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Lyman's Filament Extruder
Today, we’ve already seen the RecycleBot as a means to keep the cost of filament as low as possible and this afternoon the winner of the Desktop Fabrication Competition is another solution to the high price of ABS filament.
Hugh Lyman, an 83-year-old inventor, has won the $40,000 dollar prize for his LYMAN FILAMENT EXTRUDER II, a device that converts inexpensive ABS pellets into filament for use with desktop 3D printers. The challenge was to create an open-source device for conversion of the pellets into filament for less than $250.
The veteran inventor took to the task with gusto having come across the problem of expensive filament in his personal production line of jewellery, statues and parts for his other inventions. He submitted the LYMAN FILAMENT EXTRUDER I in August 2012, this entry was disallowed for parts that he’d created himself pushing it over the $250 threshold, back to the drawing board and a few months later he came up with the winner of the competition sponsored by Kauffman Foundation, Maker Education Initiative and Inventables.
The filament used in today’s desktop 3D printers costs up to ten times the amount of the ABS pellets made of the exact same material. It took the judges ten months to find the device that they thought fulfilled all of the criteria. Amongst the hundreds of entries it was the 83-year-old Lyman's design that really stuck out.
Inventables CEO Zach Kaplan was very impressed with the future implications "Since Mr. Lyman’s design is open source, he has advanced the state of the art from his garage. We expect future designs from established players and startups to build on his work and make the cost of desktop fabrication 10 times cheaper than it is today."
With the constant reinvention of filament we expect prices to drop and a culture, not unlike the refillable ink cartridge culture, to rise, the result of this will mean the current suppliers of filament will need to find a way to supply cheaper filament. Either way it is good news for us consumers.