Inkjet printers are the cheapest for regular office or picture printing, but they are also too fragile to last a very long time. An 18-year-old Italian student Michele Lizzit just proved that these scraps are not useless at all. The maker found a way to transform the used printers into a fully operational 3D printer with just €10.
Michele is a student at Liceo Scientifico Copernico in Udine, Italy who tore down three old inkjet printers and a flatbed scanner, using their parts for the mechanical components of her project. Additionally, he bought a hot-end extruder, an ATmega328 processor, a motor driver, three driver boards, and a high-current resistor.
Lizzit 3D printed the extruder housing using a standards desktop machine and used the inkjet printer’s paper loading mechanism in place of a hobbed bolt. The Scanner’s plastic plate was topped with cardboard packing sourced from Amazon, while the entire structure is supported by cardboard biscuit boxes. The cardboard affects the precision of the print, so Lizzit plans to replace it with a solid metal frame.
Once the hardware was done, the system required the firmware, which Lizzit has open-sourced. This clumsy looking biscuit box printer is not a marketable product or even print with considerable precision, but some firmware upgrades will solve the problems with the auto cleaning of the nozzle, automating the filament temperature, and filament slipping. The system also uses DC motors instead of stepper motors, thus saving a significant amount of power, compared to commercially available printers.
You won’t be printing precise machinery with this DIY 3D printer, but it does prove that apparently useless hardware can be used in an efficient way for something very useful at a very low cost.
The build instructions for the DIY inkjet 3D printer are available on Lizzit’s website, complete with details of parts and the links to firmware downloads. If you wish to make one for yourself, you may want to watch the video below of the printer doing its job.