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Filabot: Plastic Filament Maker's video poster
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Make your own 3D printing filament from recycled bottles and other plastic products. Never run out of 3D printing filament. Read more

Milton, VT Technology
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This project was successfully funded on January 23, 2012.

Make your own 3D printing filament from recycled bottles and other plastic products. Never run out of 3D printing filament.

Milton, VT Technology
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Filament Sizing Solutions

Filabot has had many questions pertaining to the sizing and tolerancing capabilities.  From watching videos on youtube, surfing the internet, reading comments, and talking with engineers in the plastics industry, we have three possible solutions to the sizing problem. This update will outline the solutions that we have conjured up.

Solution One

After the Filament leaves the nozzle of the extruder, the plastic will pass two rollers for sizing. The filament then will run through a small water tank to cool and harden. This method is what we are going to test first. We are working on this right now, making the rollers and tank. In the picture below the two front rollers will pinch the filament and will form it into the right size. These two rollers will also be geared and powered to pull the filament through. This is a very promising design, it is simple and easy to make. 

Solution Two

The next design is a simple needle bearing idea is used. This method is similar to rolling clay on a table so that it becomes a smaller diameter. The "bearings" will be tapered to the desired size (3mm to 1.75mm diameter). Here is a quick drawing. Please excuse the bad drawing, we are not artists. 

Third Solution

The last design will be used with the roller system. This design will have a cutting unit that will be heated to a low temperature to cut and shape the plastic. The cut plastic will fall back into the hopper to be reprocessed into more filament. The rendered photo is what the system will look like it this is the solution that is needed. 

Filament Sizing

This is some more test plastic that was made from another green and yellow HDPE detergent bottle. Some parts of the filament are very smooth and have plus or minus an average of 0.031 of an inch within a 4inch long sample. This filament was made on the extruder without the refined nozzle and without a roller system. It was extruded directly out of the nozzle. A better nozzle, and the roller system will make the tolerances even better.

(Please note, number on paper is wrong. 0.0031in is supposed to be 0.031in) 

All in all the tests show that even with this basic system, without all the modifications, the Fialbot can produce usable printing filament. While still in the prototype stage we are producing results that are needed for the system to work. 

I hope this clears up some questions for sizing of the filament. 

Thanks

Tyler McNaney

Comments

    1. Creator Gavin Maxwell on January 12, 2012

      Thanks for the update Tyler - you've very much addressed the main concerns I was having.

    2. Creator David Snell on January 12, 2012

      If you use solution 1 would it be possible to put a multi-extruding die in and have it feed out multiple filaments at once? Put a capture spool on either side at the end or a set of them across.

    3. Creator Daniel Åkesson on January 12, 2012

      Oh, and I assume you have 3mm on one side, and 1.75mm on the other on those rollers? That way one can decide on the diameter by putting the filament through the right side.

    4. Creator Daniel Åkesson on January 12, 2012

      I kinda like the Solution One approach, as that is what the big boys use here: http://www.youtube.com/watch… (taken from the comments tab)

    5. Creator Rees Maxwell on January 12, 2012

      I've gotta say, Tyler, you are working hard to address all of the questions that folks have, and are very responsive to ideas that folks have about the Filabot! It is exactly this that keeps me interested in what you're doing. No one can know how well your system will work when completed, but I can tell you're committed to producing a quality working product! Nice Work, Tyler!