How to Build a 3D Printer (FFF)

Hi new here I ran accros your video on Youtube about building a 3D printer. It is one of the best videos I have seen on building a printer. I currently own a Da Vinci Pro, it leaves a bit to be desired. I have modified the print head and done some other tweaks. I would like to build a slightly larger printer and I want to get away from the proprietary software. I am looking for a printer with a 10 to 12 inch build plate and a direct drive, I would also like one that uses a E3D V6 hot end as I already have parts from converting the Da Vinci. Is there a build you would recommend or a place to look for other builds.

Derrick

Hey Derrick,

Welcome to the forum! Sorry for my delayed response. I actually have a pretty expansive guide on my recommended 3D printers: https://www.drdflo.com/pages/Guides/Best-Commercial-FFF-3D-Printers.html

Check it out and let me know your thoughts!

So I found your guide very helpful I have decided to go with a Voron 2.4 build 350mm. My only hesitation based on your review was the Boden style feeder, but after going through the site I found they have a Beta for a direct drive. I am looking forward to the build, I have already begun printing the only issue I may run into is getting some of the parts sourced out of China. Once again I enjoyed your video and it has given me the motivation to jump from a commercial unit to a custom one.

1 Like

Hello,

I was directed to your videos and website by my boss. Because of your instructional video, I’m fascinated with the idea of building and having a 3d printer. I’m planning on building this zidex printer as a summer project for my son and I. (Mostly me.) I’ve been looking for a quality comparison next to your go to printer before I fully commit to it. How does the Zidex stack up next to the more expensive preassembled models?

Jeromy

Jeromy,

I used Zidex to showcase the most extreme 3D printer you could build. This allowed me to walk through advanced concepts like independent dual extrusion. However, Zidex is difficult to build and hard to calibrate. I only use this printer as a teaching tool for when I instruct classes because it is super portable. But I don’t use it to churn out prints (mainly because of the small bed size).

Here is my roundup of best commercial (pre-assembled for the most part) 3D printers:

Your video on youtube has been super helpful and given me confidence to build one of these rather than just buy it.

Have you ever tried to build a delta style 3d printer, do you think the concepts are similar?

You know I have always wanted to build/own a delta printer. Every now and then I have a part that I need to print that would benefit from the tall build envelope of a delta printer. Now this is a pretty big generalization but Delta printers usually have worse print quality than a Cartesian printer. This can be because of their use of a bowden extruder or the fact that the printer has to interpolate lines due to its special coordinate system.

Also, Delta’s are harder to build because their movements are unintuitive so troubleshooting is difficult.

If you are building your first 3D printer, then I strongly recommend building a Cartesian printer first. There is a million resources (including my video) for building this type of printer. If you enjoy the build then you can DIY a Delta too :grinning:

The difficulty to build and calibrate doesn’t worry me much. I repair and run medical instruments that use many of the same components every day. What interests me about Zidex is the fact that it’s a dual extruder printer for about the same cost as some of the pre-assembled single extruder printers. It looks sturdy and as well designed as some of the retail models. I was just curious about the quality and reliability of it. I didn’t want to buy a “starter” printer just to want a better one later. I think I’m leaning toward the Prusa I3 MK3 kit now. Just wondering, though, why the detailed video and extensive BOM with links to sources for purchasing if this isn’t the printer people should build?

Jeromy,

The video was meant to be about “How to Build a 3D printer” in a general sense. Not how to specifically build Zidex. All of the concepts that I presented translate to any FFF 3D printer that someone might want to build. There are many different designs online.

I already own a couple of 3D printers, so before I even started filming the video I decided to build Zidex because it filled a need that my other printers did not. It was a small portable printer that I could bring to the classes that I teach. Its also IDEX, so it looks awesome for the YouTube video and allowed me to talk about this feature.

As I said in the video multiple times Zidex has a small print bed. In fact, it can’t even print all of its own 3D printer components. Well why not make Zidex larger? Well, the cantilevered X-axes become increasingly harder to level in respect to the print bed.

So the advice that I give people is this. If you don’t own a 3D printer already, then build or buy a printer with a build envelope of at least 200mm x 200mm x 200mm. This will allow you to print most models on Thingiverse or any STL repository. 3D printing is a useful and addicting hobby, so most people own or build multiple 3D printers. The website guide on building Zidex is meant for those people. But hey that’s just my advice. If you want to build Zidex for your first printer then go for it!

I hope that this description kind of cleared things up. I definitely see the confusion in me building a printer then saying don’t build this printer to newcomers. Perhaps, if I ever do a follow up video I will build a printer that I would recommend as a first printer.

I get it. Sorry if that came off as argumentative, that wasn’t my intent. I’ve wanted to get into 3d printing for a while and was excited about the project aspect of this one. Your video has given me some ideas for other projects I want to do as well. I appreciate the videos you’ve made and the advice you’ve given me.

Oops I hope my response didn’t come off as brusque.

I have actually been asked that question a couple of times, so I wanted to provide a real answer to it. That is why I have the forums, so that other people can now see that answer.

I’m here if you need any help :+1:

What’s that display you have attached, is it just a tablet connected by wifi?

Greetings !

Many thanks for your video and thoughtful DY guide!

This would be my first printer and first build, though I’m hardly new to DIY, having done similar with drones and fabrication for that, plus metal shop, electronics etc (yes, I do have a soldering iron! And a multimeter too!).

Had a bit of a decision to make:

Was thinking of building yours as a single arm first, but with the materials for your double-arm, so that I can start with the good stuff and get to programming firmware, microstepping, maybe get pi communication etc going, then reconfigure with the same (high end) components) to the double arm config when required.

On the other hand, maybe I could get a less expensive machine, like an Ender 2, and fabricate mods for it to learn, and then the parts for the Zidex, then build the ZIdex and have two machines?

Or get an Ender 3 or make a Hypercube first?

The thing is, I do have an end goal in that I need quite a few custom camera and Steadicam parts made up, and really don’t want to have a bunch of machines, EPROM burners, spare parts, outdated controllers etc lying around - I already have a garage full of those from my commercial drone business!

So…
What’s the most direct way to learn the fastest and get to a point where I can get my parts made, other than just sending them out to get done by someone else?

Thanks!

Chris

Sorry for my delayed response. It is the PanelDue i7: https://www.duet3d.com/IntegratedPanelDue

It works out of the box with the Duet Wifi

ChrisRL,

Welcome to the forum!

My recommendation would be to go with the a cheaper printer first like the Ender3. Then keep track of:

  • Your average print size (or if you have parts that you want to print but cannot because they are too large)
  • The complexity of your parts (would your parts benefit from water soluble support?)
  • How often are you printing (are you printing a couple times a week or 24/7?)

These questions will inform your next printer. Most people have found that the Ender3 suits most of their needs. Others find that they need a more robust printer with a better extruder. People that need a massive build area almost always have to build their own printer.

P.S. Awesome drones! I will know who to contact if I ever start working on a DIY drone video.

Dr D, good evening!
Thanks for your kind words!
Mostly I want to start with simple things I need like geared follow focus rings for lenses, lens caps etc. But I need them to be a little rubbery, not completely brittle, and be temperature and wear-and-tear resistant. So I’d guess the material I’d be needing would be out of the ordinary, and that might in turn affect the type/configuration of printer I’d be needing, correct?
Thanks!

And yes, I did the entire DIY drone route well before I bought the commercial ones, and as you can see the two big heavy-lifter drones at the back are mainly CF rods and plates, plus 3-D printed parts. Cool stuff!

Excited to get into this!
Best
Chris

Your YouTube video is excellent. Could you provide a ball park figure for cost? I know it depends on options but a rough guide would be nice.

Hey Robbie,

That printer will run $1500 to $2000.

Sorry for my delayed response! It seems like you would want to print those focus rings out of TPU. One commercial name of this polymer is Ninjaflex. There is different stiffness that are available.

For printing TPU its highly recommended to have an extruder that has the shortest path between extrusion drive and nozzle. In the video I referred to this type of extruder as a “direct extruder”. You wouldn’t want a “bowden extruder”.

Hi. I really appreciate your tutorials and advice. I was going through the Zidex component list and found that the Micro Limit Switch on the list is not available on openbuilds anymore. What switch do you recommend?

Thank you