Forming 5: Problem|Cause|Solution

Problem:

In recent developments within Forming 5, I have discovered a minor systematic issue in extruding my own filament. In producing adequate recycled filament the two main contributors are making fine plastic mulch and patience in the extruding process. During extrusion, it is beneficial to have a cooling fan to help manipulate the filament as it comes out of the nozzle. I have come to learn that the diameter of the filament is key and the spooling process is the next leading factor in sufficient filament. Essentially the problem Forming 5 is facing is the spooling process. The diameter can be adjusted by speed and temperature, but spooling seems to be a whole other entity of extruding filament. With the deadline of my senior seminar approaching and my growing desire to complete Maddie’s arm I am determined to analyze this problem and effectively handle it going forward. In order to address the problem, the cause must be discovered in order to form a solution!

Cause:

One of the leading causes to why Forming 5 has not entered its third phase is because I seem to have reached a bump in the round with the filament spooling process. After weeks of shredding the plastic cups, I have now begun extruding the mulch into 3D printer filament. This is a lengthy process in which each element must be perfect in order for perfect results. A balancing act, especially with only having one hand to manage and run various components in order to extrude and spool the filament. Now having weeks of extruding experience I have come to learn that I am in need of a way of making better and smaller mulch in order to feed the extruder enough to get thick filament in diameter. Two diameter sizes for 3D printing are both 1.75mm and 3.00mm(2.84mm), in my case 2.84mm filament is what my Ultimaker 3D printer uses and what I am trying to extrude. After adjusting the temperature on the Filabot (Filament Extruder) I have perfected getting accurate filament diameter. Once achieving accurate diameter the next component is a winding system to wind the extruded filament onto a spool for 3D printing use. After trying to hand spool and coil filament with fans and other methods, I am in desperate need of a way to spool the recycled filament I have made from the (PLA) Earthchoice Cups. This is key to achieve our goal in developing our own filament made from recycled materials to make eco-friendly prosthetics. Most importantly, complete and fabricate Maddie’s arm!

Solution:

Last week, I vigorously 3D printed all the pieces to make a filament winding machine that I researched in order to work towards a definitive solution. After discovering the bump in the road in Forming 5, I came across many filament winding equipment but found that in the best interest of time and financials that the Filawinder was the best option. Upon delivery of the structure and mechanics of the winding machine, I printed several 3D parts. I met with an Electrical engineer who contacted Form5 through our last Kickstarter to wire the Filawinder once assembled. After we adjusted the distance of the extruder, temperature, and speed its safe to say progress is being made. I am now producing accurate filament, but there are still many aspects of the puzzle to be solved. Now adding a winding system to our filament extruding process has added some additional obstacles in the process. With having a constant pull on the filament as it is being extruded requires extreme precision in speed to ensure filament does not grow too thin. As the filament is being spooled on the winding machine, speed can fluctuate due to the photo laser that detects filament diameter and adjusts the speed accordingly. Although this is helpful in the spooling process it has made it difficult to shred small enough plastic mulch to continuously feed the Filabot (Filament Extruder). Thus resulting in, thin and stringy filament. This process is incredibly hard to set up, but once achieved can eventually be self-sufficient.

Going forward I intend to come up with further ways of making smaller pellet-like pieces of the (PLA) Earthchoice Cups collected for R&D. I am planning on using the (PLA) plastic lids from the cups we’ve collected to make Maddie’s arm. These lids are easier to shred into mulch, creating the extrusion process to be steady in all aspects. We will be slowing entering the third phase of Forming 5 in mid-march. I encourage you all to follow our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see current breakthroughs in our project, Forming 5! It is truthfully getting hard to focus on anything but Forming 5 and most importantly Maddie. The amount of research conducted and the tremendous effort going into Forming 5 will make a huge difference in Maddie’s life!

Big things ahead,

Aaron Westbrook, CEO & Founder of Form5 Prosthetics

E: aaron@form5prosthetics.org

Below are current photos from our project Forming 5:

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