Making my own filament at home was a very interesting project. I can assist you in creating your own filament at home with few investments, tools, and low technical knowledge. So many waste filaments can be used to make new filaments using this method. So I hope this will be a really interesting project for you. So let’s see how to make your own filament at home step by step.
Make own filament at home is a recycling process of waste filaments. First, you need to crush the waste parts into 5mm and then dry it. Mixed it with 30% PLA pellets to get more quality filaments. Then heat up with Filastruder and roll the extrusion using the Filawinder. Both these will cost about $570 and it will take 4 days.
Before you start the process you will need fresh PLA and used PLA as the row material and heater (can be purchase). So you can create a new PLA filament with color as with the same properties that we buy in the market. So let’s keep read on!
Step 01- Wastage Separation and Crushing
I use this as a solution to my filaments’ wastage. Here I used PLA. You can try it for other materials also. So first, I separated all PLA filaments with others such as ABS, PP, etc. As seen, I was not able to separate this. In the beginning, I had a plan for the recycling process and made my own filament. In this context, I got used to putting my waste with classification on its materials. So I could collect a few kilos of PLA waste since 2019.
If I mixed PLA with other materials, the final material will be a composite material and its properties will be different. Due to the different melting points, it will not melt properly, and some solid parts can be included in the final output. So make sure the waste is really consist with only PLA.
After the wastage separation, I could crush it for 5 mm small parts. I could use a blender for it. Some parts were too much crushed, and that was not a problem. I could use a paper shredder for the plane material. After the blending is over, I sieved 5mm sieve size to make sure all particles are the same size because the heater needs 5 mm particles for the heating process. Then I dried it at about 60 °C for about 6 hours. In order to make sure no water or moisture in the mixture.
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Step 02 – Set up the Filament Making Maching
The heater is essential for the healing process for wastage. When we need to heat, it should be constant. Else extruding filaments will not be uniform. Some solid filaments can be included in the result. So I purchase the heater from the “filastruder.” That was an awesome product. I could use it for my future usage.
Not only PLA, but also we can recycle ABS, Polycarbonate, Nylon, PET, Acrylic, and Polypropylene. It will cost about 299$. That is really worth the investing money.
It can extrude 5-8 hours per kilogram (2.2lbs) (10-36in/min, depending on diameter, material, and temperature). Room temperature to 260 °C
More than extruder, I needed filawinder to collect the filaments as a roll. It cost me $170. So it is a great equipment to collect the filaments without any bending or necking. It can maintain the proper tension to the filaments.
There is a closed-loop control with the sensor. It detects the position of the filament and adjusts the speed of the winder, so it is never too fast or too slow.
No matter how much the spool fills up or the speed of extrusion changes, the winder keeps the filament on a steady path.
For both filalustruder and filawinder wost me totally $570 that is very reasonable for me. The whole setup was fixed vertically. That was really essential for the filament diameter. If the extruded section is horizontal, the cross-section diameter can be quickly changed due to the high temperature. So please both vertically in order to have the proper diameter of the filament.
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Step 03 – Clean the Extrusion (calibrate)
This is essential before you start with waste material recycling. I tried with different temperatures with PLA Pallets, in order to fix all settings (temperature, filament diameter, winding speed.
PLA pellets cost about $10 for 1 Kg. Remember, do not use the pellets as soon as you purchase them. You have to keep 60 °C in 4 hours t for the drying process.
Make sure the extruder output the correct diameter filaments and whether it is properly winding the roller.
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Step 04 – Produce of New Filament
Now we are moving to an interesting part. Already we have designed the heating unit, winding unit of the filament. But how to use the waste material in order to get the high-quality filaments.
I already have the 5 mm sieved waste filaments. And then I mixed those with the PLA pellets. PLA pallets melted at 170 – 190°C. It will provide a clean and uniform filament in the extrusion process.
I could observe in my first test some particles did not melt properly and some no melting solid parts are included in the filament. Due to this, the cross-section also varied highly with the grainy texture. So I realized the heater temperature is not enough for the process. Then I increased the temperature to 185 °C. That was really a mistake for me. The extruder was high semi-solid, and it took much time to solid.
So extrusion process took much time to solid. Considering the facts I reduce the temperature to 176 °C, which was amazing and uniform extrusion.
But I could notice the prepared (waste) PLAs do not provide gentle soft extrusion. It has much hard and more color. So I decided to add the PLA pellets about 35% to the waste materials. So finally I could have the soft and real-looking filament. That was really high quality for the printing process.
Using PLA pellets can reduce all cons of the PLA to be recycled.
The color of the filament was not really uniform as the shop filament. It was a combination of all colors that we mixed. But it provides nice and perfect 3D printing models.
Step 05 – Check the Properties
New PLA filaments are the same as the PLA that we use regularly. Normally PLA has 180 – 230 °C. But recycled PLA is a bit varied due to the nonuniformness of the material. But it is really good for use. There is no problem. You just need to adjust the extruder temperature according to the proper layer thickness. But sometimes it can be varied. So pay attention always when you print with the recycled PLA at home.
Regarding the other properties, I could find the ultimate tensile strength, elongation, and young modules of the PLA, and its recycling steps.
|Elongation (%)||Young modulus (MPa)|
|PLA Recycled once||51||1.88||3093 ± 194|
|PLA recycled 5 times||48.8||1.68||3491 ± 98|
According to this, you can realize there is no much difference in the Regular PLA, Once recycled PLA and 5 times recycled PLA.
Step 06 – Using a Machine
After you follow the above steps you may think, that is a very hard process, there are extruders that can convert waste filaments into useful filaments in high efficiency. Those are designed as a combined machine and you just need to enter the waste material only. According to the necessity, you can combine the pellets to have proper properties to the filament.
You can use FilaMaker, Filabot, FelFil Evo Filament Extruder, 3devo, and Recyclebot, Those can be used in a wide range. because there is a wide range of temperature increment, different nozzle sizes, more output rate, separate heating systems,