It turns out that the trickiest part of making a 3-D printer kit is the software coding that tells it what to do. After several e-mail exchanges with Pettis, we finally got the beast moving. Unfortunately, our first effort looked more like modern art than the pulley we were going for. The machine is not impossible to master, though. Makerbot.com is full of examples of amazing printed objects, and a sister site, Thingaverse.com, hosts thousands of shared 3-D models that you can just download and plug in, once you get a handle on the software.Build A 3-D Printer
Time: 3 Days Cost: $950 Easy: 3/5
EXTRUDER CONTROLLER: The top is the controller board. The bottom—the orange head—is the part that gets very hot. Solid plastic enters the top and moves into a heated head that melts it. The movement of this part in three dimensions, and the start and stop of the flow through the head, determine the final shape of the printed object.