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I"m considering making my own filament, with a device like the one at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:380987. Partly because it's another machine to build, which is cool, but also to save money on filament.

Has anyone here tried to make their own filament? My main questions are:

  • Is the quality comparable to typical off-the-shelf filaments? Put another way, with reasonable tuning can one produce filament that's good enough to use without a lot of frustration?

  • Does it require a lot of attention to tuning, monitoring, or other details (which make it less worthwhile / more time-consuming)? Warning of pitfalls to avoid is also welcome.

  • Are there useful things one can do this way, that are hard to achieve with off-the-shelf filaments? For example, unusual materials; better control of diameter, density, etc; or mixing one's own colors?

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  1. Quality depends on 3 things:

    1. Quality of pellets (purity, fillers, color)

    2. Where/how they are stored before and during the extrusion (humidity, contaminants)

    3. Have a filter in your extruder to get rid of random junk and air bubbles ending up in your filament (250 micron wire mesh filter)

There's no secret formula the filament producing companies have, they just have very efficient and very fast filament producing machines (of course very expensive, too). But when it comes to vanilla ABS or PLA, it's almost the same content.

  1. Personal experience: no. If you get the same pellets, store it in the same place and run your extruder in the same place, it should behave the same.

  2. I don't think there is some filament mixture you won't be able to find anywhere, but you might be able to make it yourself cheaper. Example: mixing strontium aluminate powder for glow in the dark filament (come in many colors, not just green).

I'd recommend this design: http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-your-own-3d-printing-filament-factory-Filame/ It produces filament pretty fast (one full 1kg spoon in 3-4 hours). Just make sure you have enough experience to not electrocute yourself while assembling this as the heaters use mains power.

I personally think the commercial "hobby" extruders are not worth the money. I also own the Filastruder and it's just no different and slower than the above, unless you care about a pretty plywood case for your extruder I see no advantage and since it uses off-the-shelf parts itself why bother buying a kit like that than sourcing the parts yourself?

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You can basically use any machine that pulverizes your pellets into small pieces.

One guy on 3dhubs, explained it in details.

My conclusion is that you can recycle everything using this data gathered from research up in link there.

Also, you can use any plastic material and pulverize it into pellets (even from the bottles) and you can try to do this process. Only thing that matters is quality of product.

I was thinking about pellets from vinyl records. I bought one big collection before one year, and there was around 500-600 records that are completley useless. So, you can pulverize them and repeat the process, because process of making vinyl records and process of making bottles is completley different, and uses different kind of plastics.

So to draw a conslusion: everything depends on quality of pellets.

And to answer on your three questions:

Is the quality comparable to typical off-the-shelf filaments? Put
another way, with reasonable tuning can one produce filament that's
good enough to use without a lot of frustration?

No, it isn't Your filament would be lower quality if you don't get a great pellets.

Does it require a lot of attention to tuning, monitoring, or other details (which make it less worthwhile / more time-consuming)? Warning of pitfalls to avoid is also welcome.

Yes it does. Check the link up there.

Are there useful things one can do this way, that are hard to achieve with off-the-shelf filaments? For example, unusual materials; better control of diameter, density, etc; or mixing one's own colors?

Again, it all depends on type of filament you like to use. I wrote about plastic filaments.

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  • $\begingroup$ Vinyl records might be a good source for PVC, but the question is: is it a good filament? $\endgroup$ – Trish Apr 11 at 11:46
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Producing own filament is a challenging task. I see main pitfall in producing filament so it has same quality as you get in shop. You have to:

  • constant round-shape diameter
  • diameter tolerance ±0.05 mm
  • avoid bubbles and other defects
  • avoid object in filament (depends on pellets quality)
  • store pellets properly (high humidity is a problem)

Additionally you have to deal with spooling, because it affects the diameter too (if you roll filament too fast then you reduce its diameter).

It takes a lot of time and frustration to develop such a machine. If you would like to produce own filament, consider buying a filament machine:

If you would like to use different material then ABS/PLA then take a look on Strooder documentation - they confirm usage of PP, PET, HDPE, HIPS, PE, even wood filament.

Is it not better option to print directly from pellets? Take a look on Universal Pellet Extruder for RepRap (model).

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