An 83-year-old Enumclaw inventor has been named the winner of an international desktop fabrication competition sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, Maker Education Initiative and Inventables.
Hugh Lyman won $40,000, a 3D printer and a computerized milling machine for his invention of a device that will likely greatly lower the cost of 3D automated printing.
Lyman’s Filament Extruder II converts plastic pellets into filaments for use in low-cost 3D printers. The extruder is open-sourced and can be made for less than $250.
“While the price of 3D printers has dropped dramatically in the last few years, the plastic filament used by most of these printers costs five to 10 times more than raw plastic resin pellets. A low-cost extruder would further reduce the cost of 3D printing. As 3D printing becomes more common in schools, libraries, businesses and homes, such cost reductions could mean broader access to these technologies.
“Since Mr. Lyman’s design is open source, he has advanced the state of the art from his garage,” said Zach Kaplan, CEO of Inventables. “We expect future designs from established players and startups to build on his work and make the cost of desktop fabrication 10 times cheaper than it is today.”
“The goal of this competition is to lower the cost of different elements of making so that 3D printing will become more ubiquitous,” said Lesa Mitchell, vice president of Innovation and Networks at the Kauffman Foundation. “What machines like Hugh’s shows us is that we no longer need massive manufacturing facilities to scale things. We will have more of these competitions to help spur the democratization of making.”