We’ve been contacted by the backers of the Multistruder, a new type of extruder, and it’s an interesting design.
It’s billed as a machine to produce filament, but we have problems with that approach that we’ve written before about several times. There have been multiple attempts at a “make your own filament” machine, but we’re not sure any have been particularly successful, at least so far.
The Multistruder is sold (at least for now) only as the extruder mechanism. In order to produce filament, you’ll have to combine it with an input hopper for pellets, take-up spooling mechanism and a case. You’ll probably also want to add a cooling tray to ensure the extrusion maintains its shape after emerging, and perhaps even a real-time laser measurement device to catch it when the diameter drifts off standard.
The design includes a central auger, which, when engaged, pushes the pellets into the precisely heated hot end, where the plastic melts in the usual manner.
Why do this? Simply because of the incredible cost savings available by using pellets instead of filament. It’s like cutting out the middleman: 3D print filament manufacturers most often receive a pallet of pellets, which they convert into filament. By using the pellets directly, you save the costs of the filament processing.
According to The Green Engineers, pellets can cost as much as 4X less than filament, which is quite important if you’re doing a lot of printing.
One thing you may miss out on is coloration, as the filament makers often pride themselves on devising vibrant and consistent colors, which you likely won’t find when buying pellets. However, if color isn’t important, then perhaps this is an extruder for you.
The Green Engineers hint that the Multistruder might, in the future, be able to attach to molds to perform true injection molding, which is certainly an interesting feature.
The Multistruder is available now on Kickstarter for another week or so, and it looks like they’ll hit their targets. The unit is priced at USD$150.