Ever since helping UNK’s Art & Art History department acquire a Makerbot Replicator at the end of last summer, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with the technology behind it all and the community that makes it happen. It turns out that one of the most common DIY 3D printers, the Prusa Mendel, can be built for ~$400 if you’re willing to do quite a bit of legwork to figure out how.
The Prusa Mendel has three essential groups of components:
- Printed parts that create the form of the printer.
- Hardware such as threaded rods, nuts, washers and so on (called “vitamins”).
- Electronic components such as stepper motors and a circuit board to control them all.
For this post, I’ve tackled the first group and created a small stack of printed parts to build with.
Printed parts for the Prusa Mendel
One of the neat things about the Prusa Mendel is that every part of the printer is open-source and open to improvement. As a result, the design is constantly evolving as users test out designs and make suggestions and improvements themselves. However, a pervasive lack of consistent overall documentation means that many of these upgrades are hard to find and difficult to understand for beginners.
I’ve chosen to include two improvements for my Prusa Mendel build because they seemed so much better than the original parts:
- Quick Fit X-Carriage: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:19590
- Improved X Ends: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:18384
I printed most of the parts with 40% infill, 1 shell and 0.2mm layer height using UNK’s Makerbot Replicator in white ABS. The Quick Fit X Carriage parts were printed in “Helsinki Blue” ABS filament, and the extruder parts were printed in “Safety Orange”.
Next up, I’ll be ordering the hardware (vitamins) and stepper motors so I can assemble the main structure of the machine.