ATOM 3D, an Egypt-based enterprise, is looking to make 3D printing accessible to all via open source platforms. Particularly targeted toward “Egypt and the Arabic region,” the project is geared toward creating plans for building low-cost, easily understood 3D printers and components.
They’ve just released an Instructables tutorial on how to create your own extruder. Since this is typically the most expensive piece of a 3D printer, a low-cost way to make your own might just be the tipping point if you’ve been thinking of putting together your own 3D printing kit.
ATOM 3D has made its own 3D printer, using some pretty ‘everyday’ materials, most notably plywood. All of the materials used are easily accessible, which really keeps costs down and makes this whole project feasible for almost anyone. They’re also documenting their processes on their YouTube channel.
An extruder, as its name implies, extrudes the melted plastic that will be layered to create the final 3D printed object. In the interest of furthering their open source goals, their Instructables tutorial lays out clearly and understandably how to create the low cost extruder. The tutorial is the result of several prototype iterations as ATOM 3D sorted out the design configuration that would work the best.
The first step to making your own extruder is, of course, collecting the materials. Fortunately, ATOM 3D makes that pretty easy: the materials list has a few very specific items (like a heater cartridge and a small stepper motor), but largely consists of simple things like plywood, nuts, bolts, and aluminum scrap.
Once the materials are collected, the plywood needs to be cut to the right dimensions to house the extruder. Next, ATOM 3D follows the mantra of “show, don’t tell,” and they provide a simple video that demonstrates the assembly of the entire component.
Relying on the video for the full instructions allows a maker to follow along, pause, and rewind at their leisure, and prevents those confusing moments (a few friends of mine call them “IKEA moments”) that can result from unclear illustrations or instructions in other do-it-yourself tutorials. By watching the entire hands-on approach, you can really be sure that you’re doing each step correctly and that your extruder looks like it should.
Check out the video of the tutorial — in less than four minutes you can see a speedy version of the full assembly process — and some more images of ATOM 3D’s 3D printer and the extruder.
Will you try to build an extruder using these plans? How did it go? What did you think of their approach? Let us know what you think! We’d like to hear your thoughts over at the ATOM 3D DIY Extruder forum thread at 3DPB.com.