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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.

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.

Our Filament Makers Just Got Better

Precision,Composer, filament maker, extruder, 3d printing, 3devo

Meet the brand-new Precision and Composer series

These past few months have been exciting here at 3devo. We looked into everything that made our filament makers a success, and everything that could make them better. Now we’re proud to announce two new-and-improved series of products. Here’s a first look at the Precision Series and Composer Series filament makers. These latest devices make working with materials simpler than ever, offering even more possibilities in manufacturing and innovation.

Focused on better results

Our NEXT filament maker found numerous amounts of applications in industries ranging from education and research to manufacturing and aerospace. They brought users a variety of benefits including shorter lead times, reduced material waste, and increased control over material making. Also, they facilitated material research and customization, while introducing the precision of industrial filament making to desktop-based setups.

However, we realized that our filament makers could serve these purposes even better – if they focused on specific requirements. Our new Precision and Composer Series filament makers are specialized, result-oriented machines aimed at simplifying the material making process. Each in a different way.

The Precision Series filament maker

The Precision series enables mass production of 3D printing filament with improved speeds and diameter accuracy. With a high-flow extruder screw, this allows filament to be produced at high speeds while also maintaining diameter precision.

The Composer Series filament maker

The Composer series targets material mixing and experimentation, allowing innovators to develop custom filament from a wide variety of polymers and additives. With a mixing screw, this delivers quality material mixing and compounding.

Both series have two additional models that address material-specific requirements. The Precision 350 and the Composer 350 can handle temperatures up to 350°C, allowing them to comfortably process polymers including PLA, ABS, PC, PS, PETG, TPU, TPE, PPS, PA (6,12,66) along with others. The Precision 450 and the Composer 450 have higher temperature tolerances (up to 450°C), which means they can additionally process high-performance polymers like PAEK, PSU, PTFE, PVDF and more.

Find out more about choosing the perfect 3devo filament maker.

It’s what’s inside that counts

Our new filament makers contain numerous upgrades and improvements to deliver even better results. Here is what we improved:

Swappable design

Every Precision and Composer model has an improved extruder system with an innovative ‘swappable’ design. We’ve designed the entire extruder system – extruder screw, barrel, die-head, motor and heaters – as an independent, removable unit to simplify cleaning, repair and maintenance. Disassembling and reattaching this unit is a quick and simple process that users can  now manage on their own.

Advanced heating system

Efficient temperature handling is central to high-quality filament extrusion. To this end, we’ve upgraded the heating system. All Precision and Composer filament makers now contain ceramic band heaters with 4 controllable heating zones. Each heater is handcrafted in-house to ensure top-of-the-line quality.  Giving you complete control over the extrusion process. To further improve filament quality, all machines have hoppers with closeable caps to prevent material contamination.

Upgraded software

In addition to their enhanced design and build, our new-generation filament makers have upgraded software that improves their thermal stability by up to 35%.

Stay in the loop

We’re also in the works of developing a web app with cloud access, which will enable active data logging of extrusion tests. But that is a topic for a future post, so stay tuned! In the meantime, learn more about our Precision and Composer series here.

filament maker 350 450 composer precision

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.

 

Bio PE – Extruding the Renewable Polymer

Last year saw a huge surge in the varieties of different 3D printing materials. However, with the world’s focus on saving the environment, not many are coming from biological sources. Even though 3D prints can be recycled into other 3D prints, it is not a zero-sum outcome. With the increase in biological materials though, the end result would be just carbon dioxide and water. In this article we focus on one of these biological materials – Bio PE – and if it can be extruded using our filament extruder.

Bio PE Summary

By definition, bio-plastics and biopolymers are the type of plastics and polymers which come from renewable biomass sources. These sources include: vegetable oils, sugarcane, starch and wheat grain. Depending on the products; the global bio-plastics market includes bio-PET, starch blends, PLA, bio-PA, bio-PE and others. Bio PE, or biopolyethylene, is simply polyethylene made out of ethanol. After a dehydration process, it becomes ethylene using these biomass sources. The final product is polyethylene, which properties mimic those of conventional polyethylene.

Applications

The main application for biopolymers is packaging, which makes up around 28% of the total volume shown in 2016. This includes shopping bags, food packaging, bottles and many other uses. Other uses include blow-molded hollow parts such as automotive fuel tanks, injection molded parts, tubes and other applications used in the automotive and consumer-goods industries.

Advantages & Disadvantages

sugarcane field

According to Braskem, the world-leading supplier of bio-PE, a production rate of 200 kilo ton/year of bio-PE would require approximately 450 million liters of ethanol. This would utilize 65 million hectares of Brazilian sugar cane land to produce enough sugar to enable Braskem’s production capacity. This represents 0.02% of the Brazilian arable land.  Clearly, the impact to the sugar cane food supply is quite small.

Another great advantage is that the chemical structure, applications, and recycling are identical to fossil-fuel based PE. Also do not forget that Bio PE is 100% recyclable.

All these advantages do come with one main drawback. Currently, the price of bio-PE is about 50% higher than fossil-fuel PE. In upcoming years though it should see a decrease in price when volumes increase.

Extruding Bio PE + TMP + MAPE

Here at 3devo we were able to acquire some Bio Polyethylene (PE) SHD 7255 LSL, including 20% thermomechanical pulp (TMP) and 6% maleated polyethylene (MAPE). Take note this is just a short summary of our testing. Please visit our contact page for more information.

Preparation and Extrusion

Cleaning the Next filament extruder has been very important. Either a purging compound or HDPE can be used. Drying the materials was also critical. After 7 hours of drying the material doubled in moisture content over 48 hours (stored in a closed container with silica gel), it was finally ready. Three tests were conducted, using various temperatures and settings. It was interesting to see how quickly the material heated up, and fast fan cooling was vital it to handle more stress. Low temperatures also helped improve the results.

The end result of the extrusion tests

Extrusion Summary

After multiple tests, we conclude that Bio PE + TMP + MAPE combination can be successfully extruded with the Next. Some issues include the TMP particles causing the material to get easily torn apart and the ease at which the material heats up. Cleaning also determines the best results for the final filament.

Conclusion

In the end, bio-plastics and biopolymers are definitely something to focus on in the future of 3D printing. Their unique characteristics make it great for sustainable development. Also now that extruding materials like this is possible, it will be great to see what upcoming projects will be rolling out in the years ahead.

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 http://apiumtec.com/en/3d-printer/

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.