Introduction: Build Your Own 3d Printer Filament Factory (Filament Extruder)

Picture of Build Your Own 3d Printer Filament Factory (Filament Extruder)

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

Step 1: Material List

Except for the electronics everything listed here can be bought at your local hardware store.


  • 1x Wiper Motor (Ebay EU - 15€) / 5€ from the junkyard
  • 1x Auger bit(diameter = 16mm ; length = 460mm)
  • 1x PID Temperatur Controller - DC 12V version (Ebay)
  • 1x SSR-25DA Solid State Relay 3-32V DC / 24-380V AC / 25A (Ebay)
  • 1x K-type thermocouple (Ebay - like this one; does not need to be that shop :) just an example)
    -->!!! Sometimes the PID is bundled with an SSR and an K-Type Thermocouple !!!<--

  • 1x Motor Controller 20A (Ebay)
  • 1x Power Supply 12V, 240W+ (Ebay)
  • 1x Heating band (200 Watt 25mmx30mm) (Ebay)
  • 2x Fans (80mm) 12V
  • 1x Fitting 3/4" US Inch UNC --- 1/2" German Inch - 18cm long
  • 1x Water tap extension - 3/4" UNC threads --- 1/2" German Inch - 50mm long, 27mm diameter (one core thread and one exterior thread)
  • 1x End cap 1/2"
  • 1x Faucet-mounted filter - 1/2" diameter
  • 3x Steel angle
  • 1x Axial ball thrust bearing (Ebay) - Fitting exactly onto the auger bit's shaft.
  • 2x 10mm threaded rod
  • 1x Insulation
  • PTFE tape
  • Heat resistant tape
  • 3x Rocker (previously "rocket") switches
  • 1x Wooden board 100cm x 10cm x 2cm
  • Several screws and nuts
  • 2x sockets (1 that fits on the auger bit and 1 that fits on the nuts of the motor shaft)
  • Wires (two colors)


  • Multitool (Dremel-like)
  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • Drill

Step 2: Base Plate

Picture of Base Plate

Take the wooden board and cut away two pieces each 15cm in length (~6"). They will serve as a mount for the motor and for the barrel.

Step 3: The Motor Mount

Picture of The Motor Mount

Mount the wiper motor to the motor mount and place it somewhere at the end of the base plate. See the technical drawing for an estimation.

Use the steel angles to attach it to the base plate.

The motor just has a threaded shaft. For the coupling to fit onto the motor I took a hex-nut with 13mm outer diameter and put it on the shaft. When the shaft rotates and the coupling is attached, the nut would untwist. To fix this I drilled a hole in-between the attached nut and the motor shaft and put in a 2mm steel bolt. This prevents the nut from opening. See the last picture above.

Step 4: The Barrel Mount

Picture of The Barrel Mount

Drill two holes into the other piece of wood so the flanges can be attached left and right of the board. Drill another 1/2" hole for the auger bit.

Both mounting boards need their center opening to be aligned to each other so the auger / coupling / shaft-axis can rotate freely.

Fasten the flanges with two pieces of the 10mm threaded rod. The rods must be left long enough so they can be screwed to the auger "kickback protection". 10 cm is good enough. They can be cut to size later on.

This will get clear in the next step.

Step 5: Auger Kickback Protection

Picture of Auger Kickback Protection

When the auger bit turns and hauls the pellets a lot of pressure builds up. In the worst case this could damage the worm drive inside the wiper motor. To counter that problem, we need a kickback protection. This is simply done by a sturdy steel angle and an axial ball thrust bearing.These ball bearing withstand alot of force applied to them.

It works like that: The auger pushed back due to its "backward" turning attitude. Because of its taper the auger's shaft pushes against the axial ballthrust bearing which itself pushes against the steel angle. The coupling between the auger and the motor should always have a little clearance. So that no force is applied to the motors shaft.

Now place the steel angle with the inserted rods at a distance to the barrel mount so that the auger's shaft sticks out for about 3-4cm (~1.5"-2").

The pictures should explain it as well. Moreover I have made a short video that should illustrate it as well. The dimensions of the parts might differ from the ones you have access to. So exact measurement might not help you very much, but the pictures should give you an idea how it should be put together.

Step 6: The Barrel and Auger Bit

Picture of The Barrel and Auger Bit


Smooth out the ends and the seams of the pipe so the auger bit can rotate freely.

Before cutting an opening into the pipe screw it tight onto the flange and mark the upper area and remove the barrel again.

Take your multitool and cut out the marked area at the end of the pipe where the pellets should fall in. Wind some PTFE tape around that end of the pipe. This should prevent the pipe from turning with the augers movement. Remember the motor is very powerful and if there is some friction between the auger and the pellets, the pipe easily turns another 4-5 mm even if it was fastened with a monkey wrench.

The threads on the flange and fittings are not made for perfect 90° angles. So the fitting/barrel might stand in an oblique angle. To fix this take some washers and place them under the flang where necessary.

Take a square piece of wood and drill a hole lengthways for the pipe to run through. Now drill another hole orthogonal to the "pipe channel" so that a bottle can fit tightly. Now just cut the block in half for easy dis/-assembly.


The auger might be too long so you need to cut off its tip with an angle grinder.

The auger bit should reach up to the heater. See the pictures above.

Step 7: The Auger-motor Coupling

Picture of The Auger-motor Coupling

Take a 5cm (2 inch) piece of a square steel that fits into the ends of the sockets (about 12mm edge length).
Put the coupling on the auger bit and attach the motor to the motor mount.

The coupling should now fit nicely in-between.

Alternatively you could use a spark plug socket instead of the two sockets. But therefore the distance between the motor-mount and the auger/barrel-mount needs adjustment.

I went with the above mentioned method because I did not have spark plug socket at hand but I will try this with the next build.

Step 8: The Nozzle

Picture of The Nozzle

Nozzle diameter:
Depending on the material you process the diameter of the hole in the nozzle will vary and finding the right dimension is a process of trial and error. For ABS/PC blend pellets with a melting point between 240-280°C a 1.5mm hole perfomed well from my experience.

Breaker plate:

Take the faucet-mounted filter and cut it into a 1/2" diameter if needed. This will act as a breaker plate. What this breaker plates does is mix the molten plastic and retains dirty (which should not be there of course) and eventually small bubbles that could occur in the melting process. This helps smoothing the plastic pushing through the nozzle.

Be sure there are no chippings or strands ! You don't want to ruin your printers nozzle !

Take a washer, place it inside the end cap and put the DIY breaker plate on top.

Step 9: Band Heater and Temperatur Probe (K-type Thermocouple)

Picture of Band Heater and Temperatur Probe (K-type Thermocouple)

Drill a 2mm hole near the front of the water tap extender for the thermocouple to fit in.

Strip the thermocouple wire to length. It should just be as long as needed.

Push the band heater on the tap extender. It should sit around the end of the extender.

Next take some PTFE tape and wind it around the thread of the tap extender. This prevents the molten plastic from squeezing through the thread.

Fix the thermocouple with some heat resistant tape.

Then put on the nozzle from the previous step.

Next, take a 10cm long piece of aluminium tubing with a diameter of around 1cm and place it in front of the nozzle using some rigid wire. This gives the filament a nice curl when cooling.
Thanks Xabbax for the idea.

Now wrap the insulation around the heater so that the nozzle is covered as well.

Step 10: Cooling

Picture of Cooling

The front of the nozzle and the motor needs some cooling.

The filament is still very hot and soft when it exits the nozzle. To prevent it from stretching too much from the affecting g-forces when falling down, cooling is very important. The more you cool the better you can control the diameter of the filament later on.

Although the motor builds up some heat and the fan helps to keep it cool.

Step 11: Electronics

Picture of Electronics

Now that most of the mechanical parts are set and done it is time for installing the electronics.
But before, take a piece of wood for the front enclosure and arrange the 3 rocket switches, the PID controller and the motor controller's potentiometer and fix them with some hot glue.

Main power
Connect the power cord via a rocker/t switch to the power supply (Ports L, N and Ground).

PID temperature controller
Connect the PID temperature controller via rocker switches to the power supply.

Solid State Relay & Band heater
Connect the 12V ports of Solid State Relay to the PID (Port 6 and 8)
Connect port 1 of the SSR to the 220V (EU) /120V (US) port (Port L) of the power supply.
Connect port 2 of the SSR to one of the band heater ports.
The other free port of the band heater is connected to the N port of the power supply.

What does the SSR do actually ??
The band heater is a 220V part but the PID only runs on 12V. Therefore the SSR connects the 12V PID with the 220V heater. The PID powers the SSR on and off if needed. When it is on then 220V are connected to the band heater and it gets warm. If the relay is off, the band heaters isn't connected to 220V and ergo is powered down. The idea is to control a high power device (Heater) with a low power device (PID).

Motor controller

Connect the motor controller via a rocker switch to the power supply. Then connect the motor to the motor controller. Use the pinout for the 2nd speed setting of the motor. The pinouts differ from model to model and you first have to find out which pins are for which speed setting.
The two fans are connected to the same ports as the motor is to the motor controller.

Wiring diagram
I am not sure if I am allowed to post the wiring diagrams for license reasons so I will link to the respective websites.

1) Filastruder wiring diagram

2) Filabot Wee wiring diagram (scroll down)

3) Here is a link to the Sestos PID I used.

Step 12: Extrusion Settings and Setting Up the PID

Picture of Extrusion Settings and Setting Up the PID

Different materials need different extrusion settings.

For pure ABS a temperatur of 190°C is about right.

PLA requires less heat and ABS/PC blend needs higher temperatures like 260-270°C.

The Sestos PID is able to autotune to the desired temperature.

PID controller setup:

To enable the autotune function press "SET" for 3 seconds.
You will now see "HIAL" on the display. Now use the DOWN button until you see "Ctrl" and adjust it to "2". This is the number for the autotune function. Press "SET" again until you see the temperature readout again. Just after all the EP1-8 options. Set the desired temperature using the up and down buttons and wait until the display stops flashing (~10-15 minutes).

Activate the motor and let the extruding begin. You have to play around with the speed of the motor.
From my experience setting the potentiometer to half speed @ 270°C for ABS/PC performed very well.


FadlyN made it! (author)2017-01-11

With high torq motor, can produce more filamen with less time

garett805 (author)FadlyN2018-01-12

Hi FadlyN. Thanks for sharing your design, I really like it! Where did you find a motor like that? Did you still use the same type of auger & barrel?

FadlyN (author)garett8052018-01-15

i found it on ex forklift motor ^ ^, yup im still use these design

Detail my Project

christherock23 (author)FadlyN2017-01-17

Thank you for the reply! Yeah i figured i would need something like a grinder to shred those bottles apart, and aside from saving money buying pellets i wanted to throw in a bit of green and help save the planet lol.

2937214 (author)FadlyN2017-01-16

Thanks, so will a stepper motor have enough torque?

TehseenHasan56 (author)2017-02-22

I'm making this type extruder...Thanks for the idea....But I have a big problem : auger is jamming amd motor stop rotating the auger because plastic pallets are stuck between auger and barrel feeding slot corner (As shown in image) ... How to solve this issue Please...???

FadlyN (author)TehseenHasan562018-01-15

the distance between auger and nozzle should not be too far, this is d Key

MattE75 (author)TehseenHasan562017-08-29

Your auger is turning in the wrong direction. CCW is the dull side of an Auger. I would say its a combination of the two solutions you have here.

TehseenHasan56 made it! (author)MattE752017-08-31

I tried each and every thing described on Internet on different websites but nothing helped me....Then I changed the motor...I attach a big 220v very high torque motor to my extruder.... :-D ;-) Now it is working great... I have made many filament spools ...

ianmcmill (author)TehseenHasan562017-02-22

The smaller the slot is, the lesser is the surface/edge where pellets can jam.

ianmcmill (author)TehseenHasan562017-02-22

The feeding slot is very big. The bigger it is, the more likely pellets are going to jam. Try making a feeding slot smaller so that it is "above" the pivot point of the curvature of the the pipe.

This would be my suggestion.

BRICKWORKS1000. (author)2017-11-24

Do old failed prints make the new spools?

yes it does! just break failed pieces apart in pieces of ~ 3 by 3 mm and it will do the yob as pellets!

Pay attention for the material you use

sadly, no

nramirez10 (author)2018-01-03

On your materials list you listed "1x Fitting 3/4" US Inch UNC --- 1/2" German Inch - 18cm long" is this the section of pipe that makes the barrel?unless i over looked it I didnt see anything refering to this in any of the steps

JeremyG16 (author)2017-11-17

how big should the hole in the nozzle be?

aramachandran3 (author)2017-11-14

Hey guys, what kind of motors did you use to drive the auger bit?

Does this one look good?

lcroisez made it! (author)2017-09-25

What is your trick to obtain constant filament diameter?

Should I let the filament fall by itself without guiding it?

What about the cooling of the matter after it has been extruded?

NoahD20 (author)2017-08-30

I know this is designed to use plastic pellets, but would there be any issues if i tried making filament out of shredded plastic?

Kfrey117 (author)2017-08-03

I'll pay someone to buy this for me

Kfrey117 (author)Kfrey1172017-08-03

*build ???

Kfrey117 (author)2017-08-03

I live in Nebraska. I'll actually pay $500, including shipping. I'd want a 30 day return policy to make sure it's working as it should

och (author)2016-12-10

I made this extruder a while ago, and I also purchased a Filawinder to auto-spool the filament, but I'm having lots of troubles finding the right combination to extrude PLA with a consistent diameter of 1.75 or close. Any recommendations on RPMs, temp and nozzle hole diameter?

WalterM79 (author)och2017-07-26

PLA cools down more slowly than ABS, therefore there are may issues to take into account:

First of all your extruder has to produce a consistent extrudate. Pellets have to be melt well and contain no unmelted bumps, no air bubbles and no contaminating particles.

Another thing which actually contradicts a little to the first one you should use as low temperature for extruding as possible for factory extrusion it is 205C but for home it could be around 190C (if your extruder will have enough power not to choke)

Then you should put your extruder at the height which provides consistent gravity pull (so extrudate is straight) with the required diameter (the higher is the extruder the thinner will be the resulting diameter). Then you should cool it not with one fan but install several fans along the path (within 1 or 1,5 meter length)

So here is a lot of playing around with PLA :)

christherock23 (author)2017-01-17

Quick question. Im in the process of buying a 3D printer but i quickly realized how expensive filament is. So i had the idea to make my own plastic recycler since we seem to go through cases of water in no time. So if i wanted to make plastic pellets out of the PET plastic of water bottles would this extruder work to turn it into filament?

ianmcmill (author)christherock232017-01-17

If you are able to get the bottles into pellet size easily you are good to go.

However filament isn't that expensive anymore in my humble opinion. Where I live, which is in Germany, I pay for a 800gr roll around 20€. This is made in Germany by a small company which specialzed on making filament only. But I have also seen 1kg no-name rolls on ebay for around 17€. For a really long time I used this cheaper no-name filament and the quality was very nice. Also the diameter was (with both, the cheap and the "more" expensive" filament) absolutely constant at 1.73mm +- 0.01mm.

Speaking of which. Getting the correct diameter on self-extruded filament and maintaining that specific diameter is a science in itself. This is a lot of trail and error. A lot of. And time is money and when considering it from the economic stance I fear that buying ready made filament is a bit more economically than making it yourself. All the more if you realize that getting PET bottles into pinhead sized pellets requieres a machine (or at least some manual laborious handywork) and buying pellets might be easier in the end. Because, you know, 3d printer shops sell pellets for hilarious high prices.

frjavi (author)ianmcmill2017-03-01

Well that could be true if you are a casual user of 3D Printer, but if you really want to put your machine to produce it is expensive. Yes you can need a shreding machine and this Filament extruder and work in calibrate and got a consistente filamente, but when you got it, you can low your budget to 5Euro/Kg (pellets) or 0Euro/Kg (Recycle). But the best thing is the green. By the way you dont need make the filament Extruder. The Italian guys who made the Felfil Evo sell it in 500Euro or 280 Euro for basic parts and you put the electronics (arduino basic), there is another kits too. So I think many people can got great savings for this.

christherock23 (author)frjavi2017-03-10

Yeah i already have a modified cross cut paper shredder and it destroys water bottles to tiny flakes with ease. Im gonna try to put this filament factory together and see how it works out. Im mostly doing this as a way to give plastic bottles a new use since i know most people dont care to recycle

ElseK (author)christherock232017-05-09

Hello Chris,

I was wondering if you managed to make a good filament of the PET bottles? And if you made your own extruder or bought it somewhere.

StevenS69 (author)ElseK2017-07-18

One of the main challenges you will run into with PET is that it is not too friendly to printing in its raw form and you will likely see significant warping when printing with it, however it can be done if you're okay with the trade offs look here:

Most PET filament available is PETG or glycol modified which makes it more suitable for printing. From what I can tell the process involves treating it with some bacterial type thing and maintaining precise heating for about 6 hours.

My advice is don't use raw PET for anything that will see heavy use and handling, but small figurines should be fine.

nedious (author)christherock232017-04-22

I am doing the same thing. My county does not have recycling and i wanted to repurpose it. Did you make any headway with it?

Erutan409 (author)christherock232017-03-10

What brand are you looking at? There's some decent filament out there for a fair price of around $25 a KG.

elaynealcala (author)2017-07-04

can I use a 300w heater and change the power supply for 350 watts?

BeB10 (author)2016-05-21

ok ... how did you get the auger inside the barrel? i bought an 16mm auger and a 1/2 " barrel. I am from germany too. Somehow the openings of the barrels are too small.

och (author)BeB102016-05-27

You have to sand both ends of the barrel, for some reason, the ends are smalled than the inside of the tube. There is a picture on the guide showing it:

pfred2 (author)och2017-03-15

The reason the ends of pipe neck down is because of the pressure from cutting it, and threading it. Just cutting pipe with a pipe cutter crushes it down some.

MostafaA123 (author)2017-03-14

If i want to manufacture my own ABS what is the pillets material i want to open a small production line ? Any help ?

och (author)2016-07-21

Just as an advice: DONT CONNECT THE HEATER UNTIL YOU HAVE CONFIGURED THE PID (See "PID controller setup"). I tried to test the machine before setting up the PID and it was configured to heat to like Volcanic-Rock-Melting-Point, and my Mica heating band almost burned. Also, the guide says "Connect the 12V ports of Solid State Relay to the PID (Port 6 and 8)" but it doesn't tell you that you must connect the cables with the correct polarity, otherwise the SSR won't transfer voltage. Make sure that the port 6 of the PID (negative) goes to port 4 of the SSR (negative) and port 8 of the PID (positive) goes to port 3 of the SSR (positive)

MoritzW (author)och2017-03-10

Hi. I have a 12V DC heater element (~12A). Do you think that if I connect the heater directly to the PID will work fine (PID powered with the 12V 300W power supply)? Or should I make a sepparate circuit with a DC/DC SSR?

och (author)MoritzW2017-03-10

It might be possible but I don't recommend it, when the Heating band gets hot it starts drawing more amps which might burn your PID. Regardless of the type of heating band you have I recommend you to get an SSR, it will serve as a kind of safety device to avoid your PID from getting burnt. SSRs are cheap, PIDs are not ;

MoritzW (author)och2017-03-10

Ok, thanks. Should I put two different power supplies, one for the PID and another for the heater element? Or should it work with the same power supply?

och (author)MoritzW2017-03-10

One should be enough for the entire project

Farahhh (author)och2016-09-29

I need help. I dont know how to setup the pid controller. I have tried and my heater burned. And i dont know how to setup the pid to control the temperature of the heater ;/

och (author)Farahhh2017-03-10

Sorry for not replying earlier, I don't check Instructables very often :(

och (author)Farahhh2017-01-04

I guess you figured out your PID controller problem ;)

och (author)Farahhh2016-09-29

I had the same problem, and I can gladly help you :)
Email me at

Courageraptor (author)2017-03-08

My filament is 1.75mm, can this make it.

SpikePlayz. (author)2017-03-08

Hey, what's the overall cost of this machine, and how difficult was it to source the parts?

2937214 (author)2016-12-23

Will a stepper motor be strong enough to replace the wiper motor?


frjavi (author)29372142017-03-01

Not it is not enought, however you can look a geared stepper and check the Torque, you will need gears reduction because torque is big.

About This Instructable




More by ianmcmill:Things to build out of CD/DVD-DrivesBuild your own 3d printer filament factory (Filament Extruder)How to repair your worn out solder tip
Add instructable to: