Another great initiative, this time by the Kauffman Foundation and Desktop Fabrication Lab. They set up a competition aiming to make desktop 3D printing even more accessible. Low cost 3D printing is already an emerging market. The competitors, including Makerbot, Printrbot, Solidoodle and Ultimaker, sell their machines from between $400-$2200. The ‘problem’ here is that the plastic filament required for the prints is pretty expensive (about $40-$54 per kg). This is between 5 to 10 times the cost of raw resin pellets. If we want to get a widespread adoption of this technology, the cost of using the machines will need to go down even more.
To give this idea a bit more stimulance, the Kauffman Foundation together with DFL set up a competition. The Desktop Factory Competition with a $40k price for the winning team! This price includes a 3D printer, an FS Laser Cutter and a Shapeoko CNC Mill.
So what needs to be done to win this price?
The challenge is to drive down the cost of filament by creating an open source filament extruder. This extruder has to be made for less than $250 in components and must be able to take ABS or PLA resin pellets, mix them with colorant, and extrude a 1.75mm +/- 0.1mm filament that can be used in a 3D printer.
If you are interested in joining this competition, off you go to The Desktop Factory Competition for registration. And good luck!