The QU-BD (pronounced "cubed") project on Kickstarter seeks to make 3D printing cheaper and more precise, at least for the tech-savvy. Aimed squarely at those who are already familiar with 3D printers, QU-BD is an open-source mission to improve the individual components of 3D extruders, buy raw materials in bulk to produce those components inexpensively, and sell the parts piecemeal.
To that end the QU-BD team has purchased, used, and torn apart different 3D printers on the market, then come up with their first replacement part:
Essentially what we did is take Makerbot's open-source design and improve reliability by replacing the hobbed gear with a 20 tooth spur gear (ala Makergear) with a groove machined into it which centers the filament along the axis of movement; this majorly cuts down on any slipping or stripping.
Q: How much does this improved gear cut down on stripping?
We also changed the 'plunger' to allow for much smoother engagement and precision during adjustment. The extruder is also ready to go for dual-extrusion for those that want to experiment, you would just need to get two of them instead of one! All the parts of the extruder are CNC machined in house at our mini machine shop.
Pledges start as low as $5 (for a nozzle) and go up to $129 for a dual extruder with attendant heater cartridges, but you can get a single extruder with heater and motor for $61. Again, these are not turnkey solutions—you'll need to bolt these parts onto an existing 3D printer. But that does not seem to be an obstacle for QU-BD's target market--at press time they'd smashed their measly $5,000 goal with about 23 large in funding, with three weeks left to pledge.