Filament Extruder Pumps Out 1kg/hour!

3d printer filament factory

3D printers are awesome, and while the plastic filament may not be as much as a rip off as printer ink (yet), it’s still marked up at least 500%! If you really want to break free, you’re going to need your own filament extruder.

ABS, a typical printing material, will run you about $30 USD per kilogram. Don’t get us wrong, that will go a long way — but did you know ABS pellets (technically processed MORE than filament) can be as cheap as $3-4/kg?

What if you could buy the pellets, and make your own filament with them? If you do a lot of printing, this could save you a lot of money. We’ve seen lots of different filament extruders here on Hackaday, and here’s yet another iteration — capable of extruding at an extremely fast rate of 1kg per hour! [Ian McMill] was inspired by [Xabbax's] Low Cost Filament Extruder, and has put together an excellent Instructable guide on how to make your own — with his own flair of course.

Take a look!


  1. steve says:

    would it be insane to make a 3d printer that used pellets? some kind of melting pot extruder…skipping the step of making perfect filament?

    • John Smith says:

      That would be ideal, and several people have tried. They never seem to work quite right. I believe most of the problems stem from having to try and minimize the size of the extruder head (consider the size of the filament extruder in this article!) and the problems with maintaining an even melt when the machine starts and stops extruding abruptly.

    • Leithoa says:

      Like John Smith says, minimizing weight on the x-y gantry is key (especially in hobbyist equipment) for getting good prints. The more weight you have to swing around the more robust the support structure needs to be. This makes the equipment heavier and/or more expensive since it must be more rigid.

    • Mike says:

      The problem with that is the filament control, even fairly high end twin screw extruders exhibit some pulsing of the output that would be a pain to deal with. I think I get about +/-15% out of the one in my lab :-( You could use a ram die fed system to give you better control but by that point the cost and weight has got to the point of being a bit excessive. If you brought a hybrid extruder and the mass feeder you’d get next to no change out of $250k and have to find somewhere to stand a quarter ton of pretty sensitive equipment :-)

    • GG_Beta says:

      What would also be awesome, would be to figure a way to add Masterbatch in the extruding process, that way you’d be able to make the filament any color you’d like.

  2. Be end says:

    You could turn this into a 3d printer if you put a moveable bed under it. The bed would weigh less than the head so the bed would have to move xy, head move z.

    • JRDM says:

      There is one company that does just that. I think it’s quite complicated to do, and the machine is very expensive. And when you need to change out the color, you have to purge the whole system.

      Filament extrusion speed isn’t a big deal. Even under constant use, it takes a long time to use 1kg of filament.

  3. rewolff says:

    The proof is in the pudding as they say… The guy doesn’t have a 3d printer yet, so he hasn’t tried his self-extruded filament…..

  4. Jedi says:

    why couldn’t one source ABS from old tv’s &stuff, and then run it through a chipper and something like this?

    • roboman2444 says:

      Mix and match colors or materials.
      You could also just buy ABS from online retailers. ABS in sheet or other forms is much cheaper than filament form.

    • CodeRed says:

      I’ve heard that some of that stuff is reinforced with fibers, and it would be unusable for extrusion.

    • Leithoa says:

      You could use recycled appliance cases and water pipe but as with everything recycled history of use comes into play. Appliances are going to bring along all sorts of grease, dust, and grime from years of use. There’s no reason you can’t wash this off with dish soap, ammonia based surface cleaner, alcohol, or other degreaser but it’s extra hassle.
      Unless you’re in the zombacalypse trying to print a liberator it’s probably not worth your time. Or if you just want to do a PoC or school project. Conquering the challenges is an acceptable hack.

  5. CodeRed says:
  6. JB says:

    What I would like to see is a cheap and reliable way to grind old/failed prints and other recyclable plastic to be used in an extruder like this one or Lyman’s instead of buying pellets.

  7. Has anyone seen this particular extruder? He had all sorts of issues with it initially. However he is now getting constant feed and diameter, or so he says. The machine is very simple design, but oh so heavy. He probably has around 200usd in parts in it. And a few hundred hours of tweaking. Check it out.

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