Accurate 3D Filament Fabrication
As we first conceived of WillowFlex (before it had a name), we knew that we wanted to deliver a 3D print filament that not only met high ecological standards, but also met high quality standards to serve our customers best. In researching filament producers throughout Europe, it became clear that 3dk.berlin would become a valuable partner because they already had a reputation for delivering accurate diameter filament, ready for the demands of industrial applications. 3D print filament that maintains a low diameter variance adds more reliability to print jobs and ensures a higher quality output. Their primary emphasis is on an error-free and uninterrupted print experience – determined by the material quality and a well calibrated machine. They have already developed a PLA Filament line with over 50 different colors including Effect and Metallic Colors developed in-house. In addition, they offer color matching services to any requested Pantone® color.
Located in the experimental hub of Berlin, 3dk.berlin combines new production techniques for 3D Printing with over 50 years of professional experience in Plastic Production and Extrusion from their parent company, Beku GmbH to develop new materials and optimize the plastics that they produce. Their 3D Print Studio is equipped with 14 different 3D Printers in order to test and develop all filament production.
All spools are finished by the Mosaik Werkstatt, a social enterprise that offers meaningful work to handicapped individuals in Berlin. Floran Deurer was not only a pioneer developer of the RepRap 3D printer but had also worked at the Mosaik Workshop prior to joining the 3dk team. There was no question that he would develop mechanical systems to allow the Mosaik team to prepare the 3D print filaments, both WillowFlex and their other filaments, to ship around the world. Deurer actually created a quite innovative system to allow reliable spooling of the filament down from 10kg production rolls to 300g consumer spools.
Highest Quality 3D Print Material
Standardization of WillowFlex production by 3dk is half the picture. But WillowFlex is also produced with high-quality bioplastics produced by GreenDot. They started with thirty years of experience from their CEO Mark Remmert, and put together a full production line that can move from research and development to scale production with a single, experienced team. This experience allowed them to develop the world’s first compostable elastic thermoplastic, a material that competes head to head with traditional plastics on cost and performance. The unique bioplastic has a higher heat and cold resistance, outperforms conventional plastics in many technical aspects and meets standard for compostablity in both the US and Europe. The result remains unique in the world and is setting a new standard for high-performing bioplastics to outperform conventional materials.
At the outset of developing WillowFlex as a production filament, Brian Crotty work worked closely with GreenDot to adapt their current material formula for the unique processing requirements of additive manufacturing. A series of formulas were performance tested in the 3dk.lab until they arrived at an optimum mixture of flexibilty, viscosity and 3D print firendly parameters. WillowFlex is proof that bioplastics are driven by the knowledge that nature can deliver more.
Experimentation and Execution
Developing better solutions is at the core of all three companies. The team at WillowFlex has been managing various projects for over 15 years ranging from artwork installations to digital video walls to 3D printing, software developments and project launches. They can connect the dots within this partner network to move new ideas into flight.
In 2017, 3dk expanded their 3dk.lab to the MotionLab in Berlin. Their printers set for testing are now organized to support prototyping for companies in Berlin and executing small series production for FDM prints in WillowFlex, PLA, their custom ABS or blends. 3dk is able to draw on years of experience with WillowFlex and adapting to specific customer needs. After five years of understanding WillowFlex, they can guarantee quick turn-arounds for successful 3D prints. You can request a print on the Projects Page.
GreenDot Bioplastics has their own material development lab where their widening palette of materials are developed. They can move from small batches of tens to hundreds of kilos for testing through to production of tons of materials per week. Their bioplastics were initially developed for conventional manufacturing – so the prototypes and products that are developed with WillowFlex Filament are ready to quickly be scaled into serial production.