83-Year-Old Inventor Makes 3D Printers More Affordable

Late Blooming Entrepreneurs

You won’t find too many households with a 3D printer, which can turn digital blueprints into physical objects made out of plastic or other materials. Right now, the machines are pricey, selling between $399 and $2,200. But that may change, thanks to Hugh Lyman.

Lyman, 83, is the winner of the Desktop Factory Competition, whose goal was to find a solution to lower the costs of producing the 3D printer. The contest’s sponsors were Inventables, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Maker Education Initiative.

Just as the cost of ink-jet printing stems from ink cartridges, the spools of plastic filament — which a 3D printer layers into an object — greatly affect the long-term economics of 3D printing. Lyman’s winning entry, the Lyman Filament Extruder II, can turn less expensive plastic pellets into filament.

As reported by this Time Magazine article, Lyman ran Ly Line Products, a manufacturer of scientific cabinetry and related items, until he retired 17 years ago. Today, he’s…

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