Winner Named in Global Desktop Factory Competition, sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, Maker Education Initiative and Inventables

Share Article

83-year-old maker Hugh Lyman’s invention turns plastic pellets into affordable filaments for 3D printing

The inventor of a machine that turns plastic pellets into affordable filaments for low-cost 3D printers is the winner of the first Desktop Fabrication Competition, a global contest sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, Maker Education Initiative and Inventables.

Hugh Lyman, an 83-year-old inventor from Enumclaw, Wash., won $40,000 and a laser cutter, 3D printer and CNC milling machine supplied by Inventables for his machine called the Lyman Filament Extruder II. His extruder converts plastic resin pellets into filament for use in low-cost 3D printers, is open-sourced and replicable 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."

Kaplan explains the extraordinary evolution in digital manufacturing, driven in part by a drop in the cost of entry, in this Kauffman Foundation video.

“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.”

“I’m excited to see this crowd-sourced DIY solution to creating the filament used in 3D printers, which helps reduce the cost of owning a 3D printer in schools as well as makerspaces everywhere,” said Dale Dougherty, CEO of Maker Media and chairman of the Maker Education Initiative. “I hope we can get Mr. Lyman to Maker Faire this year to demonstrate his invention.”

About the Maker Education Initiative
The mission of the Maker Education Initiative is to create more opportunities for young people to make, and, by making, build confidence, foster creativity, and spark interest in science, technology, engineering, math, the arts—and learning as a whole. We want young people to join—and eventually lead—the growing Maker Movement. The Maker Education Initiative is a project of the Tides Center, a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit public charity. The founding sponsors of the Maker Education Initiative are Cognizant, Intel, Pixar and Maker Media.

About Inventables
Founded in 2002, Inventables’ mission is to enable a design lab on every desktop. Recognized as the hardware store for designers, Inventables sells equipment and supplies of all kinds. Small manufacturing businesses purchase raw materials and machines from Inventables’ online store daily to use in manufacturing their own products from jewelry to joysticks to sell to customers. When a material from the site is needed in a large volume, Inventables assists in making connections to the manufacturer or supplier. More information at

About the Kauffman Foundation
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that aims to foster economic independence by advancing educational achievement and entrepreneurial success. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo. For more information, visit, and follow the Foundation on and


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Barbara Pruitt

Melinda Hart
Follow us on
Visit website