Its better to buy as many as possible parts at the begining, to avoid waiting for chinese ones in future. I’m always looking first at the local stores, to support local business, but if the price difference are very high – I am ordering on Aliexpress. I think its a good idea, to try support local store than Chinese one.
There is a plenty of options, in different price ranges. Mostly used materials are MDF, plywood, steel, aluminium and plexiglass.
The steel or aluminium are the best choice, and the worst option is plexiglass. From the cheap printers there is a plenty of printers made from plexi frame, but I think that MDF is better material for that purpose.
As the original Prusa i3 MK2 has 6mm thick frame, I will use same material thickness.
The aluminium universal frame cost at least 65 USD. Its too expensive for cheap project.
I haven’t found frame from steel which will fit that project. Going for P3Steel is also a good option – but it will result in a different printer, not the most faithful clone.
I will go for the MDF frame. Its very common, and cheap. At my place it cost less than 10 USD – its almost 7 times cheaper than the aluminium one!
Aluminium frame (Local vendor)
MDF frame (Local vendor)
Aluminium frame on Aliexpress (as example)
MDF Frame on Ebay (from Ukraine)
For the build we need a trapezoidal screw for Z axis. Before 3D printers industry there was no real trapezoidal screws with 8mm diameter. Currently it can be bought from China (or local re-sellers). Original Prusa i3 MK2 has trapezoidal screws together with the stepper motors, but we will go cheaper – using flexible coupling.
In China there is also stepper motors with the trapezoidal screws available, but its very expensive. For one motor you have to spend around 33 USD (so 66 USD for two). It will came already with nut.
Trapezoidal screw with nut cost 3.96 USD per piece, and the flexible coupling is 0.86 USD per one. Together less than 10 USD.
For the remaining 56 USD I can buy all of the five required stepper motors. And a beer. And vodka. And a full tank of gas.
Stepper motor with trapezoidal screw and nut on Aliexpress
Trapezoidal screw with nut on Aliexpress
Flexible coupling 5×8 on Aliexpress
As on almost every Prusa i3, there is also Y-Axis build on a threaded rods. For the build we need a three M8x210mm, two M10x380mm and one M8x310mm. There is a difference between Original Prusa i3 MK2, and this build – the longer M8 threaded rod will be used to stabilize all the construction with the side supports from the frame, like it is at the Prusa i3 Rework. The lengths of rods are also not same as in Original Prusa i3 MK2, but should not make any difference.
I wanted to buy a black rods, with property class at least 8.8, and also I wanted also a cut ones. I’ve sent some requests to local vendors about cost with cut. Eventually I found only galvanized ones in good price, and I decided to take it.
The prices was really great: (per piece)
M10x380 – 0,58 USD
M8x310 – 0,32 USD
M8x210– 0,27 USD
Overall cost for the threaded rods: 2,02 USD (+ shipping by UPS or DHL 3,68 USD)
M8 threaded rods, galvanized, property class 8.8 (Local vendor)
M10 threaded rod, galvanized, property class 8.8 (Local vendor)
I strongly recommend to ask your local vendors for the threaded rods. Any store with metal parts should have it. Remember that You will also need a lot of screws, nuts and washers, so You will eventually go over there.
There is also a page available HERE about threaded rods itself, and also about a vendors.
The official manual of assembling Original Prusa i3 MK2 don’t have full information about smooth rods lengths. Because of that I took same sizes as in Rework.
- 2x320mm Φ8 – Z Axis
- 2x350mm Φ8 – Y Axis
- 2x370mm Φ8 – X Axis (I didn’t checked yet if it will fit)
Section length 1000mm costs 6.14 USD at my local store, and the cut is for free.
Overall needed length = 2080mm, so it’s around 12,77 USD.
The shafts have hardness 62 HRC (+/- 1), and diameter tolerance h6.
I found also similar shafts on Aliexpress, and also with offer for cut. I didn’t asked the seller for details, but – 350mm cost 4.75 USD, so for the 2080mm it should be around 28,22 USD. Maybe after contacting the seller directly it will be cheaper, but the shafts are heavy so shipping cannot be cheap.
I strongly recommend to check on your local metal parts store, probably you will get it in good price.
Linear shaft 1000mm Φ8 (Local store)
Linear shaft 2x350mm Φ8 on Aliexpress
For the hotend the Chinese version of E3D V6 Full-metal will be used. Even if we have to buy a few of them from China to make one fully working, it will be still cheaper than buying original one. It has to be a cheap clone 🙂
There is nothing special about the Chinese hotends, lets choose with nozzle 0.4, without bowden connector (direct one) and without fan.
The cheapest one which I found its for 3.04 USD. Its always better to buy more than one – they are often not perfectly working, sometimes its required to take some parts from different hotends, and make one from them.
E3D V6 Full Metal Direct with heater and thermistor on Alliexpress
The Original Prusa i3 MK2 has a new heatbed called MK42. It’s impossible to get that heatbed without all the Original Prusa, only the Prusa Research are selling it. The Chinese people still didnt made a clone of that. Because of that we will use the older heatbed – the aluminium MK3. Its necessary to get aluminium plate, because we will be also using the self-leveling. We will be also setting this clone to print directly on the aluminium heatbed.
It should be cheaper to buy the heatbed, thermistor and the cables separately, but I’ve bought “all-in-one” package – it cost 13.81 USD.
Lot of Chinese are also making MK3 heatbeds calling it MK2A. Sometimes its cheaper to buy a aluminium heatbed with MK2A name on it, than with MK3 – and its same product.
Heatbed MK3 214x214x3mm on Aliexpress
There is a plenty of the motors, but we are focusing on the price. About the motors there can be done a lot of guides, but its not a case when we want to build a reliable and cheap printer.
The cheapest NEMA17 which i found on Aliexpress are sets of 5x 17HS4401 motors with free shipping for 41.00 USD.
Occasionally it is possible to find cheaper motors – you need to carefully watch for the ebay and other portals, to get the best offer.
For more information about the motors, I recommend THIS LINK.
5x 17HS4401 stepper motor on Aliexpress
The Original Prusa i3 MK2 are using RAMBo electronics. Its not cheap (80 USD on Aliexpress). I will use the one of the most known electronics – Arduino MEGA 2560 + RAMPS 1.4 and 4x stepper drivers A4988. Additionaly we will take also the RepRapDiscount Smart Controller 2004LCD.
Full set – to make it as one click on Aliexpress will cost us 22.45 USD. I’ve took that.
If we will be looking for it separately (and with the cheapest prices):
- Arduino MEGA 2560 – 7,85 USD
- RAMPS 1.4 – 3,69 USD
- 4x Stepper driver A4988 – 2,92 USD
- RepRapDiscount Smart Controller 2004LCD -7.49 USD
Buying separately: 21.95 USD (0,50 USD cheaper)
Set of Arduino MEGA 2560 + RAMPS + Stepper drivers + LCD on Aliexpress
Arduino MEGA 2560
Stepper driver A4988
RepRapDiscount Smart Controller 2004LCD
We need to buy a power supply, with at least 240W of power (20A at 12V). Smaller can also work, but the 240W one are still not too expensive, and will have some additional power over the 200W power supply.
Cost: 16.83 USD
Power supply 240W/12V on Aliexpress
To make the auto-leveling working, we need a inductive sensor. Because our heatbed is made from aluminium, not from the steel, and it’s only 3mm thick, its better to get a sensor which will detect metal from more than 4mm. It will for sure not detect our aluminium headbed from that distance, but the most important is that it will detect our bed at all.
And we need to remember, that the sensor has to be with M8 thread. Price: 1.69 USD + shipping (I didn’t found a sensor with free shipping)
NJK 5001A inductive sensor on Aliexpress
The auto-leveling are working like Z-axis endstop, but we still need a endstops for X and Y axis. There are boards available on Aliexpress, but its better to buy just microswitches, as they don’t have “3D printer” inside the name on Aliexpress, so they are mostly cheaper than “endstops for 3d printer”.
10x microswitch = 1.45 USD
10x 3 pin microswitches on Aliexpress
10x 3pin microswitches more like the original ones, on Aliexpress
To allow slight move of our parts we need also some moving parts. For sure we will need LM8UU bearings – 3x for Y Axis, 3x for X Carriage, and 4x for Z Axis. 10x LM8UU will cost us 5.49 USD.
10x LM8UU bearings on Aliexpress
GT2 Belts, pulleys, and “pulley idlers”
We will need also GT2 timing belt, 2x GT2-16 pulley for X and Y Axis.
5 meters of GT2 belt should be enough – 4.98 USD
The GT2 pulley with 16 teeth cost 0.90 USD
Overall: 6.78 USD
For the belts we have also to provide the tension rollers, or a bearings. The tension rollers are available on Aliexpress, but it just hidden under the “pulley idler” title.
Two “pulley idlers” without teeth = 2x 0.99 USD = 1.98 USD
Tension roller aka pulley idler on Aliexpress
5 meters of GT2 belt on Aliexpress
GT2-16 pulley on Aliexpress
To be able to print we need something which push the filament. Lets use the MK8 Drive gear from China. It’s a cheap part – 0.56 USD.
We need also a 625 bearing and a short shaft (or threaded rod) – 5×16.
For the 625 we can use ZZ or 2RS type. The 2RS have better protection, and as there can be a lot of filament scraps I recommend to buy it, but it’s a little bit more expensive. In the calculations I will take the 625ZZ price.
625ZZ – 1.60 USD / 10pcs
625 2RS – 0.30 USD + shipping = 1.80 USD / 1pcs
Short shaft – 5.75 USD / 10pcs
Overall extruder cost: 7.91 USD
Extruder Drive gear MK8 on Aliexpress
625ZZ bearing on Aliexpress
625 2RS bearing on Aliexpress
5×16 shafts on Aliexpress
The printer have two cooling fans – one for the heater block on hotend, and one to cool the printed plastic. For the printed plastic cooling fan 5015 at 12V is used. Cost: 0.53 USD.
For the heater block we need a 30×30 fan. Cost: 0.65 USD.
Overall cooling cost: 1.18 USD
5015 fan on Aliexpress
30x30x10 fan on Aliexpress
Screws, washers, nuts, springs
To build a printer we need also screws, washers and nuts. Mostly the M2 and M3 are needed, but there is some places where other types are required (M8 and M10 for the Y-Axis). Its hard to calculate a cost for that right now, because I am even not sure what amount of what type of screws will be used. We will also need some springs (for the extruder and (not required) for the headbed).
When the build will be finished, and the printer will be working all the necessary information about additional materials will be in Bill of materials.
Lets assume that all the screws, washers and nuts will cost around 15 USD.
- MDF Frame – 10,00 USD
- Trapezoidal screws – 10,00 USD
- Threaded rods – 2,02 USD
- Linear guides – 12,77 USD
- Hotend E3D V6 Full-metal – 3,04 USD
- Heatbed MK3 – 13,81 USD
- 5x NEMA17 Stepper motor – 41,00 USD
- Main electronics – 22,45 USD
- Power supply – 16,83 USD
- Inductive sensor – 1,69 USD
- Endstops – 1,45 USD
- LM8UU bearings – 5,49 USD
- GT2 belt and pulleys – 6,78 USD
- Tension rollers aka “puller idlers” – 1,98 USD
- Extruder parts – 7,91 USD
- Cooling fans – 1,18 USD
- Screws, nuts, washers, springs – 15,00 USD
Total: 173,04 USD
I believe that I’ve included everything what is required to build the printer. If its not everything, then the assembly will take longer (by time needed to get new parts from China).
Stay tuned for the next part!