Some of our blog readers are owner of workshops, small maker-teams and small businesses who want to start to produce their own filaments in a professional manner. Small teams can do fast decisions but they lack of manpower and thus the possibility that they need to learn something new from scratch will be unequally higher and therefore buying, running and maintain an extruder can be then a complicated and expensive enterprise. The project of our Open Source Extruder Portia tries to make these processes faster, easier and cheaper and should make you able to understand on how to build, maintain, program and control our open source extruder.
About the structure of this tutorial
I will split up probably the whole topic over a dozen of posts, similar like i did it with the “Extrusion Basics” series. The reason is the amount of information. It would literally bloat a single post to a kind of 80-pages-manual and right now I do not have the ambition to write it at once 😉 but I want to release new content as fast as possible. Likewise I do not have a fixed structure of this tutorial in mind. The amount of information on this topic looks in my mind like a kind of unsorted book rack and I just decided to clean up… so I just start somewhere and i just do it.
but I guess after the complete tutorial has been published I will probably edit and restructure it. Now that we received our motivational speech from Shia LaBeouf: Let’s start the tutorial! 😉
This overview is a simple enumeration of the basic parts and in later releases of this tutorial I will go into the details.
What are the basic parts of a professional extruder?
- Extruder Screw
- Extruder Barrel
- Gear Box
- Electric Cabinet
- Variable Frequency Drive
If you would try now to assemble this parts then you will quickly notice that you’ll still need more parts such as:
- Shaft coupling
- Custom-made Die or Nozzle
- Screws and nuts (from 8.8 to 12.9)
- A rack
- Control devices for the heaters
If I haven’t forgotten anything in that list then you could probably assemble now your extruder. What? So fast? …No! Now comes the “but” which makes it all complicated…. building such a machine for a commercial purpose needs to consider various aspects such as:
- laws & regulations
- safety concerns
- usability aspects
- reliability aspects
And on top of that: some of the listed aspects differ from country to country.
Considering the very basic safety concerns we additonally need the following parts:
- melt pressure transducer and controller
- rupture disc
- (motor) circuit breakers
- Wires with the right wire cross-section:
- shielded cables in various colors (especially a shielded motor cable)
- heat-resistant wires in various colors
- Cooling fans with dust filters and the right air flow
- terminals for wires
- wire-end sleeves
Considering the basic usability aspects you will need beside some programming skills:
- Programmable logic controller (PLC)
You don’t need any more parts for the extruder to consider the basic reliability aspects. Better check and measure things twice, smooth sharp edges, seperate control wires from current-carrying wires and put them in their own wireway etc. Just keep in mind to do your work clean, accurate and maintain this discipline to simply fulfill the requirements of the basic reliability aspects! (details about it in one of the next parts of this tutorial)
The following tools/machines are mandatory:
- (electrically insulated) Screwdrivers
- hammer, mallet
- Sanding tools
- Drill press
- hole saws
- Jig saw, Band saw and/or angle grinder
- Welding tools (especially if you don’t use aluminium open beams)
The following working environment is needed:
- 400VAC Supply (depending on the scale of the machine you will need up to 32A)
- a clean shop: do not do grindings and sandings in the same room where you just built up your extruder
As you can see pretty a lot of stuff is needed to build your own professional extruder and probably for one or too it is already more expensive to built one than to buy one because they don’t have the tools for that. If that is the case then you can wait for our professional extruder kit, where most of the work is already done.
Ref.: Video: By LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner in collaboration with Central Saint Martins BA Fine Art 2015 students. csmbafa15.co.uk. Released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike licence.