Homemade filaments from PET bottles for 3D printing

By making their own filaments for printing on a 3D printer, the user can significantly save money on consumables. Plastic filament for printing can be made from PET bottles. Let’s consider which bottles are suitable for this purpose, the order of filament production, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of this method.

Is it possible to make plastic for the 3D printer from PET bottles?

When making plastic filament for 3D printing, it is recommended to use the following types of bottles from polyethylene terephthalate:

  • Blue. These bottles have the stiffest plastic, but when melted it will be the most fluid of all.
  • White and green. These bottles have softer plastic than the blue bottles. The material is thicker when melted.
  • Brown. These bottles have the softest plastic. When melted, it is very viscous (similar to ABS filament).
    plastic bottles

How to make thread with my own hands and print with plastic bottles?

Preparatory work

Before starting the production of thread bottles should be dissolved into ribbons.

Soft bottles have thinner plastic, so it is better to dissolve them into 10 mm ribbons.

A container with medium stiff material or stiffer plastic can be cut into thin ribbons, about 7 mm thick.

Tools for creating filament for 3D printer from PET bottles

To create filament from PET bottles, you will need the following tools:

  • A stationery knife or bottle cutter;
  • Note: when choosing a bottle cutter, pay attention to the precision of cutting the plastic. The width of the different cut strips should not differ by more than 0.1 mm.
  • oven;
  • plastic crusher;
  • homemade vertical extruder – it has a metal tube with a screw from the drill, which rotates using a stepper motor, and a nozzle with two heaters from a 3D printer;
  • rotating table;
  • a large basin;
  • cold water.

Step by step instruction

The production of PET bottle filament for printing on a 3D printer is done in the following order:

  1. Sliced plastic bottles must be fused in an oven at 180 ° C. The melting time depends on the number of bottles.
  2. Reference. It will take approximately 40 minutes to melt 10 plastic bottles.
  3. When the melting is finished, the plastic should cool down completely. All excess moisture will evaporate from the material and it will crystallize. The polymer resembles glass in appearance.
  4. The cooled material should be ground in a crusher to a finer fraction.

Next, the crushed plastic is poured into a vertical extruder. A rotating auger moves the ground polymer to the bottom of the device to the nozzle with heaters. The plastic begins to melt.
Coming out of the nozzle, the melted PET plastic falls into a bowl of cold water that is placed on a rotating table. The rotation of the table will prevent the material from sticking together. The filament must be cooled as quickly as possible so that it becomes flexible and transparent. It can then be used for 3D printing.

Before using homemade filament for printing, it should be dried well. Because if there is a lot of moisture, the filament of melted plastic will come out of the extruder in the form of foam. It is recommended to dry the skeins of filament in a sealed container with silica gel at 50-60 °C. You can use an oven or simply place the container on a radiator.
When using ready-made filament for 3D-printing on a printer, there are a few nuances to consider:

  • The product should be printed on a cold table, the temperature of which does not exceed 35 ° C. Such limitation of temperature mode is due to the fact that the plastic must cool down quickly to a temperature below 70 ° C. Otherwise, the material can almost completely lose its strength properties.
  • Extruder temperature should be around 265 °C. But it can vary depending on the printing speed and the type of plastic from which the filament is produced.
  • If the feeder of the 3D printer consists of brass, it is better to put a thin-walled rubber hose on the roller. It will keep the PET filament from slipping.

Pros and cons of using bottles to create plastic

The main advantage of recycling PET bottles into plastic filaments for 3D-printing is that you can save on buying industrial filaments and recycle unnecessary packaging, which, when taken to landfills, greatly pollutes the environment.

The disadvantages of using homemade filament are:

  • you can only print products at low speed, because when you increase it, the filament tears;
  • A crusher for grinding the material and a separate extruder for transferring the plastic are required;
  • It is not possible to print large items because the length of the filament is limited.

Self-made filament production for 3D printing is a great way to save on consumables and recycle unwanted PET bottles. Homemade filaments are close in properties to the purchased ones. Therefore, you can use them to print small products of excellent quality.


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