Inkjet printers may be a fairly inexpensive way to print out your holiday snaps, but they can be fragile machines and end up at the city dump well before they hit kindergarten age. Italian maker Michele Lizzit has designed a way to make use of spent printers to build an operational 3D printer for just €10.

The 18 year-old student at Liceo Scientifico Copernico in Udine, Italy, broke apart three old inkjet printers and a flatbed scanner and used their parts for the project's mechanical components. Not everything could be salvaged from scrap though, and he had to buy a hotend extruder, an ATmega328 processing brain, a motor driver, three driver boards and a high-current transistor.

The extruder housing was 3D-printed using a standard desktop machine, but rather than source a hobbed bolt, he made use of the paper loading mechanism from an inkjet printer. A plastic plate from a scanner was topped by cardboard packaging from Amazon, and is reported to offer "great adhesion for prints." Cardboard biscuit boxes currently support the structure, but Lizzit is looking to build a solid metal frame in the future as the cardboard frame adversely affects print precision.

Finally, Lizzit created some system firmware, which he's made open source.

The end result is not going to win any beauty pageants, but is said to achieve a print resolution of 33 microns on both axes. Upcoming firmware will allow the system to compensate for filament slipping, auto clean a clogged nozzle and select the correct temperature for a filament on its own.

The aim of the project was to prove that fairly precise prints can be had from a home-build that makes use of linear encoders from inkjet printers, but it also has the potential to put spent hardware to good use and is impressively cheap. And because the system uses DC motors instead of stepper motors, it should consume significantly less power than a shop-bought model, too.

Lizzit has build instructions on his website, along with a parts list and links to firmware downloads – should you wish to build your own. The video below shows the machine making a test print.

View gallery - 2 images