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

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…

A Guide To FDM Printable Plastics And 3D Printing Filament

When it comes to 3D printing, we are witnessing a huge wave of development, either in the 3D printing technology or in the use of innovative printing material. The process of producing 3D prints from various materials is generally called Additive Manufacturing (because the object is produced by adding a number of material layers until finish). In the past years, 3D printing has greatly evolved, featuring several new manufacturing techniques. Today, engineers and developers strive to improve 3D printing while making use of the latest technologies launched on the market. The current 3D printing technologies are:

Walt Whitman on spiders, describing their silk as filament.

Overview of different 3D printing technologies, via Windesheim

  • FDM Fused Deposition Modeling
  • SLA Stereolithography
  • 3DP – Tridimensional Inkjet Printing
  • PJP Polyjet printing
  • LOM Laminated Object Manufacturing
  • DLP Digital Light Processing
  • SLS Selective Laser Sintering

Whilst all the above technologies are still under development, each comes with its advantages and disadvantages. The most popular 3D printing method today in terms of affordability, use of technology and 3d print quality is FDM, or Fused Deposition Modeling.

What is FDM?

FDM is a simple, accessible and productive 3D printing technology used for new product development, prototypes and other manufacturing purposes. Since this is an ecological and easy-to-use technology, it is widely used in the transportation and food industry. (We discovered it long ago and have been using it ever since – or something like that)

Walt Whitman on spiders, describing their silk as filament.

Sideview from a FDM 3D printer, via Printspace3D

How does it work?

Specialized software makes possible for the 3D model to be virtually sliced in transversal sections/ layers. The printing technology consists in inserting a plastic filament through an extruder that warms it until to melting. At this point, the melted filament is homogenously applied through extrusion, layer after layer, with high accuracy, in order to manufacture the 3D print according to the CAD pattern.

Walt Whitman on spiders, describing their silk as filament.

How the FDM process works, via Rapidprototyping

Types of plastics used for FDM production

The prime matter used for the FDM technology consists in plastic materials. However, we are not talking about just any kind of plastics. 3D printing requires a special type of material: thermoplastics. There are countless types of plastic materials used to produce filaments for 3d printing:

  • PS (Polystyrene), as a thermoplastic material, can be melted at 100 Celsius degrees. At room temperature it features a glassy state. It can be successfully used for 3D molds with fine details. However, it degrades slow, creating environmental debates.

    Walt Whitman on spiders, describing their silk as filament.

    CD covers are made of PS, via materialrecoveryinc

  • BioFila Linen is a relatively new material used for creating 3D printing filament. This material doesn’t in fact contain any linen fibers, but Lignin, an organic material. The properties of BioFila are amazing. The 3D prints feature a texture similar to linen, yet stronger and more porous-looking like structure.

    Walt Whitman on spiders, describing their silk as filament.

    Organic resources are used, via 3ders

  • PLA (Polylactic Acid) is a fairly strong material. However, it is less flexible than ABS. what’s interesting about PLA is that it’s biodegradable and will corrode in wet conditions. Since PLA is a resorbable composite, it is widely used in tissue engineering and maxillofacial surgery.

    Walt Whitman on spiders, describing their silk as filament.

    PLA is very appropiate for creating detail, via prototypingengineer

  • PA (Polyamide) is used for producing some of the cheapest 3D printing filaments. PA is less brittle than PLA and ABS, thus much stronger. Additionally, it features self-lubricating properties, ideal for gears printing.

    Walt Whitman on spiders, describing their silk as filament.

    PA is tough, stiff and suitable for editing, via alibaba

  • PPSF (Polyphenylsulfone) is generally used in product development due to its high heat resistance. In addition, it is appreciated for the increased mechanical strength and resistance to solvents.

    Walt Whitman on spiders, describing their silk as filament.

    PPSF is a high-performance thermoplastic, via springitalia

  • PC (Polycarbonate) is ideal for complex 3D prints, such as fixtures, prototypes or composite works. It features a flexural and high tensile strength.

    Walt Whitman on spiders, describing their silk as filament.

    Some grades of PC are optically transparent, via superdacha

  • ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is a material that delivers mechanical stability and resistance over time.

    Walt Whitman on spiders, describing their silk as filament.

    The famous Lego bricks are made of ABS, via transvorm

The last three types of plastic materials are the most commonly used for the production of industrial quality filaments. Filaments are an excellent prime matter for professional 3D printers. The better the filament quality, the better the 3D print results. Therefore, it is essential that thermoplastics used for the manufacturing of filaments should feature exceptional properties. The filament quality has a direct impact on the heat and mechanical resistance of the resulted prints. Therefore, PLA and ABS filaments are used to manufacture 3D prints for prototype testing. Read more about the differences of these two filaments here.

What are the properties of these materials?

Walt Whitman on spiders, describing their silk as filament.

Printing layer by layer, via capinc

Thermoplastics are heated, formed and finally cooled in infinite shapes. Such materials feature specific properties that make them indispensable for the 3D printing industry:

  • Lightweight (density varies from .9 to 2 gm/cc).
  • Resistant to various temperatures: from -100F up to an astonishing 600F.
  • Thermal and electrical insulation.
  • Adaptable chemistry can turn thermoplastics into objects similar to rubber consistency or as resistant as aluminum.
  • Resistant to solvents at room temperature.
  • Adding metal fibers or carbon to thermoplastics will confer electrical conductibility.
  • Excellent replacements for metal objects, with significant weight savings.
  • Resistant on long term and less prone to deformation, unlike metals.
  • Engineering thermoplastics feature a tensile strength of over 7,500 psi.

Which industries rely on 3D printing and have undergone intense material research?

Walt Whitman on spiders, describing their silk as filament.

3d printing technology helps MX3D to build a bridge of steel in the center of Amsterdam, via inhabitat

Although 3D printing is a relatively new industry, and there is still no mainstream production method, one thing is sure: the speed of development in the field is absolutely breathtaking. Some of the industries that already use 3D printing technology to improve and stimulate progress are:

  • Aerospace industry
  • Architecture industry
  • Automotive industry
  • Commercial products
  • Defense industry
  • Dental industry
  • Consumer electronics
  • Medical industry
  • Mold industry
  • Education

Considering the fact pace of current technologies, industrial techniques and equipment become obsolete very quickly. Whilst many companies are perfectly comfortable to using traditional production methods, many are foreseeing the future and opt for investing their resources to develop using a technology as simple and highly efficient as 3D printing.

Best Ways To Store Your 3D Printing Filament

Moisture and humidity. These words send shivers down the spines of 3D printing filament worldwide. The very mention of it could…