Hey dudes(ettes)!

Ive just recently started my 3D hub in the Tokyo area and Im wondering about filament machines?

Do any of you use it or have a need for such a machine?

I ask because Ive been working on a design for a few year that I think kicks ass, but that’s just me. Maybe someone / no one out there needs or uses such a device. Eitherway, Id like to hear your thoughts on the matter.


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Yes, I would like a filament machine, that is priced in the 200$ range.

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Hi Perry,

200$ is not really gonna give you a good reliable product Im afraid. The machine Ive designed is costing me almost 400$ in parts and that before assembly.

At the moment Im thinking about maybe doing a Kickstarter or something to see if theres interest, but yeah, 200 isn’t gonna buy you much. Thanks for the opinion though!

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Hi @alwynhartman I think most of us like the idea of producing our own filament but the practice is perhaps a lot different. We all know that high quality filament is key to high quality prints and it’s hard to imagine how I personally - on a small scale - could produce anything of sufficient quality to use for client prints. I could I suppose, produce reels used purely for tests or low quality demos, but then I might clog the end or find it fails all the time anyway and… well, I just can’t see the value against being supplied with top-quality reels from my preferred supplier.

I’ll admit, it’s frustrating to look at the accumulated failed prints and think there’s nothing I can do with them, but I think I’d need to be a lot bigger to make recycling in-house worthwhile…

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My point on the price, and yes, perhaps $200 is low, is a return on investment.

An ROI on a $800 filament machine- I am just not sure it is there.

I think, and my math may be off, just doing it in my head, including time, I need to make 90 lbs of filament to pay for the machine.

On Amazon, there are some filament extruders for about $450, that I am not familiar with, so then I get down to about 50 lbs.

That is a lot of material before I pay back the investment.

And this is assuming that I can actually produce high quality, repetitive results.

So I wasn’t being flippant. If someone put one together for a low enough price, I would do it for a hobby. But business wise, not sure it makes sense.

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Thanks for the opinion Cobnut!

I understand your concern about the quality of the recycled filament and yes, it seems to be a bit of an issue. Even with just +/-0.1mm variance, the surface quality does indeed suffer. Minus one point I suppose, but Ive been able to hold tolerances of up to +/- 0.02 with my machine. Not super easy but not super hard either.

The fear of having a clogged nozzle however does not seem to manifest itself in practice as much. I have produced and printed out maybe close to 30kg’s of plastic and not once have I had a clogged nozzle. I will admit though, its a controlled environment, semi-lab conditions and as the designer of the machine, Im very careful with what I put in the hopper. Your produced filament will only be as clean as the feedstock.

I know what you mean about the mountain of fails sitting in a box over there, I have one too and that exactly why I started out with this whole project.

Keep up the good work!

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Yeah, 200 is gonna be super tough. The first version was targeted at $150 actually but it turned out to be impossible for what’s required to make good filament.

The ROI Ive calculated for my design (Im happy to share the calc details if you want) factors the price of; electricity consumption, Polymer pellets and production rate per hour, against the initial cost of the machine and the average cost of OTC filament.

So, if youre used to buying expensive filament, the machine can pay for itself quicker. If youre always shooting for the cheapest ever, then it will take longer. The average is around 16 ~ 18kg’s produced to realise a saving if youre used to buying at $40 ~ $50 per kilo retail.

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Hi @alwynhartman I’m probably not a good example, I simply don’t do the volume to make it worthwhile and especially not the volume in a single material to produce the raw stock. Someone else asked a while back (I think) about creating a recycling centre locally and that might work, but I think you’d still end up with Black ABS (for example) from 10 different suppliers and the risk of there being some PLA in there by mistake.

It’s absolutely a lovely idea - I hate the waste, but for me the only practical recycling machine would be something that worked with just a handful of failed models and spat out a few metres of filament at a time and I’m not sure that’s economically viable.

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Thanks anyway Cobnut.

In my opinion any community recycle project will only succeed if the people running it are diligent and careful with separating materials that come in the door. The fact that you are dealing with plastic from unknown sources adds an additional layer of complexity where the chopped mass will have to be washed before production.

The fear about PLA getting in with the ABS is not really that much of an issue if it remains under about 15% in the dry mass. Ive tested blends up to 50/50 and theres no degradation in print quality but the ability to do acetone smoothing falls off after about 20% PLA concentration. The recyclability drops quickly after 15% since the PLA breaks down super fast with every melt cycle. Funny enough, the parts don’t really suffer that much but the filament can’t hold as tight a radius during feeding and breaks easily.

I might be ranting here but its interesting to note that ABS breaks down far slower. Ive succeeded in recycling the same mass of ABS up to 50 times (I stopped testing after this) and it held up just fine on the spool and as a printed part. If I were to guess, Id say theres a 5% reduction of strength after the fist 10 ~ 15 cycles and a total loss of about 8~10% strength after 30 cycles. After that, it seems to just stay the same, I don’t know what happens later in the 70 cycle range but by 50 the filament is a dark grey colour.