I have started work on a 3D printer capable of solidifying on-screen designs into real, touchable, plastic parts. This undertaking started as just a CNC machine, but after some peer pressure from a friend, I decided 3D printing might be an easier/more versatile first step. The electronics between the two would almost be identical anyway. The above picture is the brains of the printer. The design is called the Sanguinololu, and it is based on a specialized Arduino Mega clone with 4 Pololu stepper motor drivers integrated. It started as a bare board and I was able to solder it together without too much trouble. (This was also my first attempt at SMD soldering.) After getting the board working with scavenged stepper motors, I proceeded to work on a nozzle and hot end that will melt plastic filament much like a hot glue gun.
This is my version of the Wildseyed Simple Hot End made from a air tool coupler, a mig welder tip, and a short Teflon rod.
Next up was the heating block. This was just a chunk of aluminum that I machined to screw the nozzle into. There is a wirewound power resistor mounted horizontally in the block that provides heat to the assembly. I have yet to install the 100k thermistor that acts as a thermometer allowing the Sanguinololu to regulate the extruder’s temperature.
I should have much more to show soon!