far better Instructables guide is Complete Newbie Step by Step, 3D Printer With All Parts Lists. Very in-depth and informative indeed.

However, IMHO, the best guides that I found (and decided to follow) have been by Tinkernut and Electronic Grenade. In particular:

These printers require no laser cut frames, and apart from the three CD/DVD drives, you only seem to need:

  • 1 x Arduino Uno
  • 3 x A3967 stepper drivers
  • 18 x Brass Motherboard standoffs and nuts
  • 1 x Resistor (16 kΩ or 22 kΩ) or 50-100 kΩ trim pot
  • 1 x Transistor 2n2222 or 2n3904
  • 1 x PC power supply
  • 1 x 3D Pen (which may or may not require pulling apart and hacking a bit - it is up to you)

Software wise, these printers use:

Obviously, with a little tinkering and calibration, you could use the standard Arduino Mega2560 and RAMPS1.4 setup, and your preferred firmware (i.e. Marlin, Repetitier, etc.).

Here is the A3967 stepper driver

A3967 stepper driver

A note on the motors

  • Apparently, some CD/DVD drives use DC motors rather than stepper motors, possibly in conjunction with endstops. While it is possible to use these types of drives, it seems much easier to employ the stepper motor type only.
  • It is possible that some of the CD/DVD drives which employ steppers also have endstops, and it is a good idea to salvage these endstops, when pulling the unit apart. However, in the Tinkernut and Electronic Grenade models these aren't required, although they could be added later, I guess.
  • To make life easy on yourself, try to get identical CD/DVD drives. Whilst a number of brands share common design/components and you may get lucky when using/opening different brands of drive and find the same parts, if you actually hunt around and get three or four drives of exactly the same make and model, things will be simpler (not amazingly so, but simpler and more consistent, nevertheless)
  • $\begingroup$ Hmmm, I got a bit over excited there, and then carried away down a myopic tunnel, when I saw the mention of CD drive in the question, and completely missed the bit about the printer... :-( However, hopefully some parts of this answer may come in useful. $\endgroup$ – Greenonline Nov 29 '18 at 1:37
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    $\begingroup$ With a little rephrasing you might be good. Something like "You need stepper drivers". $\endgroup$ – Trish Nov 29 '18 at 9:32

You need not a "modern" inkjet printer, but an antique flatbed 2-D printer. These were the state-of-the art in the 1980s, and drove the print head (a felt pen clamped into a mount) in X & Y over the printable area.
You'd still need to hang the whole thing on some Z-drive, of course.

See info at the HP museum, or buy one on eBay (Disclaimer: I just searched for that. I do not know the seller) .

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    $\begingroup$ Weren't those called plotters, and not printers..? I remember using them to print out OrCAD schematics $\endgroup$ – Greenonline Nov 29 '18 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Greenonline yes, they have names like "Pen Plotter" $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Nov 30 '18 at 14:46

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