Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cheap skates guide to a $510ish Mendel ($360 if you have access to a 3d printer)

(This was a much longer and more detailed post, but Blogger ate my 3 pager, I am not typing out all the details again, I don't love you that much :P)

Just a few shopping notes, getting ready to start building my second Prusa (3rd one will be a lobotomized Cupcake turned into a Prusa, poor MB) , and was going to use some of my lessons learned to make the next one a little cheaper.

Cheapest Electronics: Ultimachine DIY Kit $162 or $170 with shipping

I tried buying the generic Arudino off Ebay, or stepper controllers direct for Pololu.  Didn’t matter what I did, it was going to be $162 or more.  You can usually get the power supplies for dirt cheap at your local computer repair shop, just remember you need 60W plus.

Cheapest Full hot end: Makergear Hybrid Operators Pack $70 or $80 with shipping

The cheapest and most respected hot end in the community.  Mendel-Parts came close, but Shipping put it way over the top.

Cheapest Motors: Alltronics ~43n-cm NEMA17 Steppers $9.95 a piece or $55 with shipping and $5 more for the clips from Ultimachine

You will need to add the plugs for your ramps, and likely extend at least 3 of the stepper's wires, but if you need cheap, that's cheap, and the steppers are strong enough to each run an extruder.

Cheap Hardware:  You can get all the hardware for a Prusa Mendel locally.  The bearings from a skate shop, hardware from your local fastener supply (you have one local, I promise, and they are cheap on screws, threaded, and A2 tool rod).  I got all the hardware for my Prusa Mendel for $50.  If you try to buy this stuff online any savings is likely going to get killed by shipping.  If you’re scared to hobb your own bolt you can pick those up on Ebay for $10.

RP parts (the plastic bits):  CHEAPEST place is likely always going to be #reprap IRC, the RepRap forum, and Ebay.  Currently Prusa parts are going for $125-$150.  Just keep in mind if you get a "normal" Sells Mendel, you’re going to pay $100 more for the plastic, and then $100 for the added hardware it needs for no benefit in build quality. 

Next cheapest place, but (unless order from the right person on Ebay) higher quallity will be the Webshops that sell RP parts.  These include Makergear, Emakershop, and a few others I can't think of right now.

So the total is:
Electronics $170
Motors $60
Hot End $80
Hardware $50
RP Parts $150 if you need them

So that comes to $360 is the cost of a second RepRap, and if your new to the hobby a Prusa can be self sourced for $510.  Of course this is trying to minimize cost.  If you want a HBP, or not to have to solder much, etc etc then the price goes up.  Getting the Electornics done by Ultimachine and getting the motors from him so you don't have to deal with any soldering outside the hot end would add $100. HPB is going to run you $50+ from Ultimachine or Makergear. 

2 years ago the official RepRap was Darwin, and at the time the official cost to self source (if you had access to the RP Parts) was over $1000.  A Year ago a Sells Mendel costs $600-$700 if you had access to the RP Parts (And VERY few people did).  Now we as a community are down to less than $400 dollars.  Amazing times my friends.


  1. If you have a makerbot, you have the electronics and the hot end, plus the 8mm rods for the Z-axis.
    The conversion price is very low.

  2. Rods are too short, but yes everything else will move over. Should only cost me around $40 bucks to convert.

  3. You can do the electronics slightly cheaper if you're willing to go more barebones and you have resistors, capacitors, LEDs, cables, connectors, and pin headers or can get them for cents locally.

    $48 4x A4983 shipped from RobotSimple
    $30 Arduino Mega shipped from eBay
    $35 RAMPS PCB + 1 MOSFET + 3 endstop kits + shipping from Ultimachine

    You can also go $10 cheaper by using microswitches instead of optical switches.

  4. Just after I read this a friend popped up on AIM and said out of the blue that he was thinking of buying a ThingOMatic. I talked him out of it and said he needed a Prusa. I sent him the link to this post.

    Not exactly sure how, but it ended up with him buying two sets of prusa plastics off ebay. He's giving me one for free if I assemble his bot for him. He'll pay for all his bits and I'll drop the $360 for mine.

    So, apparently I'm finally getting a bot, and this post is why. Big Kudos. Woohoo, free plastics!

  5. Your welcome Chris, be sure to show up in #reprap if you have any issues, and don't be bashful about updating the wiki!

  6. Both the Ultimachine and Makergear parts linked in the post are out of stock. Does anyone have links to cheapish suppliers who have equivalent units in stock?

  7. Ultimachine still has the shield, so you can get the stepper/arduino elsware.

    Ok the Makergear parts you can just contact Rick in #makergear in freenode chat, I am sure he has something you can use.

    Also a good alternative to the Makergear hot end is the Arcol hot end. It's just a bit more, but a lot more steam punk looking :)

  8. Hi, I love the post.
    Could you give me a breakdown of what kind of prices you get for the hardware locally? I also guess it is important to know where you are in the world.
    I was inspired by your post and went to the best fastener store in my town (in the U.S.) to get prices today. I couldn't find anything cheaper than mcmaster carr, and some things were 150% their price! I couldn't have gotten the full kit minus belts for much under $220

    Thanks for all of your research, I've been loving it.

  9. The trick with the local hardware is to buy EXACTLY what you need. So most fastener shops let you get 12 bolts, not a whole box, and skate shops usually let you get 2 bearings not 8 etc.

    No one beat Mcmaster carr's price I buy local mostly because it lets me get exactly what I need.

  10. Might be a silly question, but will this thing work for long, considering all the electronics are low-end?

  11. There are no "high end" electronics in RepRap. You have to remember that the electrical cousins of these machines where running on vacuum tubes 40 years ago. It's not rocket science. Ramps are plenty good enough. :)

  12. What would it cost to make the RP parts? In other words would it be feasible to make several sets and sell it to come out even?

  13. Dan, yes and no, depends on what you mean by "even". Plastic sets go for $80-$100 now, and only take around $10 in plastic and $3 in electricity. The issue is that it takes 17 hours and at the very least 2 print plates on the printer. You don't leave these printers unatended so you at the very least have the work load of a security guard, so minimum wage. 17 hours at minimum wage is not $67 dollars :)

    But on the other hand if you LIKE printing stuff, want to help a friend, or are willing to deal with the nastyness/smells of casting you can make a small profit.

  14. wow what a great news that many skate guides are also available online and this skate guide is really helpful for me because for many time i am also wants to learn the skating and by using this guide i can easily learn the longboard skating....

  15. Thanks for the tips.. Anyway, where did u all print it at? I like wei man's suggestion of collating too.We printed together because of transportation issue - big poster, hard to carry around on public transport.

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