The Desktop Factory Competition

The Problem:

Low cost 3D printing is an emerging market.  Competitors including Makerbot, Printrbot, Solidoodle, and Ultimaker sell machines from between $399-$2200.  These machines require extruded plastic filament that costs about $40-$54 per kg.  This is between 5-10 times the cost of the raw resin pellets.  To get widespread adoption of the technology the cost of using the machines will need to go down.

The Challenge:
Drive down the cost of filament by creating a machine.  The first team/person to build an open source filament extruder for less than $250*(calculation details below) in components can take ABS or PLA resin pellets, mix them with colorant, and extrude enough 1.75mm diameter +/- .05mm filament that can be wrapped on a 1kg spool.  The machine must use the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).

At Inventables we will verify the BOM posted matches the machine sent. We will order all the parts from suppliers and attempt to build it ourselves. We will then run the machine and verify it meets the criteria listed on the challenge. After we are done with the evaluation we will send the machine back if you wish.

The competition will end when the first person sends in a valid solution. If the clock runs out before then we will likely extend the time frame. The decision will be based on what the state of the art solutions for 3D printers look like at that time. 

The winner of the competition will be objectively determined by the first one to upload a solution to the here on iStart.


The Reward:

$40,000 from the Kauffman Foundation and a Desktop Fabrication Lab (a 3D printer, an FS Laser Cutter, and a Shapeoko CNC Mill)


Other useful information

The input material is ABS and PLA plastic resin pellets. These pellets are small granules generally with shape of a cylinder or a disk with a diameter of a few millimeters. I had some in a bag in our office and just measured them and found they ranged in size from 2mm to 7mm in diameter. The machine needs to work with pellets that come from any big resin pellet manufacturer. Here is a list of manufacturers that make ABS -  and here is one for PLA manufacturers.  Inventables will be making ABS Pellets and PLA Pellets available for sale in small bags.


*The bill of materials cost will be calculated when machines are ordered in quantities of 400. If parts need to be custom manufactured the labor cost must be included in the cost listed on your bill of materials.   We understand the bill of materials for these test machines will cost more than it will at 400 units but we will verify the quotes for parts at 400 units meet the $250 limit. For example, if you need 1 foot of a 3 foot bar of aluminum we will divide the cost of buying enough aluminum bar to make 400 machines by 400 units. 

For colorants we prefer a dry blend because they don't make as big of a mess but we will accept liquid colorant solutions as well. In industry they call this process a "masterbatch". 

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