3D printing is taking off as an attractive technology for engineering, prototyping and other commercial uses, and demand for the plastic rod or filament that feeds the printers has never been greater. Yet, the extrusion lines producing filament today tend not to be as efficient as they could be and there is room for quality improvement as well. Taking advantage of experience in the production of high-precision profiles and tubing, including heart and brain catheters, Conair extrusion experts recently assembled a demonstration line to show how using the latest equipment and a complete systems approach can result in significant improvement over the current state of the art.
As 3D printing technology advances and as high-end printing equipment becomes more sophisticated, tight filament tolerances are becoming ever more critical. If the diameter is oversized, or ovality (roundness) varies, filament can misfeed or even jam in the feeder. If it is undersized, the feeder rolls may slip and the flow of polymer to the printer nozzle may be inconsistent. Most printers are calibrated volumetrically; that is, the amount of material delivered through the nozzle is assumed to be a function of the filament diameter, along with the speed at which it is being fed.