May.18, 2013

Dublin, Ohio-based IC3D Printers has launched a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo to manufacture high-quality, more affordable and locally made 3D printing material.

The team, Michael Cao and Larry Knopp, found a lot of problems from the existing filament, such as loose diameter tolerances, debris in filament, low quality raw plastic base and paying overseas shipping.

They explained that nearly all producers of 3D printing filament primarily produce the product for the plastic welding industry. "Plastic welders take 3mm filament and push it out of a 3mm nozzle. Any debris in the filament doesn't get detected, therefore the manufacturers only need a certain low level of quality control. The nozzle on most 3D printers is only about 0.25mm-0.5mm in diameter! Any tiny piece of sawdust or cardboard shaving will cause clogging (which will pretty much ruin your weekend)."

In addition ABS is often engineered using different formulations, some are designed to be very hard for things like safety hard hats, while others are designed to be more flexible and support fine detail like for automotive interiors. Moreover, ABS and PLA absorb moisture and when the material being extruded in a 3D printer, it will create little bubble and cause poor layer bonding.

The team's solution is to manufacture their own 3D printing material locally by narrowing down plastic sources, designing custom in-house systems to control the logistics of the raw pellets to ensure the cleanliness. "To ensure the raw plastic material is free from H2O, every single pellet will travel through a drying system before entering the filament extruder. To make sure moisture doesn't get into the product after we make it, each spool of filament will get vacuum sealed with a packet of dessicant." said the team.

The goal of the crowd funding campaign is to raise $20,000 to help cover some of the cost for equipment, raw materials in bulk, factory space and hiring skilled local operators. In return, Michael Cao and Larry Knopp are going to produce high quality, lower cost, home-grown filament, starting with 3mm ABS filament first, followed by 1.75mm size.

For $35 backers will receive one 2lb (0.9kg) spool of ABS filament, the estimated delivery time is around August 2013. Check out more backer's options here on Indiegogo.


Posted in 3D Printing Materials



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