Low Cost Filament Extruder

Here’s a great low cost filament extruder solution. It uses basic parts available from any hardware store, and a few 3D printed ones — estimated cost is well under $100.

It’s very similar to the Lyman Filament Extruder, but can be built for even less money. By using 200C set-point heaters, his setup requires absolutely no electronics — although a cheap PID controller from China could give him more extrusion capabilities with temperature control… Regardless, the system appears to make good filament and he uses it exclusively for his personal filament consumption in his Delta printer. He’s even hacked up the ABS casing of a refrigerator, ground it down, and turned it into filament using this machine! If you’re hungry for more details, the full build log and discussion can be found on the RepRap forums.

He also has a guide on making your own ABS color masterbatch to make your own filament colors!

[Thanks Liam!]

3D Printering: Alternative Filaments


ABS and PLA are the backbones of the 3D printing world. They’re both easy to obtain and are good enough for most applications. They are not, however, the be-all, end-all filaments for all your 3D printing needs. Depending on your design, you may need something that is much tougher, much more flexible, or simply has a different appearance or texture. Here are a few alternative plastics for your RepRap, Makerbot, or other 3D printer:

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3d printer filament made of wood

Believe it or not, you can now squeeze wood through the nozzle of your 3D printer.

This new addition to the maker’s palette of 3D printer filaments comes from the mind of [Kai Parthy]. The new filament – going by the name Laywood – is a mix of recycled wood fibers and polymer binders that can be melted and extruded just like any other 3D printer filament.

Parts printed with Laywood have about the same properties as parts printed with PLA filament. One interesting feature of this material is the ability to add ‘tree rings,’ or a subtle gradation in color from a rich brown to a very nice beige. The color can be changed on the fly by setting the temperature of your printer’s hot end to 180° C for a light color, and 230° C for a darker color.

Judging from the ‘in action’ video of Laywood filament being pushed through a printer, the new wood-based filament works just the same as any other PLA or ABS plastic.

Outside eBay, there appears to be only one place to buy this filament. It’s not cheap at about €16/$20 USD per half kilogram, but hopefully that price will come down when it becomes more popular.

Video after the break.

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Win $40,000 for squirting plastic out of a nozzle

3D printers such as the RepRap and Makerbot turn spools of plastic filament into just about any object imaginable. There’s a problem though: this filament costs about $40 a kilogram, and raw plastic pellets cost about 1/10th of that. Obviously, there’s a lot of room for improvement. The folks at Inventables are throwing $40,000 at the problem in a contest to build a machine that takes plastic pellets and turns it into usable plastic filament.

The object is simple: build a device that takes ABS or PLA pellets and turns them into a 1.75mm filament. The machine has to cost less than $250, be able to add colorant to the plastic, and be usable in a 3D printer. The winner gets $40,000, a laser cutter, a 3D printer, and a CNC milling machine courtesy of Inventables. Sign up on the official contest website and don’t be shy about sending your progress into the Hackaday tip line

If you’d like to get started, here’s a great page that goes over the basics of plastic extrusion, and a few attempts (1, 2) from [Adrian Bowyer] and [Forrest Higgs] that show exactly how hard this is. There’s also the Filabot that had a successful Kickstarter, but there’s apparently been no (or very limited) progress in the four months since the Kickstarter. I’ve even given this idea a go, but am currently stuck at manufacturing a proper auger. To put this in perspective, this is the moonshot of the current crop of 3D printers; a simple device to lower the barrier of entry to 3D printing is desperately needed, and we’ve got to give props to the Inventables crew for putting this contest together.