Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Still Extruding: RepRap Price Points

In this video I covered what a very basic RepRap would look like (The Pink one), a "normal" RepRap would look like (Black one), and what a full out obsessive build would look like (The White MakerGear Prusa).

Thanks to the constant work of developers like yourself throughout the community, the base price point, and what it takes to make a truly beautiful machine continues to drop.  But just because the lowest bar has dropped does not mean that all RepRap are created equal.  

$350ish Very Basic Prusa Mendel 

A very basic machine means you will be getting the plastic parts from someone who already has a machine.  If you’re getting it free that very likely means you know this person, or are willing to trade for it with a local person who has a 3d printer or a Hackerspace.  Also you’re going to use lots of used parts.  You can get used linear rod and steppers off the internet or at your local electronics recycler (think Goodwill in the US) or Ebay. The electronics I suggest Sanguinololu and Stepstick drivers off Ebay.  No Heated Build Plate.  Raw threaded Rod, hand polished smooth bar from the hardware store, a used ATX from your old computer (you only need 60W).  As you can see at this point you are talking about a LOT of foot work, but it's been done.

This machine can print PLA 80% as well as the next step up, but because you don't have a heated build plate very large PLA prints, and even medium sized ABS prints are going to be very challenging.  Your likely going to have a harder time trouble shooting because almost all your parts second hand or hand made.  But a changing 3d printer is better than no 3d printer at all!

$550ish realistically Cheap Prusa Mendel

$550 is about average for a self sourced Prusa at this point.  This has you buying your motors new from one of the venders suggested in the wiki or IRC, your hot end from someone who has a good reputation, a Heated Build plate (If you don't have Milled Aluminum & Power resistors sitting around, get a PCB heater), and all Zinc/Black oxide Hardware. and a new power supply (switching or ATX)

This machine is basically the one that most RepRap classes build and the most common RepRap in the world.  It can print ABS and PLA across it's full build area, and is a solid machine.

$850ish Full out RepRap

At $850 this is when you have decided to make a VERY nice machine.  There are really 2 options here, self source or Kit.

The two $850ish kits that I can suggest are Mendel and  I have bought products several times from Camiel at Mendel Parts and he is a really good guy, and man does he know how to shoot a nice video of his RepRap farm.  On the other side you have Makergear, who I have bought every hot end I own from, and is  a personal friend of mine.  I can only speak to the quality of MakerGear's kit, because it's the only RepRap kit I have ever put together, and it is wonderful.

The other way is to self source.  At $850 you can afford to get really nice motors like the ones sold by MenelParts and Ultimachine with the connectors already on, nice stainless hardware, plastic parts for your favorite flavor of Prusa, like a Felt, lm8uu, brass, or self centering brass, a geared stepper extruder, heated build plate.

This machine will print equivalently to the $550ish RepRap, but sourcing is easier, and if you get the kit from a vender, they do owe you some tech support.  

The best way to get guidance on what kits to buy, or where to get supplies is in the RepRap IRC

Thanks for this - I'm at the investigative stage of getting my own printer, and this is good knowledge.
i think you mean

never the less, nice and very helpful article. thanks for that.
That's good stuff, Neil. You might want to put this in the Wiki as an article so that it doesn't get buried beneath other postings. :-)
I would really appreciate it if you gave a part list with best location for purchasing the middle of the road rep rap. I have been trying to put together a list but the best I can do is ~$650.
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