P3Steel 3D Printer - from scratch!

A sturdy FDM style 3D Printer with a Stainless Steel Chassis, Direct-Drive Extruder, and Heated Bed

This is my home-made “Prusa i3 style” 3D printer that I built in Tehran where I had to source every part individually myself. A friend of mine from the astronomy community invited me over back in 2016 to show me his 3D Printer, which I found incredibly cool, and showed me how it all worked and suggested that I look into building one.


I did my research and realized that indeed there is a worldwide community around DIY 3D printers called RepRap, which to me was like discovering a whole new continent! I took on the project and went in reconnaissance mode to understand the state of 3D printing to see what is possible and what has limited access. 

I chose the P3Steel design that is made of laser-cut steel, in my case I ended up using a 2.5mm stainless steel because of a translation error, and it was very hard to find a laser cutter that was capable of cutting through stainless steel. Though the end result was so robust that it is still one of the sturdiest 3d printer bodies I have used, and a glorious silver finish that never rusts.

There was no kit available for the parts I needed, and most of my time was spent on sourcing each and every part from brick and mortar "bourse" markets for parts, an example is the thousands of dedicated Ball-Bearing stores compressed in one or two alleys in South of Tehran (see photos), and each alley would have side-by-side multi-story markets each containing hundreds of stores that do nothing but selling Ball Bearings.

The whole project from conception to first print took about 2 months in the spring of 2016. The stainless steel chassis was a modified v4 P3Steel design and the red 3D printed structural parts were all built on my friend's 3D printer, making my printer a 2nd generation one. For my extruder however I customized the latest Prusa i3 extruder at the time to fit my carriage and hotend. 

The more special parts like the RAMPS mainboard for Arduino Mega (later replaced with the more robust MKS), the Hotend and Nozzle assembly, and the heat-bed were sourced from a young robotics web store based in Shiraz. The Arduino core was running Marlin firmware customized for my strong motors and driver combo, plus the gear and timing belt I was using. 

This was one of the most rewarding projects I have ever done which taught me multiple skills that goes into building a CNC device, such as G-Code, linear motion control, mechatronics, stepper control, etc. 3D Printing is an art itself that I developed a good understanding of after hundreds of prints and meticulous fine-tuning of the printer and slicer settings.


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