I'm just sort of spitballing here, getting ideas down on paper and giving myself a prod to keep working on this.
I've been working on coming up with a cost effective (ie. cheap), yet strong and stable design for a 3D printer class. The price point for the class has been $400 but I think I can get it even lower. We're nearly over some of the main hurdles, which have been an electronics package for $50 or less, getting extruder nozzles for under $50 each, sourcing stepper motors and other vitamins to avoid paying exorbitant amounts of shipping, and using a design that requires as few vitamins as possible.
I found a design that I like called the Graber i3, which is a derivative of the Prusa i3, if you want to check it out online. The entire frame has been designed to be laser cut and only requires a handful of nuts and bolts. There are only a few pieces that are required to be printed, like the extruder portion. I'm going to try and get some laser time and do a test run, but I'm thinking this frame will go together really quickly and require next to no tweaking and adjusting to make sure it's square.
Another part I haven't gotten quite sorted out yet is the heated bed. I can look into ordering them from someone that makes them or I can try making them on the laser cutter. I may try it on the laser just to see how well that works. I'm also thinking about leaving out the power supply, as many people have an old or dead PC laying around they can scavenge a PSU from. I could also offer them for an additional cost to folks taking the class.
I'm considering doing a whole series of classes or workshops that I can offer to people either building a 3D printer or just want to take a class on that particular subject. I think I mentioned this somewhere but I can't remember where I left it.
List of classes:
-Soldering electronics. Populate your own PCB for your printer, or watever other project you have.
-Laser cutter basics. Learn to cut your own printer frame.
-3D printer frame assembly. Including wiring and calibrating.
-3D modeling. Design and print your own stuff, could include using image capture. Need someone that's proficient in free or cheap modeling software.
-PCB design, laser cutter and toner transfer methods.
-Extrude your own filament. Or we could build an extruder (I got plans) if Doug doesn't feel comfortable letting a lot of people use his Filabot.
The first 3 will be included as a package for people that are actually building a printer, but I'd like to leave it open to others that aren't but want to learn laser cutter basics and soldering.
I don't know if I'll write up anything for a lot of these classes, maybe eventually. The first class needs to get underway ASAP and I'll keep notes on areas that should actually be documented, otherwise it'll be freeform and respond to the needs of the attendees. (That's just my way of admitting that I'm lazy.)
Post up ideas or comments. I know not too many people use the forum, but I find it's a great way for me to monitor my own projects. And I know I'll get some good feedback from you few that still come here.