Thursday, 10 April 2008

More PLAying

The tweaks I made to my extruder dramatically improved its ability to extrude PLA. I am not sure which one made all the difference or whether they are all needed. I can now extrude at my target 0.5mm filament 16mm/s with about 75% motor PWM duty cycle. That is less than I needed for ABS before the tweaks.

I can also extrude at lower temperatures. I think 180°C is a bit on the hot side as the plastic is very runny at the temperature. It will flow out of the extruder under gravity and has negative die swell. At 140°C it behaves more like the other plastics and swells to 0.6mm, which is very low.

In a previous article I stated that I could not make sparse filled objects because the filament slumped too much. With the reduction in temperature and increase is speed I now can. Here is a 50% filled block: -

It is still very strong. I expected the warping to be less but I have switched from MDF to balsa and I think that increased it. The balsa I have is only 2mm thick and was only stuck down with masking tape. I might try gluing two pieces back to back with the grains at right angles to get it stiffer.

So now with a slightly tweaked extruder I can do PCL, PLA and ABS at 0.5mm @ 16mm/s. I had to slow down for HDPE to prevent thermal damage to the extruder.

To get good definition at high speed I extrude with a fan running. The fan cools the nozzle which causes more heater power so the barrel temperature rises to the point where PTFE goes soft and the JB Weld turns to dust. PCL and PLA are no problem because the temperature is less. ABS does not seem to need the fan.

I plan to make a PTFE cover for the nozzle which will probably insulate it well enough and hopefully stop filament sticking to it and burning.


  1. "I had to slow down for HDPE to prevent thermal damage to the PTFE."

    I was following along perfectly till I got to this point. Could you put some more words with this?

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