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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com for the profile settings to start extruding PEEK.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
What are we building?
3devo is developing a filament extruder. This is a machine that processes plastic pellets into a plastic wire. This plastic wire (filament) is mainly used as printing material for 3D printers, in a manner similar to an ink cartridge being used by a regular printer.
Overall, filament is extruded on an industrial scale. We developed a product that makes the quality of industrial extrusion setups within everyone’s reach. Taking the systems and knowledge of industrial machinery and reducing the size to fit a consumer desktop model in such a way that each user can have his own professional filament extruder. This means scaling down, simplifying, automating and making the extrusion process more consumer-friendly.
For more information check our product page!