Learn about inspiring applications in 3D printings and the remarkable outcomes that follow.

Year and a Half Later – Setting the standard with PEEK

Year and a Half Later – Setting the standard with PEEK
A year and a half ago, we began testing the prototype of what is today referred to as the Next 1.0 Advanced Level desktop filament extruder.
Taking forward the same commitment to quality and innovation, we focused on our next experiment – working with a semi-crystalline thermoplastic with mechanical and chemical properties ideal for sustaining high temperatures. This thermoplastic is known as PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone).
Working with PEEK has presented interesting challenges, chief among which involved extruding it in the correct temperature range, while factoring in internal pressure, and without affecting the material’s crystallinity. It has been a good start, and our first trials turned out to be easier than expected.
But first, a bit about PEEK. And its key applications.

PEEK test result 1.75mm 3devo filament
PEEK test result 1.75mm 3devo filament – done by Apium Additive Technologies GmbH.

PEEK finds its main uses in the Aerospace, Automotive and Medical industries.

Aerospace industry: Being strong, lightweight, and durable in a wide range of temperatures, PEEK is evolving into a popular choice of material in the aerospace industry. Its low price point does not hurt either.

Aerospace part
Aerospace part
Source: www.roboze.com

Automotive industry: Besides the primary advantages of its high strength (safety), low weight, and durability in a wide range of temperatures, PEEK is also energy efficient and has the intrinsic ability to reduce vibrations. This makes it a perfect fit for the fast developing automotive industry.

Gear Pump Source: www.Apiumtec.com
Gear Pump
Source: http://apiumtec.com/en/3d-printer/

Medical industry: 3D printing has already established itself as an invaluable asset to the medical and dental industries, bringing a whole new level of freedom and accuracy to the process of printing unique parts and components. PEEK (or PEKK for dental industry) extends the scope of 3D printing, having similar properties as the human bone, and thus being one of the few materials that the body does not resist.

Implants Source: www.pkm.kit.edu
Implants
Source: www.pkm.kit.edu

Recent PEEK tests with the Next 1.0 Advanced Level desktop filament extruder
Switching from PLA to PEEK presented an unique challenge: building up the temperature inside the Advanced Level extruder to PEEK’s high melting point of 343 degrees.
We went about it in phases, using 2 cleaning compounds as transition materials. First, we slowly raised the temperature from 170 to 300 degrees with the first transition material. Once temperatures had crossed 300 degrees, we switched to the second transition material, and worked on reaching 390 degrees. This was the final stage in our trial, where we could proceed to extrude PEEK.
Because of PEEK’s steady flow and relatively quick cooling properties, extruding it to the desired thickness (2.85mm or 1.75mm) was easier than expected. Winding it on a spool was a different ballgame, though. Due to the strength of the material we had to tape the first part of the filament on the spool, so as to wind it correctly and prevent it from popping out of the spool.

3devo PEEK Filament 2.85mm
3devo PEEK Filament 2.85mm

Transition materials and PEEK
The transition material played a key role throughout our PEEK extrusion process. We first mixed the PEEK with the transition material, and then gradually lowered the temperature range while increasing the amount of transition material in the mix.

PEEK and purging compound @3devo
PEEK and purging compound @3devo

Phase 1

Image: 3devo BV - phase 1 extruding PEEK
Image: 3devo BV – phase 1 extruding PEEK

Phase 2

Image: 3devo BV - phase 2 extruding PEEK
Image: 3devo BV – phase 2 extruding PEEK

Extruding your own PEEK – The main advantages
Buying PEEK granulate will only set you back by around 100 Euros per kg, as opposed to a filament spool that will cost you to the tune of 1000 Euros per spool.
In addition to this, you can try creating custom composites with PEEK granules, by adding in different materials such as carbon fiber.

Do you have one of our Advanced Level extruders?
Contact sales@3devo.com for the profile settings to start extruding PEEK.

Extruding Polyphenylene sulfide on the Advanced Level desktop filament extruder

Braided PPS expandable sleeving has many applications across a lot of industries where wiring must be protected
Braided PPS expandable sleeves have many applications across a lot of industries where wiring must be protected.

Polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) is a high performance engineering plastic with high heat, acid, alkali, UV and abrasion resistance coupled with high dimensional and thermal stability. The plastic is also inherently flame retardant (material has been UL94 V-0 classed)  and has excellent water resistance. PPS as a material is new to Additive Manufacturing and currently little used in 3D printing. There are PPS resin grades suited for powder bed fusion technologies (Laser sintering, LS, selective laser sintering, SLS) and some FDM (Fused deposition modeling, FFF) filament is available. Outside 3D printing the compound is used for housings, electronics, electrical appliances and in the automotive industry. Solvay makes Ryton and Toray Torelina (and Toray’s Torelina resin is available as a SLS grade). There are a number of other manufacturers and also many specialized grades such as filled grades. PPS needs to be dried before processing 150 plus temperatures for 3 hours is recommended. Depending on the grade the glass transition temperature is 90, the melting point 278 and a melt temperature of between 315 and 343 when extruded. Typically for injection molding applications Polyphenylene sulfide requires 3 hours of drying at 130, a mold temperature of 130 and a cylinder temperature of 320.

PPS granulate.
PPS granulate.

We looked at and extruded PPS here at 3devo. We dried the material for 8 hours and then managed to successfully extrude filament from the material. The materials was comparatively easy to dial in and extrude as well as process.

PPS 3D Printing Filament
PPS 3D Printing Filament

We think that this is another step forward for our clients and look forward to dialing in and extruding many more materials for you.

Extruding polycarbonate (PC) on the NEXT 1.0 Advanced desktop filament extruder

respiratory hood with polycarbonate face mask
A 3M Respiratory hood with a polycarbonate face mask.

Polycarbonate (PC) is a widely used strong, tough, stiff and durable thermoplastic polymer. Polycarbonate is used widely in construction, eyewear, consumer electronics, food packaging and the automotive industry (headlights, interiors). It can be transparent, be an electrical insulator and is known to have good thermal resistance and very good impact resistance.  There are hundreds of grades of PC varying from filled variants (carbon, carbon fiber, glass, fiber) to blends (PET, PBT) to alloys (with ABS, Acrylics). Inherently polycarbonate may have low scratch resistance and low long term UV resistance but this can be ameliorated by blends or additives (or by applying coatings to the final product). There are optically clear grades specifically for things such as safety glasses and grades that are flame retardant. If something needs to have high strength and impact resistance while being lightweight polycarbonate is often at the top of everyone’s list. If additionally it needs to be an insulator or have high optical clarity it is often the material of choice. Blow molding, injection molding and extrusion are all done with PC. Controversially polycarbonate is manufactured using bisphenol A. Even though many standards authorities consider the material safe for food contact applications there has been a consumer backlash against products in food contact applications that may contain bisphenol A. There are a whole host of polycarbonate manufacturers including Sabic, Celanese, Quadrant, Schulman, ChiMei, Teijin, DSM, Covestro (formerly Bayer Material Science), Ineos, Asai Kasei, Lehmann & Voss, Mitsubishi and many others. Due to this polycarbonate is known under many brand names such as Lexan, Makrolon, and Cycoloy.

Covestro's Makrolon polycarbonate sheets are used in outdoor applications like the cladding for the Allianz Arena
Covestro’s Makrolon polycarbonate sheets are used in outdoor applications such as the cladding for the Allianz Arena.

For many industries PC is a mainstay of their industrial plastics usage. With many grades being made and developed (because the material is so compatible with many other plastics) there is continual development in the Polycarbonate market as well. We’ve noted a high interest in PC from certain customers due to their high usage of the material.  Due to this we’ve been dialing in the material and extruding it on our 3devo and 3devo next.

Drying polycarbonate granules is an absolutely essential step when trying to make filament
Drying polycarbonate granules is an absolutely essential step when trying to make filament.

 

storing polycarbonate granules in airtight containers
We store our polycarbonate granules in airtight containers.

What we’ve found is that drying out polycarbonate before use is absolutely essential. Drying has a huge impact on the process-ability of the material. The surface and the brittleness of the material are adversely affected if the material is not sufficiently dry. Depending on the grade an additives five hours at 110 Celsius is recommended. With some grades longer drying times or drying times at a higher temperature such as 120 may be better.

One of our filament extruders while making polycarbonate filament
One of our test filament extruders while making polycarbonate filament.

 

A spool of PC 3D printing filament made on a 3devo filament extruder
A roll of poly-carbonate 3D printing filament made on a 3devo filament extruder

Our Polycarbonate filament performs well and are waiting to see what our customers will develop with this material.

Making PVA Filament with the NEXT 1.0 Advanced

PVA or polyvinyl alcohol is a relatively rare material in industry and is usually very difficult to process. Water acts like a plasticizer for PVA and the material is water soluble. This means that any humidity can adversely affect its performance and even eventually break it down. PVA is used in glues and also in bait bags for fishing carp for example. Bait is inserted in the bag and this is put into the water to attract fish. Once the bait bag dissolves in water, the bait spreads around the hook leading to more fish more likely to bite. The fact that PVA is water soluble and considered safe means that for a number of years it has been seen as the ideal support material for FDM 3D printing.

Fused Depositioning Modeling (FDM, also called FFF) systems use a nozzle to extrude and lay down plastic filament such as ABS or PLA. A build platform is then lowered and a new layer is applied. Industrial 3D printing systems have long used a second nozzle to extrude a sacrificial support material to support overhangs in the 3D print. This material is later removed. Sometimes supports can be a breakaway support structure or a material that has a lower head deflection temperature or strength than the build material. Stratasys, the company that invented FDM, has a wax support material for example. The company also has a PPSF support material (polyethersulfone), a polystyrene support material which is meant to be removed manually and a water soluble support material called 2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, polymer with methyl 2-methyl-2-propenoate which is an acrylic and another which is a Terpolymer of Methacrylic Acid, Styrene, and Butylacrylate. Depending on the 3D printing process, the build material and the requirements of the part, many different supports are available.

Virgin PLA Granules with a much needed desiccant bag.
Virgin PVA Granules with a much needed desiccant bag.

For the desktop 3D printing community however PVA is the most researched and most coveted. PVA’s environmentally friendly characteristics coupled with the ease of use in removing the supports have lead to many companies looking into it. PVA is however notoriously difficult to keep. It must be dried before use. Even then, in a normal room PVA can quickly be adversely affected by water. In some cases a mere 12 hours in a room may degrade the material considerably. During normal 3D printing operations the material can also degrade much faster than other materials. What we discovered in our experiments with the material is that in addition to these issues care must be taken when extruding it. Any PVA remnants inside nozzles for example can wreak havoc on subsequent 3D prints and extrusions. Tricky stuff, PVA. This is also one of the reasons (along with nozzle lifting and software) while dual extrusion and support material on desktop 3D printers is so difficult to do. Many companies have researched dual extrusion and are trying to implement it. The difficulty of working with the engineering, software and material however has lead to only precious few 3D printing companies actually being able to make dual extrusion with PVA a reality. Even of those who say they can do several can not reliably do it.

A Spool of PVA filament made with the 3devo
A Spool of PVA filament made with 3devo’s filament maker

After drying out and extruding the material we were able to create good PVA filament with it in less than half a day of testing. The material was tested in prints and as a support and performed well. We will share our learnings with customers who are interested in making or developing their own PVA filaments.

3devo attends Formnext, a great 3D printing and additive manufacturing show

the 3devo stand at Formnext Frankfurt 2016
the 3devo stand at Formnext Frankfurt 2016

Lisette, Lucas, Jasper and Tim visited the Formnext show in Frankfurt for 3devo. Formnext is one of the biggest shows in 3D printing. The show attracts many players from across the 3D printing industry from industrial metal printing companies to compounders and software vendors. This year over 13,000 visitors attended the show visiting 307 exhibitor stands. Formnext is a nice chance to meet almost our entire industry in one go. Anyone from all the machine OEMs to service bureaus in Europe attend. It was great for our team to be introduced to so many people in one go. In a few days we were also able to see many innovations and new product launches. Not that our team got a lot of opportunity to leave our stand. We were swamped. The team really liked meeting so many people, especially since the attendees were so knowledgeable about 3D printing, plastics and our industry. We had two machines on our stand and were extruding PLA and other materials non stop to show people that the 3devo NEXT 1.0 is a reliable high end device.  We had a lot of good conversations with plastics companies, chemical companies, industrials, OEMs and compounders. It was a very successful event for us and we will be sure to attend again.

Formnext stand 2016 with Tim.
Formnext stand 2016 with Tim.

Tim said that, “it was great to in a few days meet so many people from the Additive Manufacturing industry and meet so many people with deep plastics and manufacturing knowledge”, “apart from the many useful conversations and new contacts the event was well organized and fun.” Lisette added that, “Formnext was incredibly hectic and busy for us and an excellent opportunity to meet so many manufacturing firms.” Besides being on our stand the team also got along great with the folks from Opiliones, the large format delta 3D printer OEM which were our neighbors. There were visits to the Brauhaus and a BASF party replete with bands and beers. The event space was impeccable and everything was very well organized.  Altogether we can really recommend Formnext for any 3D printing company or anyone who wants to in a short time get a good overview of the manufacturing side of 3D printing. There are a plethora of 3D printing shows nowadays but if you attend only one, do Formnext. See you all next year!

Developing PA 12 FDM Filament with the 3devo Filament Extruder

A spool of PA 12 FDM filament.
A spool of PA 12 FDM filament.

At 3devo our NEXT 1.0 Advanced (Industrial) Desktop Filament extruders can be used to make all manner of grades of plastics and filaments. Many customers of ours want to use the machine to develop lots of different types of plastics. Some are interested specifically in one polymer in particular. One thermoplastic that our customer’s were specifically interested in was PA 12. We tested the material and made spools of PA 12 FDM filament for our customers.

Polyamide 12 is a widely used polymer especially in the packaging industry but it is also used in things such as concealer and medicine. The material is biocompatible, flexible and has good chemical resistance and high impact strength.

PA 12 polyamide surgical guide 3D printed
A 3D printed polyamide surgical guide made from PA 12. The guide is patient specific and made so that the surgeon knows where she can cut. By Orthaxy.

In 3D printing PA 12 is used extensively in selective laser sintering (SLS or LS) as a powder. This powder material is the most popular SLS material in the world. Surgical guides, orthotics, prototypes, short run parts and many of the 3D printed parts that you have seen have been PA 12. Materialise’s design brand .MGX was the first 3D printing design brand. Pioneering design by Jeanne Kyttannen featured the Lilly lamp which was made in both Stereolithography materials and in PA 12. As an SLS 3D printing material it has a powdery feel and is porous.

Lilly.MGX Lamp by Jeanne Kytannen and Materialise made in PA 12.
Lilly.MGX Lamp by Jeanne Kytannen and Materialise made in PA 12.

Due to high customer interest in the material we’ve decided to test and make Polyamide PA 12 FDM filament. PA 12’s versatility and high degree of use in 3D printing and beyond made it a very worthwhile material to extrude as well. We extruded the material on our 3devo Next to see if it could then be tested to see if it could confirm to customer specifications. We dialed in the material over the course of less than a day and it conformed to spec. We then 3D printed test parts on an Ultimaker 2+ to see the results as a printed part. We’re very happy with the filament and the print. Our customers are also happy that thanks to our data it will now be easier for them to dial in their specific PA 12’s. We will be adding the PA 12 Material Preset to a future software update on our machines.

A PA 12 part 3D printed on an Ultimaker. Filament made on a 3devo Next.
A PA 12 part 3D printed on an Ultimaker. Filament made on a 3devo NEXT 1.0 extruder.

3devo launches the first Industrial Desktop Filament Extruders

3devo recycler next to four filament colors in 1.75mm and 2.85 and also orange and green granulate.
The 3devo Industrial Desktop Filament Extruder

3devo has just launched not one but two Industrial Desktop Filament Extruders, the 3devo NEXT 1.0 and 3devo Advanced. Whereas there have been several notable maker made filament extrusion devices and there are many different types of large industrial extruders available, the 3devo machines are the first of their kind. The NEXT and Advanced put high reliability, repeatability and tolerances in a small form factor. For the first time a robust and reliable industry grade filament extruder device is available for your desktop. The NEXT Level and Advanced are the world’s first Industrial Desktop Filament Extruders.

On the left we have the blank anodized filament recycler and on the right the black powder coated model.
The Blank Anodized and Black powder coated 3devo NEXT and 3devo Advanced, front and side view respectively.

The 3devo NEXT 1.0 Next Level is targeted at makers, 3D printing shops and universities that wish to:

  • Lower the cost of 3D printing by a factor of 7 by using regrind or virgin pellets to make filament.
  • Wish to lower the environmental cost of 3D printing by recycling materials such as ABS or PET to make 3D printing filament.
  • Simultaneously lower the financial and environmental cost of 3D printing to approximately $1.25 per Kilo of material by using readily available recycled materials in house.
  • Have significant amounts of old 3D prints, unused 3D prints, missprints or old filaments that they wish to recycle.
  • Wish to experiment with creating their own filaments or making new 3D Printing materials.
3dprint, 3devo, filament extruder
The 3devo Industrial Filament Extruder, side view.

The 3devo NEXT 1.0 Advanced has been specifically created for compounders, extrusion companies, researchers, plastics companies, universities and 3D printing companies who wish to:

  • Accelerate the pace of plastics innovation by allowing for cost effective small batch production of new grades, new materials or variants.
  • Increase the rate of plastics innovation by allowing for more experimentation at higher rates by placing a filament extruder tableside to the individual researcher.
  • Create their own grades or types of 3D printing filament.
  • Create their own grades or types of plastic or new plastics.
  • Produce up to 0.7 Kg of 3D printing filament per hour.
Spool of material and virgin granulate plastic.
Spool of material and virgin granulate plastic with some 3D printed parts.

Both the 3devo NEXT 1.0 Next Level and the NEXT 1.0 Advanced:

  • Are manufactured in the Netherlands.
  • Have independent heating zones with independently set temperatures (3 heating zones for the NEXT and 4 for the Advanced).
  • Are built to last.
  • Have a Self-regulating filament diameter control system. (This lets you set the desired diameter and ensures for consistent output of the extruded filament).
  • A capacity of up to 0.7 Kg of material per hour.
  • A diameter sensor with 43 Micron accuracy.
  • Use high end materials and parts.
  • Have a hardened Nitrite steel extruder screw with compression zone.
  • Have been designed to supply variable torque at consistent RPM.
  • Have high precision RPM encoder feedback.
  • Have automated motor control.
  • An Extrusion diameter that can be set between: 0,5 – 3,0 MM
  • Have Hoppers with Built-in material level sensor (this lowers the risk of ‘dry running’).
  • A powerful cooling system for high speed extrusions.
  • Automatic spool winding.
  • An easy to use spool mount that can variably set for different spools.
  • Have an easy to use interface.
  • Have material presets for ABS and PLA.
  • Let you set and define your own preset materials settings as well.
  • Let you manually adjust temperatures and speeds on the fly.
  • Are stand alone devices that do not need a dedicated PC or separate control unit.
  • Have USB connection for data logging.
  • Have been designed to fit into laminar flow cabinets or under fume hoods.
  • Both systems measure: 506 L X 216 W X 540 H MM [19.9 X 8.5 X 21.3 IN]

The main differences between the Next Level and the Advanced is that the Next Level has 3 controlled independent heating zones and a maximum temperature of 350° C. The Advanced can go up to 450° C and has four controlled independent heating zones. The Advanced also has a mixing section built into the extruder screw. The Advanced has been designed for the extrusion of high temperature materials such as PEEK and other engineering plastics.

3devo OLED display and central controls.
3devo OLED display and central controls.

The 3devo Next Level costs €3,450. The 3devo Advanced costs €4,050 for the black powder coated variant and €4,200 for anodized variant (Prices exclude VAT). You can buy both filament extruders online from our shop or contact us should you need more information.

We believe that complex challenges demand elegant solutions. The 3devo family of Advanced Level (Industrial) Desktop Filament Extruders has been created because we believe that researchers, universities, makers, 3D printing companies and compounders should have access to highly reliable industrial grade desktop filament extrusion so that they can innovate faster.

By developing and manufacturing a filament extruder with high tolerances we can help academics and commercial businesses create new unique high performance engineering plastics.

A 3D printed object made with filament from the 3devo extruder.
A 3D printed object made with filament from the 3devo extruder.
3d_printed_object_3devo_filament
Nervous System’s Cellular Lamp made with PLA filament made on a 3devo extruder.

Additionally, by letting manufacturers, 3D printer operators and 3D printing services use lower cost regrind and virgin plastic granulate we can lower the costs for 3D printing filament. By letting people develop and manufacture recycled 3D printing filament we help our industry reduce the ecological and financial cost of 3D printing in lockstep. We hope that this will push our industry forward by making more end use parts, more applications and more business cases possible with 3D printing. We see ourselves as an engineering company first and a start up second. We are a force multiplier for the 3D printing industry and aspire to be the engineers behind some of the most well regarded tools in your lab, manufacturing floor or workshop. We’re 3devo, Pleased to meet you!

3devo Next with two spools.
3devo NEXT Industrial Filament Extruder with two spools.

RapidPro Award 2016

We are happy to announce that we have been elected for the RapidPro Start-Up Award!

At the beginning of March we attended the RapidPro 2016 exposition. This is one of the most important conventions in The Netherlands regard prototyping, production and product development. Leading organizations and speakers presented their latest innovations in the field of 3d printing.

The expositions resulted in a lot of positive response on the NEXT 1.0. It was great to be able to meet some of you. To top it all off we were presented with the Start-Up Award, which is now hanging proudly in our office. With the award came some additional perks: a workshop by consultant agency Berenschot to help us market our product, advice on intellectual property protection by law firm Ipecunia and a year-long membership to the High Tech Platform. What a treat!

PEEK Extrusion

PEEK, the superman of polymers. Currently one of the most popular high performance plastic materials on the market. In the polymer space, it would be tough to find something tougher than PEEK. It exhibits excellent mechanical and thermal properties, chemical inertness, creep resistance at high temperatures, very low flammability, hydrolysis resistance, and radiation resistance. These properties make PEEK popular in the aircraft, automotive, semiconductor, and chemical processing industries.

So naturally we wanted to extrude this bad boy. Ever since we started working on the NEXT 1.0 Filament Extruder it has been a goal to be able to extrude PEEK. Being able to successfully extrude this powerful polymer would mean our machine is a match for all polymers. Our intern Troy was put in charge of this exciting task: “it was hard to find the right temperature. Our first try was way too hot, the filament was not as sleek and smooth as it should be and it showed some heat damage.” Of course Troy wasn’t deterred that quickly and tried several times with different temperatures. “Eventually I found the right temperature that created perfect PEEK filament! Overall it was easier than expected. The bigger challenge now is finding good cleaning agent. It’s pretty powerful stuff, so getting all of the PEEK out of the machine has been an issue, but I am confident we will find a way.”

We were thrilled to have been able to produce perfect PEEK filament and are even more convinced off the sheer force the NEXT 1.0 has. Reaching this milestone has been a confirmation of our expectations and it has motivated us more than ever to finish this powerful product. Watch out polymers, we are coming for you!

Should You Buy A Filament Extruder?

If you enjoy 3D printing and often make a variety of prints, your filament choices are probably becoming more and more important. However, there is now another choice that is becoming increasingly popular – to buy 3D printing filament or simply make your own. This article is will guide you through the questions you need to ask yourself before making that decision.