Hackaday Prize Entry: Welding Plastic Filament

There are a lot of neat toys and accessories that rely on 3D printing filament. The 3Doodler is a 3D printing pen, or pretty much an extruder in a battery-powered portable package. You can make your own filament with a Filastruder, and of course 3D printers themselves use up a lot of filament. [Bodet]’s project for this year’s Hackaday Prize gives those tiny scraps of leftover filament a new life by welding filament together.

The EasyWelder [Bodet] is designing looks a little bit like a tiny hair straightener; it has a temperature control, a power switch, and two tips that grip 1.7 or 3mm diameter filament and weld them together. It works with ABS, PLA, HIPS, Nylon, NinjaFlex, and just about every other filament you can throw at a printer. By welding a few different colors of filament together, you can create objects with different colors or mechanical properties. It’s not as good as dual extrusion, but it does make good use of those tiny bits of filament left on a mostly used spool.

Since the EasyWelder can weld NinjaFlex and other flexible filaments, it’s also possible to weld NinjaFlex to itself. What does that mean? Custom sized O-rings, of course. You can see a video of that below.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

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Finally, turning plastic pellets into 3D printer filament

Here’s the situation: a kilogram of 3D printer filament costs about $50. A kilogram of plastic pellets costs less than a tenth of that. Does anyone have a solution to this problem?

For years now, the general consensus was making your own 3D printer filament at home was nigh impossible, dealing with temperatures, pressures, and tolerances that home-built machines simply can’t handle. [Bradley] sent in a filament extruder he made because he was disturbed at this current mindset that desktop filament factories have huge technical issues that have yet to be overcome.

[Bradley]’s extruder is based on the Lyman Filament Extruder, a machine that has successfully demonstrated taking plastic pellets, forming them into a filament, and having this filament used in the production of 3D printed parts. [Bradley]’s improvements include a variable-speed motor, a larger hot end, and an automatic timing system to produce set quantities of printer filament.

Of course, since Inventables threw $40,000 at the problem of creating filament at home there were bound to be more than a few successful designs making their way out into the public. When we last covered the developments of home filament manufacturing, the Filabot seemed to be in the lead. Now with [Bradley] (and  [Lyman])’s machines turning out usable filament, it’s only a matter of time before the 40 grand prize is snatched.