Getting started with the Filament Maker

Are you in the mood to extrude ? The following steps will take you through the whole extrusion journey, with crucial tips and warnings, so that you can use your Filament Maker to produce good quality filament of your own materials.

1. Unbox your Filament Maker

  • To keep your Filament Maker in excellent condition, we advise you to follow the unboxing steps. Following these steps will ensure that you can still use your box and packaging material, in case an un fortunate event occurs in the future.
  • View the filament maker unboxing steps

2. Activate your Filament Maker

3. Learn the basics

  • It is always good to familiarize yourself with the machine first, before jumping into more advanced experiments.
  • Learning the basics and having a better overview of the process as a whole, will get you to satisfying results a lot faster.
  • The following video will tak you through all the steps from A to Z: from a new material of your choice to good quality filament on the spool.

4. Create a spool of PLA

  • Armed with your new knowledge, how about you try and make your first spool of PLA filament with your new Filament Maker? Mastering this is fundamental and “safe” for the machine
  • Following along the video quite closely will hopefully provide you with all the information you need.

5. 🚀 Ready to start extruding custom materials?

Each of the following steps is crucial when experimenting with any new material.

✉️ If you need any assistance, please reach out to the materials@3devo.com. Our material specialists will guide you on your materials journey!

5.1 Select your custom material

Some materials are easier to extrude, print, recycle, than others : processability is key.

Material selection is, perhaps, the most important decision of the entire process. There is more to it than choosing ‘PLA’ or ‘ABS’. The question is : which grade of PLA ?

Luckily, we have a guide.

5.2 Pre-processing: Drying

  • Most polymers are hygroscopic, which means that they absorb moisture from the air. It is necessary to remove moisture from your materials before you start extruding, as moisture degrades the filament quality.
  • Drying instructions (time, temperature) can normally be found on the material’s Technical Datasheet.
  • Once moisture has been removed, most polymers can absorb it quickly again. Dry materials should either be extruded immediately, or stored in a sealed container until then.

5.3 Preparing for the extrusion test

  • The slightest mistake in the process can lead to the irreversible clogging of the Filament Maker. Having a plan of approach before even putting the material inside your extruder, is key.
  • The rest of this page describes the general approach.
  • Read as many articles as possible on our support platform, or ask our materials team at materials@3devo.com for tips and tricks on your material.

5.4 Transitioning material

  • The extrusion barrel cannot be emptied during normal use ; it is always full of material. At the start of an extrusion session, it should be full of virgin PLA or Devoclean MidTemp EZ (as explained in the purge section below).
  • Transition principle : When the Filament Maker is full of A, and you want to feed B, the parameters must be able to melt A and B at the same time.
  • Transition tip : before feeding a new material, the hopper should be 100% empty. You should be able to see the screw spinning without a single particle of the previous material. However, the hopper should not remain completely empty for more than 1-2min.
  • If the thermal windows of A and B do not overlap, it means a transition material is needed as a bridge.

Transition Material Explainer for Filament Extrusion | 3devo

  • This is especially crucial with high temperature materials such as PEEK (400°C). Transitioning from PLA (180°C) involves 2 transition materials : Devoclean MidTemp EZ (180-320°C) and Devoclean HighTemp (180-420°C)

5.5 Starting temperature

  • Do not use the presets that are included in the firmware !
  • Feeding the material at insufficient temperatures might result in unmelted particles or a complete clogging. The first step consists in melting all the material. Optimizing the filament quality will be done later on.
  • It is wiser to start with slightly excessive temperatures, then lower them, than the opposite.
  • A good starting point is often as follows :
    • 10-15% above melting temperature (semi-crystalline)
    • or 150°C above glass transition temperature (amorphous)
  • If material comes out for 5min without clogging the system, it means the research process has started successfully.

5.6 Finding the optimal settings

This process can be time-consuming (typically 4h at least), but we are here to help.

Just like with any 3D-printer, you have to find the right settings for your material before you can get started making the desired product with it. The Filament Maker is a bit more complicated since more parameters influence the outcome. Every material, every specific grade, behaves differently and needs different machine settings.

Melting the material is often easy, but it is only the first step! Only melting the material at the exact right moment will result in optimal pressure, stable flow, and nice filament.

  • Log the machine during the experiment with our new DevoVision application
    The best method to find the right settings is to experiment following this procedure:

    • Start about 10-20% (all four heaters) above the melting point of the material, or at the maximum recommended typical processing temperature.
    • 5.0RPM is a good speed by default.
    • As soon as you get a flow, add some cooling (the goal is to solidify the material enough and place it in the puller, so the sensor can start reading the thickness). Starting from the low values.
    • Wait until the puller stabilizes around the target diameter for at least 10-20min, adjust the temperatures (decrease them by 5°C), and iterate.
    • In a nutshell, you should decrease by 5°C, wait, decrease, wait,… until you find a ‘sweet spot’, where the diameter is quite consistent.
    • Adjust the RPM (usually between 3.0 and 6.0). Find what RPM gives a more stable flow.
    • During the whole experiment, feel free to adjust the fan cooling (usually between 10% and 80%).
    • The final step is the fine-tuning: start changing the temperature of each heater individually (5°C by 5°C, wait,…).
    • Keep track of all your attempts: datalogs, videos, pictures, notes. Well-documented failures can teach us a lot !
  • One more guide about the most common issue : how to improve your filament deviation

5.7 Spooling the filament

  • Spooling is an essential part because if a spool is not neat, this can cause entanglements and issues during 3D-printing of the filament. Also, if the spooling mechanism is not set right, it can influence the filament quality. If for example, the winder is set too tight, this can overstretch the filament.
  • Enter the dimensions of your spool in the machine’s settings menu (by default, the set dimensions correspond to our spools from 3devo.
  • Go to Main menu > Spooling > Start spooling ; then the spooling wizard will guide you through the manual steps.

5.8 Purging the machine

Purging is so very extremely important that we wrote a dedicated filament maker cleaning guide

6. Are you stuck ?

  • This library contains detailed, illustrated walkthroughs of our procedure applied to several materials (rPET, PEEK,…)
  • We hope that our roadmap will take you to your goal, knowing you will be facing obstacles along the way. It can be hard to connect what comes out of the nozzle to this theoretical plan.

💬 If you need our assistance, please reach out to us at materials@3devo.com or have a look at our forums.