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

Top 5 Benefits of Filament Extruders

 

 

What can possibly make 3D printing even more fun and captivating? A variety of filaments you can use to bring ideas to life! That why making your own filament is convenient and fun.  Just in case you still have a hard time grasping the value in filament making – No problem, here are some points to guide you.

 

If you’ve worked with the 3D printing long enough, you may have felt a glint of disappointment regarding the lack of the materials you wish to try in your projects. Of course, color changing, and glowing filaments are fun, just like the super-flexible ones, but creators need more potential and more appliance possibilities for their final printed items. And this is the exact reason to consider making your own 3D filament instead of purchasing the ready-made one.

1. Customization

We don’t know about your experience, but we face the defective filament too often to blame it on the coincidence. Different thickness, fragility, lamination – all of these low-quality 3D filament features can ruin your project, or even become a cause of your 3D printer’s breakdown.

Customization – creating your material with the required properties – can eliminate all these listed problems. And here are the reasons, why.

  • Filament extruder allows controlling all features of the produced filament. Thanks to the built-in thickness meter, possibility to customize all the stages of granules heating, multiple sensitive sensors, the filament you’ll get will have the identically perfect properties without any thicknesses or thinnings, overburnt sections, cavities.
  • You can combine different materials in order to get entirely new blends. When the standard assortment of filaments satisfies you neither with quality nor with characteristics, you’re able to experiment with different types of plastic granules, additives, tweaking compounds to obtain something brand-new for your projects.
Filament in different colors
Image source: filaments.directory

2. Convenience

When making your own printing material using a 3D filament extruder, you’re controlling the future of filament.

Let’s say you need less than a kilo of the Bio PE, but don’t want to wait several days before the delivery? Simply extrude whatever amount of 3D filament is required at the time it’s needed!

A home-made filament is convenient because:

  • You make the needed amount of the printing material and don’t have to keep dozens of half-empty spools you’ve used once and not going to try anymore.
  • The filament will not be stored in improper conditions. Sunlight, temperature change, high humidity damage the structure of the filament making it inapplicable for printing. But when you create it on-the-go and then immediately use it for craft, you get the best quality without any odd material remains.
  • No need to order filament from unreliable sites. Every time you buy 3D filament on the Internet you rely on luck – its quality is quite hard to predict unless you’re shopping from your trusted manufacturer. Then again, having a filament extruder, the printing material you’ll be using in the craft will pass your quality test, so the prints will always be up to your standards.
  • Have filament when you need it. Don’t count days before delivery – your perfect 3D filament is always within reach!unreliable filament bad filament bad tolerance

3. Cost

Let’s look at the price of the spool of the regular black PLA filament. You won’t find a decent material cheaper than $17 per 1 kilogram. This price, apart from the raw material price, includes the cost of the manufacturing (electricity, heat, industrial workstation, employees paycheck), shipping, storage, and seller’s extra charge.

Comparing the price of the ready-made PLA with the PLA pellets, you will see an unbelievable variation of prices: 1 kilogram of the most expensive PLA granules costs $5. Thus, when you buy filament pellets instead of manufactured spools you save around $12 per kilogram.

Of course, a quality filament extruder will cost money, and you absolutely don’t need it if 3D printing is your part-time hobby. In this case, you may never pay off the cost of the equipment, and the purchase will only leave you with a hole in your pocket.

Costs of filament making
However, if 3D printing for you is something more than making models of your favorite cartoon characters, we’d recommend thinking about buying a filament extruder to fulfill your demands.

4. Sustainability

We all know how often 3D printing process becomes interrupted by different issues – from a jammed nozzle to an accidental warping. You stop the machine, fix the problem and start printing again, but what about the plastic the printer has already used?

In many 3D workshops, such wasted material is collected for the re-using needs. The concept is simple:

  • Collect defected plastic
  • Clean and let it dry
  • Put it into the special plastic shredder
  • Manufacture the filament from the plastic granules using filament extruder

sustainability filament maker shredder

Such a scheme not only saves you a sufficient amount of money but also protects nature from redundant plastic pollution. Benefiting all sides of the ecosystem.

5. Profit

Filament extruders, on the top of all these advantages, are a promising source of income. You can freely share it with the other people for the additional price. Cost of the granulated plastic – even summarized with the charge for your services – won’t excel the price of the spooled filament. This way you’ll have a source of the passive income, and your extruder won’t stand idly when you won’t need it.

In addition, we’ve already discussed how you can use the extruder in order to experiment with the materials. Other 3D printing fans will appreciate a close-by source of cheap qualitative filament, so your extruder will have less chance to cool down!

To buy or not to buy a 3D filament extruder

This is not your option if you’re absolutely fine with the filament you buy from the manufacturer, as well as if you turn on 3D printer once a month. Still, when printing is your primary occupation, filament extruder is an excellent investment in your printer’s well-being and your creative freedom. Defective printing material is our collective nightmare, and an efficient extruder can really change a situation with filaments for better.

 

Do you want to know the latest news from the 3D printing world? Do you know why PEI is one of the coolest printing materials available on the market? Or what you can do with PETG filament? Well, you’ll find all the answers in our 3devo blog. Don’t miss an opportunity to learn something cool!

 

 

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3 Reasons Why 3D Printing Filaments are so Expensive

 

 

Why are filaments so expensive and what you can do about it?

When buying filaments for your 3D printer, a common question may come across your mind – Why are these things so expensive? After all, it’s only a piece of plastic, right?

Yes, but there is more to 3D filaments than what meets the eye! We invite you to explore with us some of the factors which affect the price of a filament. We shall immerse ourselves in the basics of filaments and what it costs to get them from the manufacturer to your home. In addition, we will offer several secrets that will help you reduce the cost of filaments without sacrificing quality.

pla abs spool extruder 3devo

1. Material

3D printer filaments are made of various polymers, which is the technical name for various ‘plastics’. Polymers are chains of repeating segments of molecules. The most common ones include ABS (a co-polymer of acrylonitrile, butylene, and styrene) and PLA (polylactic acid). We invite you to learn more about them in the following article. Never less, 3D printing may utilize almost any polymer, if it has the following properties.

  1. Thermoplasticity
    It may be remolded when heated – Essential for 3D printing.
  2. Ductility
    It can be “stretched out” when heated – Though it must not “leak” once it has been set.
  3. Durability
    It is durable when cooled down – This property can be enhanced or compromised based on your project.

The quality of a filament is determined by these properties. Additionally, you may require further special abilities for a specific product, such as flexibility (nylon), weather resistance (ASA), or outright strength (polycarbonate). In the graphic below, you can see which materials are the superheroes in their respective categories.

Types of filaments and their properties
Types of filaments and their properties

The cost of a polymer plays the main role in the overall price of the filament. Each comes from a different source and requires various techniques to prepare.

Quality of a polymer can also be reduced by impurities, which are common when it is prepared by cheaper methods. I can testify to this with my own experience. Even though I have been at first pleased to find cheap filaments on some e-commerce websites, I have always ended up with low-quality products, that leaked, cracked, smelled bad, etc.

Good vs. bad filament
This illustrates the bad results with low-quality filaments.

2. Additives

Let’s talk about a less mentioned, yet very important part of filaments – the additives! The color of filaments alone suggests that they contain something more than just pure plastic. It is fascinating to explore the variety of enhancements that can be included in a filament and the effect that they have on its price.

The most common additive is a dye. Dyes vary wildly in qualityfactors such as color, solubility, UV resistance, and toxicity can play a role in their price. This is the case especially for fluorescent dyes which glow in dark, or UV active dyes which glow under UV light.

Glow in the dark

Additives can also improve the physical properties of the product. A very important example is hardness, which can vary wildly even when we consider a single type of polymer. This is achieved by adding only small amounts of a necessary additive. But it’s by far not the only property that we can introduce!
Other common additives include flame retardants and autoxidizing agents. The small amount of additives does not impact the stability of the polymer, yet it expands the possible applications of 3D printed products. How cool is that?!

A product that obviously could not be flammable
A product that obviously could not be flammable.

3. Processing, packaging and a niche market

Let’s take a look at a less technical topic, which is an issue of both quality and quantity. The processing of polymers into filaments is not necessarily expensive, but it requires special equipment to achieve their uniform dimensions. You may have already found that out the hard way, since cheap filaments often end up getting stuck in the printer. The use of expensive specialized equipment necessary for precise extrusion will be reflected in the price.

After extrusion, the filament is cut, packaged and sold not in bulk, but in single threads. It is necessary to wind every single filament onto a plastic spindle, which is called spooling. The spool adds to the weight quite a bit, which increases the amount of fuel required to ship them. It is also inefficient since the rolled up filaments contain a lot of air. This contributes to the price as well.

A single filament
A single filament.

We must also account for the size of the market. This is the concept known as the rule of supply and demand. 3D printing is a fast growing, but still a niche market. This means that there aren’t many filament manufacturers, especially ones who would sell high quality products. The demand is increasing, but the production is expensive and low in volume – think of Tesla cars as another example. Thus, the manufacturers can ask for more money than for other polymer products, such as plastic spoons.

Tips – How to reduce the cost of a filament

From the reasons we have given, it may seem that compromising on the price of a filament will most likely result in a bitter surprise – and you would be right! Still, there are ways to get around this. Here are is a brief overview of the top 5 tips to lower 3D printing costs.

  1. Buying in bulk is always cheaper than by single spools. You may buy multicolor sets, or simply order a wholesale package of filaments.
  2. Read reviews, recommendations and compare prices. Thanks to the internet, we have all the information at our disposal!
  3. Make sure to plan your project thoroughly. Not only that you will not overpay for unnecessarily expensive polymers, but you will end up using less.
  4. Consider extruding your own 3D filaments from granulates. As seen in the table below, filaments are far more expensive than granulate they are made from.
  5. Recycle your products. This requires specialized equipment that reduces plastic products to granulate.
Material Filament price/USD per kg Granulate price/USD per kg
ABS $75 $5
PLA $75 $5
ASA $45 $4
Nylon $110 $10
Flexible $110 $10

(*Comparison of popular filament and granulate prices can be found  here*)

Conclusion

Material, additives and production costs all add up to the final market value. But don’t worry; we have also given you several ways to reduce the cost of your 3D printing operation! Still, there is so much more to 3D printing! Be sure to check out further articles on our blog to learn more about specific types of filaments, extruders and recycling.

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What is the Future of 3D Printer Filament?

 

 

You may find yourself standing over a cold 3D printer asking questions “How can I make my 3D models stand out more?” or even  “What is the meaning of filament?”.  Well, we have some news for you. You are not alone.

Filament is the lifeblood of most 3D printers. Without it, you couldn’t print your designs.

Once you have an understanding of the basics of filament, keeping up to date with the latest innovations and trends in 3D printing and filament technology will help you continue to improve your craft. Increasing your capabilities allows you to make more with less and produce prints that were previously out of your reach.

Patent Drawing for First 3D Printer
Patent Drawing for First 3D Printer Patent. 3D Printing Filament has come a long way since its first applications in the early 80’s – from primarily being made of single use resins to the re-formable, highly durable plastics used today.

One thing is certain, the filaments used in 3D printing will continue to evolve. The best makers know the …

Top Trends in 3D Printer Filament

  1. Improvements in 3D Printing Technology
  2. Increased Variety of Exotic Blend Filament
  3. Powdered Materials for Custom Blends
  4. Experimental and Optimized Filaments
  5. Custom Filament Colors
  6. Recycled Materials in Filament
  7. Plant Based, Sustainable Filament
  8. Spool-less Filament Rolls

 

1. 3D Printing is Becoming More Affordable
With printers becoming less expensive and more efficient, small businesses and startups are getting their own 3D printing setups to increase the speed of product development. New types of businesses are utilizing this technology for different applications as well.

Though we aren’t past the “Should I Buy a 3D Printer” stage, the industry has developed greatly in recent years. More printers on maker’s desks means more projects will be printed and more filament will be used.

 

2. Exotic Blends Are Friends

Filament blends allow you to create the right look and physical properties for your 3D printing project. If “Exotic Materials” sound exciting to you, it’s because they are.  Here are some of the hottest blends out:

  • Wood – looks great with its natural tones and can even transfer the scent of the donating tree.
  • Metal – strong, heavy and sleek. Using it can also make your prints magnetic and carry an electrical charge or signal.
  • Minerals – such as sandstone, glass and gemstones can be added to create different textures, finishes and other properties to the filament.
Exotic materials such as wood and metal are being used to generate specific properties in filament.

 

3. Powders Mix Better (than granulate)

Though it takes more time to produce, powdered feed stock mixes more uniformly for complex filament formulations. As new material blends are created, powdered feed material is getting a respectable place in filament production.

Specifically, higher concentrations of metals and exotic materials can be mixed when using powders and the filament consistency is much higher for complex blends.

 

4. Experiment and Control

Different projects have different requirements. While 3D printing is now established enough for commercial use, it is still at a stage where improvements can be made to filaments.

You can come up with your own formulations for best results which is very helpful in the prototype stage. By testing the attributes of different filament blends and logging the results, you can optimize your filament to suit specific project needs. Get your calculator out!

 

5. Customized Filament Colors

Variety is the spice of life. Having a wide array of colors to choose from is great help in making a vivid 3D print. In the past, there weren’t as many color options available for printer filament.

Sometimes, the color has to be exact. Makers are now creating their own custom filament colors to match branding or visual requirements for their clients and project requirements.

There are even companies like colorFabb that can create a vast range of filament colors for you to use on your 3D printing project.

alt colors colours
No longer stuck with a handful of options, 3D Printer Filaments Colors can be customized to project needs.

 

6. Time to Recycle

With the cost of quality filament extruding equipment coming down, it is easier than ever to make your own custom blend of filament to fit your project’s needs, including strength, appearance.

You can now recycle your existing models, print waste and even plastic bottles by first breaking it up, grinding it down, and then granulating it to a consistent size. Then you can take that granulate and form filament with an extruder.

 

7. Made From Sustainable Materials

Some may say that our environment has seen better days. Filaments made from PLAs (polylactic acid) use a plant based plastic that is biodegradable.

These new filaments made from plants, called bio-plastics or biopolymers, are sustainable and less likely to clog up landfills as they break down naturally over time.

3d filament plant based
3D Printing Filaments can be made from sustainable, plant-based plastics

 

8. Too Cool for Spools

Filament spools are heavy to ship and create a lot of waste for busy printers.

Recently, there has been a push to remove the spool from filament rolls. Look out for MakerSpool, a printable spool to load spool-less filament stock onto for
the feed cycle.

A lot of makers are extruding their own material around used filament spools, saving the need for shipping and disposing of print waste.

Future of Filament – Now You Know

Now that you know all the latest trends and innovation in the world of 3D Printing Filament Technology, perhaps you will incorporate it into your next project or streamline your materials sourcing.

At 3devo, we’re just getting started. Make sure to subscribe to our social media to keep up to date with everything 3D Printing.

Did we miss anything? Are you or your organization doing anything exciting in the world of 3D printing? Drop us a line here.

 

 

 

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How To Become A Filament Extrusion Expert!

 

 

We have some exciting news today that a lot of our clients have been waiting to hear. Filament extrusion is about to get much, MUCH simpler. And not because there’s a new 3devo machine on the block. This time we’re making it possible for you to do more with your Filament Maker or SHR3D IT. We are presenting DevoTraining, a series of in-depth workshops designed for manufacturers, researchers, educators, or anyone with interest in 3D printing and material development.

See also: Why should you learn about filament extrusion

Your own hands-on filament extrusion workshop!

What makes DevoTraining unique, and why would you choose it over other filament extrusion courses? For years now, we’ve been working to make material development accessible for various industries and applications. Simplicity was the idea behind our newly upgraded, result-oriented filament makers, and it is the main idea behind our hands-on workshops as well. The DevoTraining programs are the first of their kind in the industry. They won’t just give you a broad overview of filament extrusion. They’re designed to address YOUR needs and to fill any gaps that may be preventing you from getting the results you want from your 3devo machine.

The demand for unique 3d printing materials is ever-growing, which requires new knowledge on how to process it. With DevoTraining, we offer the answers to those innovators who seek to take matters into their own hands.

At our hands-on workshops, you’ll deal with the actual, practical realities of making filament at your desk. You’ll also understand how to use your 3devo machine to develop or recycle the materials you want. And because we’ll train you at our Utrecht headquarters, you’ll have access to all the equipment, materials and resources you need.

Different courses for different requirements:

 

extrusion, filament maker, infographic, 3devo, polymer

 

You can choose a DevoTraining program based on your existing filament extrusion knowledge, material development needs, or the specific applications for which you’re hoping to use your 3devo machine. We are currently offering 3 options, ranging from half-day modules to two-day programs.

  1. DevoNovice – Your perfect introduction to making filament
    DevoNovice is a carefully structured 4-hour course that will get you started with desktop filament extrusion. This workshop is designed for beginners with little or no prior knowledge of material development. It’ll cover the basics of desktop filament extrusion and introduce you to the parts, features and basic material settings of your 3devo Precision or Composer filament maker.
  2. DevoProficient – Taking you a step closer to your material making goals
    Participants with some knowledge or experience in filament making and 3D printing can opt for DevoProficient. This is a full-day (8-hour) workshop that offers intermediate-level training. Want to learn how to mix or recycle plastics, and increase your existing knowledge of materials? If so, this is the perfect course for you. Not just that, DevoProficient will also bring you up to speed on maintaining and troubleshooting your 3devo machine.
  3. DevoMaster – Helping experts unlock new possibilities in filament making
    DevoMaster is a 2-day (16-hour) workshop designed for extrusion experts. If you’re already well-versed with filament making and want to take your knowledge a step further, choose this course. This advanced training program will help you work with new materials and innovate more with your 3devo machine. Plus, you’ll get to bounce your ideas off our material scientists. In terms of course content, DevoMaster has advanced modules on material mixing, plastic recycling, troubleshooting, and maintenance. And there’s a bonus: fully customized modules that you can have us tailor to your specific requirements!

See also: DevoTraining Course Comparision

How to Register for a DevoTraining program?

From extrusion experts to 3D printing enthusiasts, the DevoTraining workshops are open to all. Are you looking to understand your 3devo machine a bit better? Or would you like to learn more before you purchase a desktop filament maker? Come join us at Utrecht for an immersive, hands-on workshop led by our material scientists and engineers. To choose a program that best fits your needs, check out the course comparisons, details and FAQs on the DevoTraining webpage. Then get in touch with our sales team who’ll be happy to answer your questions and schedule your workshop. See you soon!

Do you still have any unanswered questions about filament extrusion? Contact us via email, and we will be happy to discuss it in further detail or visit our blog if you’d like to know more.

 

 

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Why You Should Learn About Filament Extrusion

Quite often, filament is seen as a simple material used in 3D printing. However, learning filament extrusion and understanding its ways can lead to greater knowledge of 3D printing as a whole. By taking your knowledge one step further, you’ll learn the importance of filament extrusion and the many benefits that come along with it.

As 3D printing technology advances, so does the additives involved. We’re here to help you understand why learning filament extrusion can benefit you and your company. But first, we need to start off with the basics.

What is Filament Extrusion?

extrusion, infographic, 3devo,

As you may or may not know, 3D printers use filament, or thermoplastic feedstock, as the raw material for 3D prints. Filament comes in all different shapes and forms depending on its application. But before the filament is loaded into a 3D printer, it needs to be extruded.

Filament extrusion is the process whereby a machine converts raw plastic pellets into filament wires. Failed 3D prints can also be shredded and reused as a substitute for these raw plastic pellets. Below is a brief desktop demonstration:

Usually, large-scale extrusion machines are used for this mass-produced process. However, there has been a rise in demand of small-scale desktop machines. The setup process is fairly simple in just 5 steps:

    1. Insert the pellets (granulates) into a “feed bin” or hopper.
    2. Select the desired settings for the outcome of the filament.
    3. Start the machine’s extrusion process, which includes heating and extruding the granulate.
    4. Wait a few hours until the process is completed.
    5. Once cooled the filament is wound onto a spool and ready for printing.

This process can change depending on the requirements of the filament (large scale or small scale), but it’s still the best method to create clean and accurate results. The mass-produced spools of filament you buy at the store or online have already gone through all of this. With desktop extrusion, there is now a way to understand how filament works, how to modify the materials involved and quite often – how to improve the filament to meet your specific needs.

What Are the Benefits of Filament Extrusion?

 

extrusion, filament maker, infographic, 3devo, polymer

It might seem like an unusual skill to learn. There are hundreds of variants of filament available out now on the market. From PETG to Bio PE, all types of filament can be easily purchased for your 3D printing needs. But then you could say the same thing about buying a plastic part over  3D printing it yourself.

People use 3D printers because they want quickly build a new part, or perhaps the part they want doesn’t exist yet. Extrusion plays the same role for filament.

Learning filament extrusion gives one the ability to understand how polymers react under certain conditions, and how their physical and chemical properties play a fundamental role in your 3D prints.

Individuals or educational facilities who focus on polymer studies and experiments would find filament extrusion extremely useful because of these benefits:

  • Rapidly validate the properties and capabilities of your filament and make changes if needed
  • Combine different types of granulate and additives to create your optimal filament within a few hours
  • Reducing the costs of testing new forms of filament each time

Quite often you might find using off-the-shelf filament can do a similar job for your 3D printing needs. However, learning how to do it in your own environment opens more possibilities for yourself, your company and/or your educational facility.

Why Should You Learn Filament Extrusion?

3devo, extruder, learnAs you can see, a process like this within your company can be quite useful. However, having to rely on a third party to set-up, maintain and produce the filament for you does have its drawbacks. Why not take the matter into your own hands, and learn about the process yourself?

 

Receiving filament extrusion training also comes with its own benefits:

  • Create higher quality filament suited for your needs. Sometimes it’s hard to explain exactly how your filament should turn out, now you’re able to do it all on your own.
  • Improved setup and processing time when using the machine. Once you’ve mastered your skills, setting up, cleaning and overall processing times become a lot quicker.
  • Easily experiment with challenging granulate compositions. Once you’re proficient in extrusion, understanding how different polymers work experiments become a lot easier.
  • More confidence in using the machine. Often people might get nervous about using an extrusion device, but once you understand all the steps involved, extrusion becomes a breeze.
  • Quickly and easily find the settings you need. You don’t need to rely on a business’s schedule and priorities.
  • Your machine will last much longer as you will understand correct maintenance procedures.
  • Quickly troubleshoot issues with the process instead of relying on external assistance. No more downtime due to waiting for someone else to fix the issue, which can range from hours to days.

It makes a lot of sense. Outsourcing, while useful at times, can get costly and often takes a lot longer to fulfill your needs. If you are still unsure about receiving training, look into your current working environment. The questions below should be able to help you.

Are You the Right Person to Learn Filament Extrusion?

Filament extrusion and 3D printing almost go hand-in-hand. However, you can live without any knowledge of filament extrusion and still be proficient in the latter. It comes down to what industry you are in, and if you’d need this knowledge on a regular basis.

Some questions below might aid you in knowing whether or not learning filament extrusion is right for you:

  • Are you a lecturer/professor at a university or any other educational institution that focuses on polymer studies?
  • Are you an individual/team in a research and development department that often experiments with varieties of filament?
  • Is large-scale extrusion too expensive and inflexible for your current needs?
  • Do you want to educate people on recycling using failed 3D prints or recyclable materials?
  • Do you work in the automotive, manufacturing, education, or materials industry where 3D printing is used as an on-going process?

The questions above might be relevant to your company as well. Both large and small companies can greatly benefit from having someone skilled in filament extrusion.

How Can You Learn Filament Extrusion?

Luckily here at 3devo, filament extrusion is not only our expertise but also our passion. We provide everything you need to learn filament extrusion. Based in Utrecht, Netherlands, we’re able to provide assistance in multiple ways. Currently, we offer:

  • International live demos at additive manufacturing events.
  • Private training days for professionals/lecturers at our HQ in Utrecht, NL.
  • Support Platform with helpful articles and videos on filament extrusion.

Unfortunately, we don’t offer online courses. As we’re focused on providing hands-on training to our workshop participants at our headquarters in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Do you still have any unanswered questions about filament extrusion? Simply, contact us via email and we will be happy to discuss it in further detail or visit our blog if you’d like to know more.

PET Recycling – From Bottle to Filament

Recycling. A word often related to large companies receiving tons and tons of paper or plastic in an effort to reduce our carbon footprint. However if we look at plastic bottles for instance, humans buy a million plastic bottles per minute, and 91% of all plastic is not recycled. This article is going to cover what makes plastic recycling so important, how to recycle PET and the future of recycling in 3D printing.

What is PET Recycling?

Focusing on plastic bottles here, they have one huge advantage – unlimited recycling potential. PET is one of the few polymers that can be recycled into the same form over and over again. Think of it as a closed-loop recycling solution.

PET recycling loop
The “closed-loop” of PET recycling. Image via PETCO

Recycled PET, or rPET, can be used to make many new products. This can range from clothing, automotive parts, packaging as well as bottles for food/non-food products. Depending on the application required, rPET will be blended with the original PET.

What Are The Uses of Recycled PET (rPET)?

As mentioned above, rPET has many great uses, which includes:

  • Food containers
  • Polyester carpet fiber
  • Fabric for T-shirts
  • Athletic shoes
  • Luggage and upholstery
  • Sweaters and fiberfill for sleeping bags and winter coats
  • Industrial strapping
  • Sheet and film
  • Automotive parts
  • New PET containers
Some recycled PET products

Using rPET in place of the normal or virgin PET has substantial environmental impacts as well as reducing overall energy consumption.

Creating Our Own Filament from Plastic Bottles

Now that we’ve covered the background of recycling PET, how exactly does one go about doing the actual recycling? The one method is simply going to your local recycling company and dumping your plastic waste there, or having it picked up at home if that company provides a pick-up functionality. The other method though is a bit more rewarding – doing it yourself.

We wanted to test of normal plastic bottles can be turned into 3D printing filament. The following is a quick summary of our tests to turn around 30 bottles into filament.

  • Water bottles were collected, cleaned (properly) and any external caps or seals were also removed
  • The bottles were then vacuum sealed and heated to reduce their size
  • Once cooled the bottles were cut into smaller chunks with a saw and a pair of scissors
  • After that, the pieces were shredded into tiny pieces using our SHR3D IT
  • The pieces were then dried at a temperature of 160°C for 4 hours
  • The PET was then fed into our Next filament extruder
  • After multiple tests at different nozzle diameters and temperatures, our team ended up with a great result of PET filament
PET Filament Final Result
Final results of the filament

Click for the complete test and the different results.

The Future of Plastic Recycling in 3D Printing

The biggest issue that faces 3D printing recycled filament – dirt. With the above experiment, just cleaning those bottles took a great deal of effort. Now imagine doing it with tons of plastic, often coming from dumps that have been contaminated all forms of impurities.

Also, one has to take note that different types of plastic produce different types of filament. High-density polyethylene — shampoo bottles, for example — are relatively easy to convert into filament, but it’s difficult to print with because it shrinks more than other plastics as it cools. On the other hand, PET, prints well but is brittle, making it difficult to spool as filament.

Recently, we saw the US Department of Defense (DoD) is exploring 3D printing feedstock made from plastic containers that have been left on the battlefield, which can hopefully be reproduced in other government sectors. There’s also Ethical Filament, a company focused on promoting the concept of recycling to produce ethical 3D printing filament that is sold to improve the livelihoods of waste pickers and their communities worldwide. Then there’s the Perpetual Plastic Project (PPP), which is an installation which can directly recycle old plastic drinking cups into 3D printing gadgets as well as other plastic products if needed.

While there is more and more aware of using recycled filament for 3D printing, we still have a long way to go. Hopefully, with the rise in 3D printing over the last few years, more emphasis is being placed on plastic recycling.

 

PEI – Extruding The High-Performance Polymer

PEI, Polyetherimide, is one of the more rare polymers we have tested here at 3devo. That, however, does not mean it is any less useful. This high performance engineering thermoplastic, usually with an amber to transparent colour, makes a great name for itself in various high-demanding applications. It can often replace metal or other strong substances thanks to its impressive chemical and mechanical properties, but how well does it extrude? In this article we will make a brief overview of PEI as well as our extrusion tests for this strong polymer.

Filament Summary

PEI’s characteristics include extreme rigidity, high strength (even at elevated temperatures), long term heat resistance, dimensional stability and good electrical properties. It is easy to spot due to its light amber colour (unfilled) and is usually semi-transparent. Like other amorphous, high temperature resins, PEI has outstanding dimensional stability and is inherently flame retardant.

PEI does resist chemicals, such as hydrocarbons, alcohols and halogenated solvents. Creep resistance over the long term allows PEI to replace metal and other materials in many structural applications. It is also widely used in electronics because of its good arc resistance and dielectric constant. Furhermore, PEI is UFDA/USDA and USP class VI compliant.

Applications

PEI used in vape mouthpieces (left) to plastic manifolds (right) via Carville Plastics
  • Reusable machined components
  • Aircraft/Automotive instrumentation
  • Plastic Manifolds
  • Electrical insulators
  • Electrical component housings

Advantages

  • Great thermal stability (continuous use temperature of 365F/180° C)
  • High strength
  • Continuous rigidity and strength to 340F (170°C)
  • Dimensionally stable
  • Excellent flame and heat resistance (UL 94 V-0 rated)
  • Consistent dielectric properties over a range of frequencies
  • Good acid resistance
  • High resistance to autoclave sanitizing
  • Low moisture absorption
  • Can withstand steam autoclaving
  • Inherently flame retardant
  • Certified Grades for food-contact and bio-compatibility applications

Disadvantages

  • Can be expensive
  • Not a lot of colour choices (amber or sometimes transparent)

Extruding PEI (ULTEM 1010 Resin)

Here at 3devo we were able to acquire some PEI for extrusion tests (Ultem 1010 Resin was used). Because of its high strength factors we were interested to see what the results would be. Below is an overview of the whole process, however, for a more detailed report please contact us via the sales contact page.

Preparation

PEI resin (left) and adding it into the hopper (right)

First cleaning of the extruder had to take place. Using ASACLEAN™ GL2, followed by ASACLEAN™ PX2, we were able to clean the device to prevent any impurities impacting the results. Once both materials had run through the device in order to properly clean it, the heaters were all set to the same temperature (160 °C).

Observation Indicators

There are three important things to look out for when extruding new filament for the first time:

  • How does the filament look? Are there any signs of bubbles/holes, die lines, weld
    lines, melt fracture or warpage?
  • Is the flow similar to that of standard PLA (when using the same rpm)?
  • Is it possible to pull the material without any trouble (the material does not stick to
    the puller wheel and does not break as a result of the force of the puller)?

Extrusion Summary

Extruding PEI (left) and the results (right)

After multiple tests, we concluded that PEI is able to be successfully extruded with the NEXT. The tests we ran determined that PEI should be extruded below 370 °C (but not too low) in order to prevent bubbles and holes from forming, and that proper cleaning methods should be used in order to determine the best results.

Conclusion

In the end, PEI was a very interesting polymer to test out compared to other ones we have tested in the past. Its high strength, rigidity and thermal stability meant that a lot of care had to be taken when running the tests. PEI though is a great filament and very useful, especially in aerospace and automotive applications.

Zortrax Filament – Extruding the Filament

Zortrax is a name renowned for precision engineering. Most famous for their exclusive line of 3D printers, namely the M300 and M200, creating high quality prints with ease. However, Zortrax also shine in their range of filaments. These all boast great qualities and are ideal for a range of uses from prototypes to decorative elements.

range-zortrax
Zortrax range of 3D printers (photo via Zortrax).

We soon decided to focus on one of their more popular filaments: Z-ULTRAT. Therefore, we wanted to see how well it would extrude, and what use it could be for you or your business.

Filament Summary

Z-ULTRAT filament (photo via Zortrax).

The Z-ULTRAT is no ordinary filament, designed purely for its own Zortrax M200 3D Printer. Its main features (high hardness and durability) make it great for prototyping mechanical parts, architectural models and design prototypes. Below are its key features:

Name Z-ULTRAT 3D Printing Filament Cool Grey 1.75mm 800g
Filament Material ABS
Printing technology LPD (Layer Plastic Deposition)
Dedicated device Zortrax M200 3D Printer
Features
  • Durable and strong
  • High hardness level
  • Low elasticity
  • Low level of deformation
Weight 1 kg (2.2 lb) gross wt. / 800 g (1.76 lb) net. wt.
Efficient melting point for 3D printing 269 – 279 °C [516 – 534 F]
Glass Transition Temperature 144 °C [291 F]
Vicat Softening Temperature 130 °C [266 F]
Thermal Expansion Minimal
Odor Nearly odorless
Hazards Product does not present any hazard while operating

For more information visit the official Zortrax Z-ULTRAT page.

While these are all good features, it is not so easy for extrusion. Especially when comparing it to PLA. The next step will look at testing how well the filament extrudes using our filament extruder.

Extruding Z-ULTRAT 3D Printing Filament

failed-prints
Failed prints used for testing.

Pre-Conditions

The Regular NEXT 1.0 was used for the tests, and was set to 220 °C across all three sections. The purpose for using the regular extruder as opposed to the Advanced version, is due to the extrusion screw of the model. It has been previously observed that the Regular screw, lacking the pineapple mixing station, is generating more pressure. Better nozzle flow is a result of this.

The machine is pre-loaded with HDPE. This is to ensure the extrusion barrel and screw are clean and performing at an optimum level upon receiving the Zortrax ABS. In order to remove all contaminants, the machine was left to run HDPE for an hour. The filament was added after this step.

Results

Numerous tests were completed using different settings in order to achieve industry-standard results. Below is a graph showing off the stability over time:

filament-thickness
Filament thickness results over time after extrusion.

In the end, the filament became stable at: 1- 275 / 2- 280 / 3 – 270 at speeds of 5rpm.

before-and-after
Left to right: shredded filament into the extruder, final result of the Z-ULTRAT

The filament produced better results after changing the speed to 5rpm, with only slight deviations (still within 100 microns) over 35-40 minutes. As a result, the test was a success. This was because a thickness of 1.75mm is not easy to extrude, as more control is needed. Also noted that ABS is harder to extrude when compared to other filaments such as PLA.

Conclusion

robotic-arm
Zortrax Robotic Arm printed using the M200.

The Zortrax range of 3D printers and filaments offer fantastic end results. Mechanical parts, casing elements for testing and even consumer and educational product prototypes – all are possible, with complimentary colours to go with. Furthermore, you have the option of recycling your prints after you are done. This means both businesses and printing enthusiasts alike will be able to take full advantage of these great products.

The Benefits of 3D Printing in Education

For many people living in this generation, subjects in school were not very – visual. Math problems and science experiments were done using textbooks, practising problems and the occasional science experiment (gone wrong). Schools and other education facilities involved problems that were often impractical. But recently technology has started to help matters. From calculators to computer-aided design, we could do problems beyond our simple capabilities. Now with the introduction of 3D printers and filament extrusion in the education environment, we are starting to improve how scholars interact with the world around them.

What Took So Long?

Planning the next big idea is now much easier. Image via Unsplash

It wasn’t until recently that 3D printers became more obvious in school and universities. The main cause for this is that pricing structures are now more affordable. Luckily there are companies out there trying to solve this problem.

Take for example Airworlf 3D, who want their AXIOM 3D printer used in schools as much as possible. This is thanks to its low cost and ease of use. What is great is that the printer is being used in schools all over the world. M.I.T., USC Roski School of Fine Arts, Cerritos College,  Florida State University, Jenkins Middle School (CO), and Huntington Beach High Schools (CA) are to name a few. Next is the Makerbot Academy, a project to help get a 3D printer into every US school.

Another cost to overcome is the price of the filament for the 3D printers. Most companies are trying to find cheap ways for schools to get filament, but it is not always easy. Here at 3devo we are trying to make redoing prints more accessible. Thanks to the NEXT and now the new SHR3D IT, schools would be able to shred prints and create new filament at the end of the day or week. This in turn reduces long-term spending.

A few years ago, price may have been a barrier for education facilities, but this is no longer the case. Thanks to reduced printer costs and faster adoption rates around the world, it is now easier for schools to afford 3D printers. But does having a printer in every class benefit the students, both young and old?

Make Learning Fun Again

Additive Manufacturing – the classes you’ll never skip

If you can think back to your school days, most of you would have had that one crazy science teacher, trying his or her best to make classes fun and enjoyable. In this process, you also tended to learn a lot too. The only issue, besides many safety violations, is practical experiments were often very limited. Subjects such as geography or mathematics would use textbooks. This drops the fun that could be available using real-life examples. 3D printing is trying to change this perception. In doing so, many benefits follow the introduction of 3D printing into STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics).

See It To Believe It

The first benefit – able to see an idea become reality. Quite often, learning about a subject would entail many drawings in a book, maybe a video if you are lucky. But it is not always easy to understand what something looks like. For example, learning about how the Earth’s tectonic plates move around and create earthquakes. Illustrations help, but actually creating physical objects to show students can help put it all into perspective. Using a printer, explaining complex systems is easy and kids will understand how common technologies interact with each other. Our world and how we interact with it isn’t all black and white. Students are realising that they are no longer limited to visualising complex topics, now they can feel and touch it too.

Maths And Engineering Now Play A Real Role

There are many times during math and engineering classes where students question whether or not a certain equation will be of any use. Well, in 3D printing, an object first needs to be designed in some type of CAD software. This often requires someone to have a fair bit of math knowledge to understand everything. It forces the student to use the knowledge they have learnt in maths and engineering subjects and apply them to a project. On the other side, students can replicate a problem or project they are busy with to help get clearer understanding of the problem as a whole.

Students Become The Creator

an Image showing several objects made with PPSF plastic

As the saying goes, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. The same is applied in education. From the previous point, making use of a 3D printer in a classroom means that the students can now be in charge to what the outcome of a problem. Students will have the opportunity to create their own objects, helping to boost their creativity. Also with the help of products such as filament extruders, students can now test out different materials for different results. This can result in unexpected successes and failures. Both of which can help contribute to a student’s progress in learning a particular topic or subject.

Reducing On-Screen Time

The introduction of internet was immense in education. It turned a culture from saying, “I guess we’ll never know to answer to that question” to “Just Google it”. Students can learning an extraordinary amount of new topics on the internet with ease. However, that ease leads to an increase on how long the child spends on the computer, i.e. an increase of on-screen time. The introduction of 3D printers means that children will become more interactive with something physical as opposed to something on the computer. Parents concerned about their child’s health, as glued to computer screen all day can lead to headaches and eyestrain. 3D-learning is a way to let kids use their imaginations to build or assemble collections of 3D printable objects that will keep them engaged in the real world and learning too.

What Subjects Can Benefit From 3D Printing and How

A 3D Printed Mini Help Canal House by Local Makers
A 3D Printed Mini Help Canal House by Local Makers
  • Mathematics – Math students can print out “problems” to solve in their own learning spaces, from scale models to city infrastructural design challenges.
  • Geography – Raw data can now be turned into objects to help with: population growth, erosion effects or even how mountains are formed. Production of topography, demographic, or population maps in 3D is changing the way students are learning geography.
  • History – Fossils and other artifacts can now be printed. This allows students to explore and understand the past in a real and more concrete way. These replicas can be manipulated more easily than precious archaeological artifacts and produced at reasonable costs.
  • Biology / Chemistry – Students can print out 3D models of molecules, cells, viruses, organs, and other critical biological artifacts. The 3D printed reproduction allows the pupils, especially the most kinesthetic of them, to understand a process or how it works.
  • Architecture – Most of architectural sketches and mock-ups are now designed with specialized CAD-software. This allows students to materialize their ideas. This can save hours on creating a study mockup and therefore save time to redo and improve their idea.
  • Design – Design programs are based on sketching and then producing these ideas in a design studio or lab. This is to get the whole process from a sketch to a final product. Design teachers have often stated that the development of CAD programs or 3D modelling software are not always the best. This is because it will lead to students spending more time in the virtual environment than learning from the studio and from practical workshops.

The Future of 3D Printing in Education

It is easy to see how 3D printing and filament extrusion will benefit the education sector. Students will start enjoying their subjects more often. 3D printing as a whole will become more mainstream and better adopted. When combining these two, it will lead to a society advancing its technology and problem solving. In the next five to ten years, students will be looking back at 3D printers the way we looked at calculators at school, except with a smile knowing that he or she is about to turn an idea into reality.

Testing PAEK – Is It Any Good?

Here at 3Devo, we really enjoying testing a variety of different filaments. Last week we were about to test some PAEK. As you may or may not know, PAEK is a family of semi-crystalline thermoplastics with high-temperature stability and high mechanical strength. We were lucky enough to test some AvaSpire AV-621 from Solvay (provided by ALBIS PLASTIQUE France). Catchy name, but is it any good? This article will cover all you need to know about PAEK, and how it performed in our tests.
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General Information

 

Image 3devo – PAEK material provided by ALBIS Plastique France

As mentioned PAEK, or polyaryletherketone, is a family of semi-crystalline thermoplastics. In this family you will find:

  • Polyetherketone (PEK)
  • Polyetheretherketone (PEEK)
  • Polyetherketoneketone (PEKK)
  • Polyetheretherketoneketone (PEEKK)
  • Polyetherketoneetherketoneketone (PEKEKK)

Polyaryletherketone (PAEK) was first prepared in the early 1970s, but results and the overall process was somewhat limited. PEEK was the first thermoplastic to go large scale in 1977, where ICI used polyetherification reactions to create the polymer. In 1981, Victrex of Lancashire, England, introduced PEEK resins commercially. Next came PEK, introduced by BASF AG, the large German plastics company, which attempted to gain the total market share, eventually stopping all production of PEKEKK resins. This left Victrex as the only supplier of PEK resins in the world.

In the end, PEEK’s growth rates started to soar, mainly due to its high mechanical strength and chemical resistance. From vehicles, to aircrafts, to most electronics and medical applications, more and more suppliers started to enter the market. These suppliers include:

Below is a list of some of the advantages and disadvantages of using PAEK:

Advantages

  • Highly fire-resistant
  • Good chemical resistance
  • Can be used for high temperature applications
  • Excellent mechanical and dielectric properties

Disadvantages

  • Relatively high cost material
  • Anisotropic
  • High temperature molding and extrusion required

 

Tests

In our first attempt to create PAEK filament we used the AV-621 NT grade produced by AvaSpire with a melting point of 340°C, which we pre-dried at 150°C for 4 hours. The first step in the extrusion process was using PX2 cleaning purge (with a temperature range of 280-420°C) as a transition material, in order to be able to raise the temperature of all heaters to 380°C.

paek-test-1
Filling up the NEXT TEST Advanced Extruder, then running the test

The first thing we noticed while extruding with an overall temperature of 380°C, was the large amount of air bubbles in the filament. This could mean two things, either the granulate was not dry enough, or the overall temperature is too high. Lowering the overall temperature by 10°C improved the quality a lot, but now we faced nozzle lip buildup as you can see in the picture below:

paek-test-3
Nozzle lip buildup

Some polymers tend to have this problem, and it causes major surface roughness of the filament. In this case, the buildup was reduced by increasing the temperature of the front heater.

paek-test-4
A little rough around the edges

In the end we managed to create a spool of PAEK with a filament thickness of 1.75mm, but the surface of the filament was still on the rough side. This means we will keep on looking for better settings of the Next Advanced Extruder, but at least the machine has now proved its ability to create PAEK filament. This adds up in the list of successfully tested high-end polymers, along with materials such as PEEK and PEKK.