The 3D printer options on the market for hobbyists today are, frankly, overwhelming. There are dozens of models available, and it can be difficult to figure out which one is best for you. Even if your budget is tight, the sub-$500 segment of the market is the most densely packed. The printers in that segment also tend to all look alike, and have very similar specifications. But if you’re willing to tackle a DIY project, you can build your own 3D printer. If that sounds like fun to you, the Makers Mashup YouTube channel has a series of videos that will walk you through how to construct an open source 3D printer design from scratch for less than $200.
Building your own 3D printer probably won’t be any cheaper than buying one of the many affordable kits that are out there, but you will get to understand your printer a lot better if you piece it together yourself. You’ll also have an easier time upgrading it in the future, as every component can be swapped out if you decide you want to make a change. This design, which is called the LayerFused C201, has a layout similar to the absurdly popular Prusa i3, which has been the basis for a huge portion of the hobbyist 3D printers that have hit the market over the last several years.
The LayerFused C201 3D printer can be assembled entirely using aluminum extrusion, 3D-printed mechanical parts, and readily-available components. If you have access to a makerspace or a friend’s 3D printer, you should be able to easily source everything you need for this build. There isn’t anything particularly noteworthy about this layout, but it is tried and true. You also have a lot of flexibility when it comes to choosing your components. For example, they use a 32 bit SKR control board with TMC2208 silent stepper motor drivers in the video, but you can use virtually any other controller on the market.
Once you have all of your parts and components, the videos will walk you through the assembly process. It might be time consuming if you don’t have much experience with 3D printers, but there shouldn’t be any part of the process that is especially difficult if you follow along with the videos. Once you’re done, you’ll have a 3D printer that is on-par with most models in the $200-$400 price range, and that you can upgrade in the future as your needs evolve.