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How to Build a 3D Printer from Scratch

3D Printer Blueprints – 3 Best DIY 3D Printer Plans

Picture of Franklin Houser
by Franklin Houser
Jun 18, 2018

3D Printer Blueprints – 3 Best DIY 3D Printer Plans

Looking for 3D printer blueprints to build a RepRap 3D printer from scratch (not from a kit)? Check out the 3 best DIY 3D printer plans to start with.

The philosophy of RepRap changed 3D printing forever. The principle is easy: Just use a 3D printer to print the parts for the assembly of a new 3D printer. The world of 3D printing certainly wouldn’t be the same without these self-replicating 3D printers (hence the term “RepRap”).

Most of the models are open source. The plans for building the 3D printer, the firmware, and the part lists are freely available. They aren’t necessarily ‘free’ in the sense of cost, but rather ‘free’ to use, distribute, modify, and even sell commercially.

So if you want to build your own RepRap 3D printer from scratch (not from a kit) and aren’t sure where to start, here is a simple guide to DIY 3D printer plans and the available resources.

Since the list of RepRap models is very long, we will not cover every single one. If this list does not have what you’re looking for, check out the Build a RepRap page on the RepRap wiki. The page also has a general description of all the components that make up a RepRap 3D printer.

Here are some common details to get started on. RepRap 3D printers can be broken down into three groups of components, namely the electronics, mechanical body, and the extruder. The electronics include the controller, stepper motors, stepper drivers, end stops and bed heating components (recommended the use of more filament types). The mechanical body includes all the structural and moving parts of the 3D printer from belts/pulleys to rods and the print bed. The extruder consists of a cold end and a hot end. As for software, it is necessary to upload firmware to the controller.

Without further ado, let’s jump into the best DIY 3D printer plans.

1

3D Printer Blueprints - 3 Best DIY 3D Printer Plans Prusa i3

Image of 3D Printer Blueprints - 3 Best DIY 3D Printer Plans: Prusa i3

This is easily the most popular open source 3D printer in the world. Here’s how to make one!

Get familiar with the DIY 3D printer plans

For the SCAD and STL files of the 3D printed components, start by downloading or cloning the GitHub repository for the Prusa i3. To do that, click on the link or execute the following command in your terminal or console.

If you want to use the files used by Josef Prusa in his workshops, also download or clone the Prusa i3 vanilla repository.

Bill of Materials

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an official bill of materials. However, there are some excellent resources. The Prusa i3 Buyers Guide page on RepRap wiki has a comprehensive list of parts (nuts, bolts, rods etc.) with detailed specifications.

There is an important distinction to make before starting a Prusa i3 build. There are two variants, each with a different style of frame. The box style frame is commonly made out of plywood, has more rigid geometry and is considered more difficult to construct. The single sheet frame is commonly made out of laser cut aluminum, which is more costly, yet the most popular variant.

Software and electronics

While there are many options for the electronics, the original Prusa i3 uses a RAMBo board to control its electronics. The board is compatible with different types of firmware. The original Prusa i3 uses its own optimized version of the Marlin firmware.

The official firmware can be compiled from source. Alternatively, the pre compiled hex files can be downloaded. For the firmware, visit the following repository.

Build guides

Prusa3D has provided an extensive build guide for the original Prusa i3 3D printer. The build guide is a detailed step walkthrough of the build process with images and descriptions.

Build guides from the community: here.

Community

For community support, visit the issues tab of the Github repositories or check out the official support forum for the original Prusa i3. The forum covers all the topics concerning this 3D printer. Please note that a ‘homemade’ Prusa i3 isn’t strictly speaking an original Prusa i3 and that you may run into more uncommon problems especially if you deviate from the original design.

2

3D Printer Blueprints - 3 Best DIY 3D Printer Plans Prusa Mendel (iteration 2)

Image of 3D Printer Blueprints - 3 Best DIY 3D Printer Plans: Prusa Mendel (iteration 2)

The Prusa Mendel is another popular RepRap 3D printer.

Get familiar with the DIY 3D printer plans

The SCAD and STL files can be downloaded from the Github repository for this 3D printer.

Please note that it is expressly stated that the files for the extruder in the repository don’t have the right dimensions. Instead, you should download these files from Thingiverse.

Bill of Materials

The bill of materials for the Prusa Mendel was almost too easy to find compared to that of the Prusa i3. It is located directly in the ‘docs’ folder of the Github repository. The documentation is very good featuring the BOM, some images of the assembled parts and even an assembly graph showing which individual parts go into a certain component of the finished 3D printer.

The RepRap wiki page for the Prusa Mendel also lists all the parts needed.

Software and electronics

The Prusa Medel isn’t limited to any one controller. The controller must have support for four stepper drivers, one thermistor input, and one heater output. If you want your Prusa Mendel to have a heated bed (recommended), the controller will need one more additional thermistor input and heater output. See the List of Electronics on RepRap wiki for a list of controllers currently used by the RepRap community.

As for firmware, there doesn’t seem to be any explicit mention of firmware in the Github repository or on the Prusa Mendel RepRap wiki page. Check out the List of Firmware page on RepRap wiki for a list of available firmware.

Build guides

There is a PDF with assembly instructions in the Github repository. It has numbered steps with some images and tells you which parts you need for each step.

The RepRap wiki has an assembly guide for the Prusa Mendel (iteration 2) and a video series.

Community

For community support, check out the RepRap forums on RepRap.org, especially the General Mendel Topics forum. The forums cover all things RepRap 3D printers, so you should be able to find help there.

3

3D Printer Blueprints - 3 Best DIY 3D Printer Plans Kossel

Image of 3D Printer Blueprints - 3 Best DIY 3D Printer Plans: Kossel

The delta 3D printer Kossel is set apart by its radical departure from the cartesian design most common among 3D printers. Kossel is a parametric delta robot 3D printer, built in 2012 by Johann in Seattle, USA, based on his Rostock prototype. The DIY 3D printer plans were designed by Johann C. Rocholl in 2012; they have been around with some minor changes since then.

The concept of the delta design eliminates backlash problems. Backlash occurs when one of the movement axes has slack (caused by loose belts for example).

Get familiar with the DIY 3D printer plans

The SCAD and STL files for the Kossel 3D printer can be found in the Github repository. Click on the link to find the repository or execute the command to clone the repository. You get all the 3D printer plans there.

Bill of Materials

The BOM is contained within the Kossel’s RepRap wiki page. It contains all the necessary printed and non-printed parts.

Software and electronics

The controller must be RIS 1 or RIS 1a compliant depending on if the 3D printer has a heated print bed or not. For a list of different controllers, see this RepRap wiki page.

Here is a list of the firmware on RepRap wiki. Select one that is compatible with the controller you select. Here is a good guide for installing a Duet board. The Duet board is a popular 32 bit ARM based controller board with an ethernet port.

See this RepRap wiki page for information about installing an LCD display.

Build guides

Community

If you have any questions about the Kossel 3D printer, go check out the forums at RepRap.org. The RepRap community also has an IRC channel, where members of the community will be more than happy to answer your questions.

License: The text of "3D Printer Blueprints – 3 Best DIY 3D Printer Plans" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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