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Parts and Materials for Building a 3D Printer

Where to get Materials and Parts

In short: eBay but I'll go into more detail. I like high quality parts and tools. However, I'm very frugal. I work hard for my money and I want to keep as much of it as I can. As a result, I've spent a ridiculous amount of time searching various suppliers websites and comparing prices and quality. I'll share the fruit of my labors with you here.

Linear Rails

I used THK brand linear rails for the Wildbot. THK rails are made in Japan and are some of the highest quality rails you can buy. HIWINN is another good brand. These are premium, industrial brands that come with a premium, industrial price tag. The way I found around this is the miracle of “new old stock”. This term refers to parts that are unused and still in the manufacturers packaging but have been sitting on a shelf in some company's supply room and never got used. These will sometimes be models that have been replaced.

For the Wildbot, I used THK RSR12 rails and carriages. The RSR line has been replaced with the SRS (not confusing at all, right?) and because of that, I was able to get my rails for ~$100 per pair as opposed to ~$600 per pair. Also, for industrial rails, used is definitely an option. As long as you buy an industrial name brand, even used industrial rails, when used on a home 3d printer, will probably outlast you. A few of the rails/carriages I bought were lightly used and perform as well or better than the “new-old-stock” rails.

linear rails

Cast Aluminum Tooling Plate (MIC-6)

Mic-6 aluminum tooling plate is the best material for your build plate, period. It's extremely flat and conducts heat really well. Also, it's pretty. Let's get into some crunch before you guys revoke my man card for calling something pretty.


Each side is machined to a maximum 20 microinch or 0.50-micron smoothness. The tolerance for any thickness is ±0.005” /±0.127mm. Maximum deviation from flat: Specified plate thickness maximum variation: 3/4” and over: .005” / 19mm and over: .127mm 1/4” to 5/8”: .015” / 6mm and over: .381mm I love me some crunchy data. You don't have to understand the data. Suffice it to say MIC-6 is very, very flat. It doesn't get any better than this for a build plate on a 3d printer.

mic 6


The best way I've found to cut aluminum tooling plate is with a tablesaw but I've also used a jig/sabersaw. You can clamp a bar or straight-edge to it to make a fence to keep your cut straight. One note: Don't lift the saw off your material until the blade stops or it will break your blade. Don't ask me how I know that. I buy Bosch jigsaw and bandsaw blades.

If you need to mill your aluminum, use two-flute endmills. Aluminum is kind of “gummy” and tends to stick to a four-flute end mill so you end up cutting through your chips. Two-flute end mills are much better for chip clearance. For keeping your cutter cool, a lot of machinists use kerosene when cutting aluminum. Mineral spirits works fairly well, in my experience but I'm no machinist so I'm sure someone will come along and tell me how wrong I am. For endmills, Niagara Cutter makes some of the best cutting tools on the market.

Where to Buy

Hopefully, you didn't go and google where to buy MIC-6 before you finished this article. If you did that you probably saw the high price tag and closed my website. We just need relatively small pieces of it for our 3d printers. There's a lot of sellers on eBay selling remnants for ~$20 or so. I've bought several pieces from eBay seller USA Metal Online. I highly recommend them. If you're like me, go ahead and order two plates so you don't have to wait on a new to be delivered when you wreck the first one. Also, I covered my MIC-6 plates with painter's tape to protect the surface while I was cutting them out. Aluminium is soft so be careful with clamps.

Useful Resources