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:

13 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: Welding Plastic Filament

  1. Useful tool. I wonder, though, if it needs to be as complex as this? I feel like maybe you could mill two brass blocks about a half inch square with 1.75mm/3mm semicircular grooves, place the pieces of filament in between them with the ends butted together, and heat them up with a soldering iron? I guess if you had hundreds of little scraps to fuse together, a dedicated tool would be better, but is that really a situation anyone is finding themselves in? I used to keep the little bits of leftover filament at the end of a reel until I bothered to calculate it and found it was usually less than 40 cents’ worth. I can afford to throw that away.

    1. I think this could be useful not only for the economic bonus of using filament you would have just thrown out, but deliberately welding different colors together at certain spots for artistic effect.

      It could be a neat way to get the horizontal-stripe effect without unloading and swapping filament on the fly. Use a bunch of lengths of different colors and it might even give you something of a tie-dye sort of effect.

      I wonder also at the possibility of welding different materials together. If this could be reliably done to mix plastic and flex, wood, dissolvable, or whatever, that’d open up some interesting possibilities. Could you print a hard plastic arm with flexy elbow joint halfway up?

    2. If you’re really good with the extruder work, you can hold the next spool where the last bit of filament would have gone past the hobbed bolt. Hold it there long enough so that a retract wont pull back out, and you just continued the job without stopping.

      Source: me, have done it

    1. huh not first time I watched it, they flexed the o ring back and forth in an oddly alluring way.
      When I hit replay to convince myself it wasn’t all some sort of dream it did just what you describe, fixed picture :s

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