MRRF: Tasty Filament from Proto-Pasta

Alongside printers from all walks of manufacturing, one can naturally expect to find people selling different kinds of filament at a 3D printing festival. One of these purveyors of plastic was Proto-pasta out of Vancouver, WA. Proto-pasta prides themselves on unique offerings and complete transparency about their manufacturing processes.

Almost all of their filaments are either PLA or HTPLA with something special added during extrusion. The menu includes steel, iron, carbon, and finely ground coffee. The coffee filament was one of our favorites for sure. The print they brought with them looked solidified light roast and had a transparent kind of lollipop quality to it. I couldn’t detect the coffee scent due to allergies, but [Alex] assured me that printing with this filament will make your house or hackerspace smell terrific.

[Alex] was giving away samples of their stainless steel composite PLA. This one can be polished to a smooth shine with a series of papers that run from 400 to 8,000-grit. Another of their newer offerings is PLA infused with magnetic iron particles. Prints made with this stuff can be rusted to achieve an antique, steampunk, or shabby chic aesthetic.

Proto-pasta also has an electrically conductive composite carbon PLA. This one is great for capacitive applications like making a custom, ergonomic stylus or your own game controller. According to the site, the resistivity of printed parts is 30 ohms per centimeter as measured perpendicular to the layers, and 115 ohms along the layers.

Have you made anything awesome with conductive or magnetic filament? Have you had any problems with unorthodox filaments? Let us know in the comments.

Straw Based Filament?

Straw Based Filament

PLA (polyactic acid) is often toted as one of the most environmentally friendly and safe filaments for consumer printing, since it is derived from corn products — not fossil fuels. But there’s a new contender on the market, and that is a type of straw-based plastic filament — which also promises to cost around half as much!

Designed by a Chinese company called Jinghe, the material is made by grinding up various dried crops like wheat, rice, and cotton, which in China is typically burned to get dispose of. The sawdust is then mixed with additives like polypropylene, silane coupling agent, and ethylene bis(stearamide). It is then extruded into a pellets of uniform size to allow for easier processing. From there it can be used for injection molding (melting temperature between 160-180°C), or further extruded into filament form. The filament  and resulting prints are a woody color with an interesting fiber-like surface finish, with decent part strength.

The company has signed a $320,000 USD contract with the Shantou city government to produce this type of plastic for toys in the European market — If production ramps up, it could well become one of the cheapest filaments available!

We like to cover all these alternative filaments as they come out, and there is becoming quite a selection! If you hear of any new materials used for printing, don’t forget to send them in to the tips line!

[Via 3ders.org]