High Temperature 3D Printer Filament Diameter Control Ensures Consistent Quality – 3DPrint.com

Many may not realize this, but when it comes to filament diameter, 1.75mm is not actually 1.75mm and 2.85mm is not 2.85mm. Filament vendors often have problems with tolerances and ovality. A lack of process control results in raw material that is too thick, too thin, unbalanced and not round enough. In Bowden systems in particular, this can lead to stoppages and clogged filament tubes.

Parameter drift

Also, if you heat more or less material than you think, it will drastically change the optimal settings you should have. Flow rates, extrusion, and temperatures need to be adjusted as your filament changes, but almost no one does. This is even more problematic because, in some cases, raw materials from the same supplier vary from batch to batch. So, you will then have to adjust the parameters of each reel, something that no one else does.

The result is what I call parameter drift. Imagine walking ten steps forward, six sideways, and two forwards to get to your front door. But, sometimes, instead of starting with six steps, you do eight or four. You will end up everywhere.

Users often change all sorts of settings but don’t pay enough attention to filament changes. To make matters worse, filament suppliers know this and don’t want their filament clogging printers. So they undersize a lot of their materials so they always fit. That means 1.75mm filament is really 1.72mm, so enjoy this delicious treat, if you didn’t know.

QUALUP Filament Check

Now the nice people at QUALUP have found a solution that can compensate for these variations. I think it’s fantastic!

“The filament control, integrated into the printer, continuously measures the diameter and ovality of the filament with an accuracy of 0.8μm. The triple objective of this instrument is to continuously compensate for variations in filament diameter in order to have a constant throughput, the same as that calculated by the Slicer, to guarantee the repeatability and quality of the parts thanks to a printout report provided with each part”, specifies Myriam Boichut, president of QUALUP.

Boichut continued:

¨Filament manufacturing tolerances typically vary by +/-0.05mm, which actually results in a volume variation of 12% between the maximum and minimum tolerances. For technical filaments: PEEK, PEKK, PEI, PPSU… Some manufacturers even announce tolerances of +/- 0.10mm, so the filament can vary by 24% in volume! These volume variations are generally well supported when using standard filaments (PLA, ABS, PETG, etc.), but pose major problems with technical filaments. All filament extruders control throughput in “equivalent mm”, so it’s impossible to get consistent, repeatable quality prints with such volume variations. The variation of the printed volume causes under-extrusions or over-extrusions systematically degrading the inter-layer bonds, and therefore the resistance of the parts. But also, the dimensions of the part, the filling rates, the surface conditions, the mass of the part, the lack of material, the porosity or the residual material on the nozzle.

The team has been working on these improvements for two years, triggered by issues printing metal-filled filaments like BASF’s Utrafuse 17-4. Qualum wanted 100% fill rates for the parts because the filament, heavily loaded with metal at the 85/15 ratio, did not tolerate any over or under extrusion, either there were gaps and porosity, or the nozzle clogged and caused marks on the part.” The team now hopes to ensure the quality of the parts by adjusting the settings and recording them as well.