If you’re serious about 3D printing and build a large number of objects, there are benefits to producing your own filament, and it’s possible to save up to 80% on the cost of ready-made materials. You can also recycle old prints and other plastics, experiment with colors and compounds, and extrude materials like ABS, PLA, EVA, HDPE, and nylon.
Edward Clifford, a one time design engineer and project manager, is now the Managing Director for D3D Innovations Ltd. in Somerset, UK, and he says his company is focused on creating and delivering “world class and globally game-changing products to market.”
One of those product lines is a desktop system for producing on demand filament for Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D printers. Dubbed the FilaFab Extruder and the FilaFab Filament Winder, Clifford says the FilaFab system is capable of producing professional quality filament and spooling it for 3D printing – and it’s small enough to easily fit on the desktop of any workshop.
And now the FilaFab Extruder and Filament Winder are seeking funding via a Kickstarter campaign.
“We have worked tirelessly to produce a filament extruder which is robust, reliable, compact and easy to use,” says the FilaFab system Kickstarter campaign page.
Following three years of continuous research and development, there will be two versions of the FilaFab Extruder available, the EX100 and EX350. The first is is the standard model with a compact yet powerful motor drive for extruding both ABS and PLA, and the second, the EX350, is aimed at users intent on recycling or looking to produce custom batches. The EX350 provides significantly more power to the drive system and the additional feature of speed control to deal with other polymers.
The nozzle selection and winding speed of the devices is meant to “rival the best mass produced filament on the market,” and each machine is supplied with 1.75mm and 2.85mm nozzles. Clifford says other sizes are available as well.
The FilaFab includes safety features such as an emergency stop button, auto shutdown on mains failure, a fully encased power supply, nozzle and hopper guards, and internal over voltage and current protection. It’s all encased within a powder coated steel enclosure.
Clifford says the FilaFab is easy to set up, easy to use, and built on open source principles to allow a user to produce their own accessories or modify and upgrade to their requirements.
An infrared sensor automatically controls the winding speed and as filament is extruded, it passes by two infrared sensors which are fed to the winding control system. The designers say that if the filament deviates from the specified path, the winder will adjust winding speed to compensate.
An optical micrometer provides real time width measurement of the extruded filament, and the desired filament width is set either by the controls on the machine or by a soon-to-be-released smart phone app.
On Kickstarter, the goal is to raise £8,500 by May 21st. The backing funds, should the campaign meet its goal, will be used to pay for the initial tooling and minimum order quantities required to optimum pricing. Rewards for the campaign could represent savings of up to 50% compared to the anticipated retail price following the launch.
The “Ultimate – L” campaign commitment gets you a FilaFab EX350 Extruder and a FilaFab filament winder, the optical micrometer sensor, and infrared sensor with two printed sensor enclosures and it’s priced at £1370 (approximately $2045), which includes shipping to the US and an estimated delivery date of August 2015.
You can read more details at the FilaFab Kickstarter campaign site.
Do you ever plan to extrude your own 3D printing filament, and if so, what do you think about the FilaFab from D3D Innovations Ltd.? You can let us know in the FilaFab 3D Filament Extruder forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the Kickstarter campaign video, as well as more images, below.