High-performance polymer 3D printing – open-source liquid cooled scalable printer design
To print high-performance polymers, a printer that can reach high temperatures is needed. There is currently a lack of low-cost solutions that allow manipulation of process parameters and expansion of sensors to monitor the printer as well as the process. This paper presents an open-source hardware upgrade for low-cost 3D printers to enable research on new high temperature polymers as well as manufacturing of all currently available polymers. The hardware cost less than $1700, including the modified printer. Open-source firmware by Klipper and Fluidd is used for control. The printer is able to reach 500°C nozzle, 200°C heated bed, and 135°C heated chamber. At the highest temperatures, all electronics operates within the recommended temperature range inside the heated chamber. The presented design produced a CF-PEEK 3DBenchy and a spiral vase with excellent surface quality and no signs of delamination. Test specimens according to ISO527 using PA-CF performed similarly to the datasheet provided by the manufacturer for samples produced in the XY-orientation and outperformed the datasheet by 15 % in the ZX direction. Compared to specimens made on an Original Prusa i3 MK3S, the modified printer produced specimens with 22% higher strength in the YX-direction and 25% in ZX. By continuously monitoring and carefully calibrating both hardware and firmware, the presented design can perform as a research tool in material science and produce large-scale components of high-performance polymers.