This Lego-Modded Glue Gun is a Handheld 3D Printer

By Maddie Stone on at

Tired of the same old, boring laminated pattern that's in all of your 3D printed stuff? Industrial design student Vimal Patel was, and so he decided to fashion himself a 3D doodler, out of a hot glue gun which he modded with a custom Lego extruder. You know, obviously.

According to Patel's website, the idea began with a university project where he was asked to design something using biodegradable, 3D filament. The goal was to explore monomateriality, or making products with a single material—a concept that's grown in popularity since the advent of 3D printing. While a typical multimaterial consumer product may contain foam, plastic, adhesive and half a dozen more materials, all shipped from different parts of the world, products composed of a single material cost less carbon to produce and are far easier to recycle.

Patel's aim was to replace the functionality of multimaterial products by creating a monomaterial with "varying zones of stiffness." As Patel describes on his website, this is a pretty tough thing to do with a standard 3D printer:

It was clear that the layer-by-layer deposition of material constrained the plane of flexibility to a single axis which made it difficult to make complex shapes (like a helmet). The ideal situation would be to extrude material along a path in multiple axes (i.e., with a robotic arm). This is a damned difficult thing to model and program, so I sought a simpler way.

So, he ditched the printer entirely, and used Lego parts to build a custom attachment that would feed 3mm biodegradable filament through the nozzle of a hot glue gun. The product he ended up designing—a helmet that looks a bit like a bird's nest—isn't very realistic, but Patel is more excited by possibilities his new tool offers. To get other would-be 3D doodlers started, he made a digital file of the Lego extruder that's free to download so that anyone can replicate it.

This Lego-Modded Glue Gun is A Handheld 3D Printer

Now, if this isn't a great Sunday afternoon project, I don't know what is. [Hackaday]

Top image via Vimal Patel.