3D printers are becoming cheaper by the day, but the relatively high prices still keep the technology out of the hands of aspiring engineers. So, what's an engineering student to do? Build one out of an old LEGO set, of course.
Matthew Krueger, an engineering student, took to Instructables to show off his new 3D printer made almost completely out of LEGO. Here's how he did it:
This is a project I have been working on for the past year, it prints in hot glue and made almost completely out of legos. Based roughly on the first version of the makerbot, while it does print, I would call this more of a prototype than a finished project. I am using 4 power supplies (3v extruder, 7.2v for nxt, 12v fan, and 115 for hot glue gun) and having to manually turn the extruder on and off, (although i am working on that one) . Unfortunately, due to my lack of computer programming skills, every move has to be manually programmed from the NXT programming software, I have yet to find a g-code interpreter for the NXT.
He says that he wants to continue working on this project, and improve the overall build. Part of that will be to shorten the height of the platform and reduce the wobble caused by some gear racks that don't exactly play well with LEGO parts. He also wants to experiment in using wax and heat-melting resins as he finds hot glue to be somewhat unsatisfactory.
Even with its flaws, a LEGO 3D printer is still incredibly cool. It might not have all the features of even the first open source Makerbot, but it's still leagues above and beyond what most people can build. It's this kind of innovation that makes the future of 3D printing and open source projects so exciting.
You can see the LEGO 3D printer in action below:
It should be noted that Krueger's 3D printer isn't the first to be made completely out of LEGO. Earlier this year, Marios Papachristou, a high school student in Greece, began work on an open source 3D printer that anybody could build with the right LEGO parts.[h/t: 3ders]