Building a 3D printer

There are many options for 3D printers, from ready-to-go commercial printers down to relatively inexpensive things that can be built from stuff you can buy at the local hardware store, or perhaps even from scrap parts.
My main interest currently is in the RepRap printer, which is something you can build yourself.  The design of the RepRap is Open Hardware, which means that all the designs are available and everyone is encouraged to make their own, and especially to make improvements.  The RepRap has been vastly improved and simplified over the original by many volunteers, and the current model is far simpler, more reliable, cheaper and easier to make and use and there are new improvements for it being invented almost every day, and every owner can get the designs for those improvements and do them herself.

Instruction pages:
Parts source guide (Google docs spreadsheet)

Extra materials:
Building a Prusa i3 printer - printed parts source files


WWC said...

I have chatted with you on G+ 3D a few times. I found you have this blog which is great because i interested in something more directly related to the Prusa.

I have read that the Prusa type of printers can be more of a challenge to get into square and if moved around, say in the trunk of a car they likely will get out of square. Then need squared again before printing.
A relative had told me that he had a hard time adjusting everything so it would print a round circle, but if you want egged shaped circles then no problem.

Have you found this to be true or is this just negative propaganda.

I always enjoy reading your input on G+ 3D group.


John Ridley said...

I've never had any such problem. You'd have to really screw something up to make egg shaped circles, like configure the firmware with the wrong steps per millimeter, or have the belts be really loose or something. Squaring a printer takes me about 5 minutes during build, and I have never had to touch it again.

I take my printer in the car to other states multiple times per year and they've never caused me any trouble.

I think the i3 printer design is great - it builds fast, it's cheaper and easier to build, it has a lot less parts, and I think it's more sturdy and less likely to get out of square (if you did something like drop it 6 feet or fall on it, an i2 could I suppose get pushed out of square).

Pat Link said...

I cool build- glad I found your blog I am build a Prusa i3 with the same printed parts as you did. Your blog has some great details on the construction and assembly will use it for my build.
hope you don't mind
I will post a link to my blog once I sourced all the parts to start.

John Ridley said...

+Pat Link - not at all, that's what it's there for! I've put together subsets of parts for a few friends. Usually I get them the printed parts, the smooth rod, bearings and endstops and let them figure out the rest.

I've put a link to my Google docs spreadsheet on the first page of the build guide, be sure to check that. It's got the URLs of the most recent set of parts I've bought.

Also note the lengths I have for the smooth rod. If you're building a box frame, the "standard" lengths are too short.

Stephen Smith said...

I noticed that you also show the printed parts that you use. Are the printed parts the same ones you can buy on Ebay for the "box Prusa i3" or are they unique for your build. Would there be some adjustment in the parts for the 5/16 and 7/16 inch threaded rods?

John Ridley said...

+Stephen Smith - I have no idea what people are selling on eBay. I start with whatever the latest github release is at the time and make modifications as necessary. My build is pretty much standard but I've adjusted it for 7/16" threaded rod on the Y axis, and I've tweaked some other sizes up for SAE - #6 nut and screw sizes mainly.

I would guess that what they're selling on eBay is just the github standard, though when I've looked at sets in the past, they seem to sometimes lag far behind the latest github release. The parts sets are improving almost daily, some of the changes made in the last 4 or 5 months are SIGNIFICANTLY better.

Right now I'd look to see if they have the belt tensioners on the X and Y axes. If they do, probably good enough. If not, I wouldn't touch it, it's a real old set without some improvements that really help a lot.

You will have to go with M10 rod if you buy one of those sets.

You can PM me and I'll print a set if you like. I'm generally charging about $30 to $40 depending on whether you want an LCD panel or something like it. I don't have any printed up right now, though it only takes about 3 days. The advantage, you can pick your color :) I'm only printing in PLA. That's not a problem as long as you're using a hotend with a cooling fan.

DT Nonbinaryarya said...

Hi-- I'm in the process of building my first printer and your blog and instructions have been invaluable so far. I'm trying to build a standard Prusa Mendel i3, and i was going to stay away from the hotbed and lcd for now- I'm mostly in it for the experience and don't care too much about the print quality, so they seem like somewhat superfluous steps to me. I was wondering where I'd be able to find the correct printed set to use if following your basic instructions as posted here. I've found some on ebay but can't confirm if they're the correct ones to use, and my funds are pretty limited (I'm still a student). Any advice on where to obtain the printed parts?

John Ridley said...

email me, john@dragonflydiy dot com, I have a spare printed parts set ready to mail if you like purple, or I can print another color if you want to wait until next week for me to print another one.

Chris Pratt said...

Thanks for compiling such nicest information in your blogs. Articles are very informative and hope again I’ll find more like that.3D Printing Geeks

Scott Munoz said...

How up-to-date is the part list you have on Google Docs? And how much would you charge for a set of printed parts?

Thanks for putting all of this together.

John Ridley said...

I have not looked at the Google Doc for a while. I will update it. Prices have come down A LOT and I've found a new source for smooth rod that I think might be a lot cheaper, though I need to do the numbers.

Usually I'll do a printed parts kit for $30 (plus probably $5 shipping, US only). It'll take a few days to print though, and you'll need to let me know what color you want. I've recently refreshed my filament stock so I need to do a list of what colors I have right now. Usually I can have it printed within about 3 days, maybe 2. I haven't printed a set for a few months now though.

John Ridley said...

I have updated the Google Docs as of 9/19/2015. The parts cost is now down < $300. Contact me at I have some parts on hand that I wouldn't mind selling, might be able to save you on a bit of shipping.

Also I will spin up a custom Google Docs spreadsheet for your project and notate what I can supply, and you can note for yourself what parts you are getting and where.

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