Apr. 14, 2015 | By Kira

The human body relies on the process of cell reproduction, whereby the very cells that compose our organs duplicate their contents, and then divide into two separate cells, which then duplicate and divide into two more cells, and so on and so on, ensuring the growth and development of our systems. While entirely self-replicating machines are still a slightly futuristic concept, a pair of hobbyists has created a 3D printer that can reproduce nearly all of the parts required to make it. It is, essentially, a 3D printer that prints 3D printers, that can in turn print more 3D printers. Sounds fun, right?

The concept was developed by Instructables user dmserve, a.k.a Dennis, and his friend Les Hall. The two 3D printing enthusiasts wanted to know just how much of a 3D printer could be printed. In order to bring the concept into reality, they had to focus firstly on creating a printer made almost entirely out of plastic parts, and secondly, on designing a larger print area without making the frame itself any bigger. Keeping cost to a minimum was a third goal.

Dennis began by creating a prototype that he called ‘Little Red,’ which functioned fine, but was, as the name implies, on the small side of things. That led to the modified, i2 version of their project, appropriately named ‘Big Red.’

Like Little Red, Big Red’s frame can be printed on a heated bed. The total print area of this second iteration is 200mm x 425mm x 140mm, and is installed on an i2 that has 750+hours of print time. In total, the frame is composed of nine 3D printed, plastic frame pieces. The only components that were not 3D printed are mechanical parts such as rods, motors and chips.

Each piece and its build details are outlined on Dennis’ Instructables page. There, he also includes information about its unique features, such as the double sliding tables and X carriage, which is designed to pass by the vertical part of the main frame, giving more ‘x’ travel. He also mentions that the extruder is rotated 90 degrees, which contributes to increasing ‘x’ travel. 3.0mm filament was used for this version, however in future, 1.75mm could be attempted.

Prints using the Long Bed printer vary from 3 to 10 hours, depending on the part, infill and print speed. According to Dennis, no additional support was used for the printer parts. Some parts have support built-in to the STL file, however that support is meant to be removed from the finalized parts. Furthermore, all parts were printed with a wide Brim.

The Instructables page goes on to provide a full bill of materials, instructions for printing and assembling the main frame, and, of course, the STL files. In addition, several options for alternative builds are provided, such as using a non-heated bed, or using a smooth rod clamp to hold the Y axis rods.

 “Is this the best design? No,” says Dennis in a rather honest admission. However, for a budget-friendly experiment, it still achieved his original goal. “This proves the theory of operation and can be developed further. I am planning to test and monitor current designs and see what areas have weaknesses and failures, and improve them.” For example, future upgrades could be to use 10mm smooth rods, he suggests.

The Long Bed 3D printer is ripe for improvement, and what better way to encourage innovation than to upload an Instructables reach out to the maker community? Dennis will be posting additional STL files in the very near future, particularly on weekends in between his full-time job.



Posted in 3D Printers


Maybe you also like:


Terrence Teo wrote at 9/17/2015 5:25:52 AM:

Great blog. I found your blogs very interesting and helpful as it helps me a lot in learning new techniques and updates about printing 3D objects. 3D printing is a very creative technique through which one can make any kind of 3D object. Thank you for sharing this information.

Jon S wrote at 4/14/2015 10:08:28 PM:

Quote: "The concept was developed by Instructables user dmserve..." The concept was developed by Dr Adrian Bowyer when he invented the whole Reprap movement in 2005. Reprap started life with the idea of a self-replicating 3D printer. Almost all the consumer 3D printers are derived from this project.

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive