Thursday, 10 September 2009

Buying things

One of my original aims was to keep costs as low as possible, because I don't really have any income. Ordering things from the US is extremely expensive: I got the generation 3 electronics kit from Makerbot, which works out like this:

kit: $145 £87.71
postage: $31.75 £19.20
vat: £16.04
service: £8.00
total: £130.95

so the total is 1½ times the list price. Of course, for cheaper items the proportion is even worse, because the postage and service charge are constant. If you can add extra items to the order they are very good value (unless the postage goes up!) so I got my nichrome wire & thermistor at the same time. I wish I'd got some extra boards as spares, but I can't order the smallest thing now without paying an extra £27 in postage & service.

The pound is so low against the euro at the moment that ordering from Europe isn't much better. The best deal I could get for ABS filament was €98.90 for 5Kg from RepRapSource in Germany, but with postage that works out as £114.10. At least there's no import duty!

I've got some good deals on ebay. Powerful stepper motors as specified for the Darwin RepRap have list prices around £50 each, but I got a set of four for £47 (inc postage) brand new. Anything small and light tends to be good value, but postage can be a killer. I'm still looking for a reasonable way to buy 8mm steel bar.

Fortunately for me, Bolton has an excellent nuts & bolts shop, called Brabbin & Rudd. I got all my nuts, bolts & studding for £20 (though stainless would have been more) which is about half the price I could find online. I wish I could buy more things like that: walking round a warehouse crammed with shelves full of every kind of fixing you can imagine, and watching someone pour them into a counting balance is so much more fun than waiting all day for another delivery because you're always at the end of the round. I wonder what Farnell's warehouse is like? I imagine it as a sort of high-tech Alladin's cave.

Currently working on: Firmware for the extruder controller. It seems it doesn't support the rotation sensor.

P.S. Someone put a job lot of 25 90cm x 8mm steel rods up on eBay for £15.50 inc postage, so that's another problem solved. A bit of patience makes all the difference!


  1. I didn't know you were nearly local - there's quite a crowd of us in the NorthWest (England) now. Have you put your pin in the reprappers' map?

  2. I thought I had, but it isn't there. I just tried to add it on my iPod but with the small screen it's completely impossible. I'll try to remember to do it when I get home.

  3. Hey you are very local I meet Midge in 2000 working at Sony Ericsson in Warrington.
    All the parts for our computers were bought & collected from Scan in Bolton including the Atom MB used in Bertha. It was £60 on their daily deals.