Material costs, while still relatively low, can be one of the more expensive aspects of owning and operating a 3D printer. In fact, with professional 3D printers, many companies are opting to make the printers more affordable while putting a larger markup on the proprietary materials, which obviously makes operating the printer more expensive in the long run. Fortunately, this does not apply to most personal 3D printers because their manufacturers dont produce the spools of filament, even if they sell them; there are a couple exceptions, like 3D Systems personal printers that use proprietary spools that are more expensive than standard filament. Still, spooled filament costs more than the plastic its made out of.

Right now, ABS is about $15/lb and PLA is about $18/lb. Plastic pellets can be sourced for less than $4/lb in small batches, and less if you buy in bulk. If there was a way to turn pellets into filament, makers could save oodles on materials.

Oh wait, there are ways to do that! Several people have taken on the worthy task of creating filament extruders. First there was theFilabot, which after almost a year and a half has still not been delivered to frustrated Kickstarter backers, though Tyler says hes still building them. Hugh Lyman won $40,000 forhis open-source design of an extruder, which ison Thingiverse. And an extruder calledRecycleBotis also on Thingiverse. Now though, for those that dont want to build one (or wait for the Filabot), theres another extruder on Kickstarter calledFilastruder.

If you can get past the dubstep, the campaign video is pretty entertaining. Tim Elmore is a PhD student at the University of Florida studying Mechanical Engineering. His experience with 3D printing, and having to buy filament, is what spurred his interest in creating a filament extruder. He did his research on all of the extruders mentioned above and refined their designs to create an alpha unit; four of those units were sent to makers for testing. Their feedback led to the beta version, of which 12 were sent out for testing. After hundreds of hours of operation and plenty of feedback, Tim put the Filastruder on Kickstarter, where it was funded in an hour. That gives some indication to the high demand for such a machine.

The Filastruder can produce two to five pounds of filament in a day, in ABS and PLA. By adding colored pellets, any color can be extruded. Its clear that Tim has done his homework here, and Id say theres a good chance that the Filastruder beats the Filabot to market, especially considering that Tim has partnered with OS Printing LLC to assemble the Filastruder. Its also available as a kit, though. At $188,000, the campaign is working on stretch goals now, but if youd like one, theyre $300 fully assembled.

Cameron, Senior Staff Writer, is a technology enthusiast that can better write about 3D printing than he can ride a bike. His interest in 3D printing is mostly driven by his desire to become a cyborg. He enjoys philosophical conversation and is also fond of poetry and Star Trek. Connect with him onGoogle+.

It would be great to see them or someone else take this concept and create a 3D printer that takes pellets instead of filament. Or at least refine the idea into a compact design that can literally be used as an extruder on almost any 3D printer so that all the user has to do is simply upgrade their extrude to realize the benefits.

Pingback:Filastruder: another filament extruder on Kickstarter 3D Printer Juanjo Pina()

I have a Uprint Plus and need filiment for it , but its a propertiary filiment. ? abs . It needs a special input chip to tell the machine whats going on.

your extruder looks great and you have done you home work on the project. If you know of a work arond for Uprint Plus , would be more then happy to buy your extruder.

Pingback:Filastruder, otra extrusora de filamento en Kickstarter Fabricacin digital()

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