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Cost of Rep Rap build..

Posted by ebenbruyns 
Cost of Rep Rap build..
March 22, 2014 09:01PM
I've been toying with the idea of building a rep rap for a couple of years now. It still seems like it's not possible to build one for much less than $1000 NZD. I've been looking at the Prusa i3 and spent some time tracking down the majority of the parts mostly sourced in NZ.

Am I correct in thinking that buying a kit might actually be cheaper even if I have to pay GST and shipping on it?

What's the preferred model to build in NZ? Roughly how much do you need to spend to get a decent printer?

If I've got it wrong with regards to sourcing parts where should they be sourced form instead?
Re: Cost of Rep Rap build..
March 22, 2014 09:30PM
souring in Nz is your issue

Its far cheaper to source from over seas, even with shipping, but in small (sub $300) lots to avoid the tax man.

Preferred model is what you like... most recommend the I3 pate or box, but others like the mendel 90 (more complete and better documentation)
Other still per fer delta style printers, but these are harder ti get right (since everything moves to make x ,y move)

Also depends on the size of things you want to print.. in general larger is more difficult and more expensive and prints take much longer.

It also depends on your skill set, are you happy to solder and get your hand dirty, or just get a kit.

I would recommend jumping on irc://freenode/reprap and talking to the fokes there. (world wide)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/22/2014 09:31PM by Dust.
Re: Cost of Rep Rap build..
March 23, 2014 02:19AM
An i3 kit from overseas would save a lot of shagging around. Take a browse at the buyers guide: http://reprap.org/wiki/Prusa_i3_Buyers_Guide. Complete i3 kits go for $500 - $650USD and you will either need to pay the tax man (on a $700USD purchase including shipping - about $170 - $210NZD extra according to this calculator - assuming it attracts either 0% or 5% duty). So yeah - you could be up for over $1000 for a kit that you then need to assemble and get running properly. You may find a supplier willing to undervalue your kit on the documentation to fly under the customs radar but there are risks with this.

I built a Prusa Mendel i2 based machine last year using the most extensive kit of parts I could land here for under $400 NZD. I didn't have to pay tax on it and shipping was Friday to Monday from Hong Kong. I spent about another $300 on the rest of the parts needed - and that was without having to buy many printed plastic parts or any fasteners - other than threaded rods. I'm very happy with the finished result.

If the price is a turn off, there are designs out there that are cheaper to build but they all involve some compromise. A fair bit of the hardware cost for a 3D printer is for electronics, steppers, switches etc. These parts are the same regardless of which design of printer you build. I'd suggest that if you need to spend a few hundred on these common items, you are much better off using them to build a machine that has a decent print volume, is rigid enough to produce good quality prints without constant re-calibration, is capable of printing ABS as well as PLA and has an LCD screen with SD card slot to allow stand-alone printing. It might be possible to build a cheap 3D printer for $500 if you did a bit of research, but you'd need to forego some of these extras.

I quite like the design of the Smartrap for a potentially cheap 3D printer. It has no heatbed so printing is limited to PLA only. It uses fishing line to pull the X and Y axes so it saves the cost of pulleys, belts and idlers. The print volume isn't huge on the smallest size option (150mm cube) but there are options for larger size. One thing I don't like about it is that the X and Y axis rods slide thru stationary bearings. Greater sliding mass limits maximum acceleration and hence overall print speed. If you started with a basic electronics kit purchased from overseas and were able to source the other hardware and a kit of printed parts locally at the right price, a Smartrap could be a good one to build. You'd need to do the research first to see that it wasn't going to be up near the price of an imported i3. i3 support and documentation will be much better purely due to the sheer number of them built. You'd need a few skills to get a Smartrap humming.

Good luck.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/23/2014 02:22AM by n.glasson.

My Prusa Mendel i2 inspired Repstrap with welded steel frame: [youtu.be]
And my Smartrap derived Briefcase 3D printer: [youtu.be]
Re: Cost of Rep Rap build..
March 24, 2014 03:10PM
I self sourced a Mendel90, it was quite frustrating at points to find all the correct pieces but I got there in the end for around $500NZD. I did make my own hot end and got some good trade discounts on fasteners though.
With cheap electronics on Aliexpress now you might be able to achieve something similar. Here a start.

$90 of motors
$50 of electronics (much cheaper than I paid, you can even get an lcd for a few more dollars)
$70 J head extruder (get a real one, I haven't heard anything good about the knock off ones yet)
$10 of linear bearings (beats $12.50+gst each from saeco)
$55 of smooth rod from total trade in NZ
The dibond could get expensive unless you're handy enough to drill it yourself from the templates
Printed parts form someone in NZ
A ton of different screws
belts, pulleys, misc.

You might be able to find better prices on Ali, those were just what I ordered last time and a quick look
Re: Cost of Rep Rap build..
March 25, 2014 12:27AM
the biggest costs I have found so far were the motors, the Jhead, and the frame.

I have looked at getting kits in before and they are expensive, yes they will be easier to put together with support and all items cut to size (in theory), ready to go.
however until someone starts selling full printer kits in NZ, it's not going to be ideal Cost wise.

with the prices I have paid so far, and being very close to finishing I will have made a sub $500.00 (i think it may come closer to $400, but we will see) Prusa I3 Boxframe, not the cheapest you can do it for, nore is it going to be the best quality, however it does bear mentioning.

when it comes to sourcing your own parts you should always think clearly, don't just buy what everyone else says, take them as suggestions, read the reviews for thos products, check for a cheaper price and then buy what you want.

you may even find that you want a different printer to what everyone else is building, and that is fine too.

for a boxframe Prusa I3, I would suggest looking at China for most of the parts, here are the ones I've purchased (untested so I'm not endorsing)
for Fastners and threaded rod I went to :
[www.edlfast.co.nz] and I would suggest you contact all your local fastner Suppliers (not the hardware store) in our area, prices vary by alot.
for smooth rods, I went for China, these are the ones that were cut to the exact length required for Boxframe build, you should read the Wiki in full for al the variants before deciding to build one and before buying parts

my Linear Bearings I got from China too
for Belt and Pulleys
for Motors (you ahve to extend the wiring for these it's not long enough, a bit of a PITA)
stepper motor drivers also from china, these you can do cheaper on, these ones I had to solder on headers for myself, and they are trimmed very close the the edge, not high quality electronics but should do in theory
for controller I went for RAMPS, and I got my board here, fully assembled
and for my Arduino, I also went China, this one is a decent copy, and cheaper than any clone i could find here in NZ, the listing does show 2 pieces per lot but they are refering to the cable, no manual, no accesories, just the board and cable to attach to PC

for the Frame, I went with 12mm Plywood from bunings but there are other things you can use, cheap and sturdy is good, oh and measure the boot of your car if you plan to buy a 1200x1200mm sheet, wouldnt fit in my hatchback tongue sticking out smiley
for the Printed parts I have a friendly local Forum member who has very kindly agreed to print the parts from a rol of fillament, that woorks out to about $50.00 the average price I found was $60 - $70 there are guys in AUS that print parts and are happy to help us kiwi's out at a cost but you do pay for the convenience, if you ask nice and are patient a Kiwi should be able to help for a resonable price, remember they do have to take the time to configure and print, ontop of their material costs.

for Hotends there was a recent review of the available hotends in the RepRap Magazine (a decent read, have a flick through the first 3 issues before deciding on a printer build) and in this one they do rate the e3D allmetal hotends most recent version quiet highly, however for my build I will most likely be going for the Jhead from Hotends.com (not a clone)

if you can solder, are good with hand tools and have done a bit of computer programming, you can probbably build a reprap from parts, the bing thing that I found starting out, is the information is scattered all over the place and there are so many variants that nothing seems standard, and each time someone builds a new one it differs form the one the original builder designed and would require slightly different parts.
this link here is probably the most valuable:
read al the sub pages espescially the sourcing guide.
if you want to source your own parts that is, build/ or buy however you want tongue sticking out smiley
Re: Cost of Rep Rap build..
March 25, 2014 12:50AM
Thanks for all the info so far, I'm still digesting some of it.

I've been doing a bit more digging and found a couple of attractive kits:


This one looks like like it will be less than $600 could even be less than $500 if I'm willing to wait that long...


This one has free world wide shipping... Also under $600

Obviously the quality of parts comes into question but it seems like it's quite a bit cheaper than I've priced up so far...

Having said that I used the BOM for the Prusa i3 reworked instead of the Prusa i3 so that might make a difference too...

If I was to be perfectly honest I quite like the looks of the Gus Simpson version, but that would require fiddling so it will most likely be something I'll build after I get my initial printer up and running. I'll keep reading and digging for parts (it's actually part of the fun - I know it sounds strange).

Just a bit of background on me, I'm a programmer by day, I just haven't done any hardware hacking before (I can solder, I need an excuse to buy a decent soldering iron though - this could be it) - but I've played in the low level side of software...
Re: Cost of Rep Rap build..
March 25, 2014 05:23PM
Last year I built a prusa i3 single plate 6mm aluminium.
Since a couple of upgrades I think I now have $800 into it including the E3d hotend.
Have priced up a new identical printer for myself and have come up with $550 which gives you:
Aluminium single plate prusa i3
All M10 rods
E3D hotend.
Ramps electronics with smart lcd
All the appropriate cooling fans for printing with PLA or ABS
Of course this could be done even cheaper as that price accounts for the frame being water cut which is $100 of the bill.
So if you're willing to self source parts mostly from aliexpress and wait up to a month for it to arrive you could definitely build a very nice printer for well under $1000

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/25/2014 05:25PM by tomas02.
Re: Cost of Rep Rap build..
March 31, 2014 02:20AM
Anyonw looked at (or ordered) any of the cheaper printers i.e. makibox (about $320) or pirate buchaneer (about $650)? Both look very good value if they exist.
Re: Cost of Rep Rap build..
April 05, 2014 06:59PM
Mendel90 (sturdy), RAMPS1.4, j-head Mk5.

e-bay was my friend...

Got the printed parts from a guy in the UK, 3 days to get here.
RAMPS board, stepper drivers, steppers, heated bed, 8mm linear bearings and hotend from China/Singapore based e-bay sellers.
No problems at all with my j-head hotend (yep...it's a 'not the real thing'), but has not skipped a beat.

For the frame, look to TradeMe for acrylic offcuts from 'classic-plastic'. They'll cut to size too if you ask. Only need a 500x500x10mm sheet for the base, and a couple the same WxH in 6mm for the rest.

Makershop supplied the running gear and other vitamins. Flick them the vitamins list from 'sturdy' subfolder of the Mendel git archive, and they'll give you what you need. Make sure it's the latest release because I had an older one and it uses M8 threaded rod for the z axis. The latest one is M6.

Get an extra length of 8mm smooth rod for the filament spindle. I've got my filament suspended on a rod which spans the uprights on the back of the gantry. The ends rest through the levers of a couple of 35mm bulldog clips clipped to the top of the uprights. The weight of the filament pushes the clip levers away from each other and clamps the rod in place. I've printed a reel hub (takes it from the 40mm ID of the reel down to 8mm for the rod) if you use the filament reels from Diamond Age.

All up, I acquired the parts over several months, built in 4 days, and having a ball printing things like the hexapod robot I've designed...and upgrade parts for the A3 printer to CNC machine conversion I did at christmas time. Total cost was around $700.

I looked at many designs, and after reading why nophead (Chris) went the way he did with the Mende90 design, was sold on the concepts, and haven't looked back.
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