Apr. 22, 2015 | By Simon

Although there are more types of 3D printers in existence now than there ever have been, printers that use Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology are still amongst the most popular due to their (relative) ease-of-use and general low-cost-of-entry compared to more advanced additive manufacturing technologies.  While the options for FDM 3D printers range from low-cost open source models to entire ecosystems that include smartphone apps, live camera feeds and scanners, the one thing that they all have in common is the need for filament in order to create an actual object.

Because of the expansive market of FDM 3D printers, the filament market has seen remarkable growth over the past five years and has expanded to include multiple material types for just about any application that one could think of.  However despite many types of filament that exist for any number of projects, the one trait that they all share is cost - particularly with name brand filaments including those from MakerBot.  

For this reason, many 3D printing enthusiasts have opted to create their own filaments using cheaper plastic pellets - a process that involves melting the pellets and extruding the resulting plastic into a spool that can then be used like pre-manufactured filament.  By going this route, users are able to create a spool of filament for roughly $10 (versus $50+) and even have the option to recycle old plastic into new filament - so long as it’s the same type of plastic and is clean with no imperfections.  But just like any other DIY process, creating your own filament isn’t exactly what most would call easy.

Aiming to make the filament manufacturing process as easy as possible for Makers, designer Edward Clifford has recently created the FILAFAB - a professional filament extruder that he is currently seeking funding for on Kickstarter.

“After much development we are pleased to bring you the market leading desktop system for producing on demand filament for your Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D printer - the FilaFab Extruder and the FilaFab Filament Winder,” said Clifford.  

“The FilaFab system enables you to produce professional quality filament and spool it ready for printing, all within the confines of your desk/workshop.”

Among other benefits of creating your own filament with the FILAFAB include saving over 80% on the cost of ready-made filament, experiment with new colors and compounds, recycling old prints into new prints and the ability to extruded multiple material types including ABS, PLA, EVA, HDPE, Nylon and more.

In total, Clifford created two separate extruder models for two different types of users: the hobbyist and the professional.  

The EX100 is the standard model with a compact yet powerful motor drive which is ideal for extruding both ABS and PLA and if space is an issue.  

For users who plan on recycling a lot of material or want to create their own custom batches of filament, the FILAFAB EX350 model provides significantly more power to the drive system and also includes speed control.  It is also more ideal for users who plan on extruding multiple material types other than ABS and PLA.  

While each of the models is for a different kind of user, they both share many similarities as well.  These include an all-metal powerful motor drive  with dedicated electronics to maintain motor torque and velocity, force distribution for managing the high forces created by the extrusion process, high speed output for handling a range of materials, ability to create different filament sizes including the common 1.75 mm and 2.85 mm sizes and finally, the ability to work with different materials and different colors depending on the desired output of the user.

To ensure that the finished product is usable, Clifford has also created a custom filament winder accessory for ensuring that the filament is ready to be used right out of the gate.  

The next step of course, is getting funded on Kickstarter.

“We have spent many months completing the design and pre-production stages for our new desktop extruder and winder combination and are now seeking your help to bring them to market,” said Clifford.   

“With your backing we can pay for the initial tooling and minimum order quantities required to get the price to a feasible level. We have a number or rewards with savings of up to 50% compared to our anticipated after launch price.”

If you’ve always wanted to create your own filaments, one of the FILAFAB machines might not be a bad place to start.  

Find out more by heading over to Kickstarter.  



Posted in 3D Printing Materials


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ThatGuy wrote at 4/24/2015 9:18:46 AM:

To me, what I am looking for is an extruded that breaks down easily into halfs so that it is easy to clean. I like my filastruder, but change overs are slow compared to standard lab-scale extruders. I also don't know what the relationship between speed and quality falls apart. With just air cooling, fast extrusion can lead to deformed filament. With out going to water baths, what is the fastest you can extrude 1.75 filament?

Edd wrote at 4/23/2015 10:42:59 AM:

No one in their right mind buys filament from makerbot. Same price and I can get 3 kilos at frys, 2 kilos at homedepot. Even better prices online. The cost per roll also needs to factor in the cost of the machine and consumables and any maintenance/parts costs and related delivery fees. Dont forget the hours you have to monitor it as well. It would be a very long time before you would come close to making a roll for $10USD. Especially for a home user!

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