"Project Locus" - A Large 3D Printed, 3D Printer

by redhatman, published

"Project Locus" - A Large 3D Printed, 3D Printer by redhatman Aug 9, 2015
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My former roommate and I went half and half on a Prusa i2 a year or two ago. After we decided we weren't living together again, we were faced with the question of who's going to keep the printer. I decided I wanted to create a larger printer, and long story short, this entire printer was created using that printer. Everything was designed by me. See the "Instructions" tab for a full build manual.

  • The total build volume is roughly 1 cubic foot (12" x 12" x 12").
  • The design challenges as well as a detailed overview of the printer can be found in the instructions.


NOTE - If you are building this printer, please make sure to check for updated files before printing the parts. I am constantly tweaking and redesigning this printer, and have been adding the revised files to each page, however the instructables link (below) will have a more in depth summary of each step regarding changes.**

The entire build as well as many details regarding hardware and components used can be found here: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Create-a-Large-3D-Printer-using-a-Smaller-3/

Thank you for your interest! As usual, any comments, critiques, and questions (within reason) are all welcomed!

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Is there any follow-up on this design? A future, enhanced version, made from learning the ins and outs of the existing design?

Would it be possible to exchange the printed extrusions for say 500 mm rails?

not sure why you would want to do this, but i just changed from the printed extrusions to 20mm alu extrusions (http://www.smt-montagetechnik.de/produkte/67.htm).
hell lot of work though.

Apr 28, 2016 - Modified Apr 28, 2016

I am in the process of using this model as a template to build an aluminum version with 25mm stock. I like the way yours is laid out. What is the spacing of the rails for the head mount? Also, you wouldn't happen to have a dual head for this would you? I guess if I knew the spacing of the rails and they were standard I could find or develop one myself.
I plan on expanding this model for a 400mm headed bed. Cant wait.

I am currently in the process of building this design on my own (with twice the z size), but i am currently stuck with the extruder secondary stl.
Is this meant to work with an e3d-v6? i have several of them, but none fits with the design.
It seems a bit too small.
I guess i will just cut it to fit so i don't have a wasted print, but just wanted to let you know it doesn't fit (printed with 0.1 layer height).

Just cutting a little bit worked very well on the 2 hotend parts, e3d-v6 fits well now.
Current Status: Case = done, Hotend Stuff = done, Assembling XY Gantry = 80% done.
Luckily i currently have 2 printers and will hopefully be done printing and assembling stuff by the end of february.
As of yet i am still mostly satisfied with this design, though i have some improvement wishes:

  • Make it less hard to use M5 nuts on the extrusions
  • Rotate the STLs, so that they are already in perfect print position
    Improvement wishes on the instructables page:
  • Add sub-steps, so that you know exactly what to do and when (possibly even what can be done in parallel)
  • In Step 5 Picture 5 there are two screws, while in your live pictures there is only one (two don't even fit, i accidently tried it and nearly broke the part - 2 bearings next to each other is just too much)

Great to hear, this is very exciting to me that others are building this printer! What color scheme are you going with?

  • M5 nuts, could you please elaborate on what you'd like to see changed? For me, the standard sizes were the most cost effective, metric hardware seems to be about twice the price (if you can even find it at a hardware store).

  • Rotating the STL's is just something I have dealt with, although I too would like it to end up inserting into the correct position right away. However, they lay how i'd like to view the part in my design program, so that's how I've saved them. I know some slicing softwares allow you to change the default coordinate system for parts inserted, typically it's called something along the lines of "flip x and z on imported parts", but I can't remember exactly.

  • I apologize for the step 5, I understand the confusion. Sometimes I do that in the CAD assembly so I do not need to constantly edit/move the position of the part to see the min/max positions.

As color scheme i am was trying to only use black and a dark green, but since it needed so much filament i started to use whatever was left after printing as much as i coule with black and dark green.
So currently it is: black, green, yellow, orange, red, purple
I had ordered new filament early, but christmas was giving me a hard time getting the filament on time.
About the M5 nuts: The height of the M5 nuts is just a little bit too big. I am not sure whether you can just adjust the wall size there because of stability problems which may occure then. To make M5 nuts fit and not risking stability it might b necessar to redesign the inner corners to accept a bit bigger extrusions. (Possibly more parts affected?)
I did rotate the object in my slicing software, it's just less ease of use ;)
Step 5: great to know how that happened, i usually use openscad for designing or optimizing parts.

Very interesting, had you said the file was a bit too large, that would make more sense. Generally speaking if the part contained holes/circles which were to be printed on the x/y plane, I would make the cad file dimensions ~0.3mm larger to account for the printer's tolderance I was using (it would make holes slightly smaller than specified)... Regarding the use of an e3d-v6, I am a little hazy on what the "official model" actually is. I have several of these "e3d-v6" hotends from eBay (most likely imported), and I too have seen variation from what they claim is the same hotend.

Jan 4, 2016 - Modified Jan 4, 2016
s_s_ - in reply to redhatman

Do your want to say that you designed the files to match how your printer was calibrated?
If that is the case, than that would perfectly explain why i had to redesign some parts (currently just one, but i expect more to come).
Though i use metric nuts, which could have a slightly smaller or bigger head!?
Coming to the hotend: i have 4 of them and all of them have the same size regarding the mount. Some other stuff like the heatbreak differs from hotend to hotend.

Also, how much does this cost?

It's hard to put an exact number on it at this point since I'm constantly changing/adding things, I would say right around $600. However, I did order a lot of the hardware and electronics online (a lot from overseas sellers on eBay).

Comments deleted.

Would this all fit on a 150mmx150mmx150mm build plate? GREAT design!

Thanks! It's been a while, but I see no reason why it wouldn't work. I made this printer using my Prusa i2 at the time, which had an effective build volume of 185mm x 185mm x 80mm.

Amazing work! I love the design and the ability to upgrade myself to a lager printer is exactly what I was looking for!
Question for you. Would I be able to use a Bowden dual extruder with this setup? Example: /thing:419159

Prusa i3 rework Dual bowden extruder 1.75mm direct Drive ajustable

Thank you! Sorry for the delayed response, I will hopefully sometime in the future be designing a carriage for this (similar to the one you posted) to work with this printer. I'd like to do that so I can run either support material or a different color out of the other hotend. As far as the current setup, I can almost certainly say that nothing out there will directly bolt on as the chances are very slim that the linear bearing rail spacing I used is probably different than others out there. So if you can adapt a new bracket, I don't see why it wouldn't work. Regardless, good luck, and thanks for your interest. If you do end up making this, or a dual extruder setup, I'd love to see it!

I'm in the process of printing it now. Slowly :) If you have a donation page let me know I would love to help this project continue! Printing dual extrusion would be a huge bonus like you said.


That's great to hear! I'm very happy to hear people are beginning to build this. Haha well there's a lot to print, I believe the Prusa i2 I used to create the printer was running at least 75% of the time during the 3 months of building. Currently I do not have a donation page, although I do appreciate the gesture! Please make sure to keep an eye out on the instructables page as I am still tweaking parts and uploading new files. I am uploading the new files to Thingiverse too, however in my write-up I am providing more detail as far as changes, parts required, and assembly screenshots. For example, I just uploaded a new version of the heatbed platform bearing brackets yesterday. As far as the dual extruders go, I actually received the second extruder I ordered today, so once time allows, I'll begin working on that! Thanks for the feedback, and let me know if you have any questions!

Comments deleted.

Nice project.
I now building too a core xy printer. I do not understand why you are using printed 2020? The 2020 aluminium is a better option, is more cheap and a lot more rigid.

Aug 10, 2015 - Modified Aug 10, 2015
redhatman - in reply to fjsdc

fjsdc, Thank you, very cool! I talk about the reasoning more in the build provided in the "instructions" tab. To sum it up, the budget was the main factor which initially led me into the direction of printing all of the parts. Once I was convinced on my idea of printing extrusions, filling them with foam, and keeping the extrusions under constant compression, I decided to give it a shot and try something new.....To elaborate, the frame extrusions are filled with expanding foam (also with 15% PLA infill, to reduce PLA consumption). The extrusion sections are each 80mm tall (the height of my Prusa i2 used to print them), and glued together end to end, with 1/4" threaded rod running concentric through each of them and kept in compression. I have over 100 pictures and CAD drawings illustrating this in the "build manual".

Sorry, i have not ready your "instructables". Is a very interesting idea, a full printed structure. What about the print quality? do you have vibration problem because of the printed structure?
In your design you have used thread rods to put the structure more robust. One idea is to design a 2020 where you can put the thread rod inside the printed 2020.

I have a prusa i3, but a decide like you to build a core xy. I doing a different approach, i try to build the printer using good component only where is necessary and go cheap where i now it will not affect the print quality. The main objective of my printer is to build a very good quality/fast printer and to be cheap (less of 500€).
I working in my new printer for about 2 month and the design is finished. I now starting the building process and waiting to receive some components from ebay and the aluminium structure from motedis. I decided to build the structure only using aluminium parts, using 2020 extrusion and cheap/standard connectors. The motors, hotend (E3D v6) and linear bearings are good quality, all the other parts are cheapest i can find in ebay (most are from china). The x and y components are pla printed, but the Z axis is all in aluminium because i will use only one motor and one lead screw.
The total cost of my printer is about 490euro.

Great Job! I'm working on the same idea of making a much bigger printer. My target is a build space of 3ft x 3ft x 3ft. i have 2 questions, first what is the build space of the LOCUS platform? Secondly, theoretically could you just extend the axis of your design to accomplish a larger build area, all else remaining the same, or what would limit the length of the axis?

Aug 10, 2015 - Modified Aug 10, 2015
redhatman - in reply to IndyRockStar76

IndyRockStar76, Thanks! The heatbed is 12" x 12", so roughly an effective 11.5" x 11.5", by ~11.5" z height. As far as scaling the design, I see no reason why you couldn't scale it. Of course if you're looking to go any bigger, I'd recommend using aluminum extrusions as well as some good bracing. The other main challenge to consider is the heated build platform. You'll find that there is a considerable cost jump even going from the standard ~7-8" square bed to something like a 12 x 12. Not only is the cost a jump, but more importantly, the current draw can be tough to work with. The original power supply I bought for this printer was a 475 W and it died within minutes. An alternative option that came to mind when designing this one would be to construct a "grid" of multiple heated beds to accomplish the same task.

This is exactly what I've been looking for! Is there any way I could get the cad files for the fully assembled printer? I'd like to make some size modifications.