Build your own 3d printer filament factory (Filament Extruder)

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Too long, didn't read:

Make your own 3D printer filament !
Cheap and high quality at a decent speed of 150-190 IPM ! (4-5 meters per minute)

UPDATE: Now with wiring diagram !

Long read:

3D printers are cool and they finally start to drop in price. Kickstarter campaigns like the one from QB-UP or M3D are popping up and they are finally "affordable". And with affordable I mean affordable like 200 $ and not "affordable" like 2.199$ affordable. However, once you are a proud owner of a 3D printer you will soon realize that your wallet is far from being let alone. No ! You need plastic filament of course to print those super awesome coat hooks and wheel chocks. Since the price for these filaments tend to top the actual material costs, printing before mentioned life savers is kind of expensive and could become a problem to the development of the ever growing 3D printer community

BUT FEAR NO MORE !! Some clever gents came along - Hugh Lyman with his Lyman Extruder may be mentioned here or the guys over at - and saved the day ! YAY. And there was much rejoicing ! They have built plastic extruders everyone can build or buy at a decent price. However if you are a fellow user the first thing that should come to your mind is "I can build this by myself...and cheaper...". Building at lower costs is the nature of DIY after all.

And much more fun than putting together a premade kit, of course.

Special greetings go out to Xabbax and his plain simple but super awesome Low Cost Filament Extruder !

So how much money do I save when making my own filament ?

Good question ! A lot !

Depending on the pellets you get you can make your filament starting at 1$/kg.

How long does it take to produce 1 kg of filament you may ask ??

Using the build I describe here...roughly 1 hour. (for 1,75mm filament using ABS/PC pellets).

So, let's say on a Saturday in your next workshop session you start at 10 AM and batten down the hatches at 5 PM you could make 4-5 kg of filament, saving between 125-150 $ leaving you with lots of filament for hundreds of thousands of eggcups and phone cases and other useless needful things.

Oh yeah what about the build cost ?

Depending on shipping and local prices, I would guess around 130-150$.

Next step: List of Materials

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Reaperjay19 days ago

OK, so I have the main pipe fitting, wood, PID/SSR/TK ordered and shipped, wiper motor incoming. Only problem parts I have now are the tap extension end tube (where the heater band attaches too) and the freaking flanges.

I can't seem to find those in my city. Any thoughts on what else I can use as substitute? Would a standard pipe (like the one for the barrel) be sufficient for the heating part?

Oh, the auger bits are darn expensive in my country...about $70 for the 16mmx460mm. Will have to get that from ebay it seems.

Perceval172 months ago

Nice one, I started to build one according to your instructions :)

have misc. stuff that fits and a wiper motor from my old car (Citroen AX, what a
luck !!), I have to order several parts (but I can't find any band
heater with the good size, volting input (110V only, no more 220V...) or
watt (too low or 300W)). I couldn't find a 12V PID, so I bought a 220V bundle (PID Rex C-100 + SSR + probe) directly connected to 220V AC, and just using a classic ATX PSU (with P4 plug, this adds two more 12V outputs available).

Alvinchua > You can get that on any plumbery/DIY store, you should stay away from "chromed" extension, prettier but much more expensive !

Hi. Sorry if this is a stupid question, but how do you go about wiring this up? I can also only find the non-12V input PID and I don't want to short something and waste my cash.


- You power your PID-controler with whatever it needs (12VDC or 110VAC or 230VAC). Check the label on that.

- You connect the control-OUT of the PID to the Control-IN of the SSR.

- You connect one of your heater-leads to mains of it is a mains-version, of to whatever powersupply it needs (Check the label on that). The other lead goes to one of the output-screw of your SSR. From the other output-screw you connect to the other mains... So basicaly you insert the SSR into one wire of the heater which is connected to its powersource.

- Now you connect the temperature-sensor to the sensor-terminal of the PID.


See for a short diagram i just made...

Thank you very, very much. Going to buy the PID, SSR and Thermocouple this weekend. Shipped from China, so should be here in a few weeks hopefully.

As note in a previous post, If you have the classic Bauhaus-Extender (Outher diameter 2.50cm), you can shop a 63/64" mica heater like those:

Orngrimm23 days ago

If you bought a PID without an solid state relay (SSR), this white block, you can buy one like these:
They should fit the bill (and are cheap with 7$ shipped) since you can steer them with 3-32V DC and control everything from 24-380V AC (Which also should work for DC up to 500+V DC for very short times and 380V DC over longer times.
Just remember: The back is made of metal so you can and should cool it with a heatsink if you are pulling more than maybe 10A...

gotanjim1 month ago

i'm affraid it's more than a cosmetic problem. The chrome is inside and out. I don't want chrome to mix with my filament and it has a threaded core. I think I need to find an acid to remove the chrome. Does anybody know wich acid would do the trick?

ianmcmill (author)  gotanjim1 month ago
Well that is un-cool because you need concentrated hydrocloric acid which reacts with the chrome to chrome-III-chloride which needs special disposal.

This results all in a big mess.

Maybe you could use a blowtorch/camp fire and burn the chrome off (well ventilated/outside). I *think* this is less "unhealthy".
I don't take any responsibility for health and/or environmental damages.

You have been warned :)

thnx for your good advice!

I managed to find a tap extender in brass in a plumbershop closer to my home you could imagine. It is however 10mm shorter than the chrome piece. It measures only 50mm in total. I'm going to give it a go anyway.

I just printed the hopper and then I only have to cut the opening for it in the tube.

ianmcmill (author)  gotanjim1 month ago

That's cool. Don't take the measurements for granted. I just took what I could get in fingers.

When cutting the opening into the tube, first tighten it as good as you can to the flange and then mark the whole where to cut. When the tube is loaded with pellets and the auger turns, tremendous forces act on the tube which might tighten it furthermore to the flange and moving the whole.

I've had to work out a different solution as the flanges in the uk are stupidly expensive. £15 ish each so i am not sure if this would work but if the barrel tightens and the opening is not in the desired orientation then maybe you could un-mount the flange from the upright, turn it until opening facing up and then re-mount it. Of course may need another solution for securing the thrust bearing bracket.

better you shop a pure brass / Bronce one. getting chrome off is more costly, problematic, more work, less save than shop a new one without chromeplating.
ianmcmill (author)  Orngrimm1 month ago
Orngrimm is right !
Orngrimm1 month ago

I am in the process of getting 15kg ABS and 8kg ABS-PC-blend. Both is new material and in pellet-form.
If someone is interested in parts of it, drop me a PM.
I paid around 3.50€ per kg.

ariporad4 months ago


Would it be possible to a modified version of this with the motor from my old drill that broke? Or not enough torque.

I just ordered a 2.2Nm-Motor. I tested with a torque-meter how much that is (As a electronics engineer, i lack the experience to know how much that is). And i have to say, 2.2Nm is quite a bit of torque. I think it will suffice for turning the aauger in the molten plastics and push it out the nozzle.
And i also think a normal drill has more than this torque! If i think how hard a cheap drill turns i am SURE it has >4Nm in the end-part.

ianmcmill (author)  Orngrimm1 month ago
This IS quite a force. Nice find. Be sure to post your experiences. I am really looking forward to.
Orngrimm1 month ago
slowly getting my stuff together... ordered today a nice new motor for 38$ shipped from hongkong. 0.6-100 rpm at around 2.2Nm.

now i only have to find a good solution for the breaker.
also in want to control the speed of the motor with a simple pwm and an Arduino + motor controller. this way into really can calibrate the motor...

also started placing some requests for pellets...

Because i got questions about it: This is the one i shopped and wait for:

22kgc around 220Ncm (is we assume g = 10 and not 9.81...) = 2.2Nm

gotanjim1 month ago

Hi, I have bought an tap extender but it is chrome plated. I bought it in the bathroom section of the local hardware store. Can I use this or will the chrome not be able withstand the high temperatures?

ianmcmill (author)  gotanjim1 month ago

The chrome will blister but that is no problem. You could belt-sand it but this is just cosmetic.

Orngrimm1 month ago

I have a question: What speed is your wiper-motor in the END. I mean after the gears... --> With what RPM does the auger turn?

I found some interesting alternatives maybe...

ianmcmill (author)  Orngrimm1 month ago

Sorry I can only guess and say maybe around 30-40 rpm roughly estimated.

ariporad1 month ago


I have 2 questions:

1. I have not been able to find anything called a "Water Tap Extension" here in the US, do you know what else I should look for that is the same / will do the same thing?

2. I am trying to save some money, and use a drill instead of a windshield wiper motor, do you have any suggestions for making this work? I plan to just use a rubber band or something 3D printed to hold the trigger down.



tesla man1 month ago

Great Instructable! Do you have any specific place where you buy your pellets?

lbeira2 months ago
Hey, how long is the barrel and the auger bit? And what tolerance did you leave between auger bit and the barrel? Thanks for your help
japhillips872 months ago

what size thrust bearing is needed? I see several sizes

alvinchua2 months ago

Hi, I can't find a water tap extension, can you suggest other substitute ?

Can I use copper (fitting) bushing 1/2" and instead of cap I will use plug ?


Orngrimm2 months ago

Just a heads up for those shopping for the mica heaters:

If you have the classic Bauhaus-Tap-extender with 25mm outher diameter, you will sometimes find it hard to get your hands on 25mm inner diameter mica-heater.
Let it be known that 63/64" inner diameter also works and are commonly available in shops from Hongkong.

Also wrapable (often in fiberglass) heating bands or heating strips can be used.

You are a lifesaver .. many thanks.

kurgelak3 months ago

have you the 2mm hole drilled through or so that the plastic does not come out?

ianmcmill (author)  kurgelak3 months ago
Ah okay now I understand... Took me some time to figure out what you were talking about. If you mean the hole for the thermocouple, this is not drilled all the way through. Just 2-3 mm into the surface. Is this what you mean ?

Yes that´s what i mean. Another question about the wiring, i made it according to your wiring diagram, but the heating band does not heat. could you make pictrues of your heating band and ssr and put it in the comment? I have this pid bought &psc=1 I did as you wrote it changed ctrl on 2 and 190° for ABS it blinks AT and 190. The out led lights.
Can you help me pls?

kurgelak kurgelak3 months ago

has be done, have plus and minus exchanged. on your wiring diagram is plus and minus exchanged, so it didn't work for me.

mykiscool3 months ago

Hey guys, what do you think about grinding up some graphite (old pencils?) or some carbon of some type and mixing it in with the plastic to make a carbon fiber sort of mixture.

ianmcmill (author)  mykiscool3 months ago
Absolutely doable. Did you check out proto-pasta ? The stuff sells for 80$ a kg.
The only thing you have to do is get the right ratio. 15% would be a good start.
Ok cool. Thanks for giving me a suggestion to start off with!
totalstranger3 months ago

Hi there,

I have bought most of the components for this great extruder but I don't know where to get the pipe for the barrel. I am in the UK. can anyone help?

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