3D Printing, Open Source Style

4 DIY Arduino 3D Printers You Can Build Yourself

arduino 3D printer

Arduino 3D printers are a rare breed indeed. But if you want an Arduino 3D printer and have some tinkering skills, you should take a look a these DIY Arduino printer projects.

DIY Arduino 3D Printers You Can Build Yourself

How the Arduino 3D Printer Came to Be

Schematics of the original Arduino- which already had enough processing to buid a 3D printer (source: Thingiverse)
Schematics of the original Arduino board. It already had enough processing power to drive a 3D printer (source: Thingiverse)

To understand how Arduino and 3D printers relate, we have to dig into some 3D printing history. In February 2004, Adrian Bowyer posted the idea of a machine able to self-replicate itself. After funding was collected, the RepRap 0.2 prototype successfully printed the first part in 2006.

It was not until 2005 that the Arduino board was first developed by Massimo Banzi and David Cuartielles, and with the development of the second generation of RapRap’s open source 3D printers, Arduino based electronics were used. It was a perfect fit: Both projects featured an open source approach to make previously too complex technology available to the masses cheaply. Hence an Arduino 3D printer kit was the next logical step.

The heart of the MakerBot first was a RepRap Motherboard v1.1 with a Sanguino, which is an Arduino-compatible board that had more pins and double the RAM and storage than the respective Arduino board. This is no surprise when you remember that MakerBot started off as a 3D printer company based on work of the RepRap foundation back in the early days.

Arduino 3D Printer
The first MakerBot became one of the first Arduino 3D Printers with its Sanguino board (source: notcot.com)

Ultimaker is the next company we need to mention – also, the development of the Ultimaker started in 2011 when its creators got frustrated with the available RepRap models, with the goal to create something easier to assemble. The Ultimaker 3D printers back then were driven by the ArduinoMega 1280 or Arduino Mega 2560.

Since then, the RepRap idea has evolved and laid the foundation of modern 3D printing. Up until today, Arduino boards are the heart and soul of most 3D printers. They can mainly be found in the “RAMBo” boards (RepRap Arduino-compatible Mother Board). If you want to drill deeper in the history of Arduino based 3D printer kits, please consult the RepRap wiki – it’s a great and reliable source.

4 DIY Arduino 3D Printers You Can Build

Even it there are a lot of 3D printer kits around, pure DIY Arduino 3D Printer kits have become a rarity. So while, technically speaking, most 3D printers are based on Arduinos (because of their motherboards), we found three amazing DIY Arduino 3D printers.

While the $60 EWaste Arduino 3D printer is a low-budget machine mostly made from old electronic parts you may have already, the Arduino-controlled CNC/3D Printer hybrid is a massive monster with a metal frame that will cost just slightly less than 1500$. The Ultimaker Original+ is currently roughly at $1000.

DIY Arduino 3D Printer #1: Ultimaker Original+

Arduino 3D printer

What is it? 3D printing manufacturer Ultimaker needs no introduction. Their printers are around for as long as the maker movement. The Dutch company is known to build excellent 3D printers like the Ultimaker 3. The Ultimaker Original-series is their legacy product. Its brain is the Ulticontroller, which is based on the Arduino Mega 2560.

There are two versions available. One is the “Ultimaker Original”, which is still available at some shops. The other one is the “Ultimaker Original+”. Unless you are very skilled in 3D printing and building 3D printers already, we’d recommend the “Original +”-version. It also comes with a heated bed, which makes it more versatile when it comes to 3D printing temperature-sensitive filament. If you ever wanted to build an Arduino 3D printer kit, this still is a great 3D printer. Also, it can be heavily modified. If it doesn’t have to be a pure Arduino 3D printer kit, please take a look at these great 3D printer kits.

Where can I find it? You can buy the Arduino 3D printer kit from the Ultimaker homepage.

DIY Arduino 3D Printer #2: EWaste 3DPrinter

The finished printer isn't much bigger than its original components- the 3D printer's width is basically the Arduino's length. (source: Instructables)
The finished Arduino 3D printer isn’t much bigger than its original components, The 3D printer’s width is basically the Arduino’s length. (source: Instructables)

What is it? The EWaste 3D printer is a small, simple Arduino 3D printer. The big advantage is you don’t need to buy many parts. The electronics are salvaged from old devices you can even get from the scrapyard. You’ll need the motors from two standard CD/DVD drives and a Floppy disc drive. The EWaste 3D printer is then controlled by the Arduino and powered by an old PC power supply.

It‘s surely a great Arduino 3D printer for tinkerers, but the print bed is tiny compared to modern 3D printers.

Where can I find it? The full instructions can be found on the EWaste’s Instructables page. If you have some components already, the whole printer should cost you less than 100$.

DIY Arduino 3D Printer #3:  3D Printer / CNC Hybrid

The electronics enclosure is kept at a distance to protect it from the enormous amount of dust when CNCing. (source: Instructables)
The electronics enclosure is kept at a distance to protect it from the enormous amount of dust when CNCing. (source: Instructables)

What is it? A hybrid of a 3D printer and CNC machine. It is made possible by exchanging the extruder for tools that can be anything – starting as simple as a rotary Dremel-style device. The Arduino 3D printer has a working area that is enormous. With 500 x 700 x 200 millimeters, usable for both 3D printing and CNC applications.

Where can I find it? It’s definitely not a beginner’s project, but also has a really detailed step-by-step documentation on its Instructables page.

DIY Arduino 3D Printer #4: The Marteria 101

The official Arduino 3D printer: The Materia 101. (source: blog.arduino.cc)
The official Arduino 3D printer: The Materia 101. (source: blog.arduino.cc)

What is it? It’s the “official” Arduino 3D Printer. The massive use of Arduino boards in the majority of home 3D printers sparked the idea for Arduino to offer an Arduino-branded 3D printer. In September 2014, the “Arduino Materia 101” was officially announced on the Arduino blog. The first Arduino 3D printer was controlled by an Arduino Mega board and first presented to the public at the Maker Faire Rome 2014.

Arduino developed the machine in cooperation with 3D printer manufacturer Sharebot (also Italian-based). However, the Arduino Materia doesn’t seem to be available anymore, neither at the official Arduino webshop nor from any third-party 3D printer shops.

It seems Arduino was a bit ambitious producing an own 3D printer on a market that by that time already was controlled by big players – or maybe the rather unimpressive hard facts made the Arduino Materia a rather dissuasive option – for example, the Printing area was only 140 x 100 x 100 mm in a machine with external dimensions almost three times as big?

Where can I get it? As of August 2017, the Arduino 3D printer is out of stock at the Arduino Website. Please check, there might be some available.