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The quest for the ultimate extrusion screw

This topic contains 91 replies, has 26 voices, and was last updated by  citamrac aurf 3 months ago.

4
Siemen Cuypers siemenc

The quest for the ultimate extrusion screw

15/02/2017 at 10:48

In the plans of the current extrusion machine a basic drill is being used in the barrel to push and melt the plastic to the nozzle. This seems to work, however, in the industry a different type of screw is used which compresses the plastic while it’s melting. These are way less accessible than the drill, for obvious reasons. So Dave had the idea of possibly trying to produce these ourselves. Therefore this topic will be dedicated to the research on trying to design/model/produce this.

I was quickly doing some research on this yesterday and it seems to be a world on its own with different designs of screws, different compression ratios and different “zones”. If there’s anybody that might have some experience or knowledge on this that could help out, let us know here.

I turned the basic idea for the screw design into a quick 3D model, to see if I would be able to model it. Now I need to find the right design requirements to turn that into the eventual 3D model, so we can turn this into a physical prototype.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastics_extrusion#Screw_design

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dedicated
11/04/2017 at 12:19
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@davehakkens So, I’ve been talking about this with Jens Dyvik, who is currently working on an open source parametric cnc-milling machine which can be produced on another cnc-machine. (https://github.com/fellesverkstedet/fabricatable-machines) And turns out he has been researching this as well before and already worked on a parametric version of the extrusion screw! See image attached.
He’s also thinking of incorporating a 4th axis in the machines for exactly this kind of stuff.

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warrior
12/04/2017 at 17:53
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wow that looks sick @siemenc. Does he also know a place to manufacture it, or is that the reason why he is looking into a 4 axe lathe? 😅

dedicated
12/04/2017 at 18:50
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Until the 4th axis is done, I think we can do it at the Fablab outside of Oslo, they have a 4-axis machine. But we will need to wait until the machine guy is back from holidays so he can explain how the machine works. And I’m afraid by the time he’s back I’ll be out of the country for two weeks. :/ So we’d be talking about at least another month before we can try it out, unfortunately. We’re eager to try it out though! And if it works, I’d be willing to send it for testing, if material and shipping cost would be refund?
I’m also wondering whether aluminium or brass would be strong enough. Is there a lot of force applied to the screw in the extruder?

helper
13/04/2017 at 07:03
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Nice progress 🙂

If you use aluminium or brass, there might be a risk you chip of material from the screw and contaminate the plastic?

warrior
24/04/2017 at 15:52
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Currently im in the (slow) process of ordering one from Alibaba. They couldn’t use the 3D model from @siemenc so they draw a new 2D version. Drawing attached. No idea where this will go but we will see 😀

@siemenc, yes we will cover material shipping costs etc

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dedicated
24/04/2017 at 17:06
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Cool! I’m curious of the result.
Can’t go wrong with a company called “Five-star machinery manufacturing” 😀

new
25/04/2017 at 00:04
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Wanted to toss an idea out there:

In twin-screw extrusion there’s a method where the screw is fabricated from inter-meshing kneading blocks as shown.

Pros: May be cheaper in theory than a machined screw, kneading blocks can be adjusted post-fab, and you get the benefits of twin screw (higher mixing)

Cons: More parts, probably slower extrusion

This definitely isn’t industry standard but could maybe work for this application. I’m new here but have followed the project for a little while now. Also- I’m finishing up a polymer processing course now so I don’t have 20yrs. experience but if anyone wants notes and slides explaining this process better let me know.

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dedicated
25/04/2017 at 16:14
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Interesting. Maybe I’m missing out on something but how does the plastic get pushed forward then?

new
29/04/2017 at 22:45
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In principal, screw extruders are using shear flow and a pressure gradient to push polymer forward and a lot of the shearing and viscous dissipation imparted by the screw is what’s melting the polymer.

The single screw and twin screws are both operating on the same principles but twin screws are more difficult to model. Additionally for twin screws: the two screws can rotate in the same or opposite direction.

Honestly, it seems like compression molding might be worth looking into as well because you can get a decent variety of molded parts, it’s simple, and it’s least expensive.

warrior
29/05/2017 at 08:33
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its been a super slow process but i’ve ordered an extrusion screw from Alibaba a few months ago. Its manufactured according to the 3D model of @siemenc. Now its finally ready and they send a picture! Last part is shipping to the Netherlands then we can test it out 💪

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dedicated
30/05/2017 at 17:37
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Interesting, looking forward to seeing how this will turn out! (Pun not intended)

I’ve been trying to find a material supplier where I don’t need to buy a 6 meter rod (and them not being able to chop it up into smaller chunks), with little success. But tomorrow I might meet somebody that can help me out.

dedicated
07/06/2017 at 15:21
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I finally got some material… Now just need to find the time to try and mill it out!

Has the Chinese one arrived yet?

helper
19/06/2017 at 03:51
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I love Alibaba and AliExpress. I hope the prototype works well. They will be getting a bunch more orders if it’s more efficient than the current version!

warrior
21/06/2017 at 03:41
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@davehakkens did they ship you the screw already? 😀

warrior
06/07/2017 at 01:06
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I decided the screw I made above wasn’t good enough. Though it worked well with injection moulding pellets, the channel in the screw was too small to feed shredded plastic consistently, even if it was screened quite small. Making a bigger screw was a challenge and I had to build a couple of things to do it. The new screw is a lot closer to Siemen’s design, 25mm diameter, 25mm pitch, it’s even right-handed!

Haven’t tested it yet as I have to rebuild the whole machine around it. A couple of comparison pics below and here’s a video of how I made it: https://youtu.be/cf4dQ2xw4OM

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dedicated
06/07/2017 at 10:18
1

That looks pretty sweet! @andyn Pretty crazy lathe skills there. How long did this take? Which material did you use?

In the mean time we got the indexer running at the Fablab in Moss. It’s been a very slow process of setting everything up. The indexer was now just standing on the machine with not positioning whatsoever so we had to spend some time fixing that (and to be honest I assume there will be some deviation on the positioning as well, as we were manually trying to put it in the correct place with the tip of a V-bit as an alignment tool on the y-axis).
We did a test run in wood which seemed to work quite well but looks horrible because of the wood chipping off from the wood grain. The tricky part with this setup is machining the conical part. One reason being the big distance between the clamping on the side, the other reason because of the geometry.

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warrior
06/07/2017 at 13:22
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@siemenc

It took a lot longer than I expected, over a week. The problem was the small motor I used for the milling attachment would overheat after 10-15 minutes and then I had to leave it for 1/2 hour to cool down.

The material is bright mild steel (EN32B).

Not sure what you mean about the tapered part, is is just hard to set the machine up square and parallel?

The problem I found with milling it that way is that to do steel, you need a very rigid setup which is why I went with the lathe. Can the Fablab machine mill steel?

dedicated
06/07/2017 at 20:05
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@andyn

Yeah it is hard to set it up square and parallel. But what I actually meant was that the front and the back part of the screw can be made with a straight milling bit fairly fast. But for the taper you will get small steps with the straight milling bit. And setting up that part in the cam-software is less straightforward than we expected. I can provide images to explain better if you don’t get what I mean.

It is possible to mill steel at the fablab in the center of Oslo, but we haven’t tested it on the machine in the fablab outside of Oslo yet. We’re first going to try in aluminium so we can check whether we can make that work. After that we can potentially dig into milling steel on the indexer.

warrior
06/07/2017 at 23:17
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wow that looks nice @siemenc! We got our screw from china installed in our extrusion machine. It fits perfectly and works super nice. It sin’t necessarily smaller but it does have waaay more pressure! We are trying to make solid tubes with it. Filling up a hollow tube with the extrusion machine, we already managed to make a 40mm x 3M. II have to say it goes beyond our expectations. Super impressed by this screw!

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dedicated
06/07/2017 at 23:34
1

@davehakkens
Holy shit that looks awesome! There’s a lot of potential in that for building big stuff with! But how? Do you keep the whole bar heated? How do you get the bar out? How long does it take to fill up a tube like that? So many questions…

warrior
06/07/2017 at 23:38
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No for some reason it just works. Get a metal tube and fill it up. That’s all. Super easy. Haha it has enough pressure to fill up the entire 3 meters. Haven’t really pushed it to the limits yet. Think we are currently about 40 mins. @mathijsstroober has been working on this, he knows the details.

dedicated
06/07/2017 at 23:45
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@siemenc,
exactly what Dave says. Temp 235-220 with extrusion at full speed (@Davehakkens what is the speed). Filling took almost an hour. Then let it cool down and it is really easy to slide out. We were really surprised, first time something goes in one way as we hoped.

Later, we put a small wooden block in the tube to build a bit of pressure to get smoother surfaces. I will show a small stool, hopefully, next week.

Mathijs

dedicated
07/07/2017 at 00:05
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Aha ok gotcha! For a second I thought the plastic shoots like a canon all the way to the end of the tube and fills it up like that. :p Now I understand it just pushes the dried plastic further through the tube, right?
Does that mean that you can create plastic bars with infinite length? By making the length of the tube a bit shorter and perhaps cool it somewhere in the middle and leave the other end of the tube open so the hardened plastic comes out. Perhaps from a certain length it needs some help with feeding the plastic bar out of the tube. Or is that what you did now as well?

helper
07/07/2017 at 07:34
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I think @siemenc is right. It is some kind of nozle-modification to extrude any tube materials.

warrior
07/07/2017 at 12:49
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@siemenc

Ok, I see what you mean now about the taper! But I really don’t think it matters, I kept my cutting tools parallel to the axis of the screw the whole time, I could have angled them easily, but there’s no need. Yes the compression zone will appear to have steps between each turn when viewed from the side (mine are only about 0.33mm and not really visible) but the channel in the screw is a smooth transition from one end to the other.

In fact if you were to cut the taper at an angle, you would have to blend each end in with the straight parts either side which would be more complicated and give a less smooth transition between zones. I don’t know if @dustintweir still reads this forum, whats the industry standard way of doing this?

@davehakkens

I’m glad you’ve had success with this type of screw. Did you find the plastic chips need to be smaller than with the wood auger bit? I found my first smaller screw needed really fine chips to work consistently, and it took too long to shred and filter them.

dedicated
07/07/2017 at 13:24
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@siemenc we used a really long bar. We wanted to do what you said (using cooling to get infinite bars). However we found that the newest added material is going totally through the beam untill it gets to the end. So if I use for instance black, green, blue. Blue will be in the total beam in the core and the end of the beam, than the green, than the black. Maybe @davehakkens can show an image of that.

We guess it is because friction and the cool temperature of the tube that the new material is traveling true the core till it reaches the end.
Because of the molten core the plastic has not so much struggle to travel true the tube.

What you mentioned is done in the industry but requires a lot of cooling.
Industry extrusion beams

Btw shooting plastic sound really cool, this is a slow process.

@adyn we use still the same shreds. The screw gets only smaller were the plastic already is molten.

warrior
07/07/2017 at 13:35
1

@mathijsstroober

Interesting! I was going to ask if we could see a picture of a slice through the bar. have you tried extruding a short section, letting it solidify, then extrude more using the first part as a plug to stop the ‘tunnelling’ effect?

dedicated
07/07/2017 at 13:55
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@andyn, nice idea, maybe I can test this next week!

starter
07/07/2017 at 22:55
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I would love one of those for my extruder. That is a much better than the drill bits hands down.

starter
09/07/2017 at 11:23
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Still would love one of those screws for my extruder @andyn

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