Jun 28, 2015 | By Simon

Although 3D printing enthusiasts have never had as many material options as they do today - whether they want to create something that has been approved for space use by NASA or even if they want to use a filament made from discarded plastics to help close the cycle of waste - there are still many dedicated users out there who still prefer to create their own filaments using their own raw materials.

When made from scratch, filament can be significantly cheaper than store-bought reels and can even be customized to an extent.  In essence, creating your own filaments not only helps save users money, but it also brings them closer to the 3D printing experience as a whole.  Now, a new open source project from a group of young makers from Italy wants to make this experience even easier with their recently unveiled Felfil extruder.

Designed for home use, the Felfil was built as an open source way to easily and reliably produce 3D printing filaments from recycled materials, plastic waste, 3D print ‘fails’ and of course, industrial plastic pellets that are used to make most filaments in the first place.  

Among other interesting parts of the open source project - which has been released under the Creative Commons license for non-commercial use and can be downloaded over at Felfil.com -  is that the design team has incorporated a number of commonly found objects into their final design.  Among others include a bicycle chain and a windshield wiper motor.  The decision to use these found parts certainly falls in line with the team’s dedication towards “giving new life to unused components”.  

In addition to the found objects however, the extruder features a number of professional-grade parts that are designed specifically for 3D printing purposes.  Among others include the dedicated steel melting chamber as well as the brass extruder nozzle.  The design and function of the extruder were both inspired by larger industrial extruders that are commonly used to create filaments for larger brands including MakerBot.

To produce the filament, a user simply adds their plastic pellets or discarded plastic waste (assuming that it’s been cleaned and filtered accordingly for the process) to the steel melting chamber.  There, the plastic melts and a screw that’s connected to the motor delivers 9 Nm of torque to ensure constant pressure on the material.  When the material is ready, it will come out of the dedicated brass nozzle that’s designed to specifically dissipate heat from the chamber and ensure a smooth extrusion.  The temperature is able to be controlled by the user using a PID system.     

Depending upon which brass nozzle is chosen to be used for a session, the Felfil can produce a 1.75mm or 3mm diameter filament.  According to the group, the lower temperatures at the later stages of extrusion provides greater consistency in the size of the filament.

While this is sure to be quite the weekend project for anybody that takes it on, it’s clear just how much money could be saved considering its potential for reusing old, wasted 3D prints alone.  The group says that they are already working on version 2.0 of the Felfil and they plan on producing it in small production runs for those who prefer to purchase their goods rather than build them.   You can find out about download or purchase options by heading over to the team's website.  



Posted in 3D Printing Materials



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