Building your own DIY 3D printer can be an affordable option to get started 3d printing as well as a learning experience as one gets familiar with the mechanics or the nuts and bolts of a 3D printer. You learn how it works and how to fix it when it breaks. Building a 3d printer is more challenging than buying a completely assembled machine that’s ready to print. In this article, we review the best DIY 3d printers and list some of the options available. Here’s a guide for the list of considerations when planning your 3d printer build.

  • Documentation & Assembly Guides
  • DIY Kits vs Pre-Assembled 3D Printers
  • Self-Source Parts vs DIY Kits
  • Documentation
  • Community
  • Build Volume
  • 3D Printer Kinematics

DIY 3D Printer Build Advantages

DIY 3d printer plans make it easier to get started and are a great option for beginners who want to learn how the mechanics work. The kits usually come with everything you need such as tools, parts, and instructions which take out some of the guesswork when building your printer.

DIY 3D Printer Build Disadvantages

Building a printer can be challenging and time-consuming. There are many things that can go wrong, so it’s important to have some experience with building or repairing electronic devices before starting this project. Also, you may not have all the parts you need, which could lead to delays in printing.

DIY 3D Printer Kits vs Pre-Assembled Printers 

There are pros and cons to each option. If you choose a kit, it’s important to consider how much time you have for assembly, the difficulty level of the project, your budget, versatility options (e.g., build volume or filament types supported), and the quality of the community support.

Complete 3D Printer Kits vs Open Source Build Plans

While many printer designs are available in complete kits some open source designs are currently still self-sourced, meaning that builders will have to source individual 3d printer parts and get it all together which results in complexity as some parts may take long to receive and increases the chance that one might order the wrong part number. With that said, is the price still about the same depending on extruder options print size. 

Self-Source Parts

A common option is to source all your own parts. This can be more affordable, but it takes more time and effort to find compatible parts and can be difficult depending on experience level. The advantage of this approach is that you can customize your printer to fit your needs.

Advantages of Building Your Own 3D Printer

There are several advantages of building your own DIY printer:

  • -You learn how the machine works and can troubleshoot problems on your own.
  • It can be more affordable than buying a pre-assembled printer.
  • You can customize your printer to fit your needs.
  • The community is usually very helpful and supportive.

DIY Printer Build

Challenges In Building Your Own 3D Printer

There are also some disadvantages of building your own printer:

  • It can be more challenging than buying a pre-assembled machine.
  • There’s a higher chance of something going wrong during the build process.
  • You may not have all the parts you need, which could lead to delays in printing.

The best DIY printer for your needs depends on your level of experience, budget, and goals. We hope this article provides some helpful advice for choosing the right printer kit for you. Happy building

Open-Source 3D Printers & Build Plans

Documentation is important when choosing a 3d printer to build or buy and effects overall user experience. Poor documentation can lead to downtime as users assemble or troubleshoot their machine to get it printing. Look for kits or build plans that are well documented and comprehensive for your skill level. Good documentation will also include tips and tricks for getting the best 3d prints, troubleshooting common problems that you may experience.

3D Printer Kits vs Pre-Assembled

When it comes to the Best DIY kit printers, there are many options. The advantages of a pre-assembled machine is that they usually come with some documentation and have been assembled by someone else so you can trust in them being functional machines already. This makes them less complicated than self sourced kits and more appealing to beginners.

Complete 3D Printer Kits

If you’re not comfortable with sourcing your own parts from various suppliers, there are also pre-assembled printers available. These machines come with everything or almost everything to assemble a working machine, including all of the screws and tools needed.

Complete 3d printer kits make it easier to get up and running rather than sourcing all the parts yourself from different suppliers with different shipping dates or quality. It is also a great way of saving money on shipping which can be quite costly when buying small amounts of parts.

The downside of a pre-assembled machine is that they can be more expensive than DIY kits, lack upgradability, and might not have the best quality control.

Self Sourced DIY 3D Printer Plans

When sourcing your own parts for a printer there are a few things you need to take into account: what type of printer do you want to build, what parts do you need and where can you source them from.

The best 3d printer kits give a great range of options depending on performance needs and budget. Beginners can start off with an unassembled diy kit which is less expensive than pre-assembled machines.

Railcore II 300ZL

This is a pre-assembled machine that comes with an excellent build guide and video tutorial. It uses a CoreXY motion system which gives it good print quality and speed. The kit can be sourced from different sellers, or you could buy the fully assembled machine directly from Printed Solid.

Pros & Cons

Each of these kits have their own pros and cons, so it’s important to do your own research before settling on a printer. For example, the Rat Rig V-Core uses a corexy kinematics which is known for its speed and accuracy, but can be more difficult to calibrate.

Original Prusa i MKS+

This kit is based on the popular Original Prusa i MKS printer and comes with an excellent build guide. It’s a great option if you want to get started right away with minimal assembly.

Hypercube EvolutionH.E.V.O.

This kit is a great option for those looking for an upgradeable machine. It comes with a variety of parts that can be swapped out or upgraded as needed.

Voron 2.4

This open source design is great for experienced builders and offers good print quality and speed.

When sourcing your own parts, it’s important to do your research and decide which seller to use and consider shipping rates.

Rat Rig V-Core 3

The Rat Rig V-Core 3 is a great option for those looking for a specific size or options as kits can be configured for specific needs or price. The complete printer kit comes in a range of options with a well documented build guide and instructions. The V-core 3 uses the CoreXY motion system which offers good print quality and speed. The v-core 3 kit can be purchased from the Rat-Rig website, or could be self sourced.

The Evolution of The RepRap Project

Self-Source Parts vs DIY Kits

When sourcing your own parts, there are a few things to take into account: what build volume is needed and type of parts to use which is usually related to how much you’re willing to spend.

There are a range of options for extruders and electronics, so it’s important to decide on the features you need. If you want a machine with high resolution, then you will need more precise parts which can be expensive.

Cantilever Bed vs 3-point Bed Leveling

While many of the original DIY 3d printers used cantilever beds to lift the print bed or build plate constrained POM wheels or smooth rods. The newer 3d printer designs use linear rails and have adopted more functional mechanisms such as belted z-axis, and non-planar 3d printing concepts such as 3-point bed leveling or tilting print beds. Although the simplicity of older Reprap 3d printers were less technical and easier for newbies, the increasing number of options and features can easily be adopted from corexy design platform to another, which has exponentially inspired contributors as they work to identify or fix potential issues or increase overall print volume.

Lead Screw vs Ball Screw vs Belt Drive

Mechanical components and kinematics are critical to the functionality and can compromise speed or quality. Lead screw which is commonly used to drive the z-axis or lift the print bed is known for backlash but backlash can be eliminated using anti backlash nuts or may not be an issue due to gravity. Lead screw pitch and lead is critical for speed and precision. Issues with speed, resonance, artifacts can be a challenge in any 3d printer build but can be reduced by travel speed and acceleration but is compromised with slower travel speed the longer it takes to print an object.

Lead Screw vs Belt

Quality lead screws and ball screws cost much more but cheap lead screws can have tolerance issues. Longer ball screws may wobble at a distance and need support and rigidity. Although backlash is mostly a problem in XY-axis movements while the z-axis is the preloaded weight of the bed and gravity.

Lead Screw Pitch & Required Torque

Lead screws are similar to a gear. When the pitch changes the lead and torque needed to drive the system changes as well. Most 3D printers use 1/16 or 1/32 microstepping but the resolution of 3d printed plastic can only be so precise. Larger motors have more inductance and need more voltage to reach the same RPM. Increasing the step rate for the reduced travel rate of the drive, a higher voltage stepper driver and supply may be needed to reach ideal motor performance. 

Build volume

Build volume refers to the print bed size which dictates the maximum size of 3d printed objects.

Rods vs Linear Rails

Many of the earlier 3d printers were designed around cheaper mechanical parts such as carbon rods or stainless steel smooth rods which were once commonly used and recommended. As the cost of linear rails become cheaper and cheaper due to the economy of scale and increasing number of buyers and large volume production of manufactures and suppliers. 8mm steel rods and linear bearings are slowly being somewhat phased out but still used on cheap kits found on Aliexpress. 

White Knight: DIY Conveyor Belt 3D Printer

The White Knight 3D Printer is a belt printer designed by Carl from NAK3DDesigns. The Unlimited Z-Axis has a large build area for continuous 3d printing.

Best Large DIY 3D Printers 2023

Large scale 3d printers are becoming more accessible to the average user as open-source designs continue to improve. One challenge of large scale 3d printing is bed leveling and layer adhesion Deciding on a large 3d printer to build or buy is a balance between price and reliability. In this section, we review and list the best large scale 3d printers available. 

Large-scale 3d printing is increasing in demand as 3d printing becomes more accessible. Large scale printers allow users to 3d print large objects that would otherwise be constructed from multiple smaller printed objects from smaller machines.

Modix BIG-40

  • Made In Israel
  • Build Volume 400 × 400 × 800 mm
  • Price $5,000

Modix specializes in large format 3D printers that are available in DIY self-assembly kits, which is a much more affordable 3d printer compared to the larger commercial 3d printers on the market.

The Modix BIG-40 is an industrial grade machine that uses a dual-zone heated bed and a PEI print surface with auto bed leveling and an enclosure option.

Raise3D Pro2 Plus

  • Made In US
  • Build Volume 305 × 305 × 605 mm
  • Price $5,999
  • Extruder/Hotend Dual Extruder

Raise3D is known for their high quality 3d printers that are made in the USA. The Pro2 Plus is the latest release which offers the largest build volume compared to their other Raise3D models. 

The Pro2 Plus has a 305 mm x 305 mm x 605 mm build area and reaches temps up to 300°C which allows users to expand their range of materials to print with. 

BigRep – STUDIO G2

Made In Germany

Build Volume 500 × 1000 × 500 mm

Price $60,000

The BigRep STUDIO is a large format 3d printer designed to print engineer grade materials and uses dual extrusion ruby nozzles for abrasive materials. The large machine is equipped with a dual filament chamber with each chamber independent controlled temperature environments and features a touchscreen interface and the BigRep BLADE software.

Piper 2: Piper 3D Printers Made From Conduit Pipe

Piper 2: Piper 3D Printers Made From Conduit Pipe.

Piper 2 by Piper 3D Printers is a open source corexy DIY 3d printer design made from conduit pipe.

see Piper 3D Printers

see Midwest RepRap DIY 3D Printer Festival

Gantry 3D Printer Design – Reducing Moving Mass

Many earlier 3d printers kinematics use the classic “bed-slinger” design that originated from the early Reprap designs. As 3d printer builders and designers gradually pushed the limits of scalability, the classic y-axis traveling bed kinematics became more problematic. Although there are large scale 3d printers that work fine with this mechanical arrangement, they are often using industrial grade hardware such as linear rails and ball screws driven with high end servo motors to maintain print head position at all times, print beds that travel laterally, typically along the Y-axis. 

While a simple and cheap solution for kinematics that works for countless desktop 3D printers, this potentially poses a challenge to a large-format 3D printer in that it’s putting a lot of moving mass on one of the two main axes engaged in travel during printing. A large moving mass consisting of the print bed, the carriage it’s riding on, and the increasing weight of the print being deposited on it means greater inertia to overcome with each direction change in that axis.

The timing belt tightness and the linear guides may be rigid enough to handle the inertia, but the frequent direction changes can leave artifacts such as ghosting on 3d printed objects. Not only this, a print that has poor adhesion to the print bed, moving vigorously back and forth through the Y-axis, can risk the success of the print.

These problems are not an issue for large-format 3D printers which use a static bed setup that is stationary and moving only through the Z-axis layer changes. While the motion system is more complex it can maintain the mechanical advantage compared to “bed-slinging” designs.

Large Scale 3D Printing vs Batch Printing

Large volume 3d printers can be considered as a great solution for batch printing, or alternate to multiple smaller 3d printers. A typical sized object or print job can be arranged and stacked for mass production. However, a print farm can complete a large quantity run or job quicker than a single object 3d printed as a batch of 3d printed objects are spread across a number of machines and can decrease the number of failed prints. Failed prints are isolated to a single machine without affecting the rest or potentially ruining the entire job.

Ryan Carlyle shows his Delta 3D Printer Design at MidWest Reprap Festival