Nothing visual to share this time, just an update on activity.
On the technical side I’ve been testing process resilience and filament storage, but mostly I’ve been dealing with the business side of things, including the incorporation of a new company Fishy Filaments Ltd.
What’s process resilience ?
Basically its working out where the net recycling and filament extrusion processes can be interrupted, how often, what the consequences are and how the process might be recovered with minimum fuss and waste.
Its deeply unsexy. It inevitably involves destroying things and cleaning up afterwards, but it should result in a more efficient production process in the end, and better focused spending on hardware and future maintenance of that kit.
Its also a necessary evil for a new company doing new things in new ways. Unfortunately a Piccard-like ‘Make it so’ doesn’t work outside the bridge of The Enterprise.
Filament storage is a bit easier to understand.
Nylon needs to be dry in order to print at optimum quality, but unlike other nylons our 100% recycled fishing net filament doesn’t have any additional chemicals to reduce that issue or mitigate any other connected issues.
It prints well enough without them so we haven’t added any, plus as an aesthetic decision it makes more sense to stick to a 100% recycled product rather than add stuff. We’re all about sustainability at Fishy Filaments and every additive has its cost, both in economic terms and environmental. If we can do without, why not ?
But we still need to understand the best to methods to dry, whether there is a limit to how often it can be done, how long drying needs to be done for, what happens to the filament when you don’t meet the optimum parameters, all that good stuff and more.
One of the most interesting areas is when we put ourselves in the customer’s position and try to see how the material varies with post-production handling, as you may have seen with the work with dyes.
This will sound like heresy to many outside the 3DP industry but we don’t see the ability of a user to influence their own outcomes as a downside, even if it is outside our own recommendations or what we understand to be the product’s parameters of use. Experimentation is the norm in 3DP, so understanding how the material evolves with time and treatment is a part of our craft as well as our customer’s.
If every material was static in every way it would be like the world was made of Lego. While that might be appealing at some level it’s really not making best use of the capabilities of 3D printing or the 3D printing community. Moreover that kind of approach tries to ignore the fourth dimension, time, and if there is one thing that we know about plastics its that they will be around for quite a while.
Ultimately though this is all about anticipating customer experience and being able to offer advice to a engaged community of users rather than focusing only on technical aspects of production and lobbing the product over the parapet.
On the business side of things Fishy Filaments is now a limited company, with a business address and all that entails. As we approach commercial production we’ll have further news there. It takes time and patience but it has to be done.