Category Archives: 3D Printing

This DIY BB-8 will have you at beep

Just in time for The Force Awakens, one Maker has built his own 3D-printed, remote-controlled BB-8.

Although we’re just days away from the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it’s safe to say that BB-8 has already become the breakout star of the film. Since first laying eyes on the soccer ball-sized droid in the trailer, it has seemingly captured the hearts of everyone — whether a fan or not.


Instead of rushing to stores and purchasing a mini BB-8 of their own, several Makers have opted to build their own cute metallic orange ball with a beeping head. Take software engineer Jean-René Bédard, for example. His version is entirely 3D-printed, hand-painted and powered by a simple ATmega328 based, Arduino-compatible robotic platform.

The Maker designed his BB-8 in SketchUp and then spit him out using two Dremel Idea Builder 3D printers — a process that took roughly 50 hours to completed and called for over 650 feet (200 meters) of PLA filament.

Although it may not roll like the one in the Hollywood flick, Bédard’s bot can balance itself on a pair of wheels and be controlled with a basic RF remote. It is equipped with authentic sounds and several Adafruit LEDs to give it the full effect along with its orange and silver nail polish exterior. What’s more, the beeping BB-8’s head moves via a micro servo actuated by the Arduino.

This project will surely awaken your Maker forces. See for yourself below!


Only a true Maker has a Christmas tree like this

Zach Burhop’s Trinket-powered piece is complete with 3D-printed ornaments and a custom LED star.

Two years later and Zach Burhop’s Christmas tree is still spreading some holiday cheer. Back in 2013, the industrial designer by day and Maker by night may have built one of the most geeked-out decorations of all-time. And with December 25th quickly approaching, we figured what better time to reminisce about the amazing tinyAVR-powered piece — complete with 3D-printed ornaments and a custom LED star.


“I was very disappointed in what you can buy — mostly just classical decorations. I saw the ornaments and had started playing around with the LEDs and thought this would be an awesome mashup,” Burhop explained.

In terms of electronics, the engineer (who happens to be a huge Adafruit fan) had some NeoPixels and Trinkets (ATtiny85) lying around. A two-meter LED strip was driven by the tiny MCU, and ran through the center of the tree, fading out through the branches. Another Trinket was tasked with controlling the 3D-printed tree topper’s animations. He also picked up an AC brick at a local thrift store, which handled all of the necessary power requirements for the 120 or so lights.


What’s more, you’ll notice that Burhop selected a white tree, which proved to be the ideal backdrop for the flickering, addressable RGBs and colorful DIY ornaments. Trust us, you’ve got to see it in action.


This tool lets you create 3D printer filament at home

The Multistruder will turn plastic into filament for your 3D printer.

For most Makers, having to continually purchase 3D printing filament can be quite the expense. But what if, instead of having to purchase spools of PLA and ABS and wait for them to arrive, you could turn raw materials into 3D-printable filament right at home? This is the idea behind one San Jose-based startup’s open source and expandable fabrication tool called the Multistruder


Developed by The Green Engineers, Multistruder is a plastic extruder that transforms either virgin resin pellets or recycled scrap plastic into different shapes that can be used in your 3D printer.

With a little research, creator Steven Mosbrucker discovered that making your own 3D-printable materials from pellets is around 2.2 to 4.3 times less expensive than buying readymade filament. The greater quantities of pellets you buy, the cheaper it gets as well. Not to mention, using scrap plastic such as plastic bottles is totally free!

The Multistruder itself is made entirely out of rigid pipe, and sits upright to optimize space. It comes with a stand that can be mounted to a desk or hung from a wall, depending on a Maker’s preference.


In terms of hardware, the device is based on Arduino Uno (ATmega328) that provides its accuracy and expandability. With an Arduino for its brain, the unit is incredibly user-friendly and can be easily controlled via a TFT color touchscreen. Beyond that, the Multistruder’s drive motor control precisely handles the extrusion speed, capable of achieving speeds up to three feet per minute. Meaning, the tool can extrude a 1kg spool in less than eight hours.

Looking ahead, Mosbrucker and his team are developing an automated spooler expansion module for the Multistruder. This will automatically roll up the filament as it’s extruded onto a standard spool.

“The module will use motors controlled by the Multistruder Arduino board. The speed will be (manually) set to hold constant tension onto the filament to get more consistent filament diameter thus better performance,” Mosbrucker adds.


An additional dimension control module will enable the Multistruder to even detect the diameter of the filament and automatically set the speed of the spooler motor to hold the tension for optimal results.

As its creators explain, “Instead of having a PID controller (which the prototype uses and a lot of other filament makers use) and buying a microcontroller for everything else, why not just have a Arduino do all of it?”

Are you looking to save money and cut out the middleman in the filament supply chain? Then head over to Multistruder’s Kickstarter campaign, where The Green Engineers team is currently seeking $6,000.



Hacking a 3D printer to play air hockey

This DIY project is puckin’ awesome!

As a kid, there was always that one game — besides Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam and Street Fighter, of course — that seemed to captivate everyone’s attention while inside an arcade. Air hockey! Originally invented by a group of Brunswick Billiards engineers back in 1969, the two-player game features a puck, two goals and a frictionless surface.


However, there was always those times when you couldn’t find anyone else around to compete against. Fortunately, Maker Jose Julio recently decided to take it upon himself to alleviate that problem by creating an air hockey-playing robot using some readily available RepRap 3D printer parts, including an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and RAMPS 1.4 board.

Additional key specs included a PS3 camera, NEMA17 stepper motors, motor drivers, belts, bearings and rods, along with some 3D-printed brackets, paddles and pucks, obviously. Meanwhile, the table itself was built from scratch with off-the-shelf wood and two standard 90mm PC fans to produce the necessary air pressure to lift the puck.

Julio used a three-motor design (two for the Y-axis, one for the X), and replaced the X-axis rods on the RepRap with carbon tubes, which seemed to work quite well on PLA-printed bushings and made the system lighter.


“I started studying the code of Marlin (typical RepRap firmware) software but I decided to start from scratch, first because I don’t need a G-code interpreter, and second, because the software of a 3D printer have a motion planning algorithm and this is not the way the Air Hockey robot must work,” the Maker explains. “3D printers plan movements for smooth paths through all the points. The Air Hockey Robot should move inmediately with every new command canceling the previous one, because what we need is that the robot moves as quickly as possible to the new position.”

How the robot works is fairly straightforward. fThe system employs a PS3 camera mounted above the table to monitor the puck, determine its trajectory and stop shots from an opponent. The PS3 Eye is also adjustable, which allows a user to determine the robot’s speed, acceleration and strategy algorithms. (That’s good news for sore losers, you can rig the game to guarantee the win…) This was made possible by connecting the camera to a PC running a vision system that he wrote using OpenCV libraries. This way, once the puck is detected, the location is sent to the Arduino by serial port.


Beyond that, Julio devised a trajectory prediction system and the robot’s air hockey strategy with the Arduino.

“Once we have detected the puck in two consecutive frames we can calculate the trajectory. The trajectory prediction takes into account that the puck can rebound against a side wall. All these calculations are accesible to the strategy subsystem that decides what the robot will do: defense, defense+attack, and preparing for a new attack,” he writes.

Ready to get your game on against your own Air Hockey Robot? You can head over to the Maker’s official page here, while its code, 3D designs and additional documentation can all be found on Github here.

Skriware is a one-click 3D printer for your home

Skriware wants to make 3D printers as ubiquitous in our homes as more conventional 2D printers.

Although 3D printers have become more accessible throughout the years, many of today’s affordable models still require some sort of 3D design expertise or CAD knowledge. Cognizant of this, Daniel Losinski set out to create a machine that was intuitive enough for anyone to use, despite their skill set or age. Specifically, he wanted to build an in-home unit that would stand out in a market full of bulky, complex and expensive printers.


With the help of his Stockholm-based team, Losinki has launched Skriware along with a 3D printing marketplace dubbed Skrimarket. This nifty combination allows Makers to print directly from the online hub with the touch of a button.

“Our goal in designing the Skriware printer was to make it as easy and intuitive as possible. That’s why we brought to life a device that can be used by anyone — from a school kid hooked on the newest game figurines to a grandma who wants to surprise her grandchildren with their favorite superhero-shaped cookies!”


Skriware is a wireless gadget that boasts both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connection, and features a full-color LCD touchscreen with a user-friendly interface, a USB port for seamless transferring of files, and an easily removable magnetic print bed.

Though it was crafted to be both affordable and simple to use, the startup touts that the 3D printer is extremely durable, and provides high-quality results that go toe-to-toe with professional-grade equipment. Moreover, Skriware not only supports standard PLA filaments, but PET-G recycled materials as well. Great news for environmentally-conscious Makers!


What really sets Skriware 3D printer apart is that it can be connected to the Skrimarket. With one click, Makers can 3D print designs directly from the online marketplace. There’s no need to adjust, change or process the file. You just choose the model, hit “print” and you’re all set! Within minutes, an object appears on your desk. And for the more experienced bunch, have no worries — you can also download and edit the files available on the Skrimarket.

Skriware measures 330mm x 345mm x 425mm (13.1” x 13.5”x 16.7”) in size and offers a print area of 150mm x 150mm x 130mm (5.9” x 5.9” 5.1”) with up to 50-micron print layer resolution. Meanwhile, the printhead speeds vary for different sections of the print. Outer perimeters have the lowest print speed of 25-40mm/second, as they are crucial for print quality. Infill is printed with 60-80mm/second and travel speed is up to 150mm/second.


Sound like the 3D printer for you? Head over to Skriware’s Kickstarter campaign, where its crew is currently seeking $50,461. Delivery is slated for April 2016.

Maker creates his own hand crank generator

This 3D-printed, Arduino-based generator is capable of producing 30W of power.

Have you been wondering what to do with your 3D printer for the next 250 hours? If so, you can make this hand crank generator from Norwegian designer Even Erichsen. The generator is capable of producing 30W of power, so even though it looks amazing, it wouldn’t be the right choice for an off-the-grid power supply.


According to Erichsen, his original goal for this project “was to generate electricity to boil water for food and disinfection,” but realized that one “would have to work the generator for quite some time to boil even a small amount of water.”

Taking this one step further, if his 3D printer used around 100W on average, this would mean that it would take about 830 hours, or nearly 35 days, of cranking to generate enough electricity to replicate itself.


When the crank is turned, as seen in the video below, printed gears multiply the rotational speed, spinning 96 neodymium magnets to generate electricity. An Arduino Nano (ATmega328) measures power output via a nicely made circuit board.

The device itself features 60 3D-printed parts, which called for two 3D printers in order to complete the job: an Ultimaker for the bigger parts, a Makerbot Replicator for the smaller ones. The designer says that, “Until I release a set of instructions, consider this a work of art,” and it really is quite nicely finished. You can find more info on this build on its Thingiverse page, or on JUSTPRESSPRINT with a really cool interactive 3D model.

3D printing an Arduino-controlled stepper motor

As a way to help teach others how stepper motors work, this Maker designed one of his own. 

Normal DC motors are fairly easy to use. Connect the propper voltage across the positive and negative leads, and one of these motors should spin. Stepper motors, however, are somewhat more complicated, both in how they are controlled and how they are constructed.


Maker “Proto G” decided to not just learn how to control one of these mechanisms, but actually built one from scratch. To achieve this, he 3D printed a stator (body of the motor) as well as a rotor that he could attach six permanent magnets to. These magnets were then sequnetially pulled by eight electromagnets on the outside, each made out of a nail wrapped with 25 feet of wire. You can see his hand drill wrapping process at around the 1:30 market in the video below.


Control is handled by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), along with some other electronic components, nicely enclosed in a project box. The motor is turned by energizing the electromagnets in a counterclockwise direction to spin the rotor clockwise, and clockwise to spin in the opposite direction. It is capable of 15-degree full steps, as well as 7.5-degree half steps, accomplished by energizing two pairs of coils at the same time.

As linked toward the end of that video, Proto G has made a version 1.1 version of his motor with a NeoPixel LED ring to show which coils are activated. The results are visually quite interesting, though the video also notes that he’s working on a second version!

Interested? You can check out the entire project on its Instructables page here.

The NX1 produces objects 40 times faster than other 3D printers

This incredible fast 3D print creates objects at the speed of one centimeter per minute, without sacrificing quality and accuracy.

Do you feel the need, the need for 3D printing speed? Then one Rome-based startup has quite the thing for you. Nexa3D has unveiled what they call the NX1 3D printer, which boasts printing speeds of up to one centimeter per minute, a rate the company claims is 40 times faster than others on the market and roughly half the price.


Using their patented LSPc (Lubricant Sublayer Photocuring) technology, the NX1 is being billed as the quickest desktop 3D printer to date — a completely standalone device equipped with Wi-Fi access, a native OS and an accompanying app that enables you to print from anywhere.

Powered by four mechanical arms, the NX1 is able to churn out whatever 3D-printed ideas come to mind with ultimate speed — all without sacrificing accuracy and resolution we’ve come to expect from SLA machines. Featuring a sleek unibody frame, the printer combines high quality engineering with an overall experience that’s user-friendly in every way possible. The NX1 offers a build volume of 4.7” x 3.5” x 7.9” (120mm x 90mm x 200mm). Unlike other printers, NX1 doesn’t need screws and bolts either. Instead, the platform is anchored in place with magnets.


Whereas other desktop devices depend on a refill process that involves everything from bottles to gloves, NX1’s unique design employs an integrated resin cartridge system that eliminates any headache-causing refills in the middle of a print job. Simply put your resin cartridge in the slot and the NX1 takes care of the rest. Upon completion, the machine automatically recaptures and reuses any remaining resin left in its tank, making it ready for the next print job without wasting a drop.

“While everybody else was thinking about how to keep users happy as they waited hours and hours for their 3D objects to print, we focused on simply eliminating the wait times in the first place,” its creators explain. “Extreme speed, desktop design, high precision and smart features, make the NX1 different from any other 3D printer.”


Forget about waiting hours upon hours for your high-res object to be finished, the NX1 will have your job done before you can even finish your cup of morning coffee. For instance, a 50mm x 50mm x 50mm cube takes roughly seven and a half minutes, compared to the 250 and 260 minutes of an FDM and SLA printer, respectively.

Ready for a new era of 3D printing? Then head over to NX1’s Kickstarter campaign, where the Nexa3D crew is currently seeking $170,133. Delivery is set for March 2016.

Maker creates his own 3D printer for under $100

Rather than spend thousands of dollars on a 3D printer, this Maker made his own out of a DIY CNC machine and a 3D printing pen.

3D printers have come a long way over the past couple of years. However, even despite their ubiquity, many of these machines are still pretty darn expensive. The more impressive devices can run anywhere from $2,000, while DIY kits can still set you back a couple of hundred dollars. Instead, Tinkernut developed a way to build his own for less than $100.


How, you ask? By hacking a $45 3D printing pen and transforming it into an entire printer. 3D printers are comprised of four basic parts: a bed, filament, a hot end and an extruder. In the video below, Tinkernut elaborates upon his decision-making process as well as the steps that he had taken in bringing the project to life.

For the bed, the Maker employed parts from an old three-axis CNC router that he built out of CD drives, which is connected to a 3D printing pen for the hot end and extruder. According to Tinkernut, the pen made for a better choice than a hot glue gun, especially considering the fact that it already came with built-in extruder functionality.


Tinkernut’s pen featured three standard buttons: thickness, backward extrusion and forward extrusion. He proceeded to tear down the handheld gadget so that he could automate the latter, which would be simulated by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) to turn the system on and off.

Admittedly, the makeshift machine is a bit restricted when it comes to the size and resolution of an object that it can print, but hey, it’s $100! You can follow along with Tinkernut’s exhaustive build here, or simply watch it in action below!

Build your own e-waste 3D printer for $120

As the saying goes: One man’s trash is another Maker’s 3D printer.

Electronic waste (or e-waste for short) is an interesting side-effect of our high-tech world. Sure, your Pentium II computer was still pretty cool after it survived “Y2K,” but by 2010 or so it was probably in a landfill. Making this even more wasteful is the fact that there were probably working motors and mechanical components that could have been salvaged from it. If there were a good way to collect these components, and something they could easily be used on, that might make a dent in e-waste.


Though it might not solve the world’s pollution problems, this 3D printer, made in part with e-waste, at least lets people reuse some of the good parts from old computers. Per this project’s excellent writeup: “By upcycling e-waste such as old DVD drives and PC power supplies, the Curiosity not only costs less than $150, but also educates children and adults about e-waste, environmental issues, recycling and upcycling while learning everything about 3D printing!”


The kit that they have available includes a laser-cut frame and an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) with a RAMPS shield for print control. You, as the end-user, need to supply two DVD drives and a floppy drive, as well as a power supply and tools. I could definitely see this printer being quite a bit of work to build, since you have to “harvest” parts, but coming in at just under $150, their build kit is attractively-priced and should teach you quite a bit about how a 3D printer works.