3D printers have become remarkably affordable in recent years, and you can purchase some models for less than $200. But these low end budget 3D printers leave a lot to be desired. They’re often small and lacking in many convenience and safety features that you’d find on midrange models. Most have build plates smaller than 8 x 8” and if you want anything larger than 12 x 12” or so you have to turn to prosumer or professional models. Instead of going that route, Justine Haupt went all-out designing and building her own refrigerator-sized large format 3D printer.
It’s obvious that Haupt started this build with the goal of integrating as many features as she possibly could in addition to simply having a large build volume. The frame was constructed from 80/20 aluminum extrusion and is fully enclosed to help contain both the heat and fumes. Two tool heads can be rapidly swapped thanks to a clever kinematic mount quick change system. One of those tool heads has a single extruder, while the other has four extruders. The latter seems to have been designed to simultaneously print multiple parts as opposed to printing a single part in multiple materials. The fumes are pushed out through a HEPA-filtered exhaust to keep the air in the surrounding area clean.
The 3D printer is run by a pair of Duet control boards, and a big touchscreen display is connected to a separate Raspberry Pi to set up and monitor print jobs. Another small screen mounted above that one shows the power consumption. The large build plate is heated in five zones: four 12” square silicone heaters and a nichrome heater wire running around the perimeter. Safety features include a smoke detection system that can completely shut down the system and even an automatic fire extinguisher. The drive system is similar to a CoreXY design and keeps the extruders well-supported to improve print quality. Best of all, Haupt has made her design open source so you can build your own. She doesn’t state what the total build cost was for this 3D printer, but we have to imagine that it wasn’t cheap. Even so, it could be well worth the price of components if you need something much larger than a typical 3D printer.