3D printing has such a wide range of applications, and it's certainly becoming more accessible, but there's one thing it has in common with its inkjet sibling: print material ain't exactly cheap. So wouldn't it be great if you could make your own?
There are solutions out there for the home use, but they are few and far between, like Reprap's instructions for building your own, or the Filabot, which costs at least $649 for an assemble-your-own kit. Enter Strooder -- a much more affordable option.
Created by a team in the UK called OmniDynamics, the Strooder is able to convert cheap plastic pellets into PLA and ABS filament for your 3D printer. In fact, the team is working on support for other kinds of household plastics -- meaning that you could even melt down, say, plastic bottles. As the device currently stands, you could use it to recycle your failed print jobs (so long as you cut it into chunks that can fit into the feed hole).
It works in a very simple fashion. Plastic pieces are poured into the hopper, which has a capacity of about a litre. The hopper feeds the plastic into the machine. Inside, a heating element will melt the plastic, and a simple screw conveyer mechanism smooths it out into an even filament, which is extruded from the machine in one of three different thickness gauges, where it cools and hardens.
The potential benefits are fantastic. You can mix pellets for your own custom colours, and even mix various types of plastic for different degrees of hardness. And, to take the hard work out of chopping up your own plastic, the team is also working on a grinder that you could simply pop your pieces into on one end and get pellets out the other.
And the team has worked hard to make sure anyone can use it.
"The overall aim for Strooder was to create a high performing product, that also has a design which fits in a multitude of environments, ranging from workshops, to home offices, and even schools. A key difference of Strooder in comparison to other filament extruders, apart from its stunning looks, is its user friendliness," OmniDynamics wrote.
"Strooder has a 2.4-inch colour touch display preloaded with all the relevant extrusion settings for ABS and PLA plastic. This enables even the most novice of users to extrude to their hearts content! For the more experienced user, all of these preloaded settings can be edited, and there is also a manual setting for extruding with non-preloaded materials."
At the moment, the Strooder is being offered as a reward for a minimum pledge of £199 (approximately $333) on Kickstarter, but check it out quickly -- it's selling fast.