This brilliant 10-year-old kid built a fully functional 3D printer out of Legos and K’nex

The 3D-printing scene is a hotbed of creativity, with enthusiastic makers using the printers to generate everything from homemade braces to custom remote control car parts. One of the latest innovations comes from 10-year-old Amogh Palasamudram, who created a DIY 3D printer using a 3D-printing pen and a Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit.

The project is simple, yet ingenious, and embodies the creative thinking that Lego inspires among its users. In this project, Amogh used off-the-shelf Lego bricks and K’nex parts to build both a base for printing and a tower-like structure that holds an entry-level 3D-printing pen. The structure not only holds the pen securely, but it also has several motors that move the pen along three different axes.

The contraption is the epitome of the maker philosophy, with a design that uses common household objects like yarn and rubber bands to move the 3D-printing pen along the z-axis and y-axis. There’s even a ring with a blunt end to push the start button on the 3D-printing pen.

The pen and Lego tower are useless without a controller, which is where the Mindstorms EV3 robotics kit comes in. The EV3 contains the programs that move the pen and the printing platform along the x-, y- and z-axes as it builds a 3D structure. The Mindstorm app turns each motor on and off, and moves each in a particular direction. Each 3D-printed object requires a different set of instructions, which can be programmed and preloaded on the EV3 brick before printing. When a user is ready to print, they only need to load up the appropriate EV3 program, sit back, and wait for the 3D object to be built.

Amogh detailed this process on the Instructables website and shared one of his introductory EV3 programs to help get you started.