In 2015, Netherlands-based 3devo introduced its NEXT filament extruder, allowing for the creation of 3D printing filament from much lower-cost pellets. In 2016, the company announced two new industrial-grade filament extruders, capable of working with advanced materials including PEEK. Last year, 3devo followed up with the introduction of its SHR3D IT machine incorporating a shredder and granulator to create new pellets from recycled materials. We’ve been following the team’s work, including speaking directly with them at trade shows to see the machines at work and check out the resulting pellets and filament — but now that the company’s technologies have actually been available on the market for more than a year, we can check in with a customer to learn more about regular use of 3devo’s offerings in a real-world environment.
3devo published a new case study this week regarding the use of the NEXT filament extruder in the polymer studies department of Fontys University of Applied Sciences, where students now have the ability to work hands-on with different techniques in polymer extrusion.
“We try to incorporate upcoming technologies such as 3D printing in our curriculum, studying it theoretically, and researching its applications. Our students use the NEXT to experiment with filament extrusion, exploring its applications in 3D printing and elsewhere,” said Guido Smets, Project Leader and Researcher at Fontys.
Fontys University offers bachelor’s-track coursework in polymer studies through its Eindhoven-based Natural Science wing, one of the only such programs offered in the world. The study of different material development and extrusion techniques is invaluable to these students, and the university had been working with large-scale extrusion machinery to support this work. The industrial equipment, however, did not meet all their needs due to a steep learning curve, little user flexibility, and lack of supported hands-on training, all of which made it less than ideal for use in an academic setting. One of the major benefits to the robust NEXT extrusion machine is its desktop footprint and accompanying lower price point. Students are now able to work with smaller amounts of materials — as little as a kilogram at a time — streamlining efforts and cutting research time and costs. 3devo notes that more than 20 students have, to date, completed polymer research projects using their machine, including work “studying the recyclability of PLA and PET, extruding custom materials for 3D printing nano tubes, and conducting tests on innovative polymer-cellulose composites.”
To hear more about the details behind this use case, I turned to 3devo’s Sales & Marketing Manager, Lisette van Gent, with a few questions about progress and what we can expect to see next.
How long has the NEXT filament extruder officially been available now? How has the market received it?
“The extruder has been officially in USE since September 2016. One of the first users (and on paper our first client) has been Technical University DELFT (aerospace department '“ which was using the Advanced Level extruder for mixing PLA pallets with Piezoelectric powders '“ the feedback has been very positive so far. In the beginning the market was skeptical, but now being live more over 1,5 years we have grown a lot as a company and in our client base. Of course we are always very critical when it comes to keep on innovating, improving and servicing '“ wh