The Root: Self-Replicating Building System

A versatile 3D-printed build system (think industrial LEGOs), capable of making everything from a drone to a 3D printer itself.

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As makers, I think we probably have the following two in common:

1. We like building stuff!
2. We have a 3D printer lying around somewhere.

While often #2 is seen as the perfect solution to #1, Root has some unique characteristics that can substantially increase a printer's usefulness to your project.

So, what is Root?

Root is a building system that consists of 3D-printable "blocks" that clamp around rigid shafting. 3D printed parts are very versatile and inexpensive, but weak - the shafting fixes this.

Root works the same way as a traditional building system like 80/20 extrusion would. Beams of varying lengths and gauges are assembled, and features are added along them: various actuator mounts, joints, linear sliders, sensors, wheels, rotary power transmission, and much more.

Root is useful in that printed parts can be stockpiled (jump right in to a new project, don't wait for your printer) and reused between projects. Also, no need to CAD!

root demo object.step

This is a quick demo object I made to explain some of the concepts of Root.

step - 3.63 MB - 07/29/2019 at 02:06


  • 1 × 48mm base This unit is the base of the whole system. It is 48x48x8, and can mount bearings and screw to other components.
  • 1 × 24mm base This unit is half the size of the 48mm base, but can still screw to other units and can mount bearings.
  • 1 × M6 Nut holder This piece holds an M6 nut into the center 8mm hole, clamped between two blocks. This facilitates stronger connections between block sets.
  • 1 × 90 degree block This piece clamps to the outer face of a block, and can clamp onto a perpendicular set of beams.
  • 1 × Wooden dowels Wooden dowels can be used as a cheap shafting alternative.

View all 18 components

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