Build Your Own 3D Printer — Out of LEGOs
The LEGObot is made almost entirely out of LEGOs and 3D print objects in hot glue.
CREDIT: Matthew Kreuger
Don't have enough cash to buy a premade 3D printer? That's OK. If you have an old camcorder, a hot glue gun and a few hundred Legos, you have almost everything you need to build your own 3D printer at home.
Engineering student Matthew Kreuger recently shared his homemade 3D printer design on the popular maker site Instructables.com.
While Kreuger said his printer is more of a prototype than a finished product, the LEGObot— which prints 3D objects modeled with LEGO's Digital Designer software in hot glue — might come as a welcome surprise for do-it-yourselfers and those strapped for cash.
Kreuger, who fashioned his machine after MakerBot's earliest 3D printer, the Cupcake CNC, used a LEGO NXT brick to operate the printer.
For the uninitiated, a NXT is a computer-controlled LEGO brick equipped with three output ports for attaching motors and four input ports for attaching sensors. It was originally created for use with LEGO's MINDSTORMS robot.
The NXT controls the LEGObot's power elements: a hot glue gun, a fan and an old VHS camera motor, which powers the printer's extruder and build platform.
The printer runs programming software designed specifically for NXT, but Kreuger said that he's working on a way to run standard G-code (one of the most common programming languages used in robotics) through the NXT for the next version of the machine.
It took Kreuger a full year to build this first version of the LEGObot, but presumably others that want to replicate his design would be able to complete the project within a much smaller time frame, as the design in its entirety is now available on Instructables.
You might want to wait before trying the design out for yourself, however, as Kreuger has a host of ideas up his sleeve for the next model of the LEGObot.
According to his Instructables page, he'd like to experiment with materials other than hot glue, which isn't a very useful material once it dries. Right now, its uses don't extend beyond the creation of thin globs that can stick to glass surfaces.
Kreuger also said he's working on making the printer's build platform less wobbly.
But for a homemade 3D printer, the LEGObot has a lot going for it. It's inexpensive to make and its structure clearly lends itself to easy adjustment. If Kreuger can figure out how to print in something other than glue, the LEGObot might just give other homemade printers a run for their money.