3D printer extruder head for multiple plastics
Our project is to develop a new plastic extruder that can be fitted to existing 3D printers and will allow the 3D printers to print a number of types of thermoplastic beyond what is currently available. Plastics like PVC, Polypropylene, Polyethylene, Polycarbonate and more.
There are generally two types of thermoplastic that are available for filament type 3D printers, ABS and PLA plastics. These filaments are available in many colors and diameter sizes of 1.75mm & 3mm (0.070 & 0.118 inch). Currently these are pretty much the only sizes that can be used in these 3D printing machines. There are other types of thermoplastic available today that are available as an extruded filament however these have larger cross-sectional diameters of 0.125, 0.156 & 0.188 (3.18mm, 3.96mm and 4.76mm). These are sold as plastic welding rod and are typically used for joining sheets of plastic together. These larger diameter filaments come in many different types of plastic that have for the most part not been used by the 3D printing community. Many types of plastic welding rod are considerably less expensive per pound than the common printer filament of ABS and PLA. So if this material could be made to work in a plastic printer you could have a greater variety of plastics for printing and lower material cost. Our solution is to create a new extruder that can be fitted to existing 3D printers to enable these printers to use all of these different diameters of filament and handle the wider range of processing temperatures for the different thermoplastics.
See examples of some of our 3D printed parts below: