Laminated 3D Printer (from Laser Cut Parts Only)

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Introduction: Laminated 3D Printer (from Laser Cut Parts Only)

About: Avid 3D printer builder, currently completing my 3rd printer design. If you like what you see and maybe even implement what provide, consider supporting my on Patreon.com: https://www.patreon.com/Core3d_tech

When I wanted to build my own first printer, I of course went with the Prusa I3 design. I joined a Makerspace so I could print the components to make it.

Turns out, Makerspace 3D printers are fickle and down an awful lot. So instead of printing a 3D printer I decided to Laser cut my first printer. In effect I’m using the laminate printer method to create an FDM printer.

The embedded video will give you an impression of what components are made up of.

You can download the entire model at: https://grabcad.com/library/laminated-prusa-i3-printer-1

All components can be laser cut using 12x28 inch Acrylic sheet (3mm thick).

In this instructable I will not go into the wiring of the Ramps 1.4 setup. That is covered in the followup instructable Wiring 3D Printer RAMPS 1.4

I've tried to accompany most steps with images in each of the majors steps. If you get lost in the words, look at the images in the sequence their presented.

Step 1: Materials

Throughout the instructable I call out what parts and in what quantities you need them. Here is the entire list of materials that link to their source.

M3 hex socket srew 6mm http://amzn.to/2Ds0F6C

M3 hex socket srew 8mm http://amzn.to/2muGT2y

M3 hex socket srew 10mm http://amzn.to/2Dw1V96

M3 hex socket srew 14mm http://amzn.to/2mtqxqN

M3 hex socket srew 20mm http://amzn.to/2FyTCd8

M3 hex socket srew 25mm http://amzn.to/2Fyr3MR

M4 hex socket srew 10mm http://amzn.to/2AXhKmf

M4 hex socket srew 40mm https://amzn.to/2JmOiv6

5/16 threaded rod http://amzn.to/2CXCo7n(or home depot)

5/16 Nuts http://amzn.to/2EEEMAr(or home depot)

Acrylic from McMaster Car https://www.mcmaster.com/#catalog/123/3632/=1b3zn0... 6 sheets of 12"x24''

SCS8UU Linear Motion Ball Bearing http://amzn.to/2BKukHh

LM8UU Linear Ball Bearing http://amzn.to/2FvqR0S

Bed spring leveling components http://amzn.to/2AZiVlZ

Flexible Shaft Couplings 5mm to 8mm http://amzn.to/2Dw1V96

2-Pack - Linear Motion Rod 8 mm x 406mm Shaft http://amzn.to/2B12hCl

Nema 17 1.7A (5 pack) http://amzn.to/2BsMuRb

Idler http://amzn.to/2Dpv2gB

Gt2 Timing belt pulley 20 teeth http://amzn.to/2FwmTFb

Printer Bed http://amzn.to/2DrCW6B

Torsion springs http://amzn.to/2FAvJBQ

MK8 mount http://amzn.to/2mvz8ct

Mk8 Extruder http://amzn.to/2DxtzST

Gt2 Timing belt http://amzn.to/2DwQbCV

Disclaimer: I am Amazon affiliate. If you do want to support the work I put in these instructables, please purchase parts through these links. I make a few bucks, at most. Thx.

Step 2: Laser Cut the Components

All of the items used as laminates to this printer are using 3mm acrylic, cut out of sheets of 12” x 24” 1/8" thick

I purchased the acrylic from McMaster Car (item 8505K127 at $14.27/sheet)

The design comes with 3 DXF files. You will have to go through whatever steps it takes to setup your Laser Cutter to properly cut. Remember cut small holes prior to the big parts to prevent displacement.

Laser cut each DXF twice to get to the proper amount of layers needed.

It looks like a lot of stuff, but once that laser starts cutting you can sit back, relax and enjoy the light show (Don't look directly at the laser).

Step 3: Assemble Frame

The frame was designed to be 2 layers thick and was cut in half to accommodate the Acrylic sheet of 12”x24”. The two halves are kept together with the smaller pieces.

  • Rectangles on top
  • Bottom items will speak for themselves.

For the connectors use M3 hex socket screws, 20mm and nut

For Laminates only use M3 hex socket screws, 8mm and nut

The supports that hold up the frame consists of 2 laminates each. One side has more holes in it, which can be used optionally to attach the electronics. Pick a side if you choose to do so.

The supports slide into the frame and are connected with screws and nuts that fit in the cross shapes cavities.

Use 20mm screws for the support connectors.

At this point you can also add the 320mm 5/16 screw rod with bolts, although it might need to move back or forth depending on your Y axis.

Step 4: Assemble Y-Axis Rail

The Y-axis represents the bed and frame that moves the bed from back to front. This component contains both laser cut laminates as well as quite a bit of hardware.

  • m3 25mm screw/nut for idler (1x)
  • m3 8mm screw/nut for idler and belt clamp (12x)
  • m3 10mm screw/nut for Name Clamp (4x)
  • m3 6mm for Nema 17 motor (4x)
  • m3 16mm screw/nut to connect Idler brackets and Z-Axis connector (6x)
  • Bed leveling spring components (4x)
  • Linear Rod 406mm (2x)
  • 5/16 threaded rod 440mm (2x)
  • 5/16 nuts (16x)
  • SCS8UU Linear Motion Ball Bearing (3x)
  • Linear Motion Rod 8 mm x 406mm Shaft (2x)
  • Nema 17 Stepper Motor (1x)
  • Gt2 Timing belt pulley 20 teeth (1x)
  • Nema 17 Corner Bracket (1x)
  • Idler (1x)
  • m4 40mm/nuts to connect the belt connectors (2x)
  • bed spring leveling components (4x)
  • m4 10mm screws to connect bed frame to bearings (12x)
  • Printer bed 220mmx220mm (heated or not)
  • GT2 Timing Belt Torsion Spring
  • GT2 Timing Belt

First assemble the front plates by connecting them with the 4 8mm screws (on 4 corners).

Do the same for the back plates and add the Idler bracket with 2 16mm Scews/nuts

Add the smooth rods to the back end

Add screw rods with 4 bolts on each rod that go between the front and back plates

Add the SCS8UU Linear Motion Ball Bearing onto the linear rods

Add Front plates and put bolts on the outside.

Add Idler between the idler brackets with the 25mm screw/nut

Add the Name 17 motor with 4 6mm screws

Add the gt2 20 teeth pulley to the motor shaft and visually line it up with the idler before fastening

Step 5: Assemble Y-Axis Bed

Add the bed frame to the three linear bearings using 12 m4 10mm Also add the 2 m4 40mm screws to the center of the bed frame

Stack the 10 belt connector plates with the two laminates that have the holes for the belt at the bottom.

When attaching the timing belt, run it around the Name 17 wheel and Idler (on the opposite end) and it through the provided holes on the bed connector, from the top with the teeth down. When folding over the teeth should meet each other.

Clamp the the two together with the small clamps with 2 8mm screws and nuts.

When attaching the second end of the belt, add the little clamps but don't tighten them until you've tightened the belt.

Any additional tightening can be done with additional torsion springs.

Once the belt is added you can add the bed on top of the bed frame with the Bed Spring leveling components.

At this point the construction of the Y Axis is completed.

Step 6: Assemble X Axis

The X axis will support the extruder and move from left to right. There is a lot of laminates involved with this axis as each end needs to glide over the Z-axis and support the rods for the X-axis.

The following hardware is needed for the X axis

  • m3 30mm screw/nut for to connect Nema Laminates to Nema Motor and connect Idler end (13x)
  • M4 6mm screws to connect bed Extrusion Bracket to Bearings (6x)
  • Linear Motion Rod 8 mm x 406mm Shaft (2x)
  • Nema 17 Stepper Motor (1x)
  • Gt2 Timing belt pulley 20 teeth (1x)
  • Idler (1x)
  • GT2 Timing Belt Torsion Spring
  • GT2 Timing Belt

  • All metal MK8 bracket

There are two ends to this axis, one I refer to as the Nema End (which will hold a Nema Stepper motor) and the Idler End which only support the Gt2 timing belt and an idler.

The laminates specific to the Nema End can be recognized by the large hole with 4 holes next to them.

The laminates specific to the idler end can be recognized by 5 screw holes and lack of large hole for nema.

Each end fits together like and lock each other in place. Arrange and connect the pieces together as seen in the image. The main body has 9 layers.

  1. Connect the 7 bottom layers first. The square Gap on top will fit the assembles Slider component.
  2. The Slider component has 19 layers. Align the 16 pieces that can fit around the LM8UU bearings.
  3. There is a similar piece with a smaller hole at the bottom that lock in the bearings from the bottom.
  4. On top you first place the piece with the Hexagonal hole (that will fit around a nut)
  5. On top of that the laminate with 2 8 mm holes.
  6. This entire assembly will fit inside the gap of pieces from step 1
  7. Finally cap off the main body with the two remaining big laminates that will lock in the slider piece.
  8. Insert the 4 screws around the Nema hole and connect the Nema.
  9. Insert 2 more screws in the remaining holes to tighten the laminates.

Repeat these steps for the Idler end. Make sure that on top of the first layer you put the actual idler (use something like a tooth pick to keep it in place while you lay on the other layers.

At this point the 3 bearing block can be added to the linear rods and inserted into both End components.

In the case of my build I used an full metal angle bracket to hold a MK8 extruder. Should you choose to use a different type of extruder and or connector the following steps maybe different for your build.

The angle bracket use will connect to three Bearing blocks and is available from AlieExpress

There is a variant on Amazon that connects to only 2 bearing blocks, but is similar in the build.

connect the mount to the bearing blocks and insert two 25mm m3 screws around which the Timing belt is mounted.

When attaching the timing belt, run it around the Name 17 wheel and Idler (on the opposite end) and around the screws extruding in the back of the extruder mount. When folding over the teeth should meet each other.

Clamp the the two together with the small clamps with 2 8mm screws and nuts. When attaching the second end of the belt, add the little clamps but don't tighten them until you've tightened the belt. Any additional tightening can be done with additional torsion springs.

At this point the entire X axis is completed and it can be mounted on the Z-Axis in the next step.

Step 7: Assemble Z Axis (both) and Mount the X Axis.

AT this point the entire frame, the Y Axis and X axis are completed and at this point we can construct both Z-axis on which we mount the X-axis (need completion of this first.

Hardware needed

M3 8mm screws (8x)

M3 25mm screws/nuts (8x)

m3 14mm screws/nuts (4x)

First stack 3 mount fillers and attach the Nema Corner Bracket to the frame (do this for both sides).

Add 2 layers of Nema Brackets on top of the Corner Bracket (slide into gap in frame) attach with 14mm Screw/nut

Attach the Nema Stepper motors with 8 8mm screws

Attach the 5mm to 8mm couplers to the Nema shaft

The next steps will be a bit of a balancing act. You can choose to either:

add the screw rod and linear rods into the X axis assembly and delicately place all 4 rods into their appropriate places

Add the rods into place (won't be sturdy but can hold if careful) and slide on the X axis assembly.

Before adding the X axis assembly add the nuts to each screw rod (somewhere in the middle preferably same height).

Add the Adjustable Z-End stop assembly which consists of 4 lamites that fit over the linear rod

The adjustable component is a 45mm screw, thumb nut and a ball pen spring

Cap the assembly off with the Top laminates that hold all 4 rods into place, attached to the Frame.

The next step will discuss adding the Y Axis assembly

Step 8: Adding the Y Axis Assembly to the 3D Printer

At this point the only thing missing is attaching the completed Y assembly to the Main Printer assembly

Take the Y Axis assembly and place it inside the frame.

Make sure the two bolts on each rod are opened and on each side of the frame.

Lift the Y Axis assembly in on an angle do the extruding screw rods go underneath the screw rod on the frame

Once in place tighten the bolts. Make sure the back plate of the Y axis assembly touches the screw rod in the back of frame.

The final step is to attach the laminate clamps around the Screw bar and onto the Y axis assembly.

All that is left is to attach the MK8/MK7 Extruder and end stops.

Little secret: the endstop are all attached with hot glue. Up and running for 4 years and no issues.

Step 9: Conclusion

So there you have it. My very first printer build all laid out for you to build. This printer has been up and running for some 4 years now and never caused me any issues. It printed the first parts of my Bigger CoreXY printer but still acts as my backup printer.

Following components part of this design were re-used/repurpased from 3rd party designs. Here is the list of used designs:

Nema 17 Corner Bracket: https://grabcad.com/library/nema-17-l-bracket-1

MK7 Extruder: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:39299

Timing Pulley GT2 (20 teeth, 5mm bore): https://grabcad.com/library/timing-pulley-gt2-20-teeth-5mm-bore-2

Micro Switch https://grabcad.com/library/mini-micro-switch-pcb-mount-1

LM8UU: https://grabcad.com/library/lm8uu-linear-bearing-1

SC8uu https://grabcad.com/library/pillowblock-8mm-sc8uu-1

Couplers: https://grabcad.com/library/coupler-5mm-to-8mm-1

If you liked this check out my other instructables or visit my website at https://core3d.tech

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    user

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.

    Tips

    2 Questions

    You mentioned you won't be discussing the wiring, but is there some guidance somewhere available for it? Thank you.

    0

    Do you use an Arduino Mega to control the printer? How do you upload an STL file to it?

    0

    This printer runs on a RAMPS 1.4 with is basically a shield on top of an Arduino Mego.

    You don't however send STL files to a 3D Printer. You take an STL file and run it though what is called a Slicer first. There are several free versions like Slic3r or Cura.

    This software is configured to know what your printer looks like (bed size, number of extruders, heated bed, cooling fan, etc). It takes your STL file and turns it into layers (slices) based on your specifications (like layer height, filament temp, bed temp, infill, print speed, etc). It in turn generates G-code that can either be read by your (or this) printer through an SD card that fits into the LCD unit or you can send it via USB.

    24 Comments

    With all items sourced from Amazon assuming mostly prime (you'd be left with a bunch of screws and some other parts) it adds up to about $420

    Also you'll still need to add controller board and power source.

    Ramps 1.4 kit on amazon $38.99 http://amzn.to/2EVuk7X

    Power supply 12V/30A $17.99 http://amzn.to/2FTmFs6

    If you're patient and willing to order directly from China (via Aliexpress.com) you may be able to do it for half that.

    but you can buy a cheap printer for below £100 from china

    Sure, I wouldn't stop you from doing that. I think this project is something you would do for the fun of the project. Nobody can compete (on price) with the stuff from China. Like I said in a previous reply, make sure you read the reviews, some of them you might want to avoid.

    For only a couple hundred more than the printer in this instructable, you can buy a real Prusa I3 MK2 kit (https://shop.prusa3d.com/en/17-3d-printers) . You can't go wrong with that.

    I think you build a printer like this for the fun of building a printer. If you're just curious or interesting in the printing end of 3D printers you would be better off buying a printer.

    Read the customer reviews closely on some of these very cheap printers, some of these have a dead on arrival rate that is staggering. What you see on Amazon btw is not a Prusa I3, like my printer this is a Prusa I3 Derivative from China.

    Actually working on a wiring instructable now. Hope to publish in the next few days.

    I have some 1/8 inch panels around so if you want to build this printer but don't have a laser cutter at hand, you can buy them from Thingibox at http://store.thingibox.com/en/laser/400-3mm_laminated_3D_printer.html and we will do the cut for free.

    3 replies

    wow, that is excellent pricing

    Do you know of any suppliers in the USA that might be offering a similar deal?

    Sorry, I do not. For me this was a DYI project. The group above does ship internationally but I have no clue how much they charge.

    Core3D, why didn't you design this printer out of 6mm acrylic sheets? Wouldn't this save a lot of screws?

    1 reply

    For the Frame you could use 6mm acrylic (as for the acrylic used in the Y-axis assembly. The Laser cutters I was working with at the time, were giving me a hard time with the 6mm, hence I went with what worked at the time.

    For the X-Axis components you'd be getting into trouble with 6mm sheets, as the 8mm Linear rods are surrounded with 3x 3mm sheets. One 6mm laminate wouldn't be enough, two Laminates (12mm) would be too much. Also the belt (6mm) would have an extremely tight fit using 6mm sheet.

    I don't see why not. Be aware of the thickness of the material. Currently the holes you can "slide" parts into assume a 3mm thick material. If you deviate from that you may have to up/lower the number of slices and maybe adapt some of the cut out cavities.

    There are a few ways to deal w. that. I can undercut slots or re-draw in CAD.

    Absolutely. I'm guessing, carbon fiber would make it look pretty slick. A lot stronger too.

    Wow, thank you. That type of feedback makes it all worth doing and sharing.