3D printing could never be called an inexpensive hobby unless your last name starts with a “Rocke” and ends in a “feller.” While 3D printers themselves are rapidly dropping in price the plastic filament required as of yet hasn’t really budged much. There is a wealth of new and interesting 3D printing materials available, but the more exotic the material the more money that you’re going to need to invest. However, if you’re a high-volume maker then you might want to consider making your own filament with an at-home filament extruder.
Making 3D printing filament isn’t really that difficult, it turns out, and the raw plastic material that filament is made of isn’t especially expensive. The real price of 3D printing filament is the cost of turning low-cost plastic pellets into a spool of perfectly sized filament in large quantities. All you need to do it yourself is a small desktop device called a filament extruder that will melt down the raw plastic pellets and turn that into your own filament. Up until recently the only way to make your own filament was to have access to large, industrial machinery or be able to create your own smaller device. But recently we’ve started to see several new desktop filament extruders make their way onto the market that make at-home filament production possible.
The latest addition to the handful of filament extruders coming to market comes from Kickstarter in the form of Pastor Glenn’s Filament Extruder. The pastor’s extruder is constructed of 3D printable parts and some low-cost materials and can be set up in a horizontal or vertical configuration. It has a funnel system that can hold up to a full kilogram of raw plastic pellets and convert it into filament at the rate of 25 inches per minute. Once you have the extruder running it doesn’t need to be constantly monitored, you can just turn it on and let it do its thing. In no time you’ll have a full spool of high-quality, self-manufactured 3D printing filament.
Take a look at Pastor Glenn and watch his Filament Extruder in action here:
Pastor Glenn is only asking for a rather modest sum of $5,000 to get his business off the ground and he’s already more than halfway there as of the time of writing.
Among other reward levels, you can back the project for $350, and you will get the Filament Extruder kit that has everything that you need to build your own except the 3D printable parts that just need to be printed. And by backing the project for to $400 you’ll receive the complete kit, including the 3D printed parts that make up the body of the device.
According to the Kickstarter campaign, the Filament Extruder has already passed through the prototype phase and is ready to go into mass production.
As an added bonus for backing the campaign, you will be helping him to develop a work-at-home network of stay-at-home parents to help him with the mass production of the parts needed. The pastor will provide members of the network with a computer and a 3D printer and contract them to produce the 3D printed parts for him. At the $2,000 backing level, you can join the network, receiving a laptop, a 3D printer, and a one-year contract.
“We have a lot of single moms with kids in our area, and childcare is so expensive that they are having a really hard time finding work that provides enough income to pay for childcare, bills, and basic daily needs. So we came up with a way to give everyone a chance to own their own business, including work-at-home moms,” explained Pastor Glenn on his Kickstarter page.
Of course the kit will have complete assembly and use instructions, and the lower cost will include the STL files for the needed 3D printable parts. So if you want to build your own filament extruder head on over to the Kickstarter campaign and help the Pastor and his network of stay-at-home parents out. Tell us what you think about this Kickstarter over on the Pastor Glenn’s Filament Extruder forum thread at 3DPB.com.