3D Printer Advice

Hi all,

I am trying to build a 3D printer for as cheap as possible. I am only 17, and have very little cash hehe...So I decided to use Easydrivers for the stepper motors since they are alot cheaper in total than the special shields used in 3D printing. My question is: Can I connect them straight to the Arduino, or is it that all of the shields have them go through some circuitry first(whatever that may be)? Do the various firmwares that interpret G-code allow such a connection? And the same question also applies to the extruder connections? Any advice on how i might do this would be greatly appreciated!

I thought it might be cheaper to build my own as well, but looking at the prices of all the individual components, it will either end up costing more than I can buy a kit or so close to it that it isn’t worth the aggravation of designing it from scratch.

I was scared of that. Fortunately, I'm not THAT far in on the electronics. I've only bought 3/4 Easydriver boards. What did you end up going with?

Nothing. I just started pricing components and stopped there when I realized it was going to be $100 here and $100 there when I can get an entry level kit for around $600 (cheap china ones). Add on to that that you will need to make your own custom machined parts, source all your gears, bearings, slides, etc... and more than likely purchase a ready-made extruder and it seems like a lot of money and a lot of effort.

I wanted to see what it would take or if I should just throw that money in a jar to save up for a kit. The kit is winning out so far.

BTW, the easydrivers can only source 750mA/phase. Keep that in mind when looking for matching steppers. Most 3D printers seem to based around Allegro A4982 based drivers such as the stepstick which I see for around $10 a piece on eBay.

However, there is the BigEasyDriver which is capable of 2A/phase and 16 microstepping. The bought doesn't really look like it will handle heat well, though.

Now, I would definitely feel much more comfortable building my own after owning one and experimenting enough to know how it works, what the limitations are, what I like and don't like, etc... But for me, at least, it looked like a lot of money with a lot of frustration, and no guarantee that it will work as good as an established kit.

YMMV, of course.

Mmmm, well, I am cutting down the price as much as possible by trying to reuse parts from old printers, such as the smooth rods, and my axis is the belt system that causes the ink cartridges to go back and forth on ink jet printers, with some modifications.

I also have axis to a commercial 3D printer at my school, and I'm very lucky and glad to have it. It's kinda cheaty, but I think I can live with it. XD

And as far as the current rating goes,my motors only use 330mA. So i'm good there.

Sounds good, and probably fun. Let us know how it works out!

I was tempted to have a play with this sort of thing when I saw what the commercial 3D printers were achieving. I was put off by the very limited capabilities of the cheap DIY solutions I was considering: single colour, no filler, relatively poor resolution and hence poor surface finish. The technology seems to be coming on in leaps and bounds and I've no doubt that sometime soon they will be as cheap and accessible as inkjet printers are now, but at the moment the DIY solutions are IMO still not good enough to produce finished goods yet and the commercial printers are a couple of orders of magnitude to expensive for casual use. Commercial printing services still seem like the most sensible option at the moment.

I'm perfectly fine with those capabilities. That just leaves more room to try and improve it later. And I'm also doing this just for the fun of it. I wanted to build something, and this will also serve as a useful tool later. Two birds with one stone. I just need to figure out how to go with the electronics.

I have no experience with 3D printers, but I explored the possibility of building a CNC mill, capable of PCB milling. I had a talk with a guy that has many years of experience in building stuff and access to a well equipped workshop. What he told me basically boils down to "Forget it.".

He too wanted to make one a few years ago, but after looking at the necessary parts he decide it was too much trouble to source the materials. The primary concern for him were the rails and the bearings. He's a bit of a perfectionist and decided that the accuracy he though he could achieve would not be sufficient and that he'd be spending lots of money and too much time on something he would ultimately be disappointed in.

All that coupled with the fact that neither I nor him actually have a legitimate need to own such a machine entire project was scraped before we both wasted too much time.

Not that I still don't dream about making a CNC something, even if it had an error of more than 5 mm.

Well, precision isn't THAT important to me. Don't get me wrong, I don't want anything too sloppy either, and I'm confident I can get decent results even if it requires a lil' tweaking here and there. But my biggest problem is still the electronics.

What problem are the electronics? There are a ton of open-source materials out there, including schematics, board files, code, you name it.

I don't want to buy the boards such as RAMPS, etc. I already have Easydrivers, and I was wondering is it possible to wire these(the Step and DIR pins), as well as the sensors, such as the limit switches, and temp. sensors directly to the Arduino.

There's no magic in RAMPS. You can certainly drive the device from an Arduino without it. RAMPS interfaces to a Mega, presumably to get more pins but you could probably do it with an Uno too depending on how many pins your design requires.

AH! That’s what I was hoping for, and what I began to think after I looked at a Marlin setup guide. I think I can change the pins by going through the pin.h file with it? but Thank You, wildbil! That confirms it then that I can. Now just to do it.