3D Printing Pen and CNC Machine Yields Cheap 3D Printer

3D printers are ubiquitous now, but they’re still prohibitively expensive for some people. Some printers cost thousands, but even more inexpensive options aren’t exactly cheap. [Daniel] decided that this was unacceptable, and set out to make a basic 3D printer for under $100 by including only the bare essentials needed for creating anything out of melted plastic.

3D printers are essentially four parts: a bed, filament, and a hot end and extruder. In a previous project, [Daniel] used parts from old CD drives to create a three-axis CNC machine which he uses for the bed. To take care of the hot end and extruder, he is using a 3D printing pen which he mounts to the CNC machine and voila: a 3D printer!

It’s not quite as simple as just strapping a 3D printing pen to a CNC machine, though. The pen and the CNC machine have to communicate with each other so that the pen knows when to place filament and the CNC machine knows when to move. For that, [Daniel] went with a trusty Arduino in order to switch the pen on and off. Once it’s working, it’s time to start printing!

[Daniel] does note that this is a design that’s relatively limited in terms of print size and resolution, but for the price it can’t be beat. If you’re interested in getting started with 3D printing, a setup like this would be perfect. 3D pens are a pretty new idea too, and it’s interesting to see them used in different ways like this.

18 thoughts on “3D Printing Pen and CNC Machine Yields Cheap 3D Printer

  1. I’m glad people are constantly lowering costs for 3d printers.
    My friends recently all pitched in for a 3d printer.

    But I decided that building my own would be best.
    As I can imagine that after 5 guys have screwed around with it and it becomes my turn… pfft that’s just lame.

    So yeah I have like 7 normal dvd drives lying here and 4 laptop drives.
    This has given me some motivation to strip them find a good extruder pen and build one perhaps write a script to do corrections, calibration, ect.

    1. Despite what people are throwing together these days with junk parts, not sticking with tried and true hardware will cost you lots of time. By all means, if you really feel you should hack together a 3D printer using dvd drives, go crazy. But it will drive you crazy.

      3D printer kits are getting very cheap if you elect to build it yourself. Many kits come with parts that need to be cut down which increases the immersion in what you are doing. But at least you are getting pieces known to work well.

  2. I love DIY projects with recycled and repurposed parts, but consumer 3D printers are getting incredibly cheap. I was at the Barnes & Noble mini maker fair this weekend and I saw a demo of the XYZ Printing Da Vinci Jr. With a 5.9″ cubed build space and .1mm resolution, it’s a decent machine. It retails for $350! It’s a plug and play unit with no calibration required. The one draw back is that it uses proprietary filament cartridges, but at around $27 for 600 grams, it’s not too outrageous. They claim that the proprietary cartridge is to insure reliable printing without having to make adjustments when you change materials. Maybe. I’m no expert, but I was impressed with the print quality. I’d never spend $2,000 on a 3D printer, but $350 is totally doable. HaD should get one for review.

    1. That’s very impressive! Maybe Xmas after next, if I get my family to chip in together, and I put some money (probably most of it) in myself, it might be a bit cheaper then.

      I would imagine you could break the DRM on any 3D printer if you swap the control board out. It’s the motors and mechanical bits that are difficult, you can run a 3D printer from an Arduino. There’s a hack, if you want one.

      1. You can hack them rather easily. If you search around there’s arduino setups that will re-flash an empty cartridge so you can use your own filament while the machine thinks it has a new cartridge in it.

        1. Good-o! Still my point was, that as long as the electronics are cheap and easy to replace, it’s always going to be possible to do. The Arduino hack you mention MIGHT be stopped by a company using a better scheme.

    2. Re: the hack: very nice repstrap.

      Re: DaVinci Jr.:
      TLDR: Good luck. ;)

      I sure hope their quality or tech support have improved. As an owner of the original DaVinci, I found it was like pulling teeth to get even simple information from them. It didn’t help that that they would only answer the phone to tell you in broken English to e-mail them, and that e-mails generated unintelligible or unrelated responses.
      I realize this is HaD, but hacking something that should have worked out of the box when the vendor won’t support it is…frustrating.

      Two of the issues I tried to work with them:

      Q: “What is your factory method for aligning belts?” (mine arrived with them loose, and the X gantry crooked)
      A: “Shove it all the way to the end?”
      For the record, there was no *correct* option. I could have it either crooked one way, or the other. A “carefully pre-tested” replacement printer (after much arguing about who paid to ship an essentially DOA product) had the exact same problem.

      Q: “What does this error message mean?”
      A: *sound of crickets* “We’ll have to get back to you.”
      Spoiler alert: they never did.
      Actual A: Broken hot end heater wires with intermittent connection.

        1. And the pens are junk. There is no control over relative or absolute extrusion. It’s just a DC motor pushing out hot plastic when you hit the button. It’s one of the dumbest idea ever and people went bananas over them. The concept is neat but the final result when you try extruding plastic in an uncontrollable fashion makes a mess. It looks like a cat held down the mouse button on the canvas in Microsoft paint.

          1. I never understood why no one did an airbrush-like trigger. I had hatched plans to build one, bought a bunch of parts then pretty much lost interest as it was only distracting me from other projects I’d rather do.

  3. I am impressed. All the “3D printing pens” I’ve looked at are basically one or two forward speeds and reverse, so it really puts strong constraints on the machine in order to build a part. I think a better extruder could easily be built in less than the price of that pen.

  4. Nice to see this – I’ve been thinking of making a print head attachment for my commercial CNC mill – have the print head fit in a collet – I would get a 18″x36″ build table, 0.0001″ accuracy and 3 axis interpolation!

  5. There is a great youtube video about salvaging the stepper motors and rails from old drives.. Out of my huge stash of parts I have 3 CD rom drives , 3 – 3.5″ floppy drives and One printer rail with a stepper motor.. Perfect for making a few platforms , (the printer rail with 11″ travel and a CD-rom rail with 4″ travel plus a Laser diode would be perfect for lots of things… Or put 3 axis together for a pen plotter , 3d printer,dremel mill etc..

    I just need help with the Audrino, Grubber, and a laser diode capable of paper craft, thin Styrofoam, maybe balsa if I have enough power, PCB etching is possible.. Yeah Id much rather have a cheap, simple 2D laser cutter then a 3d Printer.

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