As 3D printing technology continues to expand, 3D printers are expected to become cheaper and more accessible. But this has not been happening as fast as we want, and even cheaper 3D printers on the market are still too pricey for most of us.
So how about building your own 3D printer? One of the members of DIY online community instructables.com, Matthew Krueger, has recently unveiled the LEGObot 3D printer – a printer made entirely of, you guessed it, LEGO bricks.
Krueger, an engineering student, has been trying to build his own 3D printer for quite a while. After several failed attempts with an Arduino and a parallel port, Krueger turned his attention to his old LEGO bricks.
The result is an NXT powered printer whose design is based on the Cupcake CNC, the original Makerbot printer. The LEGObot looks impressive and it is fully functional, but its only downside is that it prints with hot glue, instead of plastic. The problem with hot glue is that its rubbery consistency does not make it suitable for many practically uses.
Krueger is still working to solve this issue and he had plans to adjust the LEGObot to print with filament. But as with everything else, the engineering student does not plan to buy the filament, but to make it himself, by recycling milk bottles.
Kruger did not spend a single cent when building the homemade 3D printer: he used only the materials he had available and additional parts from friends who already owned 3D printers. The extruder is made of a hot glue gun, so it was a natural decision to use hot glue for printing material.
The only problem that still has to be resolved, aside from the printing material, is the programming. The NXT LEGO system used to power the printer is not very open-source and is not able to correctly interpret g-code so as to translate the commands into layers that the LEGObot printer can understand.
For the time being, the NXT software only allows every move to be manually programmed. Krueger explained that the solution is either to rewrite the entire firmware to work with g-code or to find someone who can develop a g-code interpreter program for NXT.
What do you think of the LEGObot 3D printer? It may not match other 3D printers on the market in terms of quality and abilities, but it’s pretty impressive for a DIY project that didn’t cost a dime. Check this video to see the LEGO machine in action.
[Images via Gizmag]