Interested in experimenting with your own multi-color filament? [Turbo_SunShine] says to just print your own, and experiment away! Now, if you’re thinking that 3D printing some filament sounds inefficient at best (and a gimmick at worst) you’re not alone. But there’s at least one use case that it makes sense for, and maybe others as well.
There is such a thing as bi-color filament (like MatterHackers Quantum PLA) which can be thought of as filament that is split down the center into two different colors. Printing with such filament can result in some trippy visuals, like objects whose color depends in part on the angle from which they are viewed. Of course, for best results it makes sense to purchase a factory-made spool, but for light experimenting, it’s entirely possible to 3D print your own bi-color filament. Back when [Turbo_SunShine] first shared his results, this kind of stuff wasn’t available off the shelf like it is today, but the technique can still make sense in cases where buying a whole spool isn’t called for.
Here is how it works: the 3D model for filament is a spiral that is the right diameter for filament, printed as a solid object. The cross-section of this printed “filament” is a hexagon rather than a circle, which helps get consistent results. To make bi-color filament, one simply prints the first half of the object in one color, then performs a color change, and finishes the print with a second color. End result? A short coil of printed “filament”, in two colors, that is similar enough to the normal thing to be fed right back into the printer that created it. This gallery of photos from [_Icarus] showcases the kind of results that are possible.
What do you think? Is 3D printing filament mainly an exercise in inefficiency, or is it a clever leveraging of a printer’s capabilities? You be the judge, but it’s pretty clear that some interesting results can be had from the process. Take a few minutes to check out the video (embedded below) for some additional background.
Plastic is a remarkable material in many ways. Cheap, durable, and versatile, it is responsible for a large percentage of the modern world we live in. As we all know, though, it’s not without its downsides. Its persistence in the environment is quite troubling, so any opportunity we can take to reduce its use is welcome. This 3D printed machine, although made out of plastic, is made out of repurposed water bottles that have been turned into the filament for the 3D printer.
While there’s not too much information available on the site, what we gather is that the machine cuts a specific type of plastic water bottle made out of PET plastic into strips, and then feeds the strips into a heated forming tool. The tool transforms the strips into the filament shape and spools them so they are ready to feed back into a 3D printer. As a proof of concept, it seems as though this machine was made from repurposed plastic, but it could also be made using whatever filament you happen to have on hand.
As far as recycling goes, this is a great effort to keep at least some of it out of landfills and oceans. Unfortunately, plastic can’t be recycled endlessly like metal, as it will eventually break down. But something like this could additionally save on some filament costs for those with access to these types of bottles. Other options for creating your own filament also include old VHS tapes, but you will likely need a separate machine for that.
There’s a fine line between simple feature creep and going over the top when it comes to project design. It’s hard to say exactly where that line is, but we’re pretty sure that this filament dry box has at least stepped over it, and might even have erased it entirely.
Sure, we all know the value of storing 3D printer filament under controlled conditions, to prevent the hygroscopic plastics from picking up atmospheric moisture. But [Sasa Karanovic] must really, REALLY hate the printing artifacts that result. Starting with a commercially available dry box that already had a built-in heating element, [Sasa] took it to the next level by replacing the controller and display with an ESP32. He added a fan to improve air circulation inside the enclosure and prevent stratification, as well as temperature and humidity sensors. Not satisfied with simply switching the heating element on and off at specific setpoints, he also implemented a PID loop to maintain a constant temperature. And of course, there’s a web UI and an API available for third-party control and monitoring.
The video below details [Sasa]’s design thoughts and goes into some detail on construction and performance. And while we may kid that this design is over-the-top, what really comes through is that this is a showcase for design ideas not only for one application, but for hardware projects in general. There are certainly simpler heated dry box designs, and zero-cost solutions as well, but sometimes going overboard has its own value too.
Thermoplastics are great, because you can melt them down and reform them into whatever you like. This is ably demonstrated by [The Q] by recycling old soda bottles into usable 3D printer filament.
Soda bottles are usually made out of PET plastic, or polyethylene terephthalate, which is one of the most popular thermoplastics in modern society. A soda bottle can be cut into a continuous long, thin strip with the use of a simple hand-operated machine that slices the bottle with a blade. This strip of plastic can then be fed through a heated nozzle in order to produce filament for 3D printing. [The Q] demonstrates both parts of this process, including using a motorized reel to take up filament as the bottle material is fed through the extruder.
The filament is then demonstrated by printing tiny versions of soda bottles. [The Q] fills these with soda and gives them the appropriate lids and labels for completion’s sake. It’s a neat way to demonstrate that the filament actually works for 3D printing. It bears noting that such prints are almost certainly not food safe, but it’s really a proof of concept rather than an attempt to make a usable beverage container.
Like similar builds we’ve seen in the past, the filament is of limited length due to the amount of plastic in a single bottle. We’d like to see a method for feeding multiple bottles worth of plastic into the extruder to make a longer length spool, as joining lengths of filament itself can be fraught with issues. Video after the break.
It’s hard to say when inspiration will strike, or what form it’ll take. But we do know that when you get that itch, it’s a good idea to scratch it, because you might just end up with something like this cool new design for a 3D printer extruder as a result.
Clearly, the world is not screaming out for new extruder designs. In fact, the traditional spring-loaded, toothed drive wheel on a stepper really does the job of feeding filament into a printer’s hot end just fine, all things considered. But [Jón Schone], aka Proper Printing on YouTube, got the idea for his belt-drive extruder from seeing how filament manufacturers handle their products. His design is a scaled-down version of that, and uses a pair of very small timing belts that run on closely spaced gears. The gears synchronize the movement of the two belts, with the filament riding in the very narrow space between the belts. It’s a simple design, with the elasticity of the belt material eliminating the need for spring pre-loading of the drive gears.
Simple in design, but not the easiest execution. The video below tells [Jón]’s tale of printing woe, from using a viscous specialty SLA resin that was really intended for a temperature-controlled printer, to build tank damage. The completed extruder was also a bit too big to mount directly on the test printer, so that took some finagling too. But at the end of the day, the idea works, and it looks pretty cool doing it.
As for potential advantages of the new design, we suppose that remains to be seen. It does seem like it would eliminate drive gear eccentricity, which we’ve seen cause print quality issues before.
All 3D printer filament benefits from being kept as dry as possible, but some are more sensitive to humidity than others. The best solution is a drybox; a sealed filament container, usually with some desiccant inside. But in a pinch, [Spacefan]’s quick and dirty $0 drybox solution is at least inspiring in terms of simplicity.
[Spacefan]’s solution uses a filament roll’s own packing materials and a single 3D-printed part to create a sealed environment for a single roll. The roll lives inside a plastic bag (potentially the same one it was sealed in) and filament exits through a small hole and 3D-printed fitting that also uses a bit of spare PTFE tubing. The box doubles as a convenient container for it all. It doesn’t have as much to offer as this other DIY drybox solution, but sure is simple.
While we appreciate the idea, this design is sure to put a lot of friction on the spool itself. It will be a lot of extra work to pull filament off the spool, which needs to turn inside a bag, inside a box, and that extra work will be done by the 3D printer’s extruder, a part that should ideally be working as little as possible. The re-use of materials is a great idea, but it does look to us like the idea could use some improvement.
What do you think? Useful in a pinch, or needs changes? Would adding a spindle to support the spool help? Let us know what you think in the comments.
If you know that most soda bottles are made from PET plastic, you’ve probably thought about how you could make filament from them and have an endless supply of cheap printing material. [Mr3DPrint] says he has a method and shares a few videos that make it look easy. We wonder if the quality of the filament is up to par with commercial products, but assuming the videos are accurate, it appears that the resulting filament gets the job done.
The details are a little sketchy, but it looks simple enough. THe first step is to get any indentations out of the bottle. He has several demonstrations of this some using pressurized air in the bottle and some without. In each case, though, a drill holds the bottle through the cap and spins it over a flame until the surface is smooth.