Construction Of A DIY 3D Printer Part 2 – The Frame

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This is the continuation of my attempt to build a 3D printer with a minimum budget of around $400 using new and recycled parts.

Aluminum frame members like the Tronxy for a larger printer would be great but push me out of my very low budget. So looking around in the back of our shop that I spotted busted screenprint frames. They are well used but the size would work perfectly for my project. They are made out of 1 1/2″ square tubing and the outer dimension is 23″ x 31″ with welded corners. I got 5 of them to clean up and paint. So that my size of the lower frame. It’s designing itself.

Old Screen printing FramesThey had old tape, glue, paint and ink to get off. I know it might be brutal on a wood chop saw but that is what I used to cut them. With slow cuts, I had no trouble, might be replacing the blade but that is OK. I sanded them clean and at this point if you want to use a welding technic to put the frame together, do all of it now before any painting. Harbor Freight has brazing rods that you could use to make the connections strong.

Homebuilt 3D Printer Frame LegsThe legs are about 4″ or 10 centimeters long. Got to start to get used to talking in the metric system, because everything to do with 3D printing is in millimeters. The legs are connected to the frame with 2 L-brackets using 3/8″ metal screws and lock washers. We now have a base, cool!

With the concern of controlling the fumes that will be coming off some of the filament, I plan on using a semi-sealed covering around the whole printer. With a small vent fan on the top to carry away any smells that would have ended up in the room. Not sure but I may control the temperature and humidity of the environment as well. Some filaments are sensitive to water and that has an effect on the print. If your shop is always 72 degrees and 50% humidity you would not have to worry about it but mine is not so predictable for printing.

Home built 3D Printer BaseAll that to say the next part of the build is the bottom cover plate. It will sandwich between the lower frame and upright members. It came from our graphic department it is a 3mm thick composite sign material cut to 23″ x 31″ size and screwed on with 3/4″ long metal screws.

I wish I could have drawn my layout lines better but they are just a guide. The frame is not perfect but that’s OK. I will be using shims to make the rods align to the print bed and slide smooth. One problem that I had was I went to Home Depot and Lowes for brackets and screw supplies and that can got costly. Surprisingly Wal-Mart had brackets for a better price.


Home built 3D Printer Frame Test Fit
Test Fitting The Frame

The upright frame members were sub-assembled attached to the base with one screw and aligned 90 degrees and then two 1/2″ side L-braces attached. The bracket holes give you a little play for the alignment and after you are happy then finish putting in the rest of the screws. The connectors are 2″ L-brackets for the cross member and 3″ T-brackets for the back brace and the main frame to base gets a 5″ T-bracket.

Digital just got turned into reality!

The goal of this frame is for it to be rigid, strong, easy to work and as I can tell so far it is meeting those requirements. The thickness of the tubes are enough for the screws to get a good bite but over tightening will damage it. The screws are expensive but I bought them as self-tappers and it was very helpful to get the right pilot hole for the screw to go in.

Holes for all the other parts are not cut because I do not have them to judge where their exact placement is.

Build cost so far from Home Depot and Wal-Mart

  • $0.00 – Frame Tubes
  • $0.00 – 1/2″ L-Frame Brace
  • $10.00 – Bottom Panel
  • $6.00 – Sandpaper and Paint Primer and Red
  • $6.00 – 2 – 5″ T-Brackets
  • $6.00 – 4 – 3″ T-Brackets
  • $12.00 – 12 – 2″ L-Brackets
  • $2.00 – 10 – Small Metal Pan Screws
  • $8.00 – 75 – Med Metal Screws and lock washers
  • $50.00 FRAME SUB-TOTAL

I think it looks great! Now for some cool parts for the next build called the Y Axis rods and print bed.

Homebuilt 3D Printer Frame

Thanks so much to my contributors:

My wife for believing in me and my crazy dreams.

My stepdaughter and son-in-law for my Home Depot gift card from Christmas, this is what I used it on. Haha!

Brian who helped with the bottom panel cover.

Be Blessed for your blessings and have a happy Easter!


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