ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Build a 3D Printer on a Budget

Updated on May 8, 2014

Threaded Rods

This one looks easy, but I found that a meter of threaded rod at my local hardware store would cost around $7, meaning I would be looking at over 550 for all the lengths I needed. Instead I found a proper industrial shop, which specialized in hardware, not the home hardware sections for the average Dad, but a supply shop where actual businesses get their gear. A meter of threaded rod for my 3d printer here cost my around $2.

Smooth Rods

These are the money rods of your DIY 3d printer. I've seen these go in 3d printing websites for up to $60 for the set. They are just steal rods. I found an industrial area near my work which had heaps of stuff you wouldn't think to look for other than a 3d printer kit. One place was a steal warehouse. I was able to get a 6 meter rod of bright steal (a little bit stronger than stainless steel) for less then $20. They even cut it down to all the lengths I required for free.

Stepper Motors

Unless you're really really into electronics, don't mess around with trying to salvage stepper motors from other appliances for the sake saving a few pennies as correct stepper motors are an integral part of the reprap's design. Even if you do get them to work, they will no doubt be some sort of an odd shape that will be a pain in the backside to try to attach securely to your printer. Just buy the recommended NEMA 17 stepper motors, making sure they are at least 4400 torque (4800 would be better). Also, don’t do what I did and slowly buy all the motors separately. Not only could they have different step rates, they could also have different coloured wires (reprap steppers have 4 wires), so it can be a pain to try and keep track of what colour goes to what.



Now this tip to save money may surprise you. PAY FOR THE BEST ONE YOU CAN AFFORD. The hotend is the most troublesome piece to 3d printing, so if there is ever a place to cut corners, it isn't here. I think I must have gone through at least 5 different hotends before I found one that plays nice. A decent one shouldn't cost more than $100. A good hotend should allow you to print with less (or no) jams and be easy to disassemble when troubleshooting. This is down to personal preference but I found the Budaschnozzle. The budaschnozzle comes fully assembled and ready to go- no messing around with trying to get the thermistor to attach to the hotend or fiddling with bootlace ferrules trying to get the power resistor wires to stay together - just plug and go. Also, you can switch between 3mm and 1.75mm with just a simple change of a piece of ptfe which is also very cheap.


Nuts, Bolts, Bearings oh my! All seem a little overwhelming? Seem easier just to buy the '3d printer vitals kit?' I thought so when I first started out. Then I realised your basic 3d printer is assembled using essentially two different thickness of bolts (M3 and M4). If you have a bit of a read of the different vitals used in a reprap assembly guide you will see that 3d printer vitals are nothing special and can be picked up at any hardware store or on the internet. One tip though, work out if you are going to build a metric or an imperial/SAE printer. This will probably depend on personal preference. Myself, I like metric, which deals in millimeters when referring to different vitals. If you prefer you can go SAE, which is for the pro's who like to deal in fractions of an inch (e.g.5/16”).

Electronics Board

Now this is an interesting one. I started with a budget 'all in one' 'Printrboard', which was cheap and had both 5 stepper controllers build into the board. It was not a separate shield which attached to an Arduino board, but was all inclusive which I thought was quite sleek. Now unless you're quite careful (which I am not), you may find that you will fry a few things on your electronics. I managed to burn out a stepper driver by adjusting the pots which it was mid print. I also blew two out of the three integrated thermistor pull-up pins. Now I would have screwed the pooch on any electronics board I used, but if I had shelled out a little more initially for a board with more features I may not have had to write it off. Some of the better (but more expensive) boards such as RAMPS have six stepper controllers which not only allows for upgrades, but gives you a little leeway in case you fry one. Also, instead of being integrated into the board, the stepper drivers are replaceable I picked up a replacement driver for around $10 - much better than having to replace the entire board. So do your wallet a favour - buy a good quality board up front.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)