An engineering student lacking the funds for a Makerbot created one himself with what he happened to have available: a box of Lego.
3D printers are slowly coming down in price, with the least expensive yet just reaching funding on Kickstarter last month, with an asking price of US$397.
Matthew Krueger, aka, Matstermind, had been eyeing off the Makerbot ever since it was first on the market. But, as a poor engineering student, he simply didn't have the funds to purchase one — so he decided to make his own.
What he had to work with was an old box of Lego, so he got to work and created what he is calling the Legobot, based on the very first Makerbot Replicator introduced in January 2012, printing with hot glue rather than 3D printing plastics.
Although the Legobot is mostly made out of Lego, it does, of course, have some other components. It is driven by a Lego Mindstorms NXT brick and powered by four separate supplies: 3 volts for the extruder motor, which is made out of a repurposed lens adjustment motor from an old VHS camera, 7.2 volts for the NXT brick, 12 volts for the fan and 115 volts for the hot glue gun. The gear racks were 3D printed by a friend, and some coins were used to balance the weight of the motor.
Because it uses hot glue instead of plastics, it doesn't print nearly as well as a Makerbot — the glue is not rigid, and has few practical applications, at best suitable for window stickers. At this point, Matstermind also has to turn the extruder on and off manually. He plans to experiment with wax and resin to try to make his 3D printer a little more functional.
"While it does print, I would call this more of a prototype than a finished project," he said of his project.
If you would like to try to build — and even modify — one for yourself, you can find his instructions on Instructables here.