Nov.7, 2014 | By Alec

Instructables user Mikelllc has shared a handy tutorial to help you to construct your very own low-budget 3D printer out of recycled electronic components. It will cost less than $100, and furthermore, it's an excellent way to learn more about the basics of 3D printing technology and how a typical printer actually functions.

About 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed worldwide every year. These e-waste can release certain toxics into the air and causes damage in the central and peripheral nervous systems, the blood and the kidneys. But Only 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled.

Mikelllc's e-waste small-sized 3D Printer is both cheap and includes about 80% recycled components, making it an ideal project for makers.

First of all, Mike shared an overview of generic CNC systems and how these are assembled and programmed with g-code instructions. Afterwards, a basic 3D printer is created using an extruder and a disk drive.

To make your own e-waste 3D Printer, you'll only need a handful of components: specifically, you'll need to get your hands on 2 standard CD/DVD drives from an old PC and one Floppy disc drive (with a stepper motor). This will provide you with three stepper motors to power your 3D printer, and you'll need to buy an additional NEMA 17 stepper motor online (which you can find on any reputable electronics website). This final motor powers the extruder, which just needs a bit more oomph. For that crucial part, you'll also need to purchase a MK7/MK8-type drive gear.

Word of warning, however: This construction will also require to manufacturing techniques to complete its component collection: laser cutting and (somewhat ironically) 3D printing to construct the housing and the extruder. If you don't have these available, there are numerous online services happy to help and ship the created parts to you.

To run it all, you'll also need to purchase a RepRap Gen6/7 board, which is capable of running Sprinter/Marlin open firmware. Finally, have a PC power supply ready, as well as a number of cables, female connectors and a heat-shrink tube.

The first actual step is preparing the motors. You'll have to solder the cables to the stepper motors following the color sequences. These can then be attached to the power supply, by connecting the two cables to each other.

Before these can be tested, you'll need to install Arduino IDE 23 (which can be downloaded for free) on your RepRap Gen6/7 board. Once that is done, you can connect your computer with the CNC-Controller Ramps/Sanguino/Gen6-7 with an USB cable. After that you can download the necessary Marlin firmware which will need to be configured properly.

The free and accessible Repetier Host is very easy to install, and will allow you to integrate the vital slicer into your 3D printer. This is a necessary software tool in any 3D printing project, as it will generate a sequence of sections of the object you'd like to print. Mike advises us to use convential slicer configurations that can be downloaded for free, like Skeinforge or Slic3r.

Finally, the printer motors can now be connected to the computer with an USB cable and you will be able manually control the motors. You will need to carefully configure these to avoid overheating.

The frame can done using laser cutting technology. You can construct yourself an casing out of acrylic, wood or another material you might have laying around. After cutting, the parts are easily assembled with a couple of mechanical joints and screws.

After assembly, it's just a matter of attaching the extruder to your construction and calibrating the axis resolution, and you're ready to go. There's also some 3D printing involved in assembling your 3D printer. Specifically, you'll need to print the direct-drive extruder parts: the extruder idle, the body, and the hot end holder.

Now the machine should be ready for the first test. This printer uses 1.75mm plastic filament which is easier to extrude and more flexible than the 3mm diameter standard. It will require less power to drive the printer than the 3mm filament would. In addition PLA plastic is a bio-plastic and has some advantages compared to ABS: it melts at lower temperature, it attaches easily to the printing bed and it has very little retraction.

And there you have it, the basic steps involved in creating your very own 3D printer for less than $60 (depending on how much you pay for your recycled parts). While a fairly complicated and time-consuming process, anyone with a bit of engineering experience should be able to bring this whole project to a successful finish. Good luck with it!

Posted in 3D Printers

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Dust wrote at 11/9/2014 9:57:10 PM:

parts required: one already working 3d printer to 'recycle' for parts

Marco wrote at 11/8/2014 4:01:01 PM:

It probably works better than my screwed up OneUp damm!

serge wrote at 11/8/2014 8:26:02 AM:

Construct a mini 3D printer STRUCTURE for less than $60 using recycled MECHANICS components !

Mike P wrote at 11/7/2014 7:50:27 PM:

I Agree with Adam B. If I can include or exclude the parts used in a price then I can beet $60 dollars. I could do this for $50 dollars if you already have the nema motor, the controller board and the 4 drivers, power supply, etc. That said, this is still a very clever and low cost x y z gantry. It looks clean with the acrylic.

Adam B wrote at 11/7/2014 5:12:08 PM:

it's nowhere near $60, just do some simple math on the electronics he shows never mind everything else. which is why there's no detailed parts list of costs. just a shameless attention grab on instructables.

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