It may sound like food filament for 3D printed gourmet meals, but Proto-Pasta is actually about making filament that may be even less edible than standard ABS and PLA. Proto-Pasta is on Kickstarter trying to launch an R&D filament supply project that will bring sturdier, more powerful filaments to your 3D printer.
Dustin and Aaron Cram are in the process of founding Proto-Pasta as a means of making your Makerbot into more of a Makerfactory by increasing the strength and melting point of desktop plastics. The way that they seek to do this is by creating composite materials. This has resulted in three new filaments that may prove advantageous to traditional plastics for home 3D printing. The first is Carbon Fiber Reinforced PLA, which “is made from NatureWorks 4043D PLA Resin compounded with 15% by weight Tenax short chopped Carbon Fibers.” This material is stiffer than ordinary PLA, but prints with similar settings and, reportedly, doesn’t warp. Proto-Pasta has also created a High Temperature PLA, a composite of PLA and “a nucleating agent” that causes prints to crystallize so that they resist high temperatures. The High Temperature PLA requires some post-processing, soaking in water, but objects printed from this material won’t collapse when exposed to sunlight. Finally, the Polycarbonate-ABS (PC-ABS) Alloy is meant to be a super stiff counterpart to ABS.
Proto-Pasta is not just a filament supplier, though. The Brothers Cram also intend on heavily documenting their material development process. They’ve put their printed parts through a barrage of tests – high temperature, impact resistance and stiffness – to determine the qualities of their filaments, which are then formatted into datasheets. Such methodology is necessary when attempting to become a legitimate material supplier and adds transparency that will earn a consumer’s trust.
The production of new materials, with their custom manufacturing equipment, coupled with extensive documentation could allow Makers to make their way into the production of high quality parts that may, some day, rival the large manufacturers. That day may be a long way off, but, thanks to companies like Proto-Pasta, it’s not out of the question. To learn more about the project, watch their Kickstarter video: