The Multistruder will turn plastic into filament for your 3D printer.
For most Makers, having to continually purchase 3D printing filament can be quite the expense. But what if, instead of having to purchase spools of PLA and ABS and wait for them to arrive, you could turn raw materials into 3D-printable filament right at home? This is the idea behind one San Jose-based startup’s open source and expandable fabrication tool called the Multistruder.
Developed by The Green Engineers, Multistruder is a plastic extruder that transforms either virgin resin pellets or recycled scrap plastic into different shapes that can be used in your 3D printer.
With a little research, creator Steven Mosbrucker discovered that making your own 3D-printable materials from pellets is around 2.2 to 4.3 times less expensive than buying readymade filament. The greater quantities of pellets you buy, the cheaper it gets as well. Not to mention, using scrap plastic such as plastic bottles is totally free!
The Multistruder itself is made entirely out of rigid pipe, and sits upright to optimize space. It comes with a stand that can be mounted to a desk or hung from a wall, depending on a Maker’s preference.
In terms of hardware, the device is based on Arduino Uno (ATmega328) that provides its accuracy and expandability. With an Arduino for its brain, the unit is incredibly user-friendly and can be easily controlled via a TFT color touchscreen. Beyond that, the Multistruder’s drive motor control precisely handles the extrusion speed, capable of achieving speeds up to three feet per minute. Meaning, the tool can extrude a 1kg spool in less than eight hours.
Looking ahead, Mosbrucker and his team are developing an automated spooler expansion module for the Multistruder. This will automatically roll up the filament as it’s extruded onto a standard spool.
“The module will use motors controlled by the Multistruder Arduino board. The speed will be (manually) set to hold constant tension onto the filament to get more consistent filament diameter thus better performance,” Mosbrucker adds.
An additional dimension control module will enable the Multistruder to even detect the diameter of the filament and automatically set the speed of the spooler motor to hold the tension for optimal results.
As its creators explain, “Instead of having a PID controller (which the prototype uses and a lot of other filament makers use) and buying a microcontroller for everything else, why not just have a Arduino do all of it?”
Are you looking to save money and cut out the middleman in the filament supply chain? Then head over to Multistruder’s Kickstarter campaign, where The Green Engineers team is currently seeking $6,000.