Poor Man’s 3D Printer Looks Rough, Prints Great!

In this Instructable, [Gelstronic] proves anyone can afford a 3D printer. Why? Because you can literally build one out of computer e-waste — specifically, DVD/CD drives.

His goal was to build a printer for less than a hundred euros. And he darn well did it. The most expensive part was the hot-end coming in at 20 euros. He managed to find a Chinese Arduino MEGA 2560 for only 10 euros, and everything else was basically pocket change.

The hot end features a geared NEMA 17 look-a-like stepper motor he found in a printer, and the XYZ axis all make use of the DVD drive trays. The only downside to this massive reusing of e-waste is the bed size. Due to the limited range of motion on the DVD trays, his build area is only 40 x 40 x 40 mm, which in the world of 3D printing is pretty tiny. On the plus side, he’s even thrown in a heated bed making use of two 7W resistors which can get it all the way up to 110°C!

After a bit of tweaking he was able to get some surprisingly good prints, with a 10mm cube coming out at 10.06mm! He must have a pretty good caliper Anyway, check out the following demo!

[Thanks repkid!]

36 thoughts on “Poor Man’s 3D Printer Looks Rough, Prints Great!

  1. I love how ghetto it is, the counterweights on Y axis because DVD trays couldnt handle extruder – priceless :)
    a little spit and polish, some chrome and he could sell them at $1000 to the Steampunk crowd.

      1. I wouldn’t say standard practice. Try and find a commercial mill or vertical machining center that has a counterweight.

  2. Very nice! A larger build area could probably be had by scavenging three printers. A fair amount of inkjets nowadays even come with A3 size printing.

    1. +1
      Printers have actual precision rods, some even have brass bushings…they also come complete with a slack-free linear drive and optical encoder :D

    2. Flat bed scanners also have precision linear components, motor, toothed belt & pulley too. With an all-in one, you might win a good amount of hardware.

  3. +1… You guys missed the most important part in this build…

    The bear bottle cap to level the platform… ;^)

  4. He doesn’t really have to have good caliper – every single Chinese one has 2 digits after coma, and as far as it goes for precision it means nothing… Although he could measure it with old analog one which would be good enough (it should have maximum 0.01 error)

    He bought electronics and Mega for 30 euro , salvaged everything else (without stepper motor driver – which would be very neat if he did) So there is only frame to be done – which could be done better, with bigger workplace – probably same price, as he made things with “things that every hobbyist has in his garage”. And don’t tell me “he would need nema17″ because he can salvage more.

    Sorry this thing, not counting proof of some skills, is worthless. U can buy 3D printer kit with just ~150euro (200$). ( https://store.makibox.com/#/product-detail?type=1&&option=31 ). And it’s in different league.

        1. Reusing components, honing your skills and learning is not something you do with buying a kit.
          Besides, most people resort to hacking because of penny-pinching, or said in another way: do more with less.

          1. Really, what kind of skill was honed here? Just bit of mechanical design. Not that much was even salvaged here.
            It’s not about money here, poor man can’t waste money on useless stuff. Usually it’s actually more expensive to make stuff yourself.

    1. Hobby is not about buying, its about making things. Otherwise with that logic, there’s no need of buy 3d printer, you can go there wo commercialy prints parts and pay them for printing. Seems legit, huh?

      You can go even upwards with prices and choose any commercial printer in the market. And that’s it, you buy, tweaking you printer, and finaly print something boooring.

      The proof on concept – definetily works. And always you can do better, there’s a plenty of room making things with army or aeronautics grade quality… So, don’t be a D ;)

      1. For me 3D printer is just a tool. I don’t have top shelf printer – just cheap one (less than 1k $ ) but yet it’s useful for my hobbyist purposes. Sorry but I just can’t afford ordering my prints.

        Yes it proves that it works, and such as it’s useless. Next step from this is… your reprap – I would not like to reinvent the wheel :)

        I don’t want to be a D. It’s nicely done: I wouldn’t have patience to do it this way. But I don’t like it presented as “for everybody, cheap and working” because it’s not. It’s a hacker play toy in free time.

        1. “I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ But I’m gonna be ‘that guy'”

          Are you gonna realize where you did wrong or do others have to point it out?

          1. Not being in majority doesn’t mean I’m wrong, does it? I don’t mind that my opinion is unpopular. I accept that you have different point of view too, so maybe instead being “that guy” just tell me what is your point of view.

            Or I misunderstood you and you want to prove me that in fact he have high end caliper, or maybe that it’s actually useful? I would love hard facts. As you probably would like hard fact statement too here is mine “No poor guy can afford tool which can help him in his day to day struggle in life. As such this machine is useless. I admit that this make can prove some mechanical skills.”

            I would love to know how many of people in ave how cheap it is would love to have this printer in their workshop, especially when they are tight on money.

    2. Sure, you might be able to buy something that promises better results, but can you show me some good reviews of that makibox printer. It is their first model, with a new drive system and suffering for it: The makibox has a lot of problems with the mechanism not staying square, resulting in backlash in the extruder movements.

      As for this build: it is wonderful. He did not set out to build the best looking printer, nor one with the best specs. But he designed and built one for a very low price, from the ground up. That is way more laudable effort that pushing some buy button on the interwebs. It tip my hat to that!
      Phlt. as for your contribution: not very impressive.

      1. No I can’t, I’ll even never use that. They are doing it commercially in not much bigger price – that’s what I wanted to point.

        If you are so amazed, why don’t you use it. It would be lovely to see it’s application.
        I actually like my privacy, so how do you know it? Although yes it’s not impressive at all :)

    3. “don’t do DIY projects, because you want to DIY projects, buy a makerbot instead”. Thanks, that’s really quality input there.

    4. It is proof of skills, tenacity at the very least. Buying things off the shelf isn’t proof of any skills compared to this.

    5. please dont suggest the makibox. I am one of the original 150 backers of that project. I have arguably one of the best printing makibox because i have put over 150$ in mods and over 500 hours into printing and making new parts. Everything they made breaks (hot end last sub 50 hours) or is bent (heated stainless steel bed is warped always!) The plastic screw couplers have massive wobble The electronics “were” terrible the new design is better. Please read the forums http://makibox.com/forum/category/7 you can find my posts there trying to help fix their problems and get people printing. TBH buy the da Vinci 1.0 and get new electronics from ebay. a full set of ramps with drivers and mega are about 65$. will be the best printer you have had.

      1. I’m sorry – this was just first cheapest printer I googled out. I’m user plywood reprap cousin armed with fullmetall extruder and teensylu fork.

  5. It’s a VERY GOOD proof of concept, for example in development countries that simply can’t afford to buy (and import!! ) ready to assembly kits, but are full of e-waste laying without any goverment program for recycling. and of course a lot of unemployed people with free time!. For example search for “Nigeria e-waste”, but there are a lot of more nations with the same problem!!

    1. You have truly cut right to the heart of the matter. They could use these printers to give their people access to trendy bottled water!

  6. Worth noting: ‘drive tray’ is a bit of a misnomer. It’s the assembly that the optical head and spindle are a part of, and is vibration isolated from the rest of the drive. The ‘tray’, i.e. what holds the disc, is merely actuated via DC motor, gears, and limit switches…so it has little use for this kind of thing. (Still a lot of neat parts though.) I usually just call it the ‘optical head assembly’ or ‘read head assembly’.

    Whenever I upgrade an optical drive, or a burner starts burning unreliable, I break it down for parts. I’ve got like half a dozen of those assemblies. With a travel of only ~1.5″ you’re pretty limited though.

    Then again, 1.5″ of travel may not seem like much, but take one assembly, and suspend a working bluray drive assembly from it, and I bet you can UV expose 1.5″ square PCBs or something. (Anyone know how to go about driving a bluray laser? I know how to drive the steppers, but repurposing the laser heads is complete sorcery to me.)

    Another source is DealExtreme. They sell optical drive assemblies for game consoles…which is really cool because last I looked you could get the bluray drive assembly from a PS3 for less than $20.

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