Marek Senický has shown off his Filamaker creation at Maker Faire Rome. I asked Marek some questions about the device and its reception in Rome. He reported that people were wowed by the product and that he’s gotten a high level of interest in people wanting to buy the Filamaker.
The device is a grinder and filament extruder that turns unwanted 3D prints or plastic packaging that would be thrown away into 3D printing filament. With filament fetching prices between $13 and $48 this device will significantly reduce the costs to 3D print. People will be able to make more things more cheaply and more things will be shared and given away. More things will also be viable to 3D print with cheaper material prices. Especially if packaging waste is used the effective cost of 3D printing if you have a Filamaker is reduced to zero.
On the downside this will probably put quite a dent into some 3D printing manufacturers business model. They were hereto selling investors a “Gilette” or HP dream of high margin consumables coupled with devices, this for ABS will not be possible any longer. Could this be part of the reason why many manufacturers have switched to PLA?
Interestingly PLA is touted as a “green” material but even though it is made from plants it can not currently be recycled. As Jez Pullin reminded us at TCT, PLA has to be composted in order to degrade and this can only be done at two specialist sites. He also said that it may take hundreds of years for PLA to degrade. This means that rather than be a green and ecologically sound material it may increase landfill. Counter intuitively, with the Filamaker the oil based ABS now looks like the true greenest 3D printing material. The Filamaker greatly reduces the environmental impact of 3D printing and may even let 3D printing have a net positive impact on the environment by letting people closed loop recycle in the home.
An important thing to note is that when recycling ABS filament in the home fumes may be released and these could be harmful to your health. I would advise every home 3D printer operator to always use both their 3D printer and Filamaker under a fume hood to reduce possible adverse health effects from substances such as Hydrogen Cyanide which may be released when melting or burning ABS. More on the adverse health effects of 3D printing here.
The Filamaker is a kit that will be offered for sale for approximately 500 Euro. Marek has currently produced the first working prototype and move on to developing the kit soon.
The Filamaker currently extrudes 1 meter per minute. The dimensional tolerance of the diameter of the filament being produced is within 0.05mm. The speed and the dimensional tolerance are very good and I hope that the production device will be able to equal or exceed them. Dimensional tolerance is especially important since too much deviation in the filament diameter can cause your extruder to become clogged and this is far far far from fun. Also important is the fact that the filament has no air bubbles.
Marek is currently extruding 3mm filament and will test different sizes as well as different extrusion profiles. He asked me to “not forget this extruder can extrude any kind of profile with any kind of thermoplastic.” So many more wasted packaging products or things that would be thrown away could potentially be turned into 3D printing filament. He hopes that the final machine gets a “stronger motor that can extrude at more than 2 meter per minute at 3 mm diameter” and wants to make the Filamaker Arduino powered. Marek wants to start crowdfunding soon on Indiegogo so he can manufacture the final device for 3D printer users the world over.
I love this development and applaud Marek’s hard work in making this device in his spare time. Can’t wait to see what this does for 3D printing! See the Filamaker in action below.
I’ve written previously about filament recyclers here.
Filamaker is on Facebook. There are lots of pictures including some of Marek making machines in Kenya.