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From Pellets to Spools

Make Your Own Low-Cost Filament Extruder

Picture of Anatol Locker
by Anatol Locker
Nov 24, 2017

Instructables member Ian McMill shows how to make a filament extruder for less than $150.

Despite the cost of acquiring a 3D printer having dropped dramatically over the years, device owners will soon realize that 3D printing filament – the thermoplastic feedstock for fused deposition modeling 3D printers – can be rather expensive and adds considerably to any DIYer’s total expense.

For example, PolyLactic Acid (PLA), which is the go-to 3D filament for most printers, costs around $40+ per kilogram. Materials such as Carbonyte which offers superior strength start at $100 per half a kilogram.

That is why inventors such as Hugh Lyman have previously set out to develop machines which can turn inexpensive plastic pellets into filament. The Lyman Filament Extruder is a home-built machine by the retired engineering enthusiast which upon the flip of a switch turns on a heater that melts the plastic pellets and then presses them into filament.

DIY Filament Extruder Can Cut Makers Cut Significantly

Lyman told Time Magazine in 2013: “After I retired in 1996, I started doing some inventing. I designed a few products, and I had them made on a 3D printer […] and then I forgot about it.”

However, Lyman returned to 3D printing a few years later and began to build his own. “Every time I buy a couple of pounds of filament, it costs me forty to fifty bucks,” he added. “I was burning through it pretty fast.”

Making your own filament has a dramatic effect on costs, setting designers back just $10. Per minute, you can expect a 4 to 5 meters of filament.

Although the plans for the Lyman Filament Extruder have been download thousands of times, Instructables.com has just revealed an even cheaper way to build a filament extruder – courtesy of forum user Ian McMill.

But beware: It’s not exactly a kit you are assembling. You have to be an experienced maker and have access to many tools if you want to build your own filament extruder system.

It costs just $130 to $150 to make the Low-Cost Filament Extruder and takes around one hour to make one kilogram of filament with the extruder. Check out these instructions.

(Source: Instructables)

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