How It Is Made: 3D Printing Filament

Caleb Kraft

Senior Editor for Make: I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity of the masses! My favorite thing in the world is sharing the hard work of a maker.

I'd always love to hear about what you're making, so send me an email any time at [email protected]

421 Articles

By Caleb Kraft

Senior Editor for Make: I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity of the masses! My favorite thing in the world is sharing the hard work of a maker.

I'd always love to hear about what you're making, so send me an email any time at [email protected]

421 Articles

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Have you ever wondered how the filament for your 3D printer was made? We got a chance to go frolic in a warehouse where that exact thing was being done. While pretty much anyone who is familiar with 3D printing may know the basics, there are probably a point or two where they’ve got it wrong!

The biggest misconception about filament production is the nozzle. Most people assume, like we did, that the machine would work just like a giant filastruder. It would push molten material out of a nozzle at the right diameter, which would then be wound onto a spool. Heck, even standing in front of the machine you may think that is what is happening! As Josh Smith, owner of Makergeeks.com, points out in the video, there is a bit more magic to it.

Apparently it isn’t only pushed through in the first place. The two common diameters of 3D printer filament (3mm and 1.75mm) are both pulled through the same size die! The roundness isn’t determined strictly by the opening of the die, but more by the complex cooling that happens immediately afterward.

This was truly an enlightening visit. I really enjoyed playing with the various toys and hearing Josh’s stories about how difficult it was to even get this machine running in the first place. I’m looking forward to hearing how his business grows, I know he has expressed plans for adding additional production units.