An e-Waste 3D Printer for Every Child?

The lofty goal of making sure every school kid has access to a laptop has yet to be reached when along comes an effort to put a 3D printer in the hands of every kid. And not just any printer – a printer the kid builds from a cheap kit of parts and a little e-waste.

The design of the Curiosity printer is pretty simple, and bears a strong resemblance to an earlier e-waste 3D printer we covered back in December. This one has a laser-cut MDF frame rather than acrylic, but the guts are very similar – up-cycled DVD drives for the X- and Z-axes, and a floppy drive for the Y-axis. A NEMA 17 frame stepper motor provides the oomph needed to drive the filament into an off-the-shelf hot end, and an Arduino runs the show. The instructions for assembly are very clear and easy to follow, although we suspect that variability in the sizes of DVD and floppy drives could require a little improvisation at assembly time. But since the assembly of the printer is intended to be as educational as its use, throwing a little variability into the mix is probably a good idea.

The complete kit, less only the e-waste drives and power supply, is currently selling for $149USD. That’s not exactly free, but it’s probably within range of being funded by a few bake sales. Even with the tiny print volume, this effort could get some kids into 3D printers early in their school career.


E-Waste Printer Looks Nice, Prints Really, Really Small

Prices of 3D Printers have certainly been falling quite a bit over the last few years. Even so, it is still, at a minimum, a few hundred dollars to get going in the hobby. [mikelllc] thought it would be a fun challenge to see if he can build a functional 3D printer for under $100.

To stay under his budget, [mikelllc] took a reasonable route and decided to use as many recycled parts as he could. In every DVD and floppy drive, there is a stepper motor, lead screw and carriage that is used to move the read/write head of the drive. These assemblies will be used to drive the 3 axes of the printer. Two DVD drives and one floppy drive were dissembled to access the needed components.

e-waste small 3d printerLuckily [mikelllc] has access to a laser cutter. He made the frame from 5mm acrylic sheet stock. All of the pieces have slots and tabs to ease assembly and keep everything straight and square. The motors and frames from the DVD and floppy drives are mounted to the acrylic frame pieces in strategically pre-planned holes. The Y axis is responsible for moving the print bed back and forth. It is mounted on screws so that it can be adjusted to ensure a level bed.

A little DVD drive stepper motor just isn’t powerful enough to be used as an extruder motor so a standard NEMA17 motor was purchased for this task. The motor is part of a MK7/MK8 style direct drive extruder that is made from mostly 3D printed parts. The extruder is mounted on the frame and a bowden tube guides the filament to the hot end mounted to the printer’s moving carriage. Remotely mounting the extruder motor keeps it’s mass off of the axes, which in this case may be too heavy for the small, scavenged drive stepper motors.

The electronics are standard RepRap type and the same with for the hotend. The recycled motors work well with the RepRap electronics. After all that hard work, the printable area is a mere 37mm x 37mm x 18mm, but that’s not the point of this project! [mikelllc] met his goal of building a super cheap printer from recycled parts. He has also made the extruder and laser cut frame files available for download so anyone can follow in his footsteps. If you’re digging this e-waste 3D Printer but want a larger print volume, check out this printer.


3D Printer Made from E-waste in Africa

We throw away millions of tons of e-waste every year and barely manage to recycle more than 15-20%. [Kodjo Afate Gnikou] is a 33-year old African who has just finished off a 3D printer built almost entirely out of e-waste.

He started the project months ago on Ulule, a European crowdfunding site, and had raised more than €4,000 to develop the idea. It was designed and built in WoeLab, which is the first hackerspace in western Africa. The printer is based on the classic Prusa Mendel, which they had available in the hackerspace.

The goal of the project was to create a 3D printer that is very easy to reproduce using a majority of recycled components. In the end, they succeeded and it only cost $100 to manufacture — while it doesn’t say what the purchased components are, it’s safe to assume they would have to be the main driver boards — everything else could have been made from scraps.

His vision in the future is to send e-waste to Mars to create homes for future inhabitants — far fetched? Maybe. But he did get into the NASA International Space Apps Challenge!

See it all explained in the video after the break.

Continue reading “3D Printer Made from E-waste in Africa”