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Printing in Plastic: Build Your Own 3D Printer (Technology in Action) [Paperback]

Patrick Hood-Daniel , James Floyd Kelly
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1, 2011 1430234431 978-1430234432 1

Printing in Plastic: Build Your Own 3D Printer is your gateway into the exciting world of personal fabrication. The “printer” that you’ll build from this book is a personal fabricator capable of creating small parts and other objects from drops of molten plastic. Design a part using a modeling tool such as Google SketchUp. Then, watch while the fabricator head sweeps back and forth and upwards, depositing plastic in all the right places. You can build anything from a replacement tab to hold a bookshelf in place, to a small art project, to a bashguard for your bicycle. If you can conceive it and design it, you can build it, and you’ll have fun doing it!

Printing in Plastic is aimed at creative people comfortable using power tools such as a table saw, circular saw, and drill press. Authors James Kelly and Patrick Hood-Daniel lead you through building a personal fabrication machine based upon a set of blueprints downloaded from their website. Example projects get you started in designing and fabricating your own parts. Bring your handyman skills, and apply patience during the build process. You too can be the proud owner of a personal fabricator—a three-dimensional printer.

  • Leads you through building a personal fabrication machine capable of creating small parts and objects from plastic
  • Provides example projects to get you started on the road to designing and fabricating your own parts
  • Provides an excellent parent/child, or small group project

What you’ll learn

  • How to assemble your own 3D printer
  • The ins and outs of design software
  • How to design and produce three-dimensional parts made from plastic
  • How to replace small plastic parts in household objects
  • How to create art objects

Who this book is for

Printing in Plastic is aimed at creative people comfortable using power tools, such as a table saw, circular saw, drill press, and so forth. The book is aimed at those who want to create and fabricate tangible objects from plastic. Crafters, carpenters, electronics hobbyists, and others comfortable working with their hands will find the instructions easy to follow and the projects rewarding.

Table of Contents

  1. What to Expect
  2. Hardware and Tools
  3. Tips & Advice
  4. Cutting the Parts I
  5. Cutting the Parts II
  6. Advanced Cuts and Drilling I
  7. Advanced Cuts and Drilling II
  8. Advanced Cuts and Drilling III
  9. Advanced Cuts and Drilling IV
  10. Beginning Assembly
  11. Sub-Assembly Work
  12. Adding Structure
  13. Motors and Movement
  14. The Extruder
  15. The Filament Feeding Mechanism
  16. Mounting Electronics
  17. Final Assembly Check
  18. Software I
  19. Software II
  20. Trial Run I
  21. Trial Run II
  22. Self-Replication
  23. Troubleshooting

Frequently Bought Together

Printing in Plastic: Build Your Own 3D Printer (Technology in Action) + Practical 3D Printers: The Science and Art of 3D Printing (Technology in Action) + Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing
Price for all three: $70.90

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James Floyd Kelly is a professional writer from Atlanta, Georgia. He has written numerous books on multiple subjects, including LEGO robotics, open source software, and building your own CNC machine as well as a 3D printer.�He is the editor-in-chief of the number one MINDSTORMS NXT blog, The NXT Step (, where he is joined by fellow NXT experts who share their knowledge and designs with other robot fans around the world.

Patrick Hood-Daniel is a hobbyist. By day, he is an urban designer trained in architecture and city planning at the University of Miami and the University of California. But in his spare time, Patrick�puts skills from a previous career as a computer programmer to good use in building and operating computer numerically controlled (CNC) fabrication machines. He is the creative force behind and is well-known for designing CNC machines that can be built at low cost by normal people, without any special or expensive tools.

Product Details

  • Series: Technology in Action
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Apress; 1 edition (June 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1430234431
  • ISBN-13: 978-1430234432
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 9.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #634,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Better download the plans and put a CD with your book November 5, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is just the written instructions to go along with the videos and plans from the author's website. The book by itself is nearly useless as there isn't even a small print of the plans with dimensions in the book.

Before you buy this book, I strongly suggest going to the author's website at buildyourtools dot com. Download all the plans, watch all the videos, then decide if you need the book.

If the website ever goes down or the author decides not to support this book, you'll be out of luck. So if you buy this book, I'd download all the files related to it and burn them on a CD or put them on a flash drive to keep with the book.

The main component, the plastic feed head, is an amalgam of DIY and parts from Makerbot's 3D printer. No instructions are given on building the melt head itself. You could go buy that and add it to just about any CNC mill to build a 3D printer. There are a lot of open source projects out there.

The goal is laudable - DIY something cheaper than the existing kits out there now. I just think the book could have been better thought out.

FYI- while I'm writing this review, I find the author's website, buildyourtools(dot)com, is currently unavailable. Only a temporary thing, but as an owner of this book that makes me nervous.

Update: After a lot more reading and thinking about it, I've decided to return the book. I've never returned a book before, but the lack of plans in the book and the lack of dimensions on the downloadable plans really bothers me. It feels like half of a book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Printing in 3d book July 16, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very good book with tons of information about building a 3d Printer. Also, includes info to change it to a small router with a Dremel Rotary tool installed. Included are lists of required hardware and online web links to resources.

I was very impressed with the book. Also the full sized plans can be downloaded, and the assembly videos are available, as well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as much about printing plastic! January 6, 2012
By H B
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
- It's a book about making a 3D plastic printer

- It's filled with mostly outdated info. Currently there are much better looking and better functioning models on the market, like the prusa mendel.
- it's not much teaching about printing plastic, just about making the device; which is great for engineers, but not for the average hobbyist searching for a new hobby.
- Pretty complex stuff
-It's quite an expensive book!
- Less than 10% is about the software.

A great book for the engineer trying to make his first 3d plastic printer, but not good for the average hobbyist searching for a new hobby.
This overpriced book is filled with outdated info, which you probably could get for free browsing around websites of prusa.

A great book perhaps 5 years ago, but today I would not recommend anyone buying this book (right price should be in the $15-range)!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This well documented and well illustrated project oriented guide to building a 3D Plastic Prototyping Printer is by the same authors and follows a similar format to Apress's "Build Your Own CNC Machine". Given the increasing popularity of "Hackerspaces" and kit-based 3D Plastic Printers like Makerbot and Reprap there will be a wide audience for this book that fully describes the process of implementing a completely do-it-yourself 3D Plastic Prototyper in the form of a complete book rather than some on-web instructions. The assembly of this device the whiteAnt 3D printer requires more woodshop skills then either Makerbot's Thing-O-Matic or the Reprap system but these are thoroughly documented in the book. In exchange for some extra woodshop requirements the whiteAnt system can easily be converted to a limited CNC fabricator with modification instructions contained in an appendix. Also while providing a powerful system whose assembly and use is fully described in the book and accompanying website the fabrication of the whiteAnt might cost considerably less than Makerbot's Thing-O-Matic (while sharing similar electronics).

I would suggest this book to anyone who has been fascinated or is assenbling the similar Makerbot and Reprap products having this additional information and illustration is invaluable to any interested in Plastic Prototyping.

--Ira Laefsky, MSE/MBA
IT Consultant & Researcher retired from the Senior Consulting Staff of Arthur D. Little, Inc. & DIGITAL Equipment Corporation
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great concept, poorly implemented November 29, 2011
By Gavin
I'd been looking for a book to augment my current (basic) knowledge of the 3D printing landscape. This book seemed like it would hit the mark, but it left me with an empty feeling. I think primarily this was because of the complete mess they made of the XYZ planes. As soon as I read how they planned to implement it I said to myself "that ain't right!". And sure enough at the back they owned up and admitted they'd made a massive mistake but it was too late for them to go and fix the problem - full steam ahead, damn the the correctness, schedule must be met! Hopefully they'll do a second rev to fix this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I should have looked a little closer before buying August 31, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Not what I had was thinking. More my fault for not fully reviewing before clicking buy it. I was planning on working with son on this, so I thought a book would be a resource.

I am not opposed using wood (plywood) for some of the parts, you can get many parts off the shelf that would make this easier. Then tells you to buy parts for other 3d kits... ok....

I like the standard work of assembly, but was a little over done in the book. I guess that is what made the book.

A search engine can find your answers for free or better looking units or kits.

If you want spend a lot of time laying out and crafting complicated wood shapes then, go for it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Awesome book! bought all the stuff and am building one right now.
Published 4 days ago by nathan burns
2.0 out of 5 stars Save your time and money
I built one and made it work, but the extruder is all wrong and the z axis has way too much mass to be usable at anything but very slow speed. Read more
Published 7 months ago by donnier
1.0 out of 5 stars Title should have been "Printing in Plastic with Fred Flintstone!"
I'd call this book and the printer you build from it a joke, but I have too much respect for comedians. Read more
Published 8 months ago by George S. Van Winkle
5.0 out of 5 stars comprehensive
clearly written with plenty of photos.within the capability of absolute amateurs who can only handle hand tools.a snap to build.
Published 9 months ago by Barry Cantor
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Item
this is a great book. well written and a good buy. i would recemend this book to anyone wanting to build a 3d printer
Published 11 months ago by Jeremy Hernon
5.0 out of 5 stars great plans
enjoyed reading and now ready to build if it works as well as information given, then it will be my best buy! Thanks
Published 12 months ago by eribon
3.0 out of 5 stars Good general knowledge of earlier builds
This book contains a thorough general knowledge of the subject and is a good start for those who are just getting interested in the field.
Published 12 months ago by Gimpy
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential for the Home Tinkerer
3D printing is the wave of the future, and this book is a great introduction to the field. The book is neatly laid out, written in clear, simple language, and filled with... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Vesper Aeon
2.0 out of 5 stars Out of date and mistitled
The title here is misleading. Not much in this about the end result: a 3D "printed" object. It's really about cutting plywood, drilling holes, installing bolts and a bit of wiring. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Malinda Shaver
5.0 out of 5 stars bschafer
I found the book a lot of fun as well as informative. It tells how to fabricate each of the 17 pieces necessary to construct the 3d printer in a very organized, lucid, and... Read more
Published on March 20, 2012 by bob schafer
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