Hungry for pounds and pounds of purple filament to feed through your printer? I know the answer to that is a pellet-melting YES. However, the cost of this filament… RIDICULOUS. Sure, 3D printers are awesome – You can make virtually anything – But the filament is expensive and there isn’t an easy way to make it yourself. How do we solve this problem? We have design challenges! An open source 3D printer filament extruder challenge.

The Desktop Factory Challenge

The Desktop Factory Challenge is genius. It’s is a partnership between business competition aggregator iStart and online Fab supplies store Inventables. What’s the challenge?

“The first team/person to build an open source filament extruder for less than $250*(calculation details below) in components can take ABS or PLA resin pellets, mix them with colorant, and extrude enough 1.75mm diameter +/- .05mm filament that can be wrapped on a 1kg spool.”

Inventables takes a look at your bill of materials (BOM) and calculates it based on the cost of building 400 of these filament makin’ machines. The first submission that suits all of the criteria is the winner.

And what of the prizes? How about a cool $40,000 dollars plus a Desktop Fabrication Lab (a 3D printer, a Laser cutter, and a Shapeoko milling machine) of your very own. That is so… WOW. What are you waiting for?

All of the design competitions I’ve been seeing – the 3D4D challenge, GrabCAD’s design challenges, EvD’s Design challenges – all of these challenges related to 3D printing remind of the early 1900s with the rapid development of the airplane. It was only a century ago when newspapers and the wealthiest people were offering bags of money to aviators to make planes fly further and faster than ever before (Charles Linburgh, Amelia Earhart, Louis Bleroit….etc). Okay, maybe I’m comparing apples to oranges – but it’s exciting to see and incredible to be a part of.

Here’s a memorable takeaway on that by-gone era. The 1965 comedy “Those Magnificent Men and their Flying Machines” featured 20 different authentic airplanes, rebuilt and used for the film.

YouTube video