A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
Has A Filament Stoppage Killed Your Print?
A problem in your nozzle, extruder, motor, spool, or anywhere in between can cause a filament stoppage. A filament stoppage can kill your print in less than a minute.
That's why I designed and tested the Filament Roller: to detect stoppages, automatically pause your printer, and alert you so you can diagnose your printer!
How Does It Work?
The Filament Roller uses a printed control wheel and infra-red sensors to detect movement from your filament.
An on-board processor counts direction and speed so it can't be fooled by retraction. It also doesn't add any burden to your printer's processor, no software modification required, and no software bugs!
An alarm timer is set using a small dial (3 to 48 sec.).
An LED strobes for each change in position so you can tell if it is working at-a-glance.
The alarm is triggered when no net movement is detected before the timer expires.
An error signal output can be connected from the Filament Roller to your printer's end-stop input (Marlin 1.1.x, RepRap) or OctoPrint (Filament Sensor Plugin, Raspberry Pi) to automatically pause your print!
A 100 dB buzzer will alert you when your filament has stopped. The buzzer can be enabled or disabled using a switch.
The Filament Roller can be powered directly from your printer's 5 volt supply all the way to a 24 volt external power supply. The power switch toggles between the two different power inputs.
Who Needs A Filament Roller?
Whether you are a novice printer, an experienced hobbyist, or running a professional printing hub; I designed this sensor with all of you in mind.
At one time or another, we have all lost a print due to a filament stoppage. The Filament Roller is a good match for you if:
You want to make a multi-hour print. Longer prints cause more heat build-up in your extruder resulting in more lost prints.
You want to press "print" and forget about it until your print is complete. Knowing that the Filament Roller is working means that you don't have to worry!
You like to print with different filaments. PLA, ABS, PETG, WOOD, FLEXIBLE PLA, ASA, CARBON FIBER, BRONZE FILL... using a Filament Roller will help you tune your printer settings for each material without sacrificing your print!
You are diagnosing your printer's extruder problems. Find out exactly when and how your printer is failing!
Your printer is already configured to use an end-stop input as a filament runout sensor? If so, then you can use a Filament Roller as a drop-in replacement to detect and pause for all filament stoppages.
You are using OctoPrint or OctoPi? If so, the Filament Roller is compatible with the filament sensor plugin to detect and pause for all filament stoppages.
You are a DIYer and built your own RepRap? If so, upgrade to Marlin 1.1.x and you can easily configure the Filament Roller as a filament runout sensor.
Why Don't You Want Another Filament Monitor?
Other filament monitor designs utilize a mechanical rotary switch which suffer from 3 mechanical drawbacks:
Low Resolution: 24 positions, 1 per 15 degrees.
High Friction: a tensioner is required to grip the filament; extra stress may actually cause more filament stoppages.
Short Longevity: mechanical switches eventually wear out and require replacement.
Cost: MakerBot Smart Extruder+ ($199) or Tunell Filament Monitor ($65)
The Filament Roller eliminated these issues by switching to IR:
High Resolution: 160 positions, 1 per 2.25 degrees.
Low Friction: virtually no friction and no burden added to your extruder; in most cases, using a tensioner is optional.
Long Lifespan: no points of contact for wearing out. This sensor should outlast your printer.
Cost: the Filament Roller starts at only $41.
The Filament Roller is designed as a stand-alone module, with its own internal logic, with a simple but complete interface, and a wide input voltage range so it can be used with almost any printer.
Whether your extruder is geared, direct-drive, or Bowden you can fit the sensor either inline or on your filament spool with little difficulty.
The Filament Roller is flexible. The mechanical designs are free to download and modify from Thingiverse so you can customize your sensor for your own printer! Step-by-step instructions and videos are located on each page to help you get started.
Each kit includes an assembled and tested board, a 0.5m 3-wire cable to connect to your printer, NSK bearings made in Korea, and all the nuts and screws necessary to build your Filament Roller. All you need to do is print your mechanical parts, paint your wheel* so it blocks IR, and assemble!
*See stretch goal #1
I'm constantly listening to feedback and improving the Filament Roller concept. Check here or updates for new features.
Using the current prototype, we can daisy-chain upto 4 boards so you can monitor 4 extruders at once by using an AND-gate hub.
In case of high volume, we can switch to SMD components and daisy-chain Filament Rollers in parallel.
We plan to rearrange the layout of the Filament Roller so you can split the board into a smaller sensor part and connect it to the processor part using a 4-wire cable.
What's In It For Me?
Share this project with your printer groups and I'll make the kit better for you. =)
Stretch Goal #1 - $15,000:
I will print and paint a control wheel for you. Just print the easier parts and that's it!
Stretch Goal #2 - ?:
I'm not sure what's next... but I am open to suggestions. =)
The Long Road
I started this project in late July '16. From July to August, I privately designed, developed firmware for, and tested a prototype circuit. In late August, I commissioned a first revision PCB for testing.
From September to December, I solicited comments and suggestions in order to improve my product. Acting on this input, I executed the following actions:
Improved the interface to include an error GPIO signal and remote shutdown.
The Filament Roller is now ready for mass production. If you back my project, I will start production and deliver a kit to you with everything you need to build a complete Filament Roller.
Risks and challenges
This is my first Kickstarter but this is an area where I have more than 10 years of professional experience.
1) Firmware development was completed October '16 and there are no bugs.
2) Mechanical designs are available on Thingiverse and downloaded hundreds of times with no complaints. Both designs have worked well for me.
3) The circuit is stable and the first PCB requires only minor rework.
4) The next PCB revision, to implement the revised interface, is not started yet. If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, then this job will begin. The revision itself is very simple and does not require changes to firmware.
March: Try to collect Kickstarter money.
April: PCB revision and testing.
May: Main PCB production. This estimate is based on prior experience.
June: Final assembly and packaging.
July: Everything should be shipped out.
Worst case, figure on delivery occurring in August.
If purchase quantities far exceed my expectations, rest assured I am readily able to contract out manufacturing to an ODM (starting from the low 1000's). At this point, that is just dreaming. =)
I know you work hard for your money and I strive to protect your investment in my idea. I made the price low enough to offer great value and high enough so I can deal with unexpected costs overruns and safely complete this project. Of course, I plan to keep everybody apprised of my progress during production and delivery on a weekly basis. It's the least that I can do!
I have two more ideas, better than this one, that I really want to make a reality. I hope this project here becomes a successful stepping-stone along the way.
Want everything to build an inline sensor? Click here for an assembled board, a 3-wire cable, 2 NSK bearings, and all the hardware to make it happen.
Please note: backers are responsible for customs/duties/taxes.
Want everything to build a spool roller sensor? Click here for an assembled board, a 3-wire cable, 4 NSK bearings, and all the hardware to make it happen.
Please note: backers are responsible for customs/duties/taxes.