Large-scale 3D printing provider BigRep has just announced four new materials at FABTECH in Chicago. The new materials show off a range of functionalities and will further enhance the capabilities of BigRep’s Pro, Edge and Studio G2 systems. BigRep’s new materials include PLX, PET-CF, PA6/66 and BVOH. The PLX material offers a solution for users that need […]
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Moisture in 3D printing filaments has been a well-known issue in the industry for some time now. While many solutions have been introduced over the years to combat the problem of drying the materials, the equally important issue of dry storage, has been mostly overlooked. Many simply put together a DIY solution and hope for the best. While a simple container with some desiccants might be adequate for the average hobby 3D printer, the more avid and large-scale printing operations, such in professional print farms, businesses, 3D printing facilities, libraries and universities require a more robust solution to properly protect and maintain their expensive stock of filaments when not in use.
As a 3D filament store, we at Filaments.ca see the dry storage issue come up on a regular basis from customers as well as experience it firsthand in our own 3D printing operations. Open and partially used spools are regularly left out in the open to absorb moisture or stored away in poorly designed containers; ultimately resulting in low-quality 3D prints and wasted money spent on otherwise high-end, high-quality materials.
While different thermoplastic polymers have different rates of moisture absorption, most agree that regularly storing plastic filament in a true low moisture environment and away from UV is highly recommended and will significantly or even indefinitely extend the shelf-life of almost any type of 3D printing filament.
PolyDry: The perfect filament storage solution for the serious 3D printing operation!
Filaments.ca has developed PolyDry; an industrial grade, fully automatic storage solution suitable for short, medium- and long-term material storage with a massive interior capacity to store dozens of spools in various sizes (Can fit over 150 standard 1kg spools with even more capacity options to be released in the near future). The PolyDry unit is capable of continually and automatically maintaining a precise Relative Humidity level of as low as 3%! The built-in digital control panel allows the user to set the relative humidity level to anywhere between 3% and 50% as well as set a high humidity level alarm and open-door alarm.
The capability to reach and maintain such ultra-low humidity levels is crucial when it comes to storage and shelf-life of extremely hygroscopic materials such as Nylon, PVA, PEI and more. Common materials such as PLA, ABS, PET/G, TPU, ASA, PC or ANY other type filament for that matter will be perfectly preserved inside the unit and be readily available for use anytime. And since the PolyDry unit is airtight and dust free, open filament spools can simply be placed inside as-is without any type of resealable bag or container.
PolyDry storage system is the perfect companion to professional 3D printers; By having dry and clean materials always ready to use, operators spend less time on material handling and focus more on actual printing. With an increasing number of humidity protection solutions being integrated into 3D printers these days (such as the new Ultimaker Material Station for example), the benefit of adding a PolyDry unit to these “eco-systems” is increasingly evident. Taking a spool of filament from the PolyDry unit and directly placing it into the 3D printer’s filament/material station for printing (and vice versa), means the material is constantly being kept in an optimal low humidity environment, thus producing predictable and consistent 3D printing results.
The PolyDry unit is a completely maintenance free system, utilizing a large self rejuvenating drying unit with energy saving design, it is engineered to stay on for years at a time! Additional features include ESD safe steel construction, magnetically sealed lockable doors, large casters/wheels for easy maneuverability and adjustable/removable steel shelves to accommodate various spool sizes.
PolyDry is now available to order from the Filaments.ca official website.
A joint development agreement between Terrafilum and XG Sciences seeks to produce graphene-enhanced filament and coatings. Carbon fiber is a popular additive in materials to make them extra rigid and light, but graphene, which is made of carbon, is 20 times stronger than carbon fiber so it’s no wonder there are efforts to use it […]
3D printing hardware and materials manufacturer Stratasys recently unveiled a selection of high-performance, production-grade materials intended for manufacturing, aerospace, and automotive applications. The new offerings are especially tough as well as temperature and chemical resistant, making them ideal for the demanding environment of the factory floor. Jigs and Fixtures Two of the materials are for […]
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Researchers at Washington State University have developed a composite mixture of PLA and coffee ground waste that is both tough and environmentally friendly. The project aims to illuminate new applications for 3D printing as well as displaying better uses of waste materials. The addition of low-cost additives also decreases the manufacturing costs while allowing for better […]
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There are few things as refreshing as orange juice, though one contender may be this “Feel the Peel” machine that both delivers fresh-squeezed orange juice and provides a biodegradable 3D printed cup made from the discarded orange peels. Design firm Carlo Ratti Associati created the machine in collaboration with the energy company Eni to investigate […]
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There are several features that make the Fusion3 F410 stand out from other professional 3D printers but one of them is really something special: their Certified Materials List (.pdf 2019 version). The CML ensures every available material is printed with the correct settings for optimized quality and efficiency. Open Material System – Print With 3rd […]
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Spanish researchers have developed polymer blends that enhance interlayer bonding for FFF/FDM 3D prints. By mixing together TPU and ABS in various proportions, they have reportedly created new materials with “the appearance of new supramolecular interactions via hydrogen bonding“. In effect, the blends have far better interlayer bonding while displaying no loss in yield strength. […]
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Lorena James is a Sustainability Innovator within the Additive Manufacturing Industry. She is the founder of Z SPools, an award-winning Lake Erie-based startup that provides 3D solutions for invasive species. They manufacture a patent ending 3D printing filament out of zebra and quagga mussel shells – two of the most prominent invasive species in the Great Lakes. We’ve written about her great project before.
Give us a brief summary of your life experience and college experience that has gotten you to this point.
My senior year of high school I enrolled in an Entrepreneurial Studies course during which I was introduced to the world of entrepreneurship. Every month, I worked with a team of students to serve as consultants, solving issues faced by local entrepreneurs in my native Buffalo, NY. From golf ball manufacturing to urban farming, I learned a lot about the diverse experiences of entrepreneurs and the passion that guides them in their work. This inspired me to engage in my own entrepreneurial path for my senior thesis project. I was recommended by my entrepreneurial studies teacher to register for a competition called Erie Hack, a pitch competition with the goal of solving water quality and other environmental issues in cities around Lake Erie. This competition propelled me into my work with Z Spools. Through the ideation process up until the pitch day, I worked closely with mentors at my high school and the University at Buffalo. In the end, I won the high school portion of the competition and continued to work with Z Spools as I began the college career at Davidson College. Now, I continue my entrepreneurial path with the many resources available at Davidson including The Hub Entrepreneurial Center, Davidson’s Makerspace, and the Avinger Scholarship. Such work had inspired me to declare an Environmental Entrepreneurship major.
What makes you passionate about the environment?
My family has always been close to nature. I grew up tending to a lush backyard garden, fishing in the Finger Lakes, and hiking in the Niagara River Gorge. In addition, interest in my Native ancestry inspired my study under a local Iroquois medicine man. He owned a shop in my native Buffalo, NY where he sold various herbal remedies. I learned a lot about methods of natural healing and furthered my respect and appreciation for nature. So, when it came time for me to begin the ideation process for my aforementioned senior thesis project, I used inspiration from the natural world to guide me. The circular economy is a concept that is linked with sustainability as well as 3D printing.
How do you feel about the circular economy as a thought process?
Adopting circular economy as a thought process is crucial when applied to living a sustainable life. Such a way of thinking looks different for everybody. As I travel now through Asia this summer, I see that sustainable living looks different in Shanghai than it would in a city like Buffalo. But people inhabiting both of these cities can make little changes in their everyday lives to adopt a circular economy thought process and – in turn – live more sustainable. For example, think of the life cycle of a plastic bag. Such an item has many uses. While it may be initially used to hold grocery items, subsequent uses may include a shower cap or lunch bag. When applied to my work with Z Spools, I utilize such thought processes often, especially when trouble shooting my extrusion process. When an extrusion does not go as planned – maybe the extruded plastic is too thing or has air bubbles – I save the “wasted” plastic and use it for art pieces/sculptures that I create out of the malformed plastic.
What are important things to keep in mind when it comes to manufacturing and environmental sustainability?
Efficiency and life cycle are two important concepts to keep in mind when it comes to manufacturing and environmental sustainability. In terms of efficiency, I refer to the manufacturing process as a whole, but also the development portion. As this applies to manufacturing 3D printing filament, the process can be quite wasteful if one does not keep a detailed record of accurate extrusion temperatures and speeds – among other variables. If the temperature is too hot, then the filament will be too thin for use. If the extrusion speed is too fast, then the filament will be become malformed. This wastes extrusion materials but worry not. This is where life cycle comes into play. Life cycle applies to the creation, use, and post-use of a product. Even if a product has abnormalities and cannot be used for its intended purpose, the material – in this case malformed 3D printing filament – can be used for other purposes. It can be broken down and fed back through a filament extruder. Or, one could be a bit more creative and use the twisted, cracked material for art installations as I have done in the past.
What motivated you to start your startup while in college?
At Davidson, I receive a lot of mentorship and monetary support for my academic and professional endeavors. This is a time in my life where I have the support system to pursue my ambitions. Even if I fail, I have the flexibility and support to pivot without the worry of debt. In addition, it is a wonderful learning experience that enhances my studies as an Environmental Studies student. I am very humbled and grateful to be in such a position as a student at Davidson.
What does your startup do?
We manufacture a patent pending, biodegradable 3D printing filament made of invasive species found in the Great Lakes. We work specifically with zebra and quagga mussel shells, two of the most prominent invasive species in Lake Erie. We start by hand collecting zebra and quagga mussel shells off of beaches mostly in Buffalo, NY. When then process the shells so they can be used to make our filament. I am currently working with two partners (one in Akron, OH and another in Dublin, Ireland) to perfect this manufacturing process. We are also currently working to develop an educational component as to inform our customers about these invasive species and what can be done to lessen their impact on the environment. We are waiting to introduce our product to market until we receive results from our patent application.
What are your thoughts on issues and policies such as the Green New Deal?
It is possible to encourage sustainable living and environmental protection through private movements and enterprises, but their effects will be lessened without the support of public policy and government funding. Such policies are crucial for a more sustainable world. Environmental Sustainability is intrinsically linked with globalization and policy reform,
What do you wish to see in terms of political reform with the US and globally?
Applying my environmental studies to my studies in Shanghai, I believe that more policy should be formed around manufacturing practices in China as it pertains to sustainability. Improvements to manufacturing practices in China would improve many environmental problems in the country including issues of water and air quality. The US and other countries that commonly import goods manufactured or assembled in China also have an important role to play. Enterprises in countries that utilize China’s manufacturing capabilities should push for more sustainable manufacturing practices, because it is these enterprises that are creating the demand for such pollution inducing products.
Lastly, what are your goals for the next 5 years?
In the next five years, I hope to find a co-founder for Z-Spools and expand to become an invasive species consulting service. I wish to develop other methods to utilize invasive species as natural resources not just in the US but in other countries as well, starting in China.