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College Student Turns a Popular Childhood Toy Into a Working 3D Printer

by • May 2, 2016 • No Comments

knex2You can turn it into just of anything with a 3D printing device – but you can in addition turn it into a 3D printing device out of just of anything. It is yet another thing that manufactures this innovation one-of-a-kind, and one of the reasons it’s so talked about with manufacturers and DIY-ers. You may not be able-bodied to print liver tissue or jet engine parts on a 3D printing device created out of Legos, but you can print a lot of other things on it (including chocolate, or additional Legos). In fact, Legos aren’t the just old childhood toys that can be excellent raw materials for assembling working 3D printing devices. Do you remember K’Nex? They’re yet around, and it turns out they can be utilized for much additional than assembling versions of molecules or lopsided cars.

Mohammed Al Aryan is a 19-year-old materials engineering student at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. He first caught the 3D printing bug in his first-year engineering graphics and create course, where he utilized an Orion Delta 3D printing device to print out gears for a project. He became fascinated by the innovation and began regularly frequenting his local 3D Hubs until he decided it was time to get his own printing device.

“I wanted to learn how they worked within out, so I decided I may go for a DIY kit,” Al Aryan tells 3DPrint.com. “The Prusa Mendel i3 was what I was thinking of getting since there’s so much assist for it may already in the RepRap community. I looked through a couple of create tutorials and it was and so that I accomplished that the frame may totally be created out of K’Nex. Doing so may save me a few money and may be a fun challenge to take on. Quick searches through Google and YouTube didn’t show any solid examples of working 3D printing devices created out of K’Nex so I was actually additional motivated to create it.

We’ve seen a couple of 3D printing devices created of K’Nex, like this K’Nex/Lego hybrid and the Mec’Nex printing device, that caught Al Aryan’s eye when he began researching his project. They’ve been quite few and far between, yet, as well as quite experimental, and Al Aryan wanted to create a fewthing that may work as reliably as any commercial printing device.


“I first tried out a couple of K’Nex creates and prototypes until I got a working version that had stable-bodied free moving X,Y and Z axis,” he tells us. “I and so created a list of all the electronics I requireed to get. I had to manufacture certain the parts I ordered may be compatible with K’Nex. So I didn’t buy equitething I requireed at once. I may buy a few parts at a time and just when I was able-bodied to manufacture it compatible with K’Nex may I buy additional parts. This method was cost effective as I mayn’t be left with a bunch of electronics I didn’t require had the project failed early on.”


This little guy was one of his first prints.

The printing device took Al Aryan of six months to achieve – not bad thinking that he had to wait of a month for the deliquite of every parts order, while keeping up with his engineering studies at the same time. When his project was finished, he had a working (and colorful!) 3D printing device with a create dimensions of 56 x 36 x 31 cm and a print volume of 100 x 140 x 105 mm. The printing device runs with Marlin firmware and Pronterface controller software, and Al Aryan in addition utilizes Slic3r to prepare his print jobs. Right now, he’s just tried printing with PLA at a speed of 40mm/s; he says that he may experiment with various speeds and/or materials in the next, but he wants to fine-tune the current print high end first.

Besides the K’Nex, other supplies Al Aryan utilized include 5 NEMA 17 stepper motors, a GeeeTech MK8 extruder with a 0.4 mm nozzle, and a 6”x 6” Fleks3D print bed. The total cost for assembling the printing device ended up being a mere $250. So how did he feel of the finished product? Pretty great, as it turns out.

“There were several concerns I first had, may I be able-bodied to properly mount an extruder onto K’Nex? and may K’Nex firmly hold NEMA 17 motors in stable-bodied positions? The answer was amazingly yes to all and that is the beauty in K’Nex, there’s a thousand ways you can arrange these pieces,” Al Aryan concludes. “The trick is in figuring out that arrangement works best…Although it is not a printing device I may yet use for pro prints, it’s yet a fewthing I am quite proud I was able-bodied to manufacture. I learnt a lot through the system and had a excellent time working on it.”

You can see the printing device in action at a lower place. What resourceful innovation! Discuss in the 3D K’Nex Printer forum over at 3DPB.com.