Are you frustrated with the high cost of filament for your 3D printer? Do you desire the ability to produce filament on demand, as it is needed, in the color and size appropriate for your 3D project?
The Filastruder meets these needs and more, because it is a filament-making machine. The reason for starting this project is simple - raw plastic pellets are cheap costing only a few dollars per kg, while filament for 3D printers is much more expensive - $40/kg and more.
Others have tried to produce filament extruders, but have run into difficulties. We worked tirelessly to refine the design, and made it a priority to involve others in the process.The Filastruder has already been beta tested by 16 users across the world:
Four of our beta testers' Filastruders, powered up and running! Four of our beta testers' Filastruders, powered up and running! and run for hundreds of hours, producing dozens of spools of quality filament.
The design has been iterated and refined based on beta testers' feedback, and is now ready for prime time. The majority of our beta testers use 1.75mm filament, and report variances of +/-0.05mm or so. A few beta testers have set the FIlastruder up for 3.0mm filament, and report variances of about +/-0.10mm. Here's a print comparing Filastruder filament (in white) to Solidoodle filament (in green).
How It Works: After setting the desired temperature for extrusion and allowing time to warm up, fill the hopper with pellets and colorant of your choice, and turn on the gearmotor. Plastic will begin extruding from the Filastruder, forming a pile on the floor to be spooled up later. The resulting filament can be wound onto a spool quickly and easily using a normal hand drill, or through a printed spool winder. Some of our beta testers are working on a spooler design with us as well.
History: In the fall of 2012, I purchased a Solidoodle 2 Pro, and began experimenting with 3D printing. Although excited by the newfound ability to bring a thought to reality in less than a day, I was disappointed by how fast I was going through filament - a roll or two a month. At that rate, in under a year I would spend more on plastic than the printer cost! That's when I decided to set out to make a filament extruder.
I first did a market survey, finding RecycleBot, Filabot, Lyman's Filament Extruder (CC BY-SA), and some other partial attempts at producing a pellets to filament extruder. Because Lyman's was the most recent, I tried to learn from his design, and refine things so that it would be easy to produce without machine tools, safer, more compact, and $200 or less. I ended keeping three parts from his design - the auger, the bearing, and the nozzle.
In November, I built the alpha version of what would become the Filastruder. I had good results, but refined the design and began to ask for beta testers. In December, I shipped beta kits to 4 people. With their feedback, I refined the design again, sent them upgrade kits, and shipped an additional 12 kits to beta testers around the world. From January until now, those beta testers have been working with the Filastruder.
Beta Testing: While in beta, my personal extruder has logged over 250 trouble-free hours extruding ABS. The extruders built by beta testers have logged hundreds of hours total. The design went through three revisions as a result of beta testing, simplifying the design while improving reliability. Though the majority of beta testing was done with ABS, we are now accumulating hours with PLA.
Why Kickstarter: We are launching on Kickstarter in order to raise funds to purchase all the parts in bulk. A significant discount is possible for a bulk purchase, and in order to pass the savings on to you, the consumer, we must make purchases of parts in large quantities.
Specifications:Extrusion Rate: 6-18 inches/minute (2-5 lbs/day) Extrusion Temperature: Tested with 170-210°C (others may be possible) Size: 18”x6”x6” Noise: 50dBA @ 3ft Power: 110-240VAC, 50/60Hz, 100 watts peak, 50 watts average Entire assembly is grounded for safety, and main power connection is fused.
Building and Delivering: Kit versions: no significant labor is required on our end - simply purchasing the parts in bulk, and packing boxes with them. This was done for all 16 beta testers, so there's no change in workflow on our end. Approximately 3-4 hours is required of you, as well as a drill, dremel, and basic hand tools. Here's what's included in the kits:
Assembled versions: We are excited to announce that we have partnered with OS Printing LLC to produce them, as they have a CNC router and plenty of staff to produce the assembled versions. OS Printing will also run the assembled versions through a quality control check before shipping, ensuring the heater, motor, fan, and electronics all work properly, but not actually extruding filament - that way the internals of the machine are fresh and ready to go for the end user. Check out their website - osprintingllc.com.
Creator's Background: I am a PhD student at the University of Florida studying Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in controls. I have undergraduate degrees from the same university in Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering. I co-created Fusion Control Centre, a company built around home automation and interfacing PCs with the real world. My main responsibilities there were designing PCBs and integrating sensors.
As a result of this interest in 3D printing and plastic extrusion, I have read several textbooks on polymer extrusion. I have designed the Filastruder with many things in mind learned from those texts, such as proper L/D ratio, die length, melt zone length, thrust bearing loading, temperature control, and more.
As you may have noticed in the video, I am not alone in this endeavor. Allen Haynes is handling the PR and marketing aspects of the Filastruder, as well as contributing to the aesthetic design, overall vision and shipping.
Allen has a degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida and has years of creative solutions and messaging experience. He is an award-nominated author and is bringing his talents to help educate, engage and enhance the Filastruder and 3D printing community.
Risks and challenges
Most of the risks and challenges have already been overcome through beta testing and extensive design review. The main risks come in delays sourcing parts after the campaign is complete. Fortunately, since we have shipped 16 kits, we can accurately estimate assembly and packing time, and be prepared once the parts arrive.