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FAQs

Buying / Ordering / Shipping Questions

When are you shipping? Can you ship mine sooner?

Unfortunately, we can’t ship any units sooner than our estimated shipment date. This is both out of respect for our Indiegogo backers, and because we won’t have any units ready to ship until then. Trust us – if we could ship them any sooner, we would! We’re now finally through UL, so production and shipping can begin. Please see our blog for latest timelines, and keep in mind our existing backlog! 

How much will it cost to ship to _________ ? / Why is my shipping 1000$?

To find your shipping cost, simply click the pre order button and follow the steps until you reach shipping – it will tell you based on your location (you don’t actually need to checkout if you don’t want to). If your shipping cost is $1000, we don’t know of an easy or affordable way to ship to your region – reach out to us if you think you might be able to help, or think your volumes are large enough to justify a bulk shipment.

Where can I buy one! Are you still on Indiegogo?

We  finished our succesful Indiegogo campaign in January of 2015- a HUGE thank you to all our backers! Since we were successful in our campaign, we’re now accepting orders…just click the “Order” link above to buy your ProtoCycler today!

How to Use Questions

Which plastics can I use? What about PET or water bottles?

Right now, our software supports automatic extrusion of ABS and PLA. However, our hardware can grind and extrude any non-toxic thermoplastic within the melting range of ~260, if you care to venture into manual mode (see below). This means that while water bottles (PET), coffee cup lids (PS), etc aren’t currently supported, they should be possible. And, we’re also working around the clock with our ever growing community to add automatic support for more and more materials like water bottles – all of which will be available as free software updates!

Is it really that simple to use?

Yes! In automatic mode, all you have to do is select your plastic, and hit “go” – ProtoCycler takes care of the rest. Startup, shutdown, extrusion, and spooling are all automatically controlled, so you get fantastic filament, every time.

How do I hack ProtoCycler?

Almost all of ProtoCycler will be released as open source once we begin shipment. One section of our extruder – the MixFlow tech – is patented, which means we’ll still be releasing it, but you can’t re-sell the technology (we have to keep this section closed source to protect our investment)

Regardless, you can still take it apart or hack it to your hearts content, and having everything released online (with explanations, etc) will just make it that much easier! Note, however, that doing so will void any UL certification.

What is full manual mode for / why is the software open source?

Full manual mode is for when you want to venture off the beaten path, and try something totally new. Whether it’s extruding a standard plastic even faster, slowing things way down to feed your 3D printer in real time, or trying out a brand new type of polymer –manual control lets you do anything you want, even if we don’t support it in automatic mode. Combined with our open source software, you can do literally anything you want with ProtoCycler. We want to build an active community that works together to recycle as much plastic as possible, and full software access is our way of making that happen.

Can I mix plastics?

In general, no. As with any extruder, only one type of plastic can be extruded at a time. You can still switch plastics, and we’re working on compiling a database of which plastics ARE compatible –but for now, every spool you make must be one type of plastic.

What if I screw up, and put in the wrong plastic?

Nothing too bad. We’re working on teaching ProtoCycler what it “feels like” to extrude each different type, so that ultimately it will know if you’ve messed up, and fix things on it’s own! For now though, one of two things will happen –the plastic just won’t extrude at all if it needs a higher temperature than the one you’ve specified, or will come out significantly degraded if it needed a lower temperature than the one you’ve specified. Either way it’s an easy fix, and nothing gets damaged. Note that this only applies to plastics ProtoCycler has been designed to handle – NEVER load a plastic that you don’t know the type of!

Performance Questions

What is MixFlow technology?

MixFlow extrusion technology is our patent pending solution to home extrusion. All of our competitors try to shrink down industrial level technology, and it just doesn’t work as well as it could. We re-invented extrusion technology from the ground up, and the results speak for themselves: Smaller footprint, faster extrusion, drastically improved energy efficiency, and fully automatic control…these are all things made possible by MixFlow technology, and exclusive to ProtoCycler!

What is distributed spooling, and why do I care?

Distributed spooling means that your filament is evenly distributed on a spool, instead of bunched up in the middle. This ensures tangle free spools for hassle free printing, every-time.

How long does it take to make a 1kg spool?

That depends a little bit on which plastic you’re trying to make, but it should take around 2-5 hours to extrude 1 kg.

What colours can I make?

Any colour you can think of…really! Opaque or transparent, bright or subdued, and even spools that change colour throughout. With ProtoCycler, your freedom isn’t limited by colour selection –create with confidence, in any colour you like.

How is the grinder powered?

By you! Our hand crank has been engineered to provide the fastest, easiest grinding possible. Why not a motor? The main concern is safety –we just couldn’t live with the possibility, however small, that the grinder could stay powered while your hand got stuck. Hand cranking ensures the safest experience possible, and helps to keep costs as low as we can. Note that the extruder itself is electrically powered – only the grinder is hand cranked. If you really want a powered grinder, let us know – we might be able to help you out soon.

What diameter filament can I extrude?

ProtoCycler comes with real-time diameter feedback, meaning the software adjusts the extruded filament in real time to the diameter you want. We can extrude 1.75mm, 2.85mm, 3mm, or really anything under about 3.5mm that you could want…all without changing the nozzle!

Safety Questions

Are there fumes?

The short answer is that the fumes from ProtoCycler are less than any from a 3D printer. We extrude at a lower temperature than your printer will when it uses our filament, ensuring your ProtoCycler is safe for use anywhere a 3D printer is. That being said, we do recommend ventilation for any plastic with unpleasant fumes like ABS.

What does UL Safety Certified mean?

UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories, the world leader in safety certification. We’ve worked with them for over a year to ensure ProtoCycler is as safe as it possibly can be. Unlike other extruders with exposed heating elements, potentially dangerous wiring, and a lack of thermal cutoffs, ProtoCycler has been designed from the start with safety in mind. But don’t just take our word for it – It’s UL certified! Keep in mind that this includes all sorts of regional certifications as well, like CE, FCC, RoHS, CSA equivalence, etc.