New Project: DIY 3D-Filament Extruder

Filament extruding machine

I'm a lot into 3D-printing the last months so it was quite silent with news in the blog. Staring at plastic building up in layers so thin you can barely see them is very fascinating as it builds up a new dimension one is not used to see. But the plastic material called "filament" for 3D-printers is neither very cheap nor you have a great choice of colors or materials (yet).

Layer as fine as 10 micrometer printed with my Ormerod 3D-printer
So my very new project is building a DIY 3D-filament extruder. Yes, there are already projects like Filabot and Filastruder out there, but I could not find real DIY projects among them.

It happened that I worked as a holiday job at a plastic recycling factory almost thirty years ago, that did exactly what I'm planning to do now - extruding filament from pellet like material. It's a personal challenge to return to this.

It's not only a challenge to build such a machine but also to get it producing high quality materials that print either very thin layers (see photo) or different materials with certain characteristics, that can be easily reproduced in every aspect like quality, diameter etc.

So stay tuned for the developments here.

DIY  Project "Print your laser"

I'm also working on printing the 3D-parts for Markus' (same name but not me ;) ) awesome print your laser project, with other people at our Makerspace Attraktor in Hamburg. Markus wants to build a DIY CO2 laser from parts readily available and of course as cheap as possible. At the moment we are testing the end caps for the plasma tube and getting them as airtight as possible.

It's fascinating how 3D-prinitng opens a whole new way to design and produce things like twisted tubes buried into parts which would be impossible to make with conventional and relatively affordable tools like a lathe or CNC milling machine. Of course it's possible to do things like this for quite some time as there a professional and very expensive ways to do this - but DIY-wise and making with low budget is the real new way getting things done.

But it still needs to design the stuff with CAD-programs (lots of open source like OpenSCAD available), prepare it for 3D-printing (like slicing the 3D-models), getting the right materials and troubleshoot the prints for their very application. 3D-printing for everyone is still a bit out there.

In the video (timelapse) above you can see a small part of the end cap for the laser tube printed on my new Ormerod 3D-printer from RepRapPro.