3D printers are great for producing many parts to support other projects. If students build a 3D printer building other manufacturing machines like laser cutters are much easier as they both have hardware to move in 3D. Even CNC machines can be build after students have built a 3D printer. When students build 3D printers it also makes the cost of running the makerspace cheaper.
To keep costs low we usually suggest to just use wood to make the frame of the 3D printer. Students design the 3D printer using CAD software. Then produce a list of wood parts to cut, plastic parts to 3D print and off the shelf parts needed to build the printer. The off the shelf parts are already at the makerspace so students can use then while designing their printer.
Designing and building a 3D printer is a great project for an experienced and motivated maker or a group of a few students.
This 3D printer project is a great opertunity for students to come up with solutions for the issues they have while using the 3D printers in the makerspace.