How to assemble a 3D printer in Russia and why I went to do this in China

    Home 3D printers - this is the first thing that if it does not bring a new industrial revolution, then at least it provides opportunities for implementing ideas that are useful to the world.
    But why are 3D printers so expensive in Russia, while in the west there are already 300-dollar machines? I would like to tell the community about my experience in creating a 3D printer.

    Everyone already knows about the benefits of 3D printing. The maximum efficiency from it is achieved in research and training, the development of new devices, and I believe that 3D printing should be accessible to every student of a technical specialty, engineer, and generally to everyone whose activity is associated with creative or engineering design.

    3D printer for everyone?

    My goal is the development of 3D printing in Russia. There are many talented people who do not have such a wonderful tool. Therefore, my main problem was to find 3D printers that were easy to use and accessible to everyone.

    About my attempts to build a 3D printer in Russia

    Why in Russia is such a weak development of home 3D printing?
    Suppose you decide to build a 3D printer yourself .

    Briefly about what you need to build a 3D printer yourself
    • Printer frame. This is its design, on which guides and drives with carriages are fixed, as well as electronics.
    • Engines and the transmission of force from them to move the carriages (motors, gears, belts, threaded rods, bearings for belts)
    • Carriage moving systems. This is what allows the carriages to move smoothly and not hang out (linear guides, linear bearings)
    • Pusher, melter and extruder plastic. (usually a printable extruder with gears, a pushing bolt, and a bar clamp system for this bolt, a hot end)
    • Plane for printing (heating table)
    • Electronics control. In RepRap printers, this is a board or a sandwich of 2 boards; it is connected via USB to a computer.

    The most important thing in the printer is the frame.
    The frame of the RepRap printer directly depends on the design of the printer - it can be made of
    threaded rods connected by plastic parts (RepRap Prusa, Original Mendel, etc.) of
    sheet material connected by ends with screws (Ultimaker) of the
    sheet material connected by threaded rods (RepRap Prusa Air2 )
    aluminum profile connected by plastic parts (MendelMax, Kessel)
    other combinations of the above materials
    Thus, to build any printer you need to have sets of materials that make up the frame. Because The principle of RepRap movement is self-replication, then be prepared for the fact that for any printer you have to buy printed plastic parts. Their share is a large percentage in printers with a hairpin design, a smaller percentage - in printers using sheet material (Prusa Air, Prusa i3) and the smallest or even zero at all - in devices that are completely twisted, for example, from plywood.

    In addition to sets of parts, do not forget about fasteners for them to assemble the frame. In stud designs, this is about a hundred nuts and M8 washers, in the rest there are less, mostly, most likely, M3 screws and nuts. In general, the amount for fasteners can reach up to 1000 rubles.

    Search for components in our country - quest. The price tags are sometimes surprising, but many parts are simply not produced in Russia - you have to order literally at random from China and wait a month or more to arrive. To order the manufacture of any parts in Russia is also a thankless task either they refuse because of too small an order, they drag out the deadlines for many weeks, or the price tag turns out to be reasonable.

    Because of all this, the gap in this area from Europe and America is 2 years. There, prices for parts and production are lower, so home-made and enthusiastic people live easier.

    My colleagues and I did the first printers (almost 3 years ago) entirely — sharpened nozzles, etched boards, and made parts. They only bought stepper motors.
    I must say that the results of the painstaking tuning of our homemade Repraps were very good:


    But it soon became clear that homemade printers were a very amateur product.

    But what if you just buy ready-made?

    You can buy a printer for all well-known American companies worth 90-150 thousand rubles from local dealers, or try to buy it yourself, which threatens with problems with customs .

    Many immediately have the idea to buy a ready-made printer in China, thousands for 40 rubles. Many do so - they buy directly from the Chinese with delivery by Russian Post. But, I must disappoint you - usually these are printers that are morally obsolete for a year and a half, the print quality of which is very sad. And what can we say about the complexity of their setup and file refinement before the first print.

    Road to china

    Here the thought has ripened to see how the Americans manage to make printers for 300 bucks. But where to do it? Naturally, in China!

    7584 kilometers - a little over 9 hours of flight - and here we have the center of world production.
    Finally, I felt the freedom of action - all the components available in the shops within walking distance, milling and turning work are, without exaggeration, on every corner! The Chinese master simply takes a drawing from you, looks at it for 5 seconds, and before your eyes a part starts to be milled from a blank. From the right material, right now. And this is despite the language barrier and, sometimes, communication in sign language!

    A little about China.
    We made a printer in Shenzhen, the center of world electronics. In its industrial area.


    All the first floors of almost all buildings are garages, in which either production, or shops, or restaurants.
    This is how the street looks:


    For example, stainless steel products are made here.

    And this is a rubber goods store. Need a belt or seal? Here you can find anything:

    Or, for example, look at the metal processing garages. Powerful machine tools are everywhere:

    These are the products:

    Molds are also made here:

    Speaking of the city center, it is, of course, different:

    What did we get

    The results are amazing - in a week we (there were only two of us) did such work that would take a month or two in Russia. We conducted experiments with different designs, constantly redid the details - all adjustments were made instantly. And in the end, they achieved what they wanted.

    Why couldn’t we do this in Russia?
    It’s simple: when an order is started in production only after a month, it greatly confuses the action plan. The smaller the order in volume, the less priority it is - the deadlines are drawn out even more. And when you understand that you need to make about 5 more minor adjustments to the final result, and it takes several months, then the mood goes bad. But this is only a prototype.

    Upon returning to Russia, I had on my hands the parts for assembling four 3D printers. And one fully assembled prototype.

    Of course, I could not meet the treasured $ 300 for the finished 3D printer. This is only possible with mass production and large runs. But it turned out to significantly reduce the cost relative to existing analogues!
    The print volume is 18 x 16 cm and about 15 cm in height. Layer thickness - from 0.1 mm, printing materials - ABS, PLA, PC and others, even “rubber” plastic.
    My printers cost me 50 thousand apiece and I will try to make them even cheaper and more convenient in production.

    Question for habrovchan in the attached poll.

    UPD: now I am developing my project of the largest 3D printer:

    Only registered users can participate in the survey. Please come in.

    Do you think that a good domestic 3D printer for 60 thousand rubles will be able to change the attitude to 3D printing and popularize it in Russia?

    Would you buy a 3D printer for 60 thousand rubles?

    Also popular now: