There have been several attempts at developing a practical filament-making machine. Is ExtrusionBot the one that succeeds?
We’ve looked at a few similar devices and found most of them to be impractical for various reasons, not the least being quality of output. In today’s personal 3D printers (at least the plastic filament-based ones) the quality of input filament is critical. It must have highly consistent diameter, no air bubbles, consistent coloration, consistent chemistry for strength and be non-toxic. Any usable filament maker must be able to produce those results or it won’t be worth your trouble.
Let’s take a look at the ExtrusionBot, said to be “The world’s fastest filament extruder”. At a scary 4 feet per minute (1.22 m/m), you’d think so – and stand clear of the machine, too. We suspect that there are industrial machines that can beat this mark, but we would believe the ExtrusionBot could be the world’s fastest PERSONAL filament extruder.
The ExtrusionBot has a unique design: it’s upright, whereas most of the other filament makers we’ve seen are horizontal and take up much more space. We suspect this could be the optimum design, as gravity can assist in the speed and by dropping filament vertically it avoids natural bending that may occur.
Also unlike many other filament makers, the ExtrusionBot includes an “automatic spooling mechanism so filament does not end up as a tangled mess on the floor”. This alone makes the ExtrusionBot better. We have been very surprised that other filament making machines’ designers have often ignored this critical feature.
The ExtrusionBot includes several other interesting features:
- Swappable nozzles to enable extrusion of different filament diameters.
- Temperature sensor to automatically stop if trouble is detected.
- Metal components for high temperature use.
- Worldwide shipping.
- Fully assembled.
Of course, the major benefit of making your own filament is low cost materials. According to ExtrusionBot, you can make a 1kg spool of PLA for as low as USD$4, some ten times less than typical pricing. And you can control the coloration yourself.
The ExtrusionBot is available today for USD$625. That might sound like a lot of money if you’re using a 3D printer that costs about that same amount, but let’s check out the math: If you can save USD$40 per spool, you’ll need to create and use around 16 spools to break even.
For some of us, that’s not too hard.
Via ExtrusionBot (Hat tip to Andrew)