Advanced Filament is Key to 3D Printing Revolution – Polymaker

Advanced Filament is Key to 3D Printing Revolution – Polymaker

Polymaker is a company committed to innovation, quality and sustainability, in the pursuit of producing safe and clean materials for the 3d printing industry. We do not simply adhere to current standards but are surely becoming a market leader for quality in the filament industry. With a seven step quality control process, Polymakrs filaments are not only guaranteed to have the best quality standards but also provide innovative properties that help yield a better overall printing experience, ensuring the efficiency of 3D printers and empowering consumers to create strong, functional 3D printed products. With a rapidly growing portfolio of materials, Polymakr will continue to bring new performance enhanced materials to the 3D printing community.

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Advanced Filament is Key to 3D Printing Revolution

Advanced Filament is Key to 3D Printing Revolution.

Polymaker CEO, Xiaofan Luo is an American-educated materials engineer with a PhD in polymers. Back in 2008, he and some fellow grad students were developing a new material that had promising applications in medical devices. The team figured that 3D printing then better known by the more general rapid prototyping would be an easy way for hospitals to manufacture customized one-off devices for patients, so their idea was to create a medical-grade material that was compatible with conventional 3D printers.To their surprise, they found that none of the companies making 3D printers at the time allowed third-party printing filaments to be used in their machines.

That was a big limitation of the technology, To me it was a little bit ridiculous, even. Fundamentally, 3D printing is a new way of processing materials, of converting them into objects. Its similar in that respect to injection molding or extrusion. No one could imagine buying an injection molder or extrusion machine and then being limited to only using the materials the manufacturer provides.Xiaofan Lou, CEO Polymaker.

By 2012, with greater competition in 3D printing and a groundswell of designers clamoring for the ability to use multiple platforms in concert when making their prototypes, manufacturers started relaxing their thinking on proprietary filament. Luo started Polymaker in order to address what he saw as a glaring gap in the market.

The machines are getting very good, but materials are the next big thing. Xiaofan Lou, CEO Polymaker.

Though industrial designers and engineers can now swap filament between most desktop printers, the range of materials available to print with is still very narrow. Thats led to severe limitations when it comes to creating objects.Some of these limitations are related to functionality. Normally, engineers and industrial designers carefully select materials for their unique properties, such as conductivity, strength, or softness. But filament doesnt come in many flavors, so to speak, at least, not yet. That means designers are working with a very limited palette.

Perhaps the biggest limitation right now, however, is geometry. Theres a conception that 3D printers convert any digital design into an object, almost like magic. But there are currently significant constraints when it comes to designs that have overhanging parts. Filament emerges from a printer as a bead of viscous liquid, meaning it tends to distort unless printed on a reasonably flat surface.The workaround has been to use a support material, which provides a temporary structure during printing that can later be removed. But the most common method for supporting a geometrically complex object is to design buttresses using the same printing filament used to make the object. That means the support structure must be cut away from the printed object, which is time consuming and leads to high failure rates. It also means curved surfaces are difficult or impossible to achieve.There are water soluble support materials, but these tend to be very finicky and quickly absorb water from atmosphere, which renders them useless.

One of Polymakers newest products, and a good illustration of how advanced filaments may be the missing component, that allows 3D printing to finally fulfill its promise of radically altering how goods are manufactured and distributed in the marketplace, is a new kind of support material. The material is printed by the printer and adheres to PLA, a commonly used filament material, but only weakly. Once an object is printed and has hardened, the support can be peeled away easily.

With PolySupport, what you can finally do is just click a button and print, You know you will get results, and you dont need to tweak models. It also just simply makes a lot of things that were unprintable now printable. Xiaofan Lou, CEO Polymaker.

Polymaker now has 48 employees and operations in the U.S, Europe, and China. Earlier this year the company received $3M in Series A funding from Legend Star, the VC arm run by the holding company that owns Lenovo. If Luos vision is on point, better filament, and not necessarily better desktop machines, will unlock the disruptive potential of 3D printing.

You got a nice article to point out about 3D printing filament. 3D Printing Filament is the blood of your printer. There are many types of filament available.

We couldnt agree more, we believe 3D printing filament will be the driving force for the industry for the next year or two. The more material selection the better your 3D printing experience will hopefully be. Variety is the spice of life 😉

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ColorFabb 3D

is popularly known in the 3D printing world because of its wide variety and high quality. This 3D printing filament company based in the Netherlands is renowned for its filaments that are very easy to use and that produce high print quality. ColorFabb filaments come in different material properties for different applications. The filaments of this company are compatible with a wide range of 3D printers. See the wide range of ColorFabb filaments below.

X3D provides for some of the most affordable ColorFabb filaments in Australia. Whether you are a designer or an engineer looking for the best 3D filament to use, we have them for you. We offer a complete range of colours and materials for you to choose from depending on the applications you intend to do.

We have ColorFabbPLAandPHAfilaments, ColorFabb XT-CF20, and a new filament called nGen. ColorFabb nGen can be used as an alternative toPLAorABSin many instances. Its a filament we recommend if youre looking for one that can be used for detailed 3D printing work. On the other hand, Colorfabb HT is a suited for 3D printing users who are after a filament that can resist high temperature, is highly durable, and is tough.

ColorFabb has a fantastic range of filament colours available today. It has has grown quickly with the development of new materials. X3D offers many colour options for ColorFabb filaments. Some of the specialties include blends of plastic and even solid particles of wood that can be painted, stained, and sanded. BronzeFill, BrassFill, and CopperFill are also available. The extensive range of available colours lets you experiment with different kinds of designs. Our team at X3D can help with colour matching to help you get the perfect color for your 3D print build.

The quality of the final build greatly depends on the quality of the filament you use. With ColorFabb filaments, you can achieve great results. X3D team recommends these filaments if your goal is to produce quality builds. Check out the best filament from our product catalogue or get in touch with us and we will help you find a quality one to use today.

One of the best filaments that ColorFabb has included in its growing 3D printing filament portfolio is the nGen. The company produces this new all-rounder filament that could rivalABSandPLAwithoud the need to compromise the quality, usability, speed, and performance of the filament. The benefits you can have when you use the nGen are its being easy to print with, minimal odour during printing, high resistance to heat, excellent surface finish and quality inter-layer adhesion. This filament is higly recommended for both functional and aesthetic 3D prints.

ColorFabb filament reels are available in either 1.75mm and 2.85mm. We also offer value packs for a fantastic value for money. All in all, X3D team recommends ColorFabb filaments. Their filaments really are fantastic to print with and to have fun with. If you are seeking the highest quality prints, look no further than using these quality filaments. If you are not sure about compatibility, you can call us on 08 6380 7488.

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Since 3d printing and particular Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) technology have been made famous and accessible to a wider audience, the need of creating new and qualitative filaments has been created. The revolution in 3d printing requires revolutionary filaments! We introduce you NEEMA3D™ filaments the revolution in 3d printing!

EEMA3D™ Standard editionis the filament for your everyday prints, when you want to combine quality and price!

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Airwolf 3D

Strong. Light. Perfect for prototypes or production parts. Get everything you love about your favorite materials, but with reinforced carbon fiber filaments from Airwolf 3D.

The CARBONITE Series is Airwolf 3Ds line of engineering-grade carbon fiber filaments designed for industrial use. Reinforced with high-modulus carbon fiber, these filaments provide a high strength-to-weight ratio, offering advanced structural rigidity without extra weight.

Airwolf 3Ds carbon fiber filaments print beautifully and offer reduced warpage, superior chemical and thermal resistance, electrical insulating properties, and an aesthetically appealing semi-matte graphite finish.

Designed for engineers, the CARBONITE series is superb for prototypes and production parts. Choose Airwolf 3Ds carbon fiber filaments when you need the ultimate in durability and high performance.

Take advantage of the durability and subtle flexibility of nylon, but with the added strength of carbon fiber. Unlike traditional nylons, Nylon CARBONITE offers reduced warpage for easier printing.

Stay tuned for more carbon fiber filaments in favorite materials like Polycarbonate and PETG.

Sign up for our newsletter to get the most current news and updates about the CARBONITE Series and other cutting-edge products from Airwolf 3D!

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Turquoise 3D Printing ABS Filaments

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3D Printing Filaments Whats the Deal with ULTEM and PEEK?

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3D Printing Filaments: Whats the Deal with ULTEM and PEEK?

Michael Molitch-Houposted on March 08, 201721704 views

In the world of fused deposition modeling (FDM), or fused filament fabrication (FFF) as the technology for non-Stratasys-branded systems is called, one family of materials may be considered king of the crop: polyaryletherketone (PAEK). A class of semi-crystalline plastics, PAEK withstand high temperatures while maintaining mechanical strength.

For FDM and FFF 3D printing, PAEK is primarily used in the form of polyether ether ketone (PEEK) filament and its much more affordable alternative polyetherimide (PEI), better known under the brand name ULTEM.

Developed by General Electrics Plastics Division, specifically by Joseph Wirth in the 1980s, PEI is a durable thermoplastic with important physical properties that include high heat, solvent and flame resistance, as well as high dielectric strength, thermal conductivity and overall strength.

AfterSABICacquired GEs Plastics Division in 2007, ULTEM became the property of the largest public company in Saudi Arabia. The material is a more affordable alternative to PEEK, but has a lower impact strength and usable temperature. Perhaps more importantly, 3D printing-compatible ULTEM 9085 has received a number of aerospace certifications that have made it the go-to material when 3D printing performance plastic parts for civil aircraft.

At first, the only company capable of 3D printing with the material wasStratasys, which not only holds patents related to extrusion additive manufacturing (AM), but also the mechanisms required to safely heat a 3D printer sufficiently and stably to melt temperature-resistant materials like ULTEM.

However, in 2009, key patents related to the extrusion process expired, giving members of the open -source 3D printing movement known as RepRap the courage to commercialize their inventions. Since then, numerous FFF companies sprang up and many have since shuttered their doors. During that time, very few explored the possibility of printing with ULTEM and, now, only a handful of companies have produced printers capable of handling PEI or PEEK.

Why is that? wanted to know more, so it turned to a number of experts.

As described above, PAEK is strong and resistant to a number of environmental hazards. It has a continuous operating temperature of 250 C (482 F) and can even handle loads for a short period of time in temperatures of up to 350 C (662 F). When burned, PAEK puts out a low amount of heat and its fumes are the least toxic and corrosive. PAEK also has good chemical resistance.

The material does not break during an unnotched Izod impact test, has a tensile strength of 85 MPa (12,300 psi), a Youngs modulus of 4,100 MPa (590,000 psi) and yield strengths of 104 MPa (15,100 psi) at 23 C (73 F) and 37 MPa (5,400 psi) at 160 C (320 F).

Whereas ULTEM is the only brand of PEI available on the market, PEEK is produced by a number of companies, including several large manufacturers. This may limit the variation between numerous PEI filaments, as the base resin will always be from the same supplier.

As for PEEK, the material has been available as a powder for selective laser sintering for some time, but is relatively new to extrusion 3D printing processes, as are the printers that can handle it. PEEK has a higher impact strength and usable temperature than ULTEM. As a whole, however, PEEK is many times more expensive than ULTEM. Therefore, when that added strength and temperature resistance is not absolutely critical, ULTEM may be the more cost-effective option. Therefore, the applications of the materials often overlap.

To better understand its use in 3D printing, we spoke with Phillip Keane, a Singapore-based engineer with expertise in 3D printing for aerospace. He received his Master of Science studying ULTEM CubeSat structures, worked with Stratasys to 3D print a drone made from ULTEM and is currently pursuing a Masters of Engineering with a focus on ULTEM.

Keane pointed out that one reason for ULTEM 9085s use in 3D printing for aerospace is the high number of certifications it has received, which include Flammability, Smoke and Toxicity; Federal Aviation Administration; Joint Aviation Requirements and Airbus certifications. Its easier to pick a material and process that has the required certifications than it is to certify a new material, Keane said. Also, ULTEM has a high specific strength (strength-to-weight ratio) which is comparable to certain types of aluminum.Keane noted that while ULTEM has not yet been used in any critical part on an aircraft, for noncritical items it makes a good replacement for aluminium and for heavier/weaker plastics that may have been used in the past.

Keane also noted that, given the long lifespan of an aircraft, it is sometimes necessary to replace legacy parts for an aircraft component OEM that no longer exists. This makes 3D printing these replacement parts a desirable option. When it comes to retrofitting or replacing legacy parts on these older aircraft, you sometimes find that not only are the companies extinct, but so are the original machines and tools, Keane said. No problem. Just find the old technical drawing, convert it to CAD, and use a Fortus [from Stratasys] to print it out in ULTEM. Its cheaper, stronger and lighter than the original part in many cases.

One company that seems happy with the decision to 3D print parts from ULTEM over manufacturing them via traditional means is United Launch Alliance. The companys Atlas V rocket launched last year with ULTEM parts used to replace previously used metal components in the rockets ducting system. Printed by Stratasys on a Fortus 900mc system, these parts included brackets, nozzles and panel closeouts.

Greg Arend, manager of Additive Manufacturing at United Launch Alliance, explained that 3D printing with ULTEM ultimately made it possible to reduce the costs in part production significantly. At United Launch Alliance, we have completed design on more than 60 additively manufactured ULTEM parts that will fly on our Atlas, Delta and Vulcan Centaur launch vehicles, Arend said. In addition to achieving typical cost savings of 50 percent to 75 percent over traditional parts, were seeing additional benefits such as part consolidation, lead time reductions, and usually a small mass reduction is achieved as well.

According to Keane, aluminum and titanium alloys may still be preferable for critical applications in which part failure could result in loss of life, injury, system failure or the loss of expensive hardware. Thats not to say that ULTEM cant live up to the more critical tasks, he said. It just hasnt been tested in such a manner yet. Until then, its best suited for aircraft interiors, and fittings suchas electrical boxes and for duct work.

One of Keanes most recent accomplishments was the creation of a quadcopter 3D printed with embedded electronics. After previouslylaunching a CubeSat companythat relied on 3D printing with ULTEM, Stratasys approached Keane to determine whether or not electronics could successfully be incorporated into a heat-resistant drone within the high temperature environment of a machine printing with ULTEM.

The goal was to integrate off-the-shelf electronics into a drone made from FAA-certified plastic and see if they could survive the high-temperature environment. To pull it off, the quadcopter was designed with self-supporting angles of 45 so that there would be no internal support structures that might get in the way of installing the printed circuit board, electronic speed control, receiver, flight controller, wiring harnesses and batteries within.

The printing process took about 14 hours with the machine pausing only three times to install the electronics. Everything but the motors were incorporated during the print, which had to be installed after the print was complete; otherwise, the printers extruder would collide with the vertically protruding motor shaft. Although the parts were purchased offtheshelf, it was necessary to ensure that they could withstand high heats by testing the survivability of components in high temperature and by refitting the boards with high temperature components where needed.

Although the drone was just a prototype, the project demonstrated the possibility of automated fabrication of complex, functional objects with 3D printing.

Historically, ULTEM filament has been one of the few that Stratasys itself has sold under its own brand, but, with the FFF explosion that began in 2009, other manufacturers have sought to sell their own ULTEM materials. One of the few is3DXTech, producers of engineering-grade filaments.

According to 3DXTech Founder and President Matt Howlett, the production process isnt much harder than it is for making other filaments. Generally speaking, making the filament isnt that much different from standard filaments, Howlett said. Except that the extrusion temperatures are much hotternorth of 350Cand the speeds are generally much slower.

He continued, We specified certain materials of construction in the extruders to be able to handle 400C and above with very aggressive fillers (carbon fiber and glass fiber, for example). This makes the extruders more expensive to buy and maintain, but thats the cost of doing business in niche materials.

This may partially explain why there are so few manufacturers of ULTEM resin. Howlett added that price may also play a role. The other factor is that the ULTEM base resin is very expensive and has an 18+-week leadtime from the supplier, Sabic, Howlett said. Another important reason may be that there are few FFF 3D printer manufacturers that make machines capable of handling the material, limiting demand to Stratasys customers.

Howlett has been in the plastics business, including the high-performance materials market, for about 25 years, working at chemical companies like Solvay, DSM and Bayer in technical sales and marketing, as well as global management. In addition to pure ULTEM 9085 and 1010the formers stronger, more heat and chemical resistant sibling3DXTech also manufactures unique composites, such as a carbon fiber-ULTEM composite.

To do so, the company uses a twin-screw extruder to compound the plastic ULTEM pellets with raw carbon fiber. Once compounded, the filament is processed through a single-screw extruder and, voil, youve got the strength and resistance of ULTEM with the stiffness dimensional stability of carbon fiber.

In addition to his own experience with ULTEM, Keane described some of the challenges that ULTEM poses during the printing process. Because of the high extrusion temperature of ULTEM, the print chamber must be kept at an evenly distributed high temperature, he said. Thats because any cool areas will cause the ULTEM to shrink unevenly. This can result in warping and even a lack of bonding to the previous layers.

With a melting temperature between 345 and 400C, designing a nozzle capable of withstanding the heat is not so difficult. There are already all-metal hotends on the market that can reach temperatures of 350C and beyond. The issue is really the print chamber itself, according to Keane.

The engineering challenge comes from maintaining this high temperature in the chamber without damaging the machinery within the printer, Keane explained. Its not an impossible task. Stratasys has mastered it by use of a thermal curtain system which protects the top part of the printer (the gantry) from heat damage. The gantry is effectively external to the print chamber, with only the heads being exposed to the chamber heat.

A primary issue with 3D printing at such high temperatures is the potential damage that can be done to the components within the machine, as well as the effect that thermal expansion might have on the tolerances of the printing process. This process must be tackled by either placing those components outside of the actual print chamber or other methods.

So far, the number of FFF 3D printer manufacturers that have embarked on the development of PEI and PEEK-capable 3D printers can be counted on two hands. Heres an informal list of all the companies that were aware of:RobozeApium(formerly Indmatec),AON3DTractus3DRokitandVerashape.

We spoke with representatives from several of these companies to learn how theyd managed to develop printers capable of handling high temperature materials like PEEK and ULTEM. As it turns out, their solutions are trade secrets.

Ben Schilperoort, CEO of Tractus3D, mentioned that one obstacle to overcome while developing the T650P RTP 3D printer involved stable printing temperatures. Managing the temperatures in the printhead and in the object layers to get them solid are the biggest challenges. That it is why it is hard to print objects with substantial volume and still be strong with high resolution, Schilperoort said.

For Canadian-based AON3D, the challenge wasnt so much in developing the AON-M 3D printer itself, but in making sure it remained affordable. In order to fill the niche between entry-level desktop printers and existing industrial machines, AON3D had to build a printer that worked with high-performance materials.

As with all engineering challenges, there are some trade-offs that need to be made, said Kevin Han, CEO of AON3D. What weve done is cut away as much as possible that is unnecessary to delivering performance, and what youre left with is a very lean product which meets all the requirements but remains affordable

Apium actually started as a manufacturer of PEEK filament, before it expanded to other materials like PEI and a printer capable of using these materials as well. As we started with PEEK in the first place, our idea was to combine a technology that is capable of printing high complex geometries with a very short setup time and zero material loss during processing high-performance polymers that can be used in the most challenging industries and application, said Philip Renner, applications researcher at Apium.After a very successful introduction of our PEEK filament, we decided to expand our product range for materials due to many requests from manufacturers.

Apium was one of the first companies to release a commercial FFF 3D printer capable of printing with PEEK and ULTEM, back when it went by the name of Indmatec. According to Renner, this led the company to design a number of parts from scratch. The biggest challenge in the beginning of developing our Apium P155 3Dprinter was the design of the printhead and our device to control the solidification process of the polymers, Renner said. All of those parts had to be designed by ourselves because there was nothing available in the market that could satisfy our demands. The second thing was finding the right mechanical operating system. We had to find a way, where temperature sensitive parts are not loaded with the heat, coming from our designed parts. And, finally, writing our own software to be able to operate the printer to the desired performance.

A LulzBot TAZ 4 modified to 3D print with PEI. (Image courtesy of NASA.)

For those looking to join the quickly growing segment of industrial-grade FFF 3D printers, NASA researchers detailedtheir workin modifying a LulzBot TAZ 4 3D printer for printing with PEI. Necessary modifications included:

Replacing the hotend with an all-metal hotend

Replacing the thermistor with one capable of detecting temperatures up to 500C

Developing 3D printing cooling mechanisms for the printers stepper motors

Replacing the DC-powered bed with an AC-powered bed that could heat up to 230C

Repositioning electronics and lengthening the cables

Changing the firmware to reach higher temperatures with the bed and hotend

The most important piece of the project was the method of heating the print chamber. Keane mentioned that, with Stratasys machines, the entire build chamber is usually heated beneath a specialty curtain system. The NASA team saw the use of a convection oven around the printer as impractical and instead used directed infrared heating on the printed part itself. Twelve 35 W halogen light bulbs were situated around the build chamber as shown in the image below.

As a result, the temperature of the printing environment does not increase substantially, but the part being printed stays at a near uniform temperature. It was still necessary to create an enclosure, made with an aluminum frame, cardboard foam walls and a rubber seal around its door.

With the major manufacturers of PEEK resin seeing the AM space as a potentially lucrative one, more suppliers of PEEK material will, in turn, cause prices to drop. This will encourage more users of PEEK materials to enter the field, as well. What may drive the cost down even further is the use of industrial plastic pellets in 3D printing, rather than filaments.

A new start-up calledDPP Technologieshas developed a pellet-driven 3D printer called the XL DPE. High-temperature materials are still in the works, but it is something that the company is experimenting with.

Using our DPE (Direct Pellet Extrusion) method of delivery has produced results better than expected, explained Bill Roberson, developmental manager at DPP Technologies. We found using our cast aluminum heated build platform and a little special deck prep is a good start. This combination is working well during test prints. It lets the extrusion adhere to the plate and keeps the warping to a minimum. Currently, we are working with a master batch plant to refine a pellet that has the base properties of ULTEM and additional additives to allow it to perform as it was intended and to curb the warp and curl effects associated with high temp polymers.

If DPP can pull it off, its possible that the pricing between pellets and filaments will be significantly different. [A] couple of online retailers [sell] ULTEM 9085 at basically $75.00 per pound. You can order pellets in bulk, with no spools, reels or packaging, for $20.00 per pound, Roberson said.

Randeep Singh, head of Business Development at AON3D, pointed out that the cost-effectiveness of additive manufacturing, as compared to subtractive manufacturing, wont be lost on users. Whereas, with CNC machining, its necessary to cut away a thick block of expensive PEEK material, 3D printing more or less uses only the material required to print the part.

PEEK is pushing the price of silver right now. Its really expensive. I think that AM is going to not only open up more capabilities for AM users, but it will make it so much cheaper to use that material, so youll probably see it used in more places, Singh said.

For Roboze, manufacturers of the One+400 3D printer, users may turn to the machine to replace CNC machining and metal parts. PEEK and PEI represent a new chance to produce end parts replacing metals, said Ilaria Guicciardini, marketing director for Roboze. What actually surprises people about these materials is that, even if theyre plastics, they still maintain the intrinsic advantages of their natureextreme workability and lightness. Thanks to unique thermal and chemical properties, they can be used for end parts, today made of metal alloys, with accessible manufacturing costs compared to ceramic and especially metal materials.

Our goal is to offer in this context the chance to support the traditional methods by partially replacing todays CNC production, she added.

Outside of FFF, medical-grade PEEK and polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) have been used for the creation of medical implants. For instance, Oxford Performance Materials has developed its own brands of medical-grade and aerospace-grade PEKK. The companys OsteoFab material has been FDA-approved to create patient-specific cranial devices, facial devices and spinal implants.

SLS 3D printing, however, is typically much more expensive than FFF or FDM and, when applied to performance materials in the PAEK family, this price only increases. Therefore, PAEK in filament form may be potentially attractive for the creation of custom implants at a price that may be much less expensive than the laser-sintered variety.

Regardless of the method of implementation, its evident that a growing number of manufacturers have begun to fill the niche left between low-cost desktop 3D printers and professional systems capable of handling PAEK materials. Therefore, the impact those materials have on the world of AM may only just be beginning.

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Which Flexible 3D Printing Filament Should You Choose?

Which Flexible 3D Printing Filament Should You Choose?

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Which Flexible 3D Printing Filament Should You Choose?

3D Matter has, once again, taken 3D matters into its own hands and studied the various 3D printing materials on the market.  Previously examining PLA, performance filaments, and infill, the research group seeks to help customers separate the cream from the crop.  Given the very different behaviors of the variety of flexible filaments on the market, withits latest study, 3D Matter has decided to provide come clarity into which material is right for a given application. On top of that, the firm also explored how changes in printing parameters affected the output.

To begin its examination into flexible filaments, 3D Matter studied six flexible filaments relying on criteria provided by users, including the degree of flexibility, as well as overall quality, performance, and ease-of-use. The team tested filaments from NinjaFlex, Recreus, Oo-Kuma, Polymaker and MadeSolid on a Colido v2.0 and Makergear M2 3D printers at speeds of 20mm/s and layer heights of .2 mm, before putting their prints through such tests as those related to shore hardness, tensile strength and elongation at break, and elasticity.  Other, less quantifiable features taken into account were characteristics like surface finish, consistency across prints, geometrical accuracy, and how well the filament could be fed into a printer without issue. The results, recorded in greater detail at the 3D Matter site, are pretty interesting.

3D Matter begins by stating that the ability to even manufacture flexible filament places a natural filter on manufacturers who are able to do it.  In general, flexible filaments, broken down into semi-flexible and flexible categories, tended to have lower quality and process grades, as flexibility is given a priority over aesthetic quality and printability.  NinjaFlex and SemiFlex, though considered more expensive, were deemed great filaments, in terms of mechanical performance and visual quality, while Polymakers PolyFlex was a very good semi-flexible filament that was easy to print and nice looking, but did not have the best mechanical performance of the group. MadeSolids FlexSolid had good performance, but did not look as good as PolyFlex or SemiFlex.  The cheapest material, Oo-kumas TrueFlex, was considered the only one in the flexible category to have good strength. Finally, FilaFlex, which is known for its remarkable flexibility, was difficult to print with and lacked in terms of visual quality.  Therefore, 3D Matter writes,it should be reserved for applications where higher flexibility is crucial and NinjaFlex or TrueFlex are not flexible enough.

In addition to the extensive test results, of which Ive only covered generally here, 3D Matter provides tips for using the filament in ways to achieve certain results.  In one instance, the firm has created a scale that correlates infill percentage with desired hardness, writing,For example, if the hardness required is that of a tire tread (60A), the user can try printing a flexible filament at 50% infill, or a semi-flexible filament at 20% infill.With notes like, the more flexible, the harder to print, 3D Matter concludes thatsemi-flexible filaments can be printed up to 80-90mm/s, but flexible filaments can only reach 30-65mm/s.

For anyone who has used flexible filaments, or anyone who has tried but not succeeded, the report is an amazing resource.  You no longer have to blame yourself for getting filament tangled up in your printer or the fact that your prints might not look as great as those printed in HIPS.This studycan tell you a lot about which material to choose for your next flexible project.

Michael Molitch-Hou previously served as Editor-in-Chief of 3D Printing Industry, he is now the Editor of Engineering . coms 3D printing section. He has covered additive manufacturing technology day in and day out since 2012 and has hundreds of article to his credit. He is the founder of The Reality Institute.

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3D Printing Filament Producer

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3D Printing filaments guide

There are several materials that can be 3D printed, each one with different physical proprieties and working temperatures.

The FABtotum can load filament spools up to 210mmx55mm(OD,Thickness), with filament diameter in the range 1.75mm +/- 0.1mm

We strongly suggest using certified official FABtotum brand filaments, as they give more reliable results with our hardware.

You are however free to experiment and use different brands, as long as they use the same material class, diameter and temperature specifications.

See how to load or unload the spools in theload and unload a filament spoolarticle.

If you are using a FABtotum filament you should not worry about the material too much, as extensive testing has been done to ensure good performances.

However you may also use third party filaments. In both cases always make sure to keep in mind the following:

If you are using a Slicing Software profile be aware that its not meant as a fool-proof solution, and might be tweaked a little to fit each 3D printed object.

Sometimes a profile will work great regardless, but with the right tuning you might get better results in less time.

Always store the filament spool in a suitable place, far away from sources of heat, sunlight and humidity.

Make sure that, if you are using a third party filament, the diameter of the filament is consistent within the tolerance of +/- 0.1mm. Make a few spaced measurement.

Different filaments use different temperatures. When changing one spool to another

uses a different filament make sure to clean the nozzle at the previous material temperature first, then

this helps cleaning the melting chamber (hot

Always load and check if the filament is extruding manually (from the JOG menu).

Make sure the spool is locked in place with the locking lever and its free to rotate. Have the Feeding tube pass below the back spool roller (under the spool itself) in order to avoid it becoming stuck in the spool once most of the filament has been extruded.

Its one of the most used material in 3D printing: its a biodegradable polymer that comes from corn.

3D Printing suggested temperature: 200 220 C

Bed temperature: 25 65 C (bed can be at room temperature)

ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)

Its a common plastic polymer, its used to print strong parts. Having an higher glass transition temperature could be used to make parts that are used in hotter environments.

3D Printing suggested temperature: 220 260 C

One of the stongest material you can find for 3D printing. It can be used for mechanical parts

3D Printing suggested temperature : 245-255C

Combining PLA or ABS with other additives can be possible and will result in different properties.

Charging the polymers with materials like Carbon fibers, wood dust, metallic powder can make stronger materials or with a nice finishing.

Printing settings depends on the polymer used. Refer to the spool manufacturer or , in case of FABtotum Filaments , the Spool label to get the suggested printing settings.

Flexible filaments can be printed only with thePrinting Head Pro

Due to the bowden extruder setup its -in fact usually difficult to print flexible filaments like rubber or TPU with the Hybrid Head or the Printing Head V2.

Doing so will result in filament clogging the extruder and subsequent need to clean it.

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