83-year-old inventor wins $40,000 award for his DIY filament extruder

The purpose of this competition is to drive down the cost of filament by creating a new filament extruder. Currently the cost of plastic filament is $30~50/kg, by creating such a new machine the organizers seek to make the filament price drop to around $5.

The first one who uploads a solution will be the winner -The first team/person to build an open source filament extruder for less than $250 in components can take ABS or PLA resin pellets, mix them with colorant, and extrude a 1.75mm +/- .01mm filament that can be used in a 3D printer is declared the winner.

The winner here is 83-year-old Hugh Lyman, an engineer, inventor, fisherman and golfer from Enumclaw, Washington. Hugh Lyman holds eight patents and has been building quite a few low-cost desktop 3D printers and printing things for family and friends, as well parts for his inventions.

Lyman entered the Lyman Filament Extruder in the contest in Aug.2012 but was disqualified because the budget exceeded the $250 limit. So he modified the design and came up with the second version: the Lyman Filament Extruder II. “It’s my first machine with a few little parts changed,” he says. “I resubmitted it, and it worked. It worked great.” The judges agreed and declared him as the winner.

The Lyman Filament Extruder II is a machine that extrudes filament from pellets for use in a 3D Printer. It features more metal parts than the previous version. It extrudes different filament diameters depending on the nozzle hole size. With this home-made filament extruder, you can save 80% on the material costs. A spool of plastic filament costs $50/kg, and buying a kilogram of pellets and extruding your own filament will cost you only about $10. And if you buy 25 kilograms of pellets in bulk, you only need to pay $5 for each kilogram.

Lyman’s invention is open source for anyone to use and build, and it could benefit a whole 3D printing community. His Filament Extruder has been downloaded 10608 times, and 1563 people have downloaded the version 2.