Extruder Head

March 16th, 2008 Comments Off on Extruder Head

I spent quite a bit of time the last couple of weeks working on a feeder and heater for the extruder. I figured this was going to be the hardest part of the build; and was right so far.

My first attempts at feeding the filament were with a screw. It turns out that the filament is too slippery to grip with any certainty. This may work for granules, but for filament I think I need something else. One design I’ve seen for commercial extruders uses a feed roller. From sdp-si.com, I ordered a feed and grooved idler. Hopefully the urethane roller will engage the plastic better than the feed screw.

I’ve been experimenting with various methods of heating the extruder head to melting temperatures. While I managed to not catch the house on fire or electrocute myself, I failed to achieve a decent heater.

Electric Gold-mine was offering a “NASA heating element” on sale. It has micro-coiled nichrome wire in an electrically insulated package. In the process of determining what this device actually was, I found Clayborn Labs – a company that makes heater tubes and tapes. The configuration of the heater tube is perfect for the extrusion barrel. I’ll be working to finalize specifications this week and will be ordering a 1 off prototype along with a thermostat – both together are actually less expensive than what I’ve spent so far on the extruder barrel!

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