Hi everyone! I hope everyone is continuing to stay safe given the pandemic. In the meantime, below are the GBX R&D updates from the past month:
Higher Max Extrusion Rate and Large Nozzles
Aubrey machined some larger nozzle sizes, up to 5mm, to test the max extrusion rate after we updated extrusion-associated hardware last month to increase the torque output of the extruder motor (March 2020 GBX Update). He discovered that with nozzles 4mm and larger, the heat input from the 3 heater blocks on the extruder is not sufficient to heat the material at the increased extrusion rate. He added heater bands to the GBX extruder, and was able to extrude up to 0.81kg/hr of material with GBX! This is great news for reducing print time for large-scale prints.
We’ve added a Radwag moisture analyzer to our arsenal of research tools, and we’re using it to track moisture in our pellets and verify our drying and storage methods. Our target moisture level is less than 0.02% mass water. With the moisture analyzer, we confirmed that drying in our dehydrator at 120C for 24hrs successfully dries the pellets to about 0.02% moisture content. Our next steps are to reduce the drying time to find the minimum amount of drying time required to achieve a sufficient moisture level in the pellets.
Granulator Design Progress
Helen has been working on the desktop granulator design. It now has a rigid metal frame that’s 0.5” thick, a frame to hold the screen in place, and a bearing for the spinning shaft. We recently had a design review with the below design, and now have a list of updates to make. Stay tuned for the next iteration of the granulator design!
Due to the COVID19 pandemic, the US government dropped a lot of small business grant solicitations recently. Many solicitations are for solutions to help with the crisis, but many are not since the US government is using them in part to help stimulate the US economy. Everyone at re:3D is hard at work applying to grants relevant to our work. We’re always looking for collaborators for grant efforts, so feel free to reach out to us if you have interest any of the below grants:
- DOE Grant (Official FOA): Motivated by China’s drastic decrease in recycled plastic waste imports in 2018, the DOE is looking for solutions to upcycle plastic waste. We are writing a concept paper that pitches GBX as a solution, and we’re seeking to do pilot efforts with groups with plastic waste streams that can be upcycled into valuable products
- Containerbot for NSF D2P2: We want to build a shipping container-sized printer to print giant objects!
- Gigalabs for COVID PPE production: A shipping container outfitted with printers, sewing machines, and other tools to make PPE to deploy to areas with shortages
Stay safe everyone!