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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Anyone tried PLA with this?

drewk253275 days ago

Does this really make high quality filament that works well?

NRG4UandMe5 days ago

hi, i had started building a much simpler one, the plunger type (vertical ), which of course i think the pricey thing (thing u cant easily make) is the auger , those arent typical, a heater , i scrapped from an old 'george foreman' grille that was being tossed, it was a pain to get the electric elements out of the aluminum clamping - it has a built in on and off thermotransducer for 350 .. so no expensive electronics but then again u cant tweak heat much ... i suspect the plunger type is a lot less consistent as u are pushing the piston downinstead of having a smooth laminar flow from a motor control ...

pspuria13 days ago

what kind of insulation?

fred_dot_u16 days ago

I'm collecting the parts to build this project. I've run into a snag, perhaps related to US vs German measurements. The 3/4" plumbing pipe going to create a very loose fit for a 16mm auger, but the nearest size auger will not slide into the pipe due to the seam created during the pipe manufacture. That's relatively minor, in my opinion, as I can file away the seam and get a fairly close but not tight fit for the auger.

The instructions call for a faucet extender. My discoveries thus far indicate that they are made only for 1/2" pipe. Perhaps the 3/4" US reference should be 1/2" for this instructable? That reference would also make a 16mm auger be a closer fit as well.

Is the purpose of the faucet extender to provide for a different material on which to install the heater, for better heat transfer? I've made only one trip to find an extender and the store stocks only plastic extenders! Not a good idea for this project.

wesheston21 days ago

Hi ianmcmill,

I'm working on the extruder at the moment and I'm wondering at what speed are you running the auger (in terms of rotations per minute)?

wasteinc28 days ago

hey very cool implementation.

what about your filament tolerances ? I see that the new lyman v5 gets a little bit over-engineered , but I dont know if this is needed.

according to your experience is the plastic width constant?


helbersonr1 month ago

friend goodnight excuse my English I'm from Brazil motor Wiper Motor said that you can send me a link of where he sells this engine is the same windshield of the car ?? Thank you so much

ianmcmill (author)  helbersonr1 month ago
Any front wiper mitor will do. The specifications don't differ much in different models. 12 V and a lot of power is wgat you want.
EmrahG1 month ago

Hi again, hHow and where did you fix Axial bearing ? couldn't get it.

ianmcmill (author)  EmrahG1 month ago

The auger bit has a thin square-shaft and a thicker "main diameter". The square-shaft is usually held by the drill. Just where the square-shaft meets the maindrill diameter the axial bearing pushes against it. The axial bearing just fits on the square-shaft but not on the drills main diameter. It's hard to explain.

Take a look at the picture. The top shaft is thinner than the shaft at the bottom. This is where the bearing is retained. Hope this helps.

photo-06.03.14 00:37.jpg

I think I got it, I get a similar auger bit. Thank you for the explanation.

nfragnito1 month ago
I'm assembling!!!
ianmcmill (author)  nfragnito1 month ago

So cool. Imagine this 20 years ago. Only few ppl had access to the internet. Today we are sharing our knowledge with people all over the world and explain each other stuff at no time and at nearly no cost. Without the internet such exchange of knowledge would be impossible.

_pitch1 month ago

Am I blind or is the pipe missing in the BOM

ianmcmill (author)  _pitch1 month ago

I guess this one ?!

1x Fitting 3/4" US Inch UNC --- 1/2" German Inch - 18cm long

nfragnito1 month ago
Hay!!! and thanks for your great instruct!!!
What you thing if I use different fitter, also of different size and material, screwed toghter to reach the 18 cm length?
Thank's a lot!!! again
ianmcmill (author)  nfragnito1 month ago

The 18 cm are not carved into stone. It was just an educated guess at the time of building. I thought like yeah this looks nice.

The size you want to use may also differ to your likings. If you get a thicker auger bit, go ahead and take wider pipes. I am not experienced in thermodynamics so different sizes might improve or worsen the overall performance.

Anyways if you try to combine some shorter fittings to reach the 18 cm I don't know how the resulting spaces affect the preasure inside the pipe. E.g. the solid pellets might clog maybe. I don't know.

alcurb8 months ago


Can it recycle failed printed pieces? Say I put the failed piece into a grinder and feed the grounds to the extruder.

Also, can it recycle other plastics: water bottles, zip bags, etc?

ianmcmill (author)  alcurb8 months ago

Recycling plastics like bottles, packages etc is possible. Just use the same sort of plastic. Color doesn't matter.

Failed prints might be possible but I don't know about the outcome because they where heated before and re-heating plastics might change their properties.

But other plastics like printer or scanner housings or even refrigerator doors work perfect. You just need to know which kind of plastic it is. Polycarbonate needs a higher temperature then ABS and PP needs lower temperatures. And the plastics should be clean and dry.

i have dissasembled quite a few printers mostly HP because they are common. I found out that all the outside parts have a 1mm fire protective coat on them. Acetone removes it but it's very messy. I simply threw away all this plastic. The inside parts could be usable but very few of them are pure ABS. Most of them are mixed with other plastics so you end up with for ex. 80%ABS + 20%PP or HDPE. Mostly the black parts inside are pure ABS but you'll need alot of printers to get enough pure ABS out of it. The inside of refrigirators should be pure ABS and would be your best bet on getting large quantity pure ABS.

Vladimir KJ1 month ago


Thank you for your great guide. I will start assemblying things shortly.

I do have a short question though. If i crank it up at 270°C, how much power will it consume per hour overall?

Thanks!!!!!!!! For sharing!!!!

From what ive read plastics 1-6 can be used.will this extruder be able to make filament from all of these? Or what is the factor that will allow th extruder to be able to print with as wide a variaion of plastics as possible? Just the temperature range it has or something more? Oh amd are there parts that tend to wear and need replacing?

hi, sorry, i m not understanding step n.6. What is the "tool" at the end of the pipe ? is it the water tap extender ? in the second to last picture i watch something going out from it but i don t understand what is it. help me please. thanks a lot

yami7591 month ago

Do you know the tolerance of the filament being produced?

EmrahG1 month ago

Hello, many thanks for the instructions, any specs about wiper motor ?

FrancoD12 months ago

Hello, thanks for the building intructions.

Can you tell me the distance betweem the nozzle and the end oth the drill?

Thank you very much sorry for my english im from argentina.

ianmcmill (author)  FrancoD12 months ago

About 2cm.

Thank you vert much

mwhite222 months ago

freakin' awesome :). I don't even have a 3-D printer yet but I want to build oneof these just for fun, it looks like a really enjoyable build! I especially like the simple method you came up with for locking the nut on the shaft threads! This is actually going to help me on another build where I want to use a wiper motor and a length of all-thread in a project to remotely tilt over a very large ham radio antenna in the back of my pickup truck :). Just added this to my *to-do* list. (Which is down to only 32 items!;)

cibersocrates2 months ago


Thanks for share! You think would be feasible to inject a small mold with a machine as this design? Kind regards, Luis

Reaperjay3 months 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.

Perceval175 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:

Orngrimm3 months 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...

gotanjim4 months 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?

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