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Build Your Own 3D Printer from Lego Blocks & EV3 Servo Motors

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Everyone has to start somewhere, they say — and that’s especially true for those in the maker movement. Every maker remembers his or her first build as a monumental achievement, and a viable springboard for them to dive deeper in and hone their skills.lego ev3

Instructables user William (W1ll14m) has just posted his first contribution to the design-sharing site, and it’s a very impressive initial creation. William, who has a penchant for all things robot, maintains a YouTube channel devoted to his Robot Friends.

Really, this design is already his second iteration of his design, as the first “was a prototype and the result wasn’t that great.” I’m glad to see he reworked his homemade 3D printer and is now at a sharing point, as this design clearly has solid potential as he continues to work it further and now has opened it up for feedback from the Instructables community.

This DIY 3D printer is built from Legos, and version 2.0 has a leg up on its predecessor, per William’s description. When he posted a video of the first iteration, he noted that this 3D printer is “easy to build and to program. However, it’s not very precise and won’t print anything useful,” and made sure to point out that it was “still cool though.”y axis

When he set to work a few months after the initial version, William knew the areas he wanted to focus on for improvement. Some of the notable tweaks from the first prototype were creating a racked track for the X and Y axes to enhance printing precision, as well as modifying the extruder for efficiency.

“My first project is this Lego Mindstorms 3D printer. I’ve already built a prototype before this version, but the results were well…mediocre,” William wrote of the project. “This is the 2.0 version. It’s more precise, more efficient and the printed objects are better than in the previous version, although far from perfection.”

While William still isn’t necessarily thrilled with this design, it has certainly already advanced nicely beyond his first motorattempt, and that kind of learning curve can only mean promising future improvements. With comments already pouring in from other like-minded makers on Instructables, William has surely found a good community to help out if he reaches a sticking point in his design process.

In creating the Lego EV3 3D printer, which features a Lego block design and a glue gun for the actual printing, William found most of the materials needed already in his own home, and provides step-by-step instructions so the project can be recreated.

The single most important components that run throughout all steps of the process are the Legos that form most of the track and crane for the 3D printer: “Lots of Lego blocks,” as he simply notes in step three. Among required shapes are blocks, “those Lego cranes” (like those found in certain Lego building kits), plates, gears, pins, gear racks, Lego Technic blocks with holes, and tires. A couple of EV3 servo motors from Lego will also be needed to power the device, one large and one medium.programming

Once the entire structure has been built and assembled, it’s ready for programming. Without going into specifics, William notes that he programmed his Lego 3D printer to create a glue square, and shows his code. The finalized printer also requires a counterweight to ensure proper balance.

Still, he says, “This printer is a lot better than the first one, but it’s far from good enough.” He adds, though, that “Eventually, I might build a 3rd version — at least I hope so.”

This sort of homemade 3D printer really showcases the ingenuity representative of the maker movement. I know I hope that he will continue on with future generations of this 3D printer — I’d love to see what it would be able to create in another generation or two.glue print

The 3D printed glue square is a neat proof-of-concept, but as William noted himself, it isn’t necessarily very useful or precise. It goes a long way in proving that the printer will work as described, though, and especially now that he’s added the design to Instructables, it will be very interesting to see what he can come up with if he incorporates some suggestions from that community.

What do you think about this Lego-based design? Let us know if you’ll try your hand at one over in the 3D Printing Lego Machine forum thread at 3DPB.com. Check out the video below of the Lego EV3 3D printer in action, and some more photos of the design.

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