Tag Archives: RepRap

Rewind: The 12 most impressive DIY 3D printers of 2014

Over the past several months, we’ve seen quite a bit of Makers designing home-brew 3D printers — a trend that has surely emerged throughout open-source RepRap movement. A vast majority of them have been constructed on a shoestring budget, fully-functional and impressive nonetheless. As we round out another year, we’ve decided to take a look back at some of the our favorite DIY designs. With plenty of more making to be done in 2015, we can’t wait to see what’s in store!

Delta Twister 3D Printer


15-year-old Braden had designed a DIY 3D printer with an approximate $400 build of materials (BOM). Aptly named the “Delta Twister,” the machine was powered by an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560), a RAMPS v1.4 board with drivers, and several other notable components.

Ceramic Delta 3D Printer


A Maker by the name of Johnathan Keep has unveiled a new Ceramic Delta 3D Printer powered by an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560). The build, which only cost about $700, is capable of printing a clay medium opposed to the more traditional plastic filament.

Makeblock Constructor I 


Shenzhen-based company Makeblock, known throughout the DIY community for their mechanical parts and electronics modules, recently released a 400-piece DIY 3D printer kit. Inspired by the demands of the RepRap open-source community, the Makeblock Constructor I is powered by an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560).

Ultimaker Original-Inspired ColorFabb XT Printer


Dutch Maker Harold Reedijk is no stranger to tinkering around with his Ultimaker Original 3D printer by adding and replacing various components. In fact, he’s even created his own heated print bed, as well as even more recently replaced the entire hot-end on his Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560) based machine. The Maker used ColorFabb XT filament to construct his 3D printer, which though based on the design of his Ultimaker Original, did include a few modifications such as increasing its print volume to 220 x 220 x 215mm, adding a heated print bed, including an integrated power supply, and using a Ubis ceramic hot-end.

An E-Waste 3D Printer


Can you recall the last time you used your PC’s floppy disc drive? Better question, do any of you young Makers out there even know what a floppy disc is? How about that DVD player, or have your resorted entirely to Netflix? In any case, a Maker by the name of “mikelllc” has transformed electronic waste into an extremely inexpensive 3D printer — all for less than $100.  After downloading Arduino IDE, he used an ATmega644P based RepRap Gen6 to serve as the brains of the makeshift machine; however, he does note that RAMPS (ATmega2560) can also be used to bring the printer to life. The device runs off of free Repetier Host software, while the remaining components were each devised using cheap lasercut materials.

Inkjet 3D Printer


Designed by 22-year-old engineer Yvo de Haas, Plan B is an open-source platform powered by an ATmega 2560. Unlike other 3D printers on the market, this device works just like a desktop printer. The process is similar to the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) process, but instead of using a laser to sinter the material, an inkjet printing head deposits a liquid binder onto a layer of gypsum powder.



Designed by Richard Tegelbeckers, the DeltaTrix is an open-source and fully-hackable 3D printer, powered by RAMPS v1.4 and an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560). A linear delta robot layout providing a mechanically simple motion platform for moving the print head allows for a relatively quick printing speed. Meanwhile, the DeltaTrix boasts as LCD display and a 4GB SD memory card, which can operate on its own and eradicates the need to be attached to a computer.

3&Dbot by PUC-Rio


A team of Makers has created the world’s first autonomous 3D printing robot named 3&Dbot. Tethered to a base with four omni wheels, the entire printer itself can move to and fro in any direction — dependent upon the print data it is fed. After extensive research and development, the group of visionaries at PUC-Rio decided to embed an [Atmel basedArduino board with wireless communication built in to its body. We’d say 3D printing is on quite a roll! Perhaps, the start of a new trend?



A Maker named “aldricnegrier” has designed an Arduino-based BuildersBot machine, which can best be described as a CNC Router that is also capable of 3D printing.



While the Maker community has been using open-source printers for some time now, the 3D printing industry has been primarily focused on producing plastic or metal objects. However, a small team of Barcelona-based Makers have introduced a new digital fabrication tool that aims to knit an entire piece of clothing, like a sweater or even a Where’s Waldo-like beanie cap, in under an hour. Powered by an Arduino Leonardo (ATmega32U4), the prototype platform cost approximately $750 to build and is currently capable of controlling three needles simultaneously.

Pizza-Making 3D Printer


Designed by four undergraduate students from the Imperial College in London, F3D (pronounced “fed”) is the latest food printing research project that has set out to revolutionize the way we prepare our food. The Makers modified existing RepRap 3D printing technology to create a food printer capable of 3D printing and cooking a complete dish. Having chosen to produce a machine with at least three extruders, the students needed to explore various hardware options capable of controlling the printer. They decided upon the Arduino Due (SAM3X8E) based DUET and DUEX4 bundle. As a result, the students were able to develop a pizza-making machine that was capable of 3D printing three different ingredients with three extruders and cooking the entire dish with the halogen oven all for just £1,145.19 (just shy of $2,000). Now, pretty soon everyone can become a chef!



3D-printed chocolate. We repeat, 3D-printed chocolate. Need we say more? As we experienced (and tasted) first-hand back at World Maker Faire 2014, the 3Drag has officially made chocolate on-demand a reality. Modified with a real pastry bag for precision bakery work or a heated syringe, 3Drag is suitable for plotting lettering and lines using any type of chocolate like milk, white and dark. All this, with the advantage to design the object or the pastry directly in computer graphic. Based on an ATmega 2560, the device is fitted a special extruder (which replaces the one typically used for extruding plastic materials) with a very common 60 ml syringe. A NEMA17 stepper motor drives its piston and a heater to maintain the chocolate contained in the syringe at its appropriate temperature.



This robotic experiment recreates evolution

Sure, we’ve seen 3D printing used to manufacture products, extrude chocolate and even create an electric vehicle, but now one 3D-printed robot is helping explore the origins of mankind.


Writing for Wired UKJames Temperton has revealed that a group of University of Glasgow chemists have successfully created the first “synthetic cells” that can evolve outside of biology, simply using a 3D-printed bot and a PlayStation camera — without any human input. The research could one day help us understand how life first appeared billions of years ago.

“Right now, evolution only applies to complex cells with many terabytes of information but the open question is where did the information come from? We have shown that it is possible to evolve very simple chemistries with little information,” Professor Lee Cronin tells Wired UK.


“Creating life from scratch is hard — and we know little about the origin of life before biology — but the use of simple robots is speeding up our understanding. The robot places four droplets of the same chemical composition into a Petri dish and uses the camera to see what happens. This process is repeated over and over again with randomly different compositions of droplets.”

The team employed a robotically-controlled [Atmel based] RepRap 3D printer responsible for carrying out the experiments with synthetic cells, while a PlayStation camera snaps photos for further analysis. The robot extrudes droplets of a chemical composition into a Petri dish and tracks its development.

Each of the droplets behave differently — some divide, some move and some vibrate. They team used its robot to deposit populations of droplets of the same composition, then ranked these populations in order of how closely they fit the criteria of behavior identified by the researchers. Using a special computer algorithm, in true survival of the fittest fashion, the robot selects the “fittest” molecules and carries these into the next experiment.

The droplets consist of four different chemicals: 1-penatol, 1-octanol, diethyl phthalate and either dodecane or octanoic acid, suspended in an alkaline solution. This is extruded over and over and over again, each time with different results. Over the millions of experiments the robot performs, it has already become apparent that the various printed droplets behave differently, and clump together to form different compositions.


“By hacking together this kit we have in effect built a highly sophisticated machine that can fully automate the life cycle of a chemical protocell model. We’ve then used the robot to explore lots of different types of ingredients to try and come up with interesting recipes that show ‘life-like’ behaviors,” Cronin explains.

The initial experiments have proven to be a success in recreating the evolution process during its primordial stage, as the chemically created synthetic cells are seen evolving under the guidance of robotic selection.

“Although we used a robot, this can be viewed as a proxy for a random droplet generator and we can show that statistically, the chances of droplet evolution happening at the origin of life is higher than a complete biological cell just springing into existence,” the professor concludes.

Interested in learning more? You can read the entire Wired UK writeup, or watch the experiment in action below!

Skeleton 3D is a small, portable and affordable RepRap printer

RepRap has debuted a new 3D printer, the Skeleton 3D. This small, simple and super portable printer becomes the latest addition to the growing list of RepRap devices based on Atmel’s megaAVR family.


The conception of the machine came about after a French Maker found transporting his Prusa i3 to be too bulky by bike. Despite its compact 250 x 250 x 250mm size, the Skeleton 3D sure does pack a punch. Powered by an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560) and RAMPS 1.4, the machine features a build envelope of 100 x 100 x 100mm, with a 150mm option for its Z-axis. Meanwhile, it also boasts an inductive sensor for the auto-leveling of its bed, a print speed of 80 mm/second, as well as a minimum resolution of 100 microns.

The Maker notes that although the Skeleton 3D is still a work in progress, the files for its most recent version are now available for download on Thingiverse and GitHub.


The ATmega1284P powered SmartBox 3D printer hits Kickstarter

Arcadia, California startup SmartBox Lab has introduced the latest affordable FFF 3D printer to hit the market, having recently made its Kickstarter debut.


The RepRap-based printer, which features a build envelope of 200 x 200 x 180mm, is equipped with an easy-to-use LCD screen, an SD card slot, an extrusion nozzle measuring 0.4mm in diameter, as well as an integrated aluminum frame. SmartBox’s convenient battery was designed to eradicate any possibility of the printer shutting down during a power outage, meaning no more fretting over losing that project after countless hours of hard work!


“SmartBox 3D printer applies the most stable XYZ structure. Through optimal design, its stability and durability has been strengthened based on its original advantage, and its accuracy has been enhanced by multi-aspect details,” a company rep writes.


An ATmega1284P MCU lies at the heart of the operation, which is controlled by Sprinter, Marlin, and Repetier firmware.

Currently seeking $6,000 on Kickstarter, the SmartBox team has already garnered well over its initial asking goal. Priced at $199 for the kit and $299 for the fully-assembled version, the machines are expected to begin shipping in June 2015. Interested in learning more? Head on over to its official crowdfunding page here.

Young Makers create a self-repairing 3D printer for space

When the Makers of tomorrow explore the deep beyond, they’re going to need self-replicating sidekick robots. Inspired by the recent launch of 3D printers in space, a group of South African students decided to create a new, intergalactic-bound 3D printer aptly named Delta 3. The roving device, which was recently exhibited at the World Robot Olympiad in Russia, could potentially enhance self-sufficiency for astronauts navigating the extraterrestrial domain.


In order to bring their idea to life, a team of young Makers — comprised of Jared Rheeders, Matthew Whyte and Rueben Pretorius — have modded an open-source Delta Arm RepRap printer and a LEGO EV3 controller to produce a moon-walking, low-G printer that can utilize whatever materials it comes across. As 3DPrint.com notes, what makes this 3D printer quite ideal for travel in space, is that many of its components are 3D-printable themselves, making this a truly mobile and self-repairing machine.

“To comply with the demands that astronauts will have to endure in space, our engineers have designed a mobile 3D printer that integrates delta geometry to create structures and parts at very high and accurate standards,” explained team member Matthew Whyte.


After all, the terrain on planets like Mars can be a bit rugged. That’s why the printer, which is aptly named DELTA 3, uses a Lego EV3 controller to navigate the land and find suitable working surfaces. Once a location is found, the EV3 triggers the Arduino Mega (ATmega1280) to facilitate the printing.

“Soon humans will be settling on planets in space, and will have to survive in extreme and harsh conditions,” explained Jared Rheeders. “There will be a minimum of resources available. The future will soon have robots that will create other robots.”


While the DELTA 3 obviously has yet to be tested in space, the team has piloted the machine here on Earth. According to 3DPrint.com, the results have been rather successful for the modified RepRap 3D printer.

Interested in learning more? When you give some Makers an Atmel powered printer and dev board, anything is possible! Watch the video below!



Superman freefalls from space

It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s Superman! While we may have seen record-breaking freefalls from daredevils Felix Baumgartner and most recently, Alan Eustace, none may compare to the latest project from a group of RS DesignSpark engineers which was brought to our attention during Electronica 2014.


Earlier this summer, Mattel launched an Extreme Toys Travel Campaign that took their action figures to exotic and extreme locations all around the globe. Inspired by the latest attempts of falling from the edge of space, the toy company asked RS if they would be able to replicate these jumps with one of its new Superman action figures.

RS teamed up with Rlab, a peer run community hackspace, card modeller Jude Pullen, and high altitude balloonist Dave Akerman, to send Superman to space and back in a custom-built capsule. After a couple of planning sessions, the team comprised of Makers, hackers and engineers went right to work. In early September, the group then got together for a long weekend at RLab to bring it all together and prepare for launch.


The team attached the specially-designed capsule to a weather balloon filled with hydrogen gas, which transported the toy Superman approximately 24 miles into the sky to the edge of space. Once the optimal altitude was achieved, Superman “jumped” from the capsule, safely falling back down to Earth’s surface. During the flight, mission data, HD video and pictures were captured, while both Superman and the capsule itself were tracked throughout the flight using a low power radio link and GPS.

Prior to launch, the group designed a chassis in RS Components’ DesignSpark mechanical tool to house the electronics, which was then 3D-printed using a SAM3X8E Cortex-M3 powered RepRap Pro Ormerod.

photo 1

The capsule featured a Raspberry Pi to capture mission data, as well as a customized Atmel ATxmega128A4U based tracking unit to locate and retrieve Superman. In total, the team had utilized five trackers located on the heroic Superman and his accompanying capsule. Not only did the trackers send GPS positions in real-time, but took and transmitted snapshots back down to the land-dwellers as well.

photo 2

Additionally, the RS DesignSpark innovators selected radio modules (were on the 433 mhz band) and receivers tuned to the frequencies of the trackers on Superman and his capsule. Once the Mattel toy jumped out using a “low-tech ejection mechanism,” the team hopped into their cars and continued to follow along with its signal.


So did he make it? Yes, indeed! It took the embedded Superman just under an hour (50 minutes) to reach the ground — where it coincidentally landed at the end of Hope Lane. (For those who may not know, Superman’s “S” isn’t a letter, but rather the Kryptonian symbol for hope.)

Perhaps you have an extra action figure (or even a Barbie) lying around and interested in creating your own high-altitude tracker. If so, fly on over to RS DesignSpark’s step-by-step breakdown here.

Build your own 3D printer from e-waste for under $100

Can you recall the last time you used your PC’s floppy disc drive? Better question, do any of you young Makers out there even know what a floppy disc is? How about that DVD player, or have your resorted entirely to Netflix? In any case, a Maker by the name of “” has transformed electronic waste into an extremely inexpensive 3D printer — all for less than $100. 


In an attempt to make the community more conscious about the “big problems with the e-waste generation,” Mike began by attaining a pair of DVD disc drives and one floppy drive, which are used to supply the stepper motors for the printer. The Maker then took a PC power supply along with other cables and a soldering iron to create the inner workings of the printer.

After downloading Arduino IDE, he used an ATmega644P based RepRap Gen6 to serve as the brains of the makeshift machine; however, he does note that RAMPS (ATmega2560) can also be used to bring the printer to life. The device runs off of free Repetier Host software, while the remaining components were each devised using cheap lasercut materials.


As far as filament goes, the machine uses 1.75mm bio-plastic filament, which is both easier to extrude and more flexible than the typical 3mm standard. Mike also notes that this size filament also require less power to drive the DIY machine than the 3mm. Aside from being eco-friendly, in comparison to ABS, the selected filament melts at lower temperature, attaches easily to the printing bed and has very little retraction.

As they say, one man’s trash is another Maker’s treasure. Interested in creating your own $60 3D printer using e-waste? You can access a step-by-step tutorial of the build along with all the necessary downloads on its official Instructables page here.

3D-printed prosthetic makes kids feel like Iron Man

While a set of 3D-printed prosthetic Wolverine claws are already available, when it comes to superheroes, how can the Maker community forget Iron Man? That is why Maker Pat Starace has put together a beaming, blinking and beautiful version of Tony Starks’s armor using an Arduino, some LEDs and Bluetooth.


It is widely know that 3D-printed prosthetics are immensely cheaper than professionally-made models, which can often run upwards of $10,000. This 3D-printed option is not only cheaper, but adds some Hollywood flair and self-esteem along the way.

“How can we help a child that faces everyday challenges with a disability? My answer is to give them the most awesome prosthetic hand, and raise their self esteem to Super Hero Levels,” Starace writes. The vision was to create a hand, so that a child can have something that solves a mechanical challenge, is affordable, and mostly looks awesome!”

(Mission accomplished, Pat!)


Unlike the Wolverine hand, which used one of the designs from e-NABLE, this Maker elected to develop his own hand along several principles — it had to look awesome, it had to perform awesome, and it had to hide all the strings (typically visible in other low-cost 3D-printed prosthetic hands), so nothing distracted from its magic.

Starace tells 3DPrint.com that his hand can incorporate microcontrollers, wireless devices, smartwatches, sensors, accelerometers, NFC, RFID, and nearly any form of technology. Did we mention that it can also be voice-controlled?

What inspired the Maker? “My main goal is to help a child that is going through life with a disability, and facing everyday challenges in their lives, by making them the COOLEST KID in their school. I can only think this will make a great impact on a child during their early years by raising their self-esteem to superhero levels,” he says.


One other unique aspect of Starace’s project is that it is constructed entirely from scratch. He didn’t rely on any pre-existing schematics and used MAYA to cobble together his design from a series of pictures he found on the Internet. He notes, “There’s a sort of organic mechanical shape to these parts, the goal was to replicate them as close as I could and retain the same look and feel.”

Though Starace didn’t mention as to which 3D printer he used for his build, based on previous projects, we’re guessing it may have been an Atmel megaAVR or SAM3X8E ARM Cortex-M3 based RepRap. (Pat, are we correct?)

Once converting his form to SolidWorks, he began printing his prop. It took around 48 hours for the model to be completed and upon finishing, the Maker was ecstatic. “It was with great excitement to see the model assembled and perform EXACTLY as I had designed it.”

This is clearly one of the most ingenious 3D-printed designs that we have seen to date and look forward the kind of innovation this hand sparks in the future. Just like Tony Stark’s mind, when it comes to the Makers and Atmel based technologies, the possibilities are seemingly endless!

Print a sweater with the Arduino-powered OpenKnit

While the Maker community has been using Atmel powered 3D printers like RepRap for some time now, the 3D printing industry has been primarily focused on producing plastic or metal objects. However, a new open-source digital fabrication tool has recently emerged that will knit your next sweater in under an hour.

A small team of Barcelona-based Makers led by Gerard Rubio hopes to shake up the status quo with their Arduino Leonardo-powered (ATmega32U4) OpenKnit, an open source “printer” that automatically knits thread to create clothing based on digital templates.

The prototype platform — which costs approximately $750 to build — is currently capable of controlling three needles simultaneously.

On the software side, Mar Canet and Varvara Guljajeva have coded a companion program dubbed Knitic that can be used to design clothes. The duo reportedly used their experience from hacking old electronic knitting machines to create a user-friendly program for OpenKnit.

 The team has also put together “Do-Knit-Yourself,” which can probably best be described as a virtual wardrobe (think Thingiverse) where individuals and companies can share their designs.

Rubio, whose projects like “The Wearable Fashion Orchestra” we have featured previously on Bits & Pieces, says the design was inspired by the highly-popular RepRap printer. In addition, the Maker has shared a step-by-step breakdown of how the loom works in the video below.

According to Dezeen, which interviewed Rubio recently, human intervention is still necessary to place the weights which keep the clothes stable while they are being knitted. In the future, Rubio hopes to make the machine fully automated, and has already made a portable reiteration of the device co-developed with Maker Cees Jan Stam. Dubbed “Wally 120,” the Atmel based project can produce a Where’s Waldo? inspired beanie cap.

Interested in learning more about the OpenKnit printer? You can check out the project’s official page here and its GitHub files here.

Makeblock Constructor is a 400-piece DIY 3D printer

Shenzhen-based company Makeblock, known throughout the DIY community for their mechanical parts and electronics modules, recently released a 400-piece DIY 3D printer kit. Inspired by the demands of the RepRap open-source community, the Makeblock Constructor I is powered by an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560) microcontroller.


As Makers, many of us are familiar with piecing together 3D printers from kit form; however, maybe not a kit consisting of no less than 400 parts. Aside from the Makeblock machine serving as affordable alternative to other Atmel powered 3D printers, the detailed assembly of the printer offers Makers with DIY education along the way and a sense of accomplishment upon completion.

Once assembled, the printer itself is quite a powerful device featuring an all-aluminium chassis, mounting brackets and various fixtures. It also employs standard 1.75mm PLA filament for builds, and a majority of free 3D printing software suites can be employed for spooling the models to be printed.


According to Makeblock, the kit is quite versatile. “No matter if you are designers, engineers, educators or inventors, you can always bring your ideas to life by printing out objects,” its team shares.

Some of the key specifications include:

  • Chassis material: Anodized aluminium
  • Dimensions: 324x312x400mm
  • Build volume: 125x165x120mm
  • Extruder: up to 250°C (482°F) with 0.4mm nozzle
  • Horizontal (XY) resolution: 0.1mm
  • Layer (Z) resolution: 0.1-0.3mm
  • Print material: 1.75mm PLA filament
  • Platform: not heated
  • Printing speed: 40mm/s nominal, up to 100mm/s
  • Actuators: 4 42BYG stepper motors
  • Control electronics: Arduino Mega 2560 compatible board, RAMPS 1.4 motor drivers, RepRap smart controller with LCD
  • Firmware: Marlin (wikiGitHub)
  • Supported file format: STL
  • Software: Slic3rPrintrunCuraKisslicerMatterControlSkeinforge
  • Connectivity: USB, SD card
  • Power requirements: 12VDC/10A, 110-240VAC power adapter include

Interested in learning more? You can check out the Makeblock Constructor I’s official page here.