MRRF 17: Lulzbot And IC3D Release Line Of Open Source Filament

Today at the Midwest RepRap Festival, Lulzbot and IC3D announced the creation of an Open Source filament.

While the RepRap project is the best example we have for what can be done with Open Source hardware, the stuff that makes 3D printers work – filament, motors, and to some extent the electronics – are tied up in trade secrets and proprietary processes. As you would expect from most industrial processes, there is an art and a science to making filament and now these secrets will be revealed.

IC3D Printers is a manufacturer of filament based in Ohio. This weekend at MRRF, [Michael Cao], founder and CEO of IC3D Printers announced they would be releasing all the information, data, suppliers, and techniques that go into producing their rolls of filament.

According to [Michael Cao], there won’t be much change for anyone who is already using IC3D filament – the materials and techniques used to produce this filament will remain the same. In the coming months, all of this data will be published and IC3D is working on an Open Source Hardware Certification for their filament.

This partnership between IC3D and Lulzbot is due in no small part to Lulzbot’s dedication to Open Source Hardware. This dedication is almost excessive, but until now there has been no option for Open Source filament. Now it exists, and the value of Open Source hardware is again apparent.

15 thoughts on “MRRF 17: Lulzbot And IC3D Release Line Of Open Source Filament

      1. It’s certainly neat that it is likely to happen but that said, it would still be nice to post it here to a general purpose and not specialty site when, you know, there is actually something to see rather than an announcement that something will be coming eventually. Maybe post it to printer forums or more “close to the ground” sources?

        “the stuff that makes 3D printers work – filament, motors, and to some extent the electronics – are tied up in trade secrets and proprietary processes. ”

        Isn’t the entire point of open source hardware to avoid tying everything up into trade secrets and proprietary processes? There are plenty of open sourced 3D printers out there already. Not sure I follow what you mean by your statement?

        What somebody needs to do is do an open sourced version of what Carbon3D is doing. Doing so would somewhat sadly probably be a much smaller fraction of work than has been collectively put into all of the open source, point based 3D printing machines out there and would actually advance the state of the art considerably. Fewer moving parts, higher resolution, much faster builds, no smoke generated, etc.

      2. I’m serious and I take no pleasure in having to point out how useless it is. I thought trolling was supposed to be fun, but I’ll accept your expert opinion on that.

      3. I would assume they release which raw material they use. For PLA this is most likely the exact NatureWorks PLA they used with with some additives. (Raw PLA is so brittle that it breaks on the spool)

        However, that is just the start of the process. Extruding isn’t super difficult, but extruding with consistency is, cooling without deforming it is also difficult. And then coiling it is the next difficult bit.

        If they release that whole process, then color me impressed.

      1. The QC machines/process will be documented. The machines themselves aren’t open source hardware though (maybe someday).

        Note, we’ve also sponsored studies by universities to study the contents of filaments and UFPs too (that has been noted here in Hackaday in the past).

        We’re working to get out as much info as we can.


  1. People have been trying DIY filament extrusion or recycling for years, and the answer is always the same.

    When you consider the quality of the filament and need for repeatable printing performance, hygroscopicity of the plastics, dimensional consistency, and the need to maintain consistency and quality across the extrusion of a whole roll of filament it’s just too much of a pain in the arse in practice, and there’s no alternative to simply buying it. Even with commercial filaments these factors aren’t perfect.

    1. Not quite. In industry if you can actually start with very high quality, consistent scrap, you reuse maybe 10% to 20% and the rest is virgin material and it still works quite well for commercial production of material, plus you can also throw “green” buzz words at marketing. Recycling random amounts of material without processing it first or trying to recycle all of it or not having enough to actually recycle is not going to work well but recycling very clean scrap is fairly common place in industry. It just has limits on what you can do successfully.

  2. I wish the presentation video was intelligible. It’s too bad no one could jack into the sound system for the audio. I’ve got so many questions but I just can’t listen to that.

  3. With so many sources for filament competing, I am not sure of the value of open source filament. The real value is knowing what is critical to the operation of fused deposition modeling. The filament diameter tolerance, lack of impurities, and maybe special additives to the raw ABS stock would be of interest. I would like ASTM or SME develop standards for the material so suppliers can have the filament tested, I rarely have encountered a problem in printing that I could blame on the filament and have been buying discount material for 3 years, the competition has driven the price of the material down to a level that enables a lot offabrication to occur.

    Jim Stana

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