Two engineers in Ohio are tired of losing time to 3D printer jams caused by low-quality plastic and have come up with a novel solution. They intend to produce a high-quality plastic designed with 3D printers in mind. The catch? They need your help to make it a reality.
Michael Cao and Larry Knopp have started an Indiegogo campaign to fund their new ABS supply company IC3D, which promises top-of-the-line, quality controlled plastic unlikely to jam your RepRap or MakerBot. The problem lies in the way current ABS providers produce their plastics, and Knopp and Cao have a system in place to address this.
Although 3D printing has been around for quite a while, it still mostly lives off materials created for other industries. Typical ABS is made with the plastic welding industry in mind. Welders push 3 mm filament through a 3 mm nozzle. Imperfections in the filament won't be detected in this system.
However, the nozzle on a standard 3D printer is .25-.5 mm in diameter. Any sawdust, cardboard or other imperfections can cause time-consuming jams. Cao and Knopp will address this problem by using "custom, in-house systems" to ward against debris at the raw pellet stage.
In addition to quality control issues, ABS can absorb moisture if packaged or produced improperly. This will lead to bubbling in the end product and can even affect layer bonding. Cao and Knopp claim that their plastic pellets will be dried before entering an extruder, vacuum-sealed and shipped with desiccant to avoid any moisture entering their product.
The men behind IC3D say they've narrowed down their plastic choices to a type that "just works" for 3D printing. They will offer plastics in Natural, Black, Red, Blue, Orange and Green options for the initial run. After that, they will send out a user survey to determine if they should add new color options.
IC3D is asking for $20,000 to put toward an industrial-sized plastic extrusion production line, ABS pellets, packing and shipping supplies, rental space and the salary of an operator.
They structured their perks around levels of 3D printing interest. The smaller donations are geared toward hobbyists while the higher-level donations feature perks for prosumers and small business types.
Apparently, it's working. They have already raised over $14,000 and still have 26 days to reach their goal.
If you want to donate to IC3D's cause or simply want more information, check out their Indiegogo campaign page.