Behind the Scenes: The Complex Journey of Making 3D Printer Filament

By on April 9th, 2024 in learning, news

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Gabe Bentz explains filament production [Source: YouTube]

Have you ever wondered how difficult it could be to make 3D printer filament?

Filament at first glance would seem to be a straightforward product. It comes on spools and is available at low costs, how hard could it be to make? Don’t you simply heat up some plastic and extrude it through a nozzle? Easy!

Well, that’s not true. Not true at all. It turns out that making usable filament is a very complex process requiring several pieces of industrial equipment and a considerable amount of tuning.

Many have attempted to build desktop filament extruders, and almost all have failed miserably because of the challenges involved. 3DEVO aside, it’s nearly impossible to make high quality 3D printer filament on a desktop machine.

What are all the steps involved in making proper filament?

I could talk about input pellets, drying, heating, extrusion, pulling, cooling, water baths, spooling, drying and other steps, but there’s a better way to learn all about the process of making 3D printer filament and the challenges involved.

Fabbloo friend Gabe Bentz, who operates the Slant 3D print service, recently published a video in which he walks through their filament production facility. The company is working towards a way to produce high quality 3D printer filament spools priced at only US$10 each.

However, it’s extremely challenging to do so. As Bentz walks through his production line, he explains the different aspects of each stage.

For example, the water cooling bath is used to very slowly cool the filament as it is pulled to stretch into the desired diameter. However, what you might not realize is that the water bath requires multiple stages with different water temperatures.

As you travel through the production line you begin to realize the complex series of speeds and temperatures that must be just right in order to produce proper filament. It’s not at all easy to do.

This is what happens behind the scenes at most filament production lines, and it’s not often we get a glimpse behind the curtain.

Via YouTube

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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