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Multiple-jet air cooling extrudes filaments that achieve higher impact resistance and tighter tolerances in 3D-printed parts than conventional materials.

Norbert Sparrow

February 27, 2017

2 Min Read
Extrusion technology eliminates water cooling; ups game for production of 3D-printing filaments

Dissatisfied with the performance of 3D-printing filaments available on the market, a supplier of engineering filaments for 3D printing has developed an extrusion system that eliminates problems such as breaking and bubbling and better meets roundness and tolerance requirements in parts.

Beginning with the initial observation that moisture degrades the performance of PLA and adversely affects a number of other polymers and engineering plastics, Jan-Peter and Jasper Wille, the father and son team that founded 3D4Makers (Haarlem, Netherlands), set out to design an extrusion process in which the filament does not come into contact with water during the cooling process. (In standard extrusion equipment, the filament travels through a water bath as it is extruded.) They thought it would be relatively easy to build, notes a blog post on the company website. That was overly optimistic, but two years later, the system is now operational.

The extruder developed by 3D4Makers uses a multiple-jet air system to precisely manage water-free cooling of the filament. As a result, the company claims that parts printed with its filaments feature higher impact resistance and achieve tighter tolerances in ovality and inner and outer diameter than those made with conventional materials. The company can also produce 3D-printing filaments without plasticizers or other additives, many of which are approved for food-contact applications and are biocompatible or biodegradable.

The technology has found initial acceptance in research institutes, where the filaments are used for “emerging research in bioprinting,” reports the blog post. “PLLA and PCL filaments are being used for things such as scaffolds for biofabrication in making things such as skin and organs,” and Jasper is enthused that “our startup serves dozens of universities and research institutions worldwide with high-temperature materials such as PEEK,” adding that “few companies of any size have managed to make PEEK filament this successfully.”

In addition to PEEK, the company offers PEI, PPSU, 100% pure PLLA (primarily for bioprinting applications) and ASA. 3D4Makers also claims to be the first in the world to have developed polycaprolactone (PCL) filament in 99% and 100% pure formulations. That material is used mostly in medical research and is suited for making custom braces, grips and prosthetic devices.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.


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