Member Project Spotlight: Frank’s Filament Extruder (WIP)

Our member Frank has been working on a heavy duty piece of hardware for extruding 3D printer filament. This all started when we got a 3D printer and were interested in making filament on the cheap instead of paying someone else to manufacture it. Filaments can be made from many different materials and self producing it can save up to 80% of the cost of commercially produced filament. We had seen several  other DIY machines  to do the same thing, but one of our members decided to take on this project himself and has really gotten pretty serious with it. Here are his progress notes so far and some info on the work that’s going into this project.
Work completed:
  • Extruder shaft machined to accept bearings on both ends
  • Bearing supports for both ends of the extruder – hot end is a bronze sleeve bearing, drive end is a tapered roller bearing to handle the thrust of extruding
  • Extruder mounting plate machined to accept the extruder and gearbox mounted and rough aligned
  • Mounting plate for future motor drive / gear reduction assembly installed
MakeLV Filament Extruder (1) MakeLV Filament Extruder (2) MakeLV Filament Extruder (3)-extruder support MakeLV Filament Extruder (4)-bearing housing MakeLV Filament Extruder (5)-bearing spacer MakeLV Filament Extruder (6) MakeLV Filament Extruder (7)-extruder end bearing MakeLV Filament Extruder (8)-gear reduction set
Remaining work:
  • Machine coupling between extruder and gearbox
  • Clutch system between gearbox and extruder to prevent over-torquing in the event of a jam
  • Machine adapter for gearbox high speed end to allow connection to variable speed drill for testing to validate required speeds
  • Machine hole for plastic pellet inlet
  • Machine nozzle orifice – considering using removal orifice similar to jets in carburetors to aid in cleaning if required
  • Design / fabricate hopper – 3D printed in ABS?
  • When this point is reached, it would seem some basic testing could occur
  • Design / install sensor, heater and controller – Arduino based?  probably nichrome wire based similar to existing unit (for initial trials, I am thinking external heating via heat gun may allow for testing)
  • Design / machine supports for gear reduction sets for motor drive – one gear needs a support shaft added to one side of the gear (large metal gear shown in photo)
  • Design / motor supports – with the high gear reduction, planning to use stepper motor to allow adjustment of speed
  • Design / construction motor speed controller – Arduino based?
  • Probably a bunch of other items I have not thought of
Currently extruder section is short, not sure how much length is required to get necessary pressures at nozzle end.  I have other tubing available to lengthen that section if it is determined to be necessary.  The parts are designed to move around to test other arrangements.
We’re looking forward to seeing more on this amazing project. Keep up the good work, Frank!