$65 3D printer made from recycled electronic waste

by sschm9 Mar 20, 2016
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Hello Simon,

I am currently looking to build your design and really excited about it!
Have you made any changes from the explanation you give here that I have to take into account before starting?

Thanks for the heads up!

awesome design congratz! half way printed :) in "Glow in the Dark" colored PLA. I will post pictures once I am done.
Have you made any change on the design since it was posted?

Or do you maybe have a M8 version of the X motor? Only now after print I realized it was M6 instead

If you are following their designs you may notice certain stages have been skipped (at least there aren't any videos showing how they were put together). Also the printer in the "complete" video walkthrough has some changed features (not least of all is the tension cables).
I'm still fine tuning my build of this and it has been great... but there are areas that can be improved. Keen to see how your glow in the dark version goes.

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Just so you know, those cheap RAMPS boards have issues. Their polyfuses can false-trip, the MOSFETs often don't fully turn on (thus making them produce more heat because their internal resistance is higher than wanted) and the power connectors and traces are not rated to take the full amount of current they claim to take.

You can easily deal with those by replacing the poly's with auto blade fuses, replacing the FETs with sturdier logic-level components, and replacing the power connectors with 35A anderson plugs on thick wire, but this will add to the cost. Just be aware that the board as-is presents a fire risk. Lots of cases of peoples heated beds causing the power connectors to melt and catch fire.

Thanks for the heads, up, we have also seen most of these issues, we solder a 75A logic level FET in parallel with the onboard heat bed FET and are looking to replace the power connector with a MT60 (have had many power connector burn out issues already)

Ah very good. Yeah printers like the Anet A8 have the power connector problem causing fires among other things.

I think you guys are local to me. You're in the Logan area, yeah?

Yes, Substation 33 on Mary Street Kingston, come in and say hello some time

Hi Simon,

I would like to start with 3D printing and found this guide.
Is it feasible to build this from scratch with very limited knowledge of 3D printing?

I see there are a lot of 3d printed objects that are needed for the construction. Sadly I don't have a 3D printer yet, do you know which price I can expect to pay to print these object with a 3D printing service?

You mention "Office Printers" to get the steel rods and motors, are this commercial home printers (all-in-one) or will I only find it in large office printers?

Just curious, I saw that on your video #1, you had a template you laid out to drill the base plate. Would you happen to be willing to share that template? I'm looking at building another huge 3D printer and really liked what you built and would like to build the exact same one.

We make copies of the template and give them out with the kits we sell to the high schools here in Brisbane Australia (may be a little costly shipping them internationally), if you want to make your own the template is in the file section "Sub33D_v2.07_Drill_Template.pdf".

The huge printer is still a work in progress, upgrading the extruder next to dual stack 320W (extremely high flow rate) for 4 x faster printing speeds.

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Has the X Motor Mount changed in relation to the instructions? Piece looks completely different from what is shown

Yes, the part was updated to version 2.07 (stronger more stable etc), the old one will still work if you have already printed it

For anyone interested in building this I found that older 4:3 aspect ratio 19" monitors have the diffusion plates that can be cut in half for two of the three pieces. The one I used was a broken Dell E196fp

The part is 12" X 15" or 304.8mm X 381mm, and it was 8mm in width
I have another piece from a 19" widescreen that is thinner at 6mm, dimensions were 16 1/2" (419.1mm) X 10 3/8" (260.35mm)


I am having an issue printing the small herringbone gear. At 150 microns, it will not print the wall in between the rectangular slot and the circular slot, located at the top of the gear. Any suggestions?



I think there is no wall between them, the M3 nut should sit directly against the motor shaft (increases strength of outer wall, where the strength is required)

Hi I have a question about the z rod. it says 6mm zinc rod in your instructions, i cant find the leadscrew nut for a 6mm. Can I use 8mm? thanks


An 8mm leadscrew and nut would not fit in the existing printed parts, If you are in the US you could substitute the 6mm with a 1/4" rod and nut.

I see in your description you said you were selling these kits to high schools. Is this a kit I can order from you as well then?

Hi, unfortunately we only have a very limited number of kits available and can only supply the high schools at present, although we are working hard towards increasing our kit production to meet demand.



Hi - Ordered the components from Ali Express but for the hotend they asked me some questions:

1.could you please tell us which filament you want,1.75mm or 3.0mm
2.we have 0.3mm, 0.4mm 0.5mm,3 siezs,could you please tell us what size the nozzle you want?
3.and also could you tell us which one you need, long distance feeder or short distance feeder?

From your description I assume filament size is 1.75mm and you also said short distance feeder. What about the nozzle size? Which would you recommend?


Hi dobbers

We usually use the 3mm filament but you can also use the 1.75mm filament (the 1.75mm filament works better for smaller nozzles, e.g. 0.3 and 0.4mm)
We usually use the 0.5mm nozzle/3mm filament for faster larger part printing (less detail)
The extruder we use uses the short distance feeder (the long distance one is for Bowden type extruders)

If you intend to print small high detail parts you would be better off using 0.3 or 0.4mm nozzle and 1.75mm filament, you would also need to use the i3R_Compact_E3Dv6_Extruder_1.75mm part instead of the _3mm version


Hi Simon
Thanks for the update - I went with the 0.4mm nozzle and I'll make a note to get the i3R_Compact_E3Dv6_Extruder_1.75mm part when I come to get the printed parts made. Not been involved with 3D printing before but excited to see how it goes.


Hi Simon,
I got the z-axis motor mounts printed using a local 3d print hub. I noticed that when they arrived they were slightly too large for the motors I bought from a supplier. The motors measure 41mm square but the internal dimension of the motor mounts are 44mm on the ones I had printed - not a big problem as I can make some padding out of scrap metal. What do you use to design the parts and does it have the ability to measure dimensions so you can check before ordering a print what size they will be?


Hi Dave

We try to mount the motors using rubber where possible (usually old bike inner tubes) to stop vibration and noise, there should be a 1-2mm gap for the rubber strip (checkout the last few new videos on the playlist where we mount the z-motors)
We use Sketchup to design the printers, the complete model should be in the download, it has a measurement function if you need to check things out or make changes etc.


Thanks Simon - most useful.

This looks like a cool project to do. I am wondering if any on can answer these questions.
1) Based on building 1, what size and how many lcd monitors should I be looking for?
2) Again based on 1, what type of printers should I be looking for, laser, inkjet?
Thanks for any help and good job on the videos.

Hi rpayne

Thanks for your comments and questions

1) The old fluro LCD's have the perspex plates in them , the newer LED LCD's mostly have thinner plastic sheets, the size is not important (we usually use three small monitors worth of plates for one printer, but you could cut them in half and have a reduced z height etc), you can also use a different 8mm material e.g. MDF, plywood etc

2) The printers we recover most of the steppers from are larger office multi-function devices (nema17 and 23's), best to visit an e-waste recycler in your area, I have checked out some in the LA area which seem similar to us, (most who sell refurbished computers and components should be able to help)


Hello and thanks for answering my questions. I hope all is well in Brisbane. I'm going to start looking around for actual e-waste recycler in may area. I'm near SF and we mostly just have pick-up stations in my area. Pick-up stations typically won't let you take things. I haven't thought about the checking with people who sell refurbished stuff. Come to think of it I do go to a 2nd hand warehouse that sells electronics and does sell old computer parts. Hmmm.

In the videos, a template was mentioned. Is it possible to get a list of the hole dimensions? I am keeping an eye out for neighbors who may be remodeling kitchens for the base board. Thanks again for any and all of your help.

Hi again, still summer weather here in Brisbane (it's close to winter :-), I would be very interested to hear how you go with your e-waste quest in San Francisco, I will create a drilling guide shorty and will upload it (will let you know when it's done), have been waiting for someone to ask for one :-)

Hello, I'll keep you posted on how my quest goes... While my Dad liked to go to the pick-n-pull for auto parts, I hope some one has something similar out here for electronics. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a law against e-waste salvaging here in California due to chemicals that can be found in the parts. I've called a couple of places and am just waiting to hear back from them.

Happy to be the first on asking about the drilling template. I was looking at the pdf files for the materials, nice job. I feel real confident I can build the printer. No sure about programming, since I don't have much experience with coding. Thanks again. :)

Thanks for that, I would be more than happy to help you with your build where I can and answer any of your questions and issues etc. I have uploaded "sub33d-v2.xx sample marlin firmware.zip" which you can use to get the printer running, there are heaps of great youtube videos on how to install the firmware onto the ATMega2560, Good luck with the e-waste hunting

Thanks for firmware upload. I've a little news on the e-waste hunt. The surplus warehouse I like to go to for office supplies and odd stuff will set aside things I request from their e-waste recycling. They will charge a small fee for recouping lost revenue and said not to breakdown the items on the premises. For monitors its around $5, USD, which I can live with. The printer parts may be a problem. They'll set it aside too, but they did ask for a make and model type. You mentioned the large multi function printers and I am assuming you meant the photo copier that scans, prints, sorts and staples? Is there a particular brand you pull the parts out of or would any MFC be fine? My main problem would be getting the MFC back to my home... err... correction... more like my wife letting me bring one or two MFC's back home... :)

I have created and uploaded the drill guide "Sub33D_v2.07_Drill_Template.pdf" in metric. I would still recommend finding a recycler who dismantle's the e-waste, as it could be very hit and miss with the monitors and MFC printers (the old fluro LED monitors can have 6 or 8mm plates, the MFC's often have DC servo's, some have no nema steppers while others have many), I can have a look in the SF area for some recyclers to suggest if you like? (would definitely not recommend dismantling at home ;-)

Thanks for the drill template, downloaded it and will look at over the weekend. I'll keep looking around to see what I find. I have a couple of places to call that are near by. If you could have a look as well I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks again for your help.

Had a look at e-waste recycling in your area, try http://www.unwaste.com and http://www.greencitizen.com , they both dismantle, resell and refurbish electronics, parts etc (same as us)

Thanks for the leads. Unfortunately Universal Waste Management, unwaste.com doesn't break down printers, scanner or copiers for parts. I haven't been able to get a hold of anyone at Greencitizen yet. Common thing I have been told by all the e-waste recyclers is that there is no way to re-coup labor cost for pulling parts. Computers and printers that are being sold are somewhat new models, 5 year old stuff. Couple of places told me that they crush the copy machines as soon as they get them. This does make finding parts hard and a bit on the expensive side, pending on the item. I'm still looking around though, friends, family, work, e-bay, craigslist and the lot... Hopefully I will hit pay dirt..

I will say that the last few days that I have been looking around for parts has raised some questions on how we are recycling e-wast here in California. While I view it as good thing, the way we are going about it can defiantly use improvement. Thanks again for all of your help.

Thanks for the feed back, although sad/sorry to hear the results, we use volunteers/people out of work to dismantle our e-waste and assemble the 3D printers and other projects to gain skills/experience etc, sounds like there may be some untapped business opportunities there?

I'm not sure about this as an untapped business opportunities but, what you have going on sounds like a good community thing. Over here, California, the trade/vocational training is dying a slow death. We seem to be more focused on Engineers than design drafters or fabricators. I'm in the Marine Industry and as a Marine Drafter I'm watching my profession going away.

On the other hand, I've been watching the build sequence videos. For the heat bed, where did you get the plate? Are you going to release more videos on how you made it?

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