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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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. :)