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Sourcing Parts

Posted by iamwil 
Sourcing Parts
March 26, 2014 04:50PM
Hi all,

Have any of you had problems sourcing the parts for a 3D printer? When I'm building a 3D printer, I run into the following problems:

1) Can't find a definitive Bill of materials for the 3D printer I want to build. When I do find it, I don't know if it's the latest version. I have to take a lot of time searching around, and asking around. To add to the difficulty, sometimes, there are mods, where I don't know if it's standard or not, and how they fit into the overall build (unless I've built the printer once already before).

2) Looking on the web for where to buy all the different parts is time consuming. For every part, I have to make sure it's the actual right part (sometimes there's subtle differences), and looking for cheap sources (because sourcing it yourself is suppose to be cheaper.

3) I end up with extra inventory of parts I don't need, since screws (and other vitamins) are purchased in packs.

Or is this not really a problem, because there's places like MakerGear that puts it all together for you in a kit that you can buy for popular printers like the Prusa i3?


Cubehero: Work on 3D printed projects together
Re: Sourcing Parts
March 27, 2014 12:37PM
I have all of these problems. Now that I've built up a tackle box full of spare bearings, metric hardware, and various electronics bits it's not as bad, but I still do a lot of small purchases during assembly because I forgot something.

One thing that gets me fairly often is the MacGyver approach to speccing certain components. Sometimes a part was used because the designer had one on hand, or had a cheap source for them, but is either not practical for everyone to source in quantity (pen springs) or becomes so popular that there's a run on eBay (PG35L). Ingenuity runs deep here, but often design-for-manufacture takes a back seat to publishing designs.
Re: Sourcing Parts
March 28, 2014 12:19AM
I'm guessing the MacGyver approach happens because people care about getting the immediate thing working, but don't care too much about reproducibility? And in addition, documentation is a hassle, so no one does it?

Does anyone use some sort of inventory tracker / bill of materials? Or we're mostly passing around excel spreadsheets?

Re: Sourcing Parts
March 28, 2014 01:17AM
Some of the openscad designs can produce a bom for you. I thought that this was the case for the Prusa i3 and the Mendel90. When it is done that way, it is much easier to reliably keep the bom up to date with an evolving design.
Re: Sourcing Parts
March 28, 2014 03:28AM
What about all the non-3d printed parts? Like the stepper motors, etc?

Re: Sourcing Parts
March 28, 2014 05:07AM
1. Ask the this work, the irc channel or on a blog of someone who has build the printer your looking at.
Some of the designs like the Prusa i3 are designed to be flexible on what parts can be used with parametric printed parts.

2. If you ask someone who has built the same model before they will be able to list the suppliers they used for you.
Some people have accounts with stores, have local stores or are limited by their location so its unlikely two self sourced printers are ever going use the exact same parts from the same supplier.

3. Thats both a blessing a curse, if you decide you want to upgrade parts or tweak your printer is great have a selection of nuts, bolts, washers and screw at hand to use. On the other hand it can become messy if your not organised.

Personally I find it cheapest and most flexible to source a fastening kit (nuts, bolts, washers, screws), rod kit then source the electronics, wood and anything else separately.
This reduces the cost of the self sourced parts, avoids buying 100 washers when I need 10 and also saves me a lot of time source and cutting good quality rods.
Never be afraid to ask a seller for a quote on parts or kits as 9/10 they will be more then happy and give a discount.

My Reprap blog

Re: Sourcing Parts
March 28, 2014 07:58PM

Thanks for the answers. But, isn't it better if people don't have to ask for an updated BOM? Or see an updated vendor list? I agree it's a pain in the ass to do, and that's why it's not done. But if it could be magically be updated, wouldn't that be better than having to ask people on IRC?

Re: Sourcing Parts
March 28, 2014 08:46PM
I'd disagree that there isn't sufficient information to build a machine. If you aren't pleased with the documentation you should make some. There is more than enough information available with some basic research to build any one of a variety of printers. As for the time involved, that's the price of poker, so to speak. There are scores of complete kits available. While some may not like the price of the kits or some of the components it's relatively easy to get a complete kit. The issue I see is that for some there is a need of instant gratification and an unwillingness to invest the time to fully research the build. Then there is the irony of those that don't wish to extend the effort to source separate parts though aren't pleased about the pricing of those that do provide kits. Building and sourcing a kit takes some effort and some mechanical and logistics skills. Just like rebuilding your cars engine or adding a bathroom to your house it requires skill sets that not everyone has or in some cases aren't willing to do. For those folks there are plenty of pre built alternatives that will have them printing in no time. It's a simple choice between convenience and low cost.
Re: Sourcing Parts
March 31, 2014 10:23PM
Oh, don't misunderstand. I'm not complaining.I'm asking because I was thinking about building a solution, but only if other people had the same problems I did.

I don't think there's insufficient information. It's just not easily accessible. For those embedded in the community, you know where to look, who to ask, or even what things are called. For new-comers, they have to get all of that background knowledge before they can even get started looking for an updated Bill of Materials.

In addition, anything that saves time or money, for both experts and novices should be a welcome change, no? It allows you to focus on other things more important and enjoyable, like actually building the 3d printer and printing objects. I don't know about you, but sourcing parts is not part of the fun. Hunting around for an updated Bill of materials is not part of the fun. Hunting for proper vendors for the parts is not part of the fun. Spending more money on extra parts you don't need isn't part of the fun.

Unless there are others with a different view point from the community, it seems like my problems are non-problems for others because:

1) Asking people for an updated Bill of materials is not hard and part of the fun.
2) Sourcing parts is part of the fun
3) You can buy complete kits, so you don't need a Bill of materials.

Is this true?
Re: Sourcing Parts
March 31, 2014 11:30PM
I can think of two builds right off the top of my head that not only have very complete BOMs but also have comprehensive assembly instructions. The Rework i3 variant and the the Mendelmax 2. There are others as well. My point isn't that some of the docs couldn't be better as many certainly can, it's lumping all projects under one sort of umbrella and stating that there is some great issue. Your posts are pretty big on generalities and offer no specfics. Like it or not it's DIY and you're going to have to figure some things out or pay for that service in a complete kit or assembled machine. The designs are provided as open hardware but there is also an expectation from some that any other research that may be required be provided as well to make things easier for the builder. That's not the primary focus of open hardware. The focus is to open the design and anything else is gravy. You are building a small machine tool and that takes some experience and skill that isn't going to be readily learned from reading some instructions for a few minutes. It's not IKEA furniture.

With the amount of effort spent posting you could have updated any BOMs that you feel aren't up to date particularly if you've already build other printers. If you think it's an issue, provide a solution. Back when Linux was getting a foothold one of the sayings when someone found something they thought could be improved was to "scratch that itch" mean work on what ever part of the project that interests you the most. Or as another old saying goes, "I can only show you the door, you're going to have to go through it".
Re: Sourcing Parts
April 01, 2014 12:09AM
Yes Vegasloki have right.
Reprap is not an IKEA project. (RINAIP) <- don't google it, it's from me now winking smiley

And as very small contributor for the reprap project (github of all printer I have build and draw)

1) Make a BOM is fu** anoying/boring/putwhatyouwant... for almost every people here more interesting by technical and sharing their mods than interesting by making money or shop or selling kit.
2) Sourcing parts is not the same as: Sourcing part in USA or EUROPE or ASIA. And for many people (like me), we have already many screws/bolt/nuts/wood/aluminium plate... available at home for every day use.
3) If you don't like hacking/DIY/Homemade every day, and only want one 3D printer for printing (not for hacking/modify), buy a kit or buy a complete printer with all things present. The supplier have already done all that work for you (at cost of course)

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