The 3D printing community is filled with DIY’ers (Do It Yourself’ers), who are fascinated with building 3D printers basically from scratch. The RepRap movement is one that has really caught on, and in fact most of today’s top consumer level 3D printers originated in one way or another from RepRap. This means that the DIY’er community is one of the greatest driving influences in what has been an incredible couple of years for 3D printing, and the progress that it has made. We have seen 3D printers advance from machines hardly capable of printing an object, to those that can print out things in various materials, sizes, and resolutions. We have seen the price of 3D printers drop significantly as well.
When it comes to creating things at home on 3D printers, we are still limited in what they can do. However, thanks in part to a fellow named Aldric Negrier, we may be starting to see this change. Negrier, has just released the files and DIY instructions for a machine he calls the BuildersBot. It is a combination piece of hardware that is capable of not only 3D printing, but it’s also a CNC (computer numerical control) router.
Building the machine requires a good deal of welding experience, an angle grinder, a cutting tool, a drill machine, and a carbide drill bit. The frame is constructed by welding steel together via a MIG welder, but caution is advised for those of you who have not welded anything in the past. The BuildersBot is controlled by an Arduino, like many other DIY CNC machines. The electronics enclosure is made up of 7 laser cut acrylic pieces, and houses 4 micro stepping drivers, 3 power supplies, an Arduino Mega and a ramps 1.4 board. There are also 2 cooling fans, to make sure there is no overheating.
The 3D printing extruder is mounted on the tool holder with 2 bolts, which can easily be removed, and uses a 0.5mm J-head hot end, for very nice precision printing.
While, this machine is very sleek in appearance, and probably incredible fun to use, the general DIY’er probably couldn’t build one themselves, unless he/she has some advanced skills in electronics and welding. On top of this, it took Negrier 5-6 months to construct, and cost him approximately 2000€.
Eventually Negrier hopes to modify the printer with additional extruders so that his machine can print in a great variety of materials, including metal, food, and other things. He doesn’t have any plans to commercialize his machine. When asked about possibly seeking funding for its development via a Kickstarter campaign, he explained:
“Putting it on Kickstarter is a great idea. However, the motivation for building the machine was not for commercialization. I built it because I needed a CNC and a 3D printer for one of my projects. So instead of buying the machines, I built one that could do both. The 3D printing part is great for big objects, and eventually for applying new extruders that can extrude new materials (foods, metal, etc.)
This certainly isn’t the last 3D Printer / CNC combo machine we will see. There will be more, coming in the future as the ‘makers’ of the world try and simplify the process of constructing all types of things with computer controlled machines.
What do you think? Could you build something like the BuildersBot, and do you think it would be a machine that you’d like to have in your home? Discuss in the BuildersBot forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the videos below: