Tuesday, 6 October 2015

End Game

Since my last post there have been many expressions of sadness in the comments here and here. I'd be lucky to get so much mourning at my funeral I think! Yes it may be sad for potential customers that missed out, but not for us. Fortunately we are at a stage in life where time is more important than money to us. It does feel a bit weird though as the house is now silent after having three or four machines printing solidly for about five years.

The harsh reality is we always planned to stop selling kits before demand dried up completely because otherwise we would be left with unsold stock. In order to to get volume discounts and cover long lead times we needed to carry around £12,000 - 15,000 of stock.

As we didn't hire premises or staff, and had enough capital to cover cash flow, the only business risk we had was being left with stock. It was very hard to predict future demand because it fluctuates wildly with currency changes and, with a new 3D printer coming out nearly every day, there is a risk sales could suddenly dry up if a better cheaper kit emerged. For example, a £40 Prusa I3 from China with 2 rolls of filament and LCD, bargain!

In the end the issue with Dibond made the tricky decision of when to stop for us. This happened a few months ago and we synchronised most of our stock to all run out together.

Yes we could have used other sheet materials, solid aluminium and steel were suggested. However, these are more expensive to buy and machine, much heavier and therefore more costly to ship. Although they are a bit stiffer there is no real advantage to the frame being stiffer because the forces due to accelerating the axes is along the plane of the sheets, where almost any sheet is very stiff indeed. As long as the machine sits on a solid work surface it doesn't flex at all when printing, unlike some of the triangular prism machines.

The good thing about an Open Source product is that the design and instructions will always be available, so people can still self source, or another company could pick up the baton. We will always be able to supply printed parts and, fastener kits, wire and sleeving, hobbed bolts and the extruder PCB. See the RepRap forum for prices. Everything else can be self sourced.


  1. Congratulations on such a long and successful run. It's a very cool machine and thanks for all your development and manufacturing work.

  2. Live is going on. Thank you for you work. Last year i bought one Mendel90 from you. Since then the rpinter prints and prints ...

    Thank you again for this good kit!

  3. I have to say that I love your machine and the passion that it was designed and supported. I learned so much about 3D print with your kit. I realized the little details differentiating the mendel90 with respect the other cheaper machines. In your post I saw the mathematics and engineering underlying the 3D printer process, something that I have not found. I only have to say I am a lucky men by have a mendel90 in my house. So many thanks.

  4. Dear Chris,
    I just finished assembling and calibrating my self-sourced mendel90. Your design is so awesome my first PLA print was successful!! (it was the wade small gear). The dimensions are exact within 0.05mm, I couldn't believe it...
    Just for information, all the parts are printed in PLA, the part of the fan duct which is closest to the heater bloc is soft when touching it but for the moment no deformation :-)
    Thank you so much for your involvement in the fantastic reprap community! (yes, seeing this printer coming to life made me very enthusiastic!)

  5. Thank you and Mrs Nophead, for everything you've contributed to DIY 3D printing community over the years. I hope we still get to chat at various 3D printing and Maker shows from time to time. In the mean time, Merry Christmas and all the best for 2016!

  6. Dear Chris,
    I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year in advance, thanks to your work my one month old mendel90 is printing a mechanical clock kit for my nephew, I printed a door handle for the fridge of my father in law, I'm really starting to grasp the potential of those machines... THANK YOU!

  7. Dear Chris,
    Thank you very much for your contribution to 3D Printing and for the legacy you leave in Open Source.
    I have this week printed the first parts off my NopHead Mendel90.
    I wanted to learn about 3D printing and after seeing a Dremmel printer advertised on tv!!! I did a bit of research and bought your Mendel90 in around Sept. Built it in 2 days then it waited for me to have time to try and understand the software process, this took less than a day thanks to your config files and clear documentation.
    It is a pity that you have decided to quit and fully understand the reasons - you are an excellent engineer and honourable supplier - I thank you.
    All the best for 2016 and beyond!

  8. Hello Nophead, i recently got into 3d printing and aspire your work towards the 3d printing community.
    I do well unterstands your argumentation about why you stopped selling the kits.
    Nevertheless I'm quite sad that i am too late to buy one of your kits.
    What would you recommend if i tried to search for the parts which where in your kits? Do you have an kind of List for the sources or the materials?

    1. You can get the motors and smooth rods cut to size from here: http://www.zappautomation.co.uk/electrical-products/stepper-motors/nema-17-stepper-motors/sy42sth47-1684a-high-torque-hybrid-stepper-motors.html

      Belt, pulleys, linear bearings, limit switches and bed glass is available from http://www.robotdigg.com. The also sell heated beds but I can't vouch for them. We had ours made at a PCB company but also got smaller volumes from Think3DPrint3D.

      Hot ends are from hotends.com. We only supplied J-Head MK5B but the E3D is supported in a branh I am currently updating.

      The 608 bearings come from this guy: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/608-2RS-Bearings-in-pack-of-10-pieces-/331739328792.

      Most of the fasteners are available from https://www.orbitalfasteners.co.uk/.

  9. Hello Nop Head! First of all thanks for your amazing work! The design is great and the files are super clear. I would like to order components from you. How can I contact you to arrange payment and shipment?

    The components you sell are pretty much the only ones I still need to start building. I can't wait to start putting that printer together!

    1. Hi Peter,
      Follow the link to the forum advert and send a PM or click on my forum name to get my email address.

  10. Hey Nop Head.
    I am trying to put a 3D printer together for quite some time now. I get lost in the process of buying the parts.
    Because I live in South America, parts are not so easy to find.
    I was wondering if you had any parts left that you could sell to me. Or at least give me a hand on how I should do it.
    I get the feeling that the manual was designed for someone who bought the kit, and I would really love to buy one, although they are not sold anymore.
    Please get in touch, it would really help me out.
    I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

    1. Yes the manual is for the kit that used CNC cut Dibond for the frame. The MDF sturdy variant is more suitable for making with hand tools.

      The parts we have left for sale are listed here: http://forums.reprap.org/read.php?94,567445,567445#msg-567445

  11. Irony is, i think i'm going to build one shortly, after knowing years of your machine and almost taking the dive and purchasing as a kit ...
    But i'll probably go for supersized anyways ...