Help Hackaday Buy Our Own 3D Printer UPDATED!


UPDATE: We’re getting a LulzBot thanks to [Jeff Moe].


We’ve held out for far too long. Hackaday now needs a 3D printer.   We get emails all the time asking why we don’t have a donate button. Well, we’re kind of stubborn and would rather just do with what we have. Unfortunately this hasn’t gotten us very far in the 3d printer department.

We have a few projects in mind that could really utilize a 3d printer, namely building custom game controllers for children with special physical needs.

If you have any interest in helping us get a 3D printer for Hackaday, read on. Otherwise, carry on with your day.

OK, we don’t like people giving us money for nothing, it feels icky. So, we’ve inflated the cost of a couple items in our store that you can purchase to help get us to our goal of $2500.  We have a sticker for $10, and you can preorder a 3D printed Hackaday badge for $25.  Being able to send you something for your money, even if it is just a token, makes us feel a little better.

Why don’t you just start a kickstarter?

I am so very very very sick of getting kickstarter emails. I choose to avoid that place.  If you’re reading hackaday, you’re our target audience anyway.

What printer do you want?

We’ve looked at the Ultimaker, Solidoodle, and Makerbot Replicator. At this point, our decision will be based on how much money we raise. If we can afford it we’ll most likely go with the Ultimaker. They’re crazy fast and the quality was pretty amazing.

“Don’t you think a 3D printer company would love to give you a printer just for the exposure?”

Sure, they might. That seems weird and somehow lacking in integrity though. I’m not sure why, I mean we’re begging our readers for money instead. Also, we haven’t asked any.  Maybe they’ll see this and offer.

“Why should we give you money?”

You probably shouldn’t. We’re not responsible people.

“why don’t you just build a reprap? They’re great!”

There are no less than 3 repraps owned by friends of ours that we could mooch off of. None of which can produce a high quality and consistent print. It is most likely just an issue of putting in the time to get everything dialed in perfectly. We don’t want to have to fight the printer.

We would consider a mendel90 kit. This would reduce the cost needed. Please send in links to good mendel90 kits.

I really really want to donate instead of buying your crap.

OK, only this once. You can just send money to my([Caleb]) personal paypal ( NOT ANY MORE!)

UPDATE: We’re getting a LulzBot thanks to [Jeff Moe].


Current contributions: $500 (4:15 pm central time)

130 thoughts on “Help Hackaday Buy Our Own 3D Printer UPDATED!

  1. If there are issues tweaking a Mendel and getting it up and running, why not have a series LISTING the outstandng issues so the community can better itself. Collect information from the web, aggregate it and publish a huge guide for how to get one working well. I’d get behind that.

    1. I doubt I’d donate either way(not due to a lack of love) but this idea seems more ‘hackaday’ than selling expensive stickers. It may still be lacking that nice finished product but it’d be better for the site and the intarwebs.

      1. Okay, not a long project…
        I know how hard it is to pick up a camera and document when you’re in the thick of things, but do take some pictures and put ’em on the Forum. Oh, and keep a glass of ice water handy when you’re testing it, for your fingers after they touch something you wish you hadn’t!

      2. “Long project” might be an adequate description of a Mendell Sells build…
        However there are several designs built around aluminum extrusions: Prism Mendel, MendelMax & derivatives; the Mendel90 is also an interesting choice, though it doesn’t use the extrusions.
        These printers make assembly, calibration and adjustments quite simple (extrusions are awesome, assembly is reduced to several hours unlike threaded rod designs).

        If you got enough money to buy an assembled machine, you “could” get a badass (high quality hot-end, multiple extruders, 32-bits electronics, large(r) build platform) reprap for, maybe, 2/3 of the price or less by a careful selection of all the printer’s elements.

        With a carefully assembled machine, and fine tuning the software, you can get awesome prints, but very likely not as good as the Ultimaker (which will also be faster to set up and fine-tune than the reprap).

        Anyway that’s my 2 cents, based on my personal experience, not an expert or anything; been tinkering with a Huxley kit for a year, almost finished my homemade Prism :)

          1. For the MendelMax you can check out Makers Tool Works. They seem to be OOS for the MendelMax 1.5 but are planning to release kits for the v2, different design than its predecessors though; might want to check the forums before committing.
            Seems there are no kits for the Prism, too bad.

            But after carefully reading this page again, I get the feeling that you guys are more focused on printing stuff almost right out of the box rather than tinkering a little.
            When i said “badass reprap” I really meant shopping around to pick the best of everything, I have no idea if there are kits offering next-gen electronics AND high-q hot end AND awesome quality prints.
            But I still think a reprap will be more modular (plastic extruding, paste extruding, dual/triple extruders, 3 headed extruder for color mixing on the go) than the competition…

      3. >Unfortunately, we’re looking to buy a tool for a job, not buy a long project. Though,
        >depending on what we raise, we may be doing something similar to that.

        AHAHA, then prepare $10K, because ALL 3D printers below that price range are long term almost work but not quite hacks. Ask Dave Jones (eevblog) how well his Makerbots work(dont), or any Hackerspace how much they spend fixing theirs (ours worked for 2 weeks I think, they have been broken since then).

  2. First time posting here. Love the site keep it up!
    Ok so why not hit up Makibox? They have a solid design that is reliable in quality (@least what i have seen) and only like 300bills U$A?
    Ren jokes but that is a great cause. I sure would like to help but like many others I’m broke. Anyway other than $ to help out?

      1. Only some of the parts have to be scaled up… this is *hack*aday, right? Build it, use it, hack it bigger… Heck, use it to build the hacked parts to make itself bigger… wasn’t that the point of the original makerbots… build one that will then by itself be able to reproduce all or nearly all of the required parts to make duplicates??? I see a chance a demonstrating that in a big way here… :-)

        1. This is one of my plans for my tax return this year, along with one of the “cheap” chinese laser engravers that are mentioned frequently… Both of them are being purchased with this exact frame of mind, and the makibox has plenty of print area to print the parts for a bigger printer.

          And for the folks that have the guts to complain about this… What is WRONG with you? This site has been feeding us relevant hardware hacking news free of charge and nearly ad-free for 8 years now, and they ask for something *once* and you’re going to gripe about it? Come on people. This has been my everyday source of things to buy to make my wife angry for a long time now, and if you put up a donate button I will throw a few bucks in the pot.

          1. I have their 5th gen hobby laser and have been happy with it. You’ll want to budget $200-300 more than the cost of laser to cover the exhaust system, compressor fittings (if you didn’t buy one from them), and a CO2 fire extinguisher.

          2. I’m only a couple of hours from Chicago, and found a source of the $700 laser printers with local pickup in Chicago, so no shipping involved. The FS lasers look awesome, but these appear to be a “needs nothing” setup. I’d like to spend a while adding the $1000 worth of additionals that FS already puts on it for you through mods. There seem to be plenty of hackers out there making air assist fittings specifically for the super-cheap lasers, and even full board replacements to make it use gcode right out of a parallel port. I honestly think improving on it myself is going to be half the adventure of owning it.

  3. I have a friend who could use a specialized controller, he has one hand, if you are going that route Im sure any company that makes 3d printers would be more than happy to support you in this endeavor. just outline the plans that you have and I bet you would get one within a week. Also you could contact the guys and gals at Childsplay, you know the charity that gives games to sick kids in hospitals all over the world. I am sure their sponsors would jump on board. when I get paid later this week, I’ll send ya $10 to help ya get there. Im not rich but heck $10 is better than nothing and I always like to help out a worthy cause. the only thing Id ever ask for is a hackaday button to put on my BBall cap.

  4. Caleb, yes this feels weird, but I am game. I have loved ( and hated ;) ) this site for many years with adblock enabled. I can only assume your revenue is from adverts, so I will be chipping something in.
    I would love to see some awesome stuff printed and posted, even if it is just a roundup of your favourite picks from thingiverse. oh and +1 for Ultimaker.

    1. You made me scroll up. There are ads on this web site! I never noticed before. I don’t even see the things anymore I guess … a mental adblocker is a handy skill to cultivate.

      “we’re looking to buy a tool for a job, not buy a long project.”

      Beggars are getting so choosy anymore!

  5. As an owner of the Ultimaker I too can recommend it. The one big issue I’ve had over the 1+ year I’ve had it was the bowden popping out (fixed now) but the newest kits shipping now don’t have that issue any more as those parts have been upgraded. It’s a solid bit of kit. But of course it IS a kit, as in you have to put it together yourself, so you might need to tweak it a bit at first before you can get to the impressive resolution and/or speed it’s capable of.

    cura which is now the official software for the printer is being very actively developed and the developer is very responsive and active in the community as well. It makes it easy to get up and running fast. But of course you can use other popular slicers as well if you prefer (I’m a KISSlicer guy personally).

    And no, I’m not getting paid for the sales pitch :)

        1. It’s not a limited amount (the “signed by the masterminds behind the Ultimaker” pre-assembled where limited) but they are a bit more expensive. And putting it together yourself has the advantage of knowing how to fix it in case something goes wrong.

          Daid from Ultimaker

  6. seriously? I had been reading HaD for a long time, i am what i am thanks to HaD, reading over five years your posts, i have learned a lot here (or with the links) not only about hacking and fun (i remember when i was unable to understand this english! and now i read daily wanting more and more post :D)…. I don’t care if you want a 3D printer for you or for a good reason (a Ferrari maybe) , i also want one of these, but I believe you would make better use than me….

    I think if a quarter of your G+ followers donate a dollar, you could get a pretty good printer… why not?

    If you don’t like donating, i will go to the shop… (how about international shipment? ;-) )

  7. I’m actually on the fence here. Been reading HaD since I don’t know when (back before Google Reader, when we had to use RSS clients); had a few of my own hacks posted here too, and I usually like to support indie sites in some manner.

    Do you _need_ a 3D printer? I can see places like Lady Ada or Sparkfun looking for donations, but I’m not sure what goal HaD has. You don’t really have a store… whoa, wait, when did that get added?

    While I ponder this (just a day or so), can you add some kinda tracking, just something simple, like how far to your target?

  8. I would very much recommend the mendel90 instead. I have a mendelmax, a prusa2, and i’ve used a 3dtouch printer, and I can honestly say that the 3dtouch was the slowest to get working, and not particularly high quality. The mendel90 looks like a nice improvement compared to the two printers I have. Either way, if you’re designing your own parts you spend more time designing things that print well than the 10-20 hours you need to build the thing. Much cheaper too.

  9. From the comments to one of the earlier articles (about the NASA contest) we all learned that an average coder in France get about 600 euros/day and working one month for $10k is working for peanuts. Funny to see so many talented people with mad coder skills whining that they are broke.

    1. Not all of us are mad coders and I promise you the people complaining about $ are a different group of people. Don’t be so quick to lump us all together, this site has all levels of skill following it. Hell when I first got here I thought hacking just meant making a small desktop computer. If there are coders that make that kind of bank who read this post then they might donate, please don’t diss on the rest of us just because you cannot see that possibility.

      1. The contest was on Instructables, my entry was cnc milling a Fisher Price record, and I won an Up! Plus which I’m very happy with.

        They have another similar competition running at the moment of you fancy your chances.

  10. First in my opinion go ahead and place that donate button up. As long a you keep your readership apprised what you are doing with the donations, the reasonable readers will remain loyal. In regards to those who don’t, I’m not sure what would be lost, if anything. I no longer have the means to use PayPal, I doubt I’m the only one is there a postal address to send donations? Also where would the printer reside? Perhaps more would feel comfortable in donating if the knew the printer would be at location where more could make use of it like at a hackerspace. A donation of a complete machine may be more likely to happen if it where to be donated to a legal nonprofit hackerspace. Those with deeper pockets will first donate to nonprofit organizations that maintain liability insurance. Good luck, I would care if you went on to get additional tools if they went to a hackerspace. Then again the most you would get from me is a dribble of a few dollars on occasion. I’m not going to go broke & you aren’t going to get rich. Good luck in raising the funds.

  11. You do have an excellent blog, it’s nice to come here and see all the things people are doing, and it’s obviously going to a good cause so I can see that people would be willing to donate to the project.

    I do think more people would be interested if you had more plans for it though. What other projects do you have in mind besides the controller? Something to give back to the readers for their donations? I think the more information you divulge about your plans, the better. Even more importantly, documenting the process should definitely be a priority. You say you want a tool, not a project, but face it: you’re buying a 3d printer and more than likely a kit. It is going to be a project, and things aren’t going to be perfect the first time around. Eventually you’ll want to expand/modify/fix it, so keep an open mind about it.

      1. My last job was asking people for money and it sucks. Money is a funny thing part of society has it part of them don’t. Some people are fine talking about it others say it’s taboo. My point, little as it maybe, is you already opened Pandoras box so you are going to have to keep pace with that……..OR…… retract your request and take a day or two to really plan out some possibilities of donation. What if someone gives you a printer? what if you don’t get enough money? what if you get more money than you need? ect ect ect… Come up with a thought out plan of action and write it all down so everyone can see. Then you wont be the one left hanging there feeling awkward when all these simple hypothetical questions come up. Just redirect the masses to a link or whatever and weather it comes to be or not is out of your hands. The key to getting donations is transparency, something that cannot be offered until you have a crystal clear idea of the goal.

  12. just out of curiosity, why didn’t you consider the makergear m2? I ask because I’m currently agonizing over which printer to buy and I’m leaning toward it due to price, manufacturer location, and metal construction ( compared to the ultimaker )

  13. hey, I’m building mine for only $300! whats the deal?

    Not that I have problems with the idea of a donation, after all, the interesting articles that hackaday bring us must be worth SOMETHING.

    I would send a dollar now, but I cant find the paypal button…. oh well.

  14. Why can’t we buy you one instead? I would prefer you being indebted to your readers and providing the pros and cons of your 3D printer experience as repayment rather than feeling indebted to a company that gave you one and only praising the printer because of it.

      1. Well, group-buy. If I had enough for a 3D printer, and I mean no offense by this, I would buy it for myself and not you. However, I’m more than willing to throw $5 your way via paypal or whatever to support you guys giving us detailed build logs, etc. for a 3D printer without feeling indebted to the company that provided it.

  15. My Afinia has been such sex out of the box. I do want to build a larger format printer one day, but I have more important things to do before then.

    Currently printing some ridiculous dragon thing from thingiverse as a gift for my host at the BnB I am staying at while traveling to Boston this weekend. It hums away as I design the next thing to be printed, weeee.

  16. I’m interested in making my own calculator – keyboard, case, etc. For some stuff, a 3D printer sounds ideal. For others, I have my doubts.
    It’s the keys that get me – I want HP style, with multiple functions, indicated by multiple color text on each button. No matter what the printer, I get the feeling they’re not up to this task.

  17. It occurs to me that using an accelerometer as the fine positioner and on-the-fly corrections might be a way to get more consistent results on the Mendel.

    You can get 3 axis 18 bit resolution chips for next to nothing these days, and adding one of Melexis’s linear PIR sensors to the head would allow spot corrections for variable build area temperature.

    Another thought I had was to use AC induction based filament dispensing, essentially a little induction heater built into the barrel that can be adjusted far more accurately than a heating element,

    Anyone interested, email me on mandoline at cwgsy dot net with the code “Mendelian”

  18. ehm why you went for donation at all ?, not sure how old you are …but begging?, i suppose you bought your own PC and normal printer also yourself 3D printers are these days as cheap as normal printers where like 6 years ago. Personally i find people who buy things themselves get to understand better the value of things, some kids get everything and never learn this, and in the end have trouble handling their own money economics. (PS if your still a scholar i understand you wont have much to spend, but for a working adult to beg like this is a bit strange).

    What might have been a nice article is you try to buy the cheapest 3D machine, and describe where you got the cheapest parts, or maybe you went to a internet group where people with the same interest buy the same parts in a collective to get reduction on parts, or use secondhand electronic parts..etc this in itself might be a good story.

  19. really jealous. i’ve been wanting to start up a business to design and build proper game controllers for kids with special needs for a year now, but being crippled and having no job or money myself means i’m screwed in ever achieving my dreams

  20. Congrats on your new Lulzbot. I’m pretty sure you’ll have tons of fun with it, and cannot wait to see some of the projects.

    If you also still want an Ultimaker. Maybe we see if we can do something about the price?


Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.