March 14, 2014

What It's Like to Build a 3D Printer

Most 3d printers are still hand assembled. The hands might belong to factory workers, or oftentimes, they belong to the end user. Most 3d printer companies sells kits that you then assemble. I’ve actually never done this before, so I found this video quite amusing. It’s a timelaspe of a 30 hour printer assembly project. From unboxing to first print.

In my experience, many of the problems that people run across stem from this manual assembly process. Manual assembly leads to more room for error—a slightly off potentiometer, a wiggly thermistor registering inaccurate temperature readings, axis belts not taught. Those are just some of few issues that I’ve personally ran across.

I am not a “hardware person,” so I don’t know how far we are from having 3d printers assembled by machines (more appropriate, no?), with soldered or enclosed parts that don’t wiggle out of place. Of course, it also means the end machine is less hackable, which means the standard of quality has to be magnitudes higher. There is nothing more frustrating than working with a broken machine that I can’t tweak.