RepRap Prusa Mendel i2
A very low cost 3D printer built on my dining room table | 2013
In the fall of 2013 I discovered the RepRap project, an open source movement to create a 3D printer made out of as many 3D printed parts as possible. The i3 wasn't out at the time yet so I bought printed parts for the i2 from eBay and slapped this thing together. I got all of the hardware at Home Depot and the electronics from eBay as well, straight from Shenzhen. I spent hours and hours doing calibration and modifying the crude open-source firmware to get good prints. I also attached a cheap Bluetooth module to the printer so it was completely wireless.
Despite the rugged look, I still got very good prints comparable in quality to our school's industrial machines, in both ABS and PLA.
When I first built the printer the total cost was just over $250. It felt too good to be true and it truly was: I learned a good lesson about cheap electronics when everything broke. Really though, the drivers, hotend, "arduino" and RAMPS board all had issues in one way or another that could be directly attributed to poor manufacturing. I eventually replaced each of these with an American made component, and although they were each nearly double the price, I have no doubt that they will last as long as I need them to.
I've since made it a goal to buy from local or at least American sources as much as possible, especially when it supports the original designers of the component.