Additive Manufacturing Strategies

A New Filament Drying Solution Arrives From Apium

ST Medical Devices

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It’s an unfortunate fact that a lot of things can go wrong when 3D printing. Many people who are unfamiliar with the technology think that it’s like magic: you just press a button and out pops a finished, perfect part. But with every 3D printing technology comes its own problems, and there are plenty in FDM/FFF technology. Poor adhesion, warping, nozzle clogging, and spectacular meltdowns that seem to happen for no apparent reason – they’re all part of the 3D printing adventure.

One of the biggest issues that causes prints to fail or come out imperfectly is moisture. Many polymer filaments are hydrophilic, which means that they like moisture and will happily absorb it from the air surrounding them – that’s why spools of filament commonly come in airtight containers with little desiccant bags in there with them. This is particularly true for materials like PLA and nylon, which are more hydrophilic than others. So what happens when filament absorbs moisture?

3D printing filaments are made from polymers, which are in turn made up of multiple monomers joined together. Those polymer chains can break down, however, or depolymerize, and one way that this can happen is a process called hydrolysis, which is when a water molecule breaks a polymer chain. So when a supply of filament gets wet and is then extruded, the water inside it vaporizes, causing air bubbles and voids – you’ll know this has happened if you start hearing snapping and crackling noises while printing.

This can weaken material and cause poor inter-layer adhesion, as well as poor surface finish. It’s just not a good thing, but unfortunately it’s all too easy for filament to draw in water from the atmosphere and get messed up. On the bright side, the damage is not irreversible, if you dry the filament out before you extrude it. For this purpose, there are filament-drying products, and one of the newest is the Apium Filament Dryer from German company Apium.

Apium is focused on industrial 3D printing solutions, a leader in PEEK and other high performance polymers. The Apium Filament Dryer was developed in partnership with Singapore’s Purpose AM Systems and promises less oozing, stringy filament caused by moisture absorption, as well as better interlayer adhesion and mechanical properties.

“Through our partnership with Purpose AM, we are launching Apium Filament Dryers and provide our end-users with the complete solution for processing high performance polymers,” said Pinar Karakas, Head of Marketing and Quality Management at Apium. “We offer the unique AM solution with our advanced customer support established by our Service Center experts and forerunner technologies.”

The Apium Filament Dryer has thermally insulated walls, which reduces heat loss, and offers front loading which enables easy filament interchange. It has a rotary desiccant system for the dehumidification of incoming air, as well as a set of HEPA and active carbon filters. It is compatible with all Apium P Series 3D printers and Apium filaments, as well as several other open-system 3D printers.

Apium is ready to ship the filament dryers upon order and offers a 12-month warranty.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.

 

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