Sunday, 16 March 2008

A high temperature extruder?

The standard RepRap extruder can't quite handle the temperatures for HDPE for very long. I have found a high temperature replacement for J-B Weld. The main weak point remaining is the PTFE thermal barrier. PTFE is an excellent thermal insulator but it is not very strong mechanically. It also expands by about 0.5mm at 225°C. Worse than that it seems to slowly creep the more I use it, which makes a mockery of my z axis calibration. Since I got it working again I have re-calibrated it four times and each time it has grown: 0.3mm, 0.2mm, 0.15mm and 0.3mm. I.e. it is now 0.95mm longer than when I built it and a further 0.5mm when it is hot.

I have come to realise that stainless steel is quite a poor conductor of heat compared to other metals:-

Stainless SteelBrassAluminiumCopper
17 W/mK109250400
I bought some stainless steel pipes on eBay that have an outside diameter of 6.4mm and an inside diameter of about 3.5mm. I cut a 50mm length, tapped it and screwed in into a medium sized heatsink. I tapped the other end and screwed in my experimental high temperature heater. I applied heatsink compound to both threads.

I put a thermocouple in the heater and adjusted the power to get 240°C inside the brass part of the barrel. That only required 7.3W. I put another thermocouple at the top of the stainless steel barrel and that only reached 50°C.

Although this is just a lash up, it looks really promising. I can get the temperature even lower by using a CPU heatsink or a small fan. I will make a nozzle out of aluminium or copper with a built in heater and thermistor.

Not only will this stand temperatures up to the limit of the thermistor, which is 300C, but it is also much more rigid and does not change in length significantly with temperature. It should also reduce the amount of molten plastic because of the thermal gradient down the SS barrel. That should give less extruder overrun.

1 comment:

  1. I doubt seriously that you're going to need that aluminum heat sink at the top of the stainless steel pipe.