Skip to main content

Direct coupling of fixed screw extruders using flexible heated hoses for FDM printing of extremely soft thermoplastic elastomers

Abstract

We present a new method—fused pellets printing—to print any thermoplastic materials by converting a screw extruder into a direct source for feeding material into fused deposition modeling (FDM) style 3D printer. We achieve this by feeding thermoplastic pellets into a stand-alone single screw system that melts and pushes the material through a flexible heated hose to the print head. The material is finally deposited through the print head onto the print bed to construct the 3D object. This heated hose decouples the large mass extruder from an FDM print head which can then move with high speed and precision. The result is a very simple 3D printing tool that can take raw input pellets or even recycled thermoplastic scrap, and directly print parts without the need to produce an intermediate, high-quality filament. This technique has been successfully used for pellets of both soft and hard thermoplastics. Using pellets of styrene–ethylene–butylene–styrene, airtight pneumatic soft robotic actuators have been printed in a single process. In theory, this technique should be suitable for any thermoplastic material regardless of their flexibility, stretchability, and hardness which is not possible with currently available commercial FDM systems.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

References

  1. Srivatsan TS, Sudarshan TS (2015) Additive manufacturing: innovations, advances, and applications. CRC Press, Boca Raton

    Book  Google Scholar 

  2. Turner BN, Scott AG (2015) A review of melt extrusion additive manufacturing processes: II. Materials, dimensional accuracy, and surface roughness. Rapid Prototyp J 21:250–261

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Elkins K, Nordby H, Janak C, Gray RW, Bohn JH, Baird DG (1997) Soft elastomers for fused deposition modeling., The University of Texas in Austin, Laboratory for Freeform Fabrication and University of Texas at Austin, pp 441

  4. Bellini A, Guceri S, Bertoldi M (2004) Liquefier dynamics in fused deposition. J Manuf Sci E-T ASME 126:237–246

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Ramanath HS, Chua CK, Leong KF, Shah KD (2008) Melt flow behaviour of poly-epsilon-caprolactone in fused deposition modelling. J Mater Sci Mater Med 19:2541–2550

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Michaeli W (2003) Extrusion dies for plastics and rubber. Carl Hanser Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Göttingen

    Book  Google Scholar 

  7. Yardimci MA, Guceri SI, Danforth SC (1997) Thermal analysis of fused deposition. August 11–13, Austin, TX, The University of Texas at Austin

  8. Venkataraman N, Rangarajan S, Matthewson MJ, Harper B, Safari A, Danforth SC, Wu G, Langrana N, Guceri S, Yardimci A (2000) Feedstock material property—process relationships in fused deposition of ceramics (FDC). Rapid Prototyp J 6:244–253

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. NINJAFLEX®: the market leading flexible filament. https://ninjatek.com/products/filaments/ninjaflex/. Accessed 29 Nov 2017

  10. PolyFlex. http://www.polymaker.com/shop/polyflex/. Accessed 29 Nov 2017

  11. FlexSolid. http://www.madesolid.com/. Accessed 29 Nov 2017

  12. Saari M, Galla M, Cox B, Krueger P, Cohen A, Richer E (2015) Additive manufacturing of soft and composite parts from thermoplastic elastomers. August 10–12, Austin, TX, The University of Texas at Austin, 949–958

  13. TITAN Robotics. THE ATLAS. http://www.titan3drobotics.com/atlas/. Accessed 9 Oct 2018

  14. Linthicum T, Simpson DS, Linthicum B et al, inventors, inventor; Sculptify LLC, assignee., assignee (2014) Extrusion system for additive manufacturing and 3-d printing. US patent US20150321419A1. Pending

  15. Whyman S, Arif KM, Potgieter J (2018) Design and development of an extrusion system for 3D printing biopolymer pellets. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 96:3417–3428

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Woern AL, Byard DJ, Oakley RB, Fiedler MJ, Snabes SL, Pearce JM (2018) Fused particle fabrication 3-D printing: recycled materials’ optimization and mechanical properties. Materials 11:1413

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Moreno Nieto D, Casal López V, Molina SI (2018) Large-format polymeric pellet-based additive manufacturing for the naval industry. Addit Manuf 23:79–85

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Ajinjeru C, Kishore V, Liu P, Lindahl J, Hassen AA, Kunc V, Post B, Love L, Duty C (2018) Determination of melt processing conditions for high performance amorphous thermoplastics for large format additive manufacturing. Addit Manuf 21:125–132

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Singamneni S, Smith D, LeGuen M, Truong D (2018) Extrusion 3D printing of polybutyrate-adipate-terephthalate-polymer composites in the pellet form. Polymers 10:922

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Bschaden BS (2014) Developing design guidelines for improved gecko inspired dry adhesive. Dissertation, University of Alberta

  21. Sameoto D (2017) Manufacturing approaches and applications for bioinspired dry adhesives. In: Heepe L, Xue L, Gord S (eds) Bio-inspired structured adhesives. Springer, Cham, pp 221–244

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  22. FILUSTRUDER. Available from: https://www.filastruder.com/products/filastruder-kit. Accessed 20 Mar 2018

  23. Khondoker MAH, Sameoto D (2016) Design and characterization of a bi-material co-extruder for fused deposition modeling. November 11–17, Phoenix, AZ, USA, The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, IMECE2016-65330-9

  24. Khondoker MAH, Sameoto D (2017) Printing with mechanically interlocked extrudates using a custom bi-extruder for fused deposition modelling. Rapid Prototyp J 24:921–934

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Morton-Jones DH (1989) Polymer processing. Chapman and Hall, New York

    Book  Google Scholar 

  26. Crawford RJ (1981) Plastics engineering. Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  27. Stevens MJ, Covas JA (1995) Extruder principles and operation. Springer Science + Business Media, Berlin

    Book  Google Scholar 

  28. Munson BR, Okiishi TH, Huebsch WW, Rothmayer AP (2013) Fundamentals of fluid mechanics. Wiley, New York

    Google Scholar 

  29. Turner BN, Strong R, Gold SA (2014) A review of melt extrusion additive manufacturing processes: I. Process design and modeling. Rapid Prototyp J 20:192–204

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Hannan MW, Walker ID (2003) Kinematics and the implementation of an elephant’s trunk manipulator and other continuum style robots. J Rob Syst 20:45–63

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  31. Laschi C, Cianchetti M, Mazzolai B, Margheri L, Follador M, Dario P (2012) Soft robot arm inspired by the octopus. Adv Rob 26:709–727

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Bobak M, Panagiotis P, Christoph K, Sophia W, Shepherd RF, Unmukt G, Jongmin S, Katia B, Walsh CJ, Whitesides GM (2014) Pneumatic networks for soft robotics that actuate rapidly. Adv Funct Mater 24:2163–2170

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Pandey PM, Venkata Reddy N, Dhande SG (2003) Improvement of surface finish by staircase machining in fused deposition modeling. J Mater Process Technol 132:323–331

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Wagner M, Chen T, Shea K (2017) Large shape transforming 4D auxetic structures. 3D Print Addit Manuf 4:133–142

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Liu Y, Hu H (2010) A review on auxetic structures and polymeric materials. Sci Res Essays 5:1052–1063

    Google Scholar 

  36. Rossiter J, Takashima K, Scarpa F, Walters P, Mukai T (2014) Shape memory polymer hexachiral auxetic structures with tunable stiffness. Smart Mater Struct 23:045007

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Grima JN, Alderson A, Evans KE (2005) Auxetic behaviour from rotating rigid units. Phys Stat Solidi (b) 242:561–575

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Dolla WJ, Fricke BA, Becker BR (2006) Structural and drug diffusion models of conventional and auxetic drug-eluting stents. J Med Devices 1:47–55

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Cebeci T (1974) Laminar-free-convective-heat transfer from the outer surface of a vertical slender circular cylinder. September 3–7, Tokyo, Japan, Society of Heat Transfer of Japan, 15–19

  40. Slic3r—G-code generator for 3D printers. http://slic3r.org/download. Accessed 17 Nov 2017

  41. Raasch J, Ivey M, Aldrich D, Nobes DS, Ayranci C (2015) Characterization of polyurethane shape memory polymer processed by material extrusion additive manufacturing. Addit Manuf 8:132–141

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mohammad Abu Hasan Khondoker.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that a startup company has been founded to help commercialize portions of the technology disclosed within this article.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 2 (MP4 67182 kb)

Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 553 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Khondoker, M.A.H., Sameoto, D. Direct coupling of fixed screw extruders using flexible heated hoses for FDM printing of extremely soft thermoplastic elastomers. Prog Addit Manuf 4, 197–209 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40964-019-00088-4

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40964-019-00088-4

Keywords

  • Fused deposition modeling
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Fused pellet printing
  • Thermoplastic elastomer
  • Pellet extruder