Let's Make Robots!

Aluminum Printrbot

Prints things


I have been wanting to build another printer and was looking for a small, simple design. I ran into the printrbot guys and more specifically, the Printrbot LC (laser cut). I was quite impressed with the simplicity of the design, and set off to replicate my own. I found the Printrbot design files over at thingiverse and started pulling dimensions from it. From there, I redrew the whole design allowing for a few design changes and any change needed to work with the aluminum stock I planned use. In total, I probably had 40 hours into the draw-up. 
The whole machine was milled on my CNC using only an 1/8" endmill. No tool changes were done during any cut. In the end, I had used a total of (3) 1/8" two-flute carbide bits to get the whole job cut. It took a total of 3 days to cut the whole job, including set-up time, clamping etc. I think total time with the motor running and the bit cutting was around 8-10 hours. I cut at around 15 in/min, .01" DOC per pass, and I use a Kool Mist system on the bit (which is the best $100 I have ever spent)
  • 12"x24"x.125"  6061 aluminum sheet
  • 12"x4"x1/2"  6061 aluminum barstock
  • 4"x1"x.125" 6063 aluminum box tube
  • (5) NEMA23 78 oz/in steppers
  • RAMPS 1.2 board and drivers
  • Knock-off Arudino Mega 
  • 20x4 LCD, quad encoder and button for "Ultipanel"
  • BlueSmirf Gold Bluetooth module 
I am running Marlin and I have the Ultipanel selected. To be honest, I don't know how people print (or at least set-up and calibrate) without being able to adjust settings on-the-fly. I love my LCD, I love my knob, I love my button. --I will never own a machine without these features.
My total usable build area is just shy of 125mm x 125mm. The total size of the glass is a bit more than that (150x150) however, I "shrunk" the printable size so I never had to worry about hitting the clips holding the glass. (This is mainly an issue during homing).
All in all, I love my new printer. The prints themselves are perfect. The machine is almost silent. It is as fast as I allow it to go and a nice, tidy design. Yup, this is the one I will be using for a while now. 
More information at:
Picasa Slideshow 


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Hi Chris,

I'm new to LMR and I was just going through the blogs when I came upon your aluminum Printrbot. It truly is a work of art. And it got me thinking, do you think that this design would be rigid enough (z axis) for doing some small cnc circuit boards? I am looking to build a small cnc machine for routing circuits and I fell in love with your machine. I cannot image that there would be much of a load routing out circuit boards. But then again, I have no experience in that area.

Would you mind terribly if I try to adapt your design for my purpose? I'm sure that whatever I may come up with will never be as elegant as what you have created. But, I would settle for functional.

Your amazing and I think that you are my newest hero!


Don M 

Oh god I want one right now ,its solid ,its robust , it is perfect ...

You mentioned in you video that you need to replace the material (can't remember the name) on the hotbed after every 10 prints. Why dont you use it for electrical insulation and then add a thin sheet of aluminium on top?

I'm sure once the aluminium is taken off of the hotbed it would cool quickly and the print job should break away cleanly.

Bed material is one thing that will be debated forever and ever. There are two important things: The hot plastic must stick to the bed during the first layer, but also release after the print is done. You are correct, cooling and contraction help the release, but more importantly is the bed material itself. In terms of aluminum, ABS simply does not stick to it. The extruder will extrude, but instead of that stream of plastic being dragged behind the extruder, it will simply ball up around the nozzle. Some folks say you can rough it up with sandpaper, but I could not get it to work. I have tried some of the other bed materials as well, including "ABS juice" (ABS disolved in acetone, smeared on glass) with little success. Others use this method with no problems, I can't seem to get it to work.

All in all, the Kapton tape just seems to work for me. The issue really is the fact that you always nick it with the tip of the X-acto knife when you go in to pop off the prints. After a while, it just gets goobered up and needs to be replaced. For me, it is a small price to pay for the first-layer quality I am getting.

Hey Chris,

This machine is epic sweetness. It would look great if you were to mill an extruder gear with a rocket cutout.

One bed material that works great is blue painters tape. It's available everywhere and cheap. Some tapes have a slight sheen that you can quickly rub off with some wadded up newspaper or something similar, it doesn't take much.

 Also to "pop" off prints I use a 2" putty knife. It works under the edge of the print and you have a better chance of sparing the tape. Just my 2 cents. Keep it awesome.

A deadly serious unveiling of a seriously sweet printer. Is there anything this man can't do?
When I saw it I thought , I gotta have one. Then I looked at the time to build and realised it's not practical at the moment for you to sell them. But I know your talent could easily find a fix for this.
In all honesty I think you've met the criteria for improving on an OSHW design and as long as the design files are released the Printrbot guys should wish you well if you wanted to commercialize.

Are you selling these?

I would have to admit, they won't be cheap. Yes, the CNC does all the "work" --after many hours of design and before many more hours of sanding edges, adding the "brushed" look, etc. This was a very labor-intensive build. 

Beyond that, I would have to clear it with the Printrbot guys. I have not yet spoken to them yet. They are open source, creative commons, but still I feel obligated (man to man with a handshake) to get the OK before I say really anything.

You can be the first person I email if you want, though!

Not quite 100% but yes, still quite a waste at 40%. Just a silly mistake too --I simply forgot to change the fill setting when I sliced that Yoda print. 

Now your stuff, my friend. --It is truly great. Your XY fit like a glove. All the bearings and rod holders were just the perfect amount of tension. Went together like a dream. I am looking forward to printing IgnobleGnome's TBT while at maker.

I appreciate the heads up on Mr. Pablo --Have not heard from yet, but it is always nice to know when someone is on the way by. I will keep an eye out for him. Thanks.

As usual your craftsmanship amazes me and this will be the envy of 3D printer owner like me.
But 100% infill on your prints… isn’t that a waste of plastic?
And thank you for mentioning my designs!

PS. Did a guy named ‘Pablo’ contact you regarding a XY-table? If not there might be coming some work your way.