Pre-orders now available at www.proto-pasta.com
What is Proto-Pasta?
Proto-Pasta is a project that will change the landscape of what is available for consumer grade 3D printing materials and how those materials are evaluated. We have three goals for this project:
1- Make Available New Materials with Continued Innovation
Consumer grade 3D printing is fast growing and material selection is a bottleneck for continued expansion into more demanding applications. PLA and ABS are the two most available materials, but they have some serious drawbacks like low softening temperature for PLA and low stiffness for ABS.
With this project we want to make available new materials that address some of these issues without sacrificing printability or affordability. After our initial offering of materials we will re-invest in R&D and continue to innovate.
2- Material Evaluation
Currently, suppliers of filament do not give much information about what the material is and what the properties are. It is either labeled as PLA or ABS, and you often do not know what brand or grade of material it is. If you are able to find that out, the only material properties available are for the bulk resin, not of the printed part.
All of our materials have datasheets (available on the Proto-Pasta website) giving the exact material or compound and average test results of actual printed parts. It will be the first time users can compare actual mechanical properties of parts printed with different materials using empirical data.
Material properties are based on testing using a printed test sample that is 60mm X 10mm X 3mm. Datasheets include the Heat Deflection Temperature, Impact Resistance, Stiffness, Flexural Strength, and information on printability of the material.
-Heat Deflection Temperature is the temperature at which the material softens enough to reach a specified strain at a specified stress. In our case the test sample is put into 3-point bending with a 0.62N force. The sample and test fixture is placed into oil and heated until the sample deflects 1mm.
-Impact resistance is tested by placing the sample in a vise and hitting the cantilevered end with a pendulum of known mass. When the pendulum is dropped without a sample it swings to a measured height, and when it breaks a sample it swings to a lower height. The energy taken to break the sample is calculated from the difference between these two heights.
-Flexural strength is the stress at which the material breaks in 3-point bending. Flexural stiffness, or modulus, is the ratio of stress to strain in bending. More simply put it is the resistance of a material to bend, or how rigid or stiff the material is. Both properties are determined in the same test. The test is completed in a computer controlled machine that measures force and displacement as the sample is broken at a controlled feed rate. The slope of the linear portion of the chart is the stiffness, and the strength is calculated from the maximum force reached to break the sample.
3- Shipping Sweet Spot
With a wide variety of materials to try, it could get expensive buying 1KG spools and paying for shipping on each. We have decided to offer our materials in 1/4kg coils and ship them using the US Postal Service First Class Mail. This will get you a coil of material anywhere in the US in 2-5 days for $3. Each coil will ship in a heat sealed bag with desiccant so your filament arrives dry and ready to go.
The reward structure for Prota-Pasta is relatively simple and consists of combinations of three new materials, a reusable folding spool, and T-shirts. Each is explained in detail below.
Proto-Pasta Carbon Fiber reinforced PLA is made from NatureWorks 4043D PLA Resin compounded with 15% by weight Tenax short chopped Carbon Fibers. It is designed to be stiff, or to resist bending. It is the stiffest material we offer and makes parts with an incredibly solid feel. When printed, this material is a dark glossy black that glitters slightly in direct light from the fine chopped fibers reflecting the light.
Carbon Fiber Reinforced PLA does not require a heated bed and prints much like unreinforced PLA filament. The main difference is that it is brittle and care must be taken when handling the filament and loading the printer.
We have had good results printing at 190C-210C using a .5mm nozzle and direct-drive spring loaded pinch-roll style extrusion head. Layer adhesion is excellent and the material has low warpage.
Proto-Pasta High Temperature PLA is made from a custom compound consisting of mineral filled impact modified PLA with a nucleating agent to help promote crystallization. Crystallization after printing is what gives this material added heat resistance. To fully realize this advantage, parts must be soaked in hot water or an oven after printing at 60C-80C for 3-5 minutes. This crystallizes the material and makes it much more heat resistant. It does not require a heated bed to print well, but this may help crystallize the material after printing and make oven soaking unnecessary for some parts. High Temperature PLA is a glossy off white, or very light gray. Printed parts look good and have slightly more texture than standard PLA. This material is not translucent like standard PLA.
We have had good results printing at 190C-210C using a .5mm nozzle and direct-drive spring loaded pinch-roll style extrusion head.
Layer adhesion is good and the material has low warpage.
Proto-Pasta Polycarbonate-ABS (PC-ABS) Alloy is an incredibly tough material designed for strong, resilient parts. When printed, PC-ABS is bright glossy white.
Proto-Pasta PC-ABS Alloy can print well. It is very moisture sensitive and even if stored bagged with desiccant, drying in an oven for ~ 1hr at 85C-95C may be required for bubble free high strength prints. Layer adhesion can be an issue if the part is large or the temperature is too low. We have had good success printing parts ~60mm long at 260C-280C using a .5mm nozzle and direct-drive spring loaded pinch-roll style extrusion head. A heated bed may help warpage and layer adhesion on larger/thicker parts.
Our folding spools let you change materials without any disassembly, just fold in 2 of the forks and slide into the material coil. They look great and are an easy way to print with Proto-Pasta coils.
High quality, screen printed Proto-Pasta T's!
Where will Proto-Pasta be Made?
Proto-Pasta will be manufactured here at ProtoPlant INC. headquarters in Vancouver WA USA on manufacturing equipment that we designed and built. If demand is high enough we may invest in some commercially made equipment but we will keep all manufacturing in-house and in the US. Below are a few images of the factory setup.
Who We Are
We are Aaron Cram and Dustin Cram; brothers who periodically work together on fun and interesting projects. Aaron is a computer scientist with tons of experience designing electronics hardware, software, and firmware. Dustin is a Mechanical Engineer with an aerospace background who gets to design and build a wide variety of interesting stuff at his design and fabrication company ProtoPlant Inc.
Thousands have already been invested in material samples and manufacturing hardware. We are choosing Kickstarter to launch Proto-Pasta because it is a great way to introduce our product to a vibrant community and we need additional start-up capital to purchase raw materials at a reasonable price and further automate our factory. We set our funding goal at a point where we can successfully get Proto-Pasta launched by purchasing large quantities of materials and refining our manufacturing processes. With your help we can change what is available for 3D printing materials and continue researching and innovating.
Risks and challenges
This is a challenging project, no doubt. The manufacturing process is complicated and quality control is one of our biggest concerns and highest priorities. We believe that we have developed the process sufficiently to be confident in our ability to deliver quality product on time.
We have significant experience developing manufacturing hardware and delivering on time. This is our second Kickstarter project, and the first (Stepperature) successfully shipped all rewards ahead of schedule. From our experience with Stepperature, one of the biggest challenges will be shipping and keeping track of orders accurately. We are planning for this and learned from our last project not to underestimate fulfillment.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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