The centerpiece of the printer is an inexpensive 3D printing pen, which can be purchased for as little as $40 from Amazon. Other parts that contribute to the cost of the machine include an Arduino Uno, several stepper motor drivers and additional filament for the actual printing process. The rest of the parts can be scavenged from old computers and the junk drawer in your workshop.
The printer assembly begins with three repurposed optical CD-ROMs, which must be disassembled so you can harvest the metal motor tray, stepper motor, and laser housing. These pieces make a great CNC axis that will guide the movement of the pen during the 3D building process. The three motors are then attached to the frame of the printer, which you can design according to your individual needs.
Once the hardware is properly mounted, the next step requires some experience with soldering and electronics. The scavenged CD-ROM motors are wired to the stepper motor drivers, which then are connected to the Arduino board. The Arduino serves as the controller for the machine, telling the motors how to move the pen during the 3D printing process. The Arduino Uno also controls the filament extrusion process, allowing you to simulate the pressing of an extrusion button using Arduino code and a switch.
Once you have the electronics wired up, you can attach the 3D printing pen to the scavenged CD-ROM components using hot glue and clothes pins to hold everything securely in place. The last step in the process of building your cheap 3D printer is the installation of the software necessary to control the pen’s movement and the filament extrusion. Gigafide provides meticulously detailed instructions that’ll walk you through the entire process of building and programming the affordable 3D printing device.
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