Best Unique 3D Printing Filaments of 2015
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Best Unique 3D Printing Filaments of 2015

We have tested some very advanced materials throughout the past year from industrial grade nylons to flexible elastomers. These functional FDM materials have allowed SD3D production services to be used as a solution to demanding end-user applications. We are excited to see what 2016 will bring as material suppliers seem to be accelerating their rate of R&D. The following twelve materials are our favorite new materials of 2015.

taulman3D
MadeSolid
Proto-Pasta

BluePrint

BluPrint

Strength: ~5000 PSI, Elongation: ~8%, Tg: 110C

Blueprint is a specialty co-polymer developed by taulman 3D. It has superior mechanical properties for parts that need to be used in high heat applications. It has a Tg of 110C which is approximately 20 degrees higher than typical ABS filaments manufactured for FDM printing. This makes it ideal for structural parts and those interfacing with any heated components on our printers.taulman 3D BluPrint

These parts printed flawlessly at speeds of up to 120mm/s at 0.2mm layer heights on a standard 0.6mm E3D hotend. We found the optimal extrusion temperature at those speeds to be 285C with parts stuck to our heated PEI bed perfectly at 110C. The tendency to warp was on par or slightly better than ABS. Maintaining a gradient free build chamber with ambient temps of 55C+ alleviated warping stresses throughout the build. 

 While there is a nylon component in this co-polymer, it’s dye uptake is poor and requires conventional priming and painting if you want colored parts. Aesthetic considerations aside, this material is our go-to choice for industrial grade parts. We would feel very comfortable using these parts in demanding automotive and aviation applications.

PCTPE

PCTPE

Strength: 5046 PSI, Elongation: 497.6%, Tg: 74C

PCTPE is another amazing material by taulman 3D which provides the flexibility of an elastomer with the durability of nylon. PCTPE stands for “Plasticized Copolyamide TPE” or a chemical co-polymer of highly flexible nylon and TPE (thermoplastic elastomer). The interlayer adhesion of PCTPE is excellent which is what makes this elastomer the most durable of any we have tested to date. PCTPE is printed best at a modest print speed of 60mm/s at 0.2mm layer heights using the 0.6mm E3D nozzle. Our preferred extrusion temperature at those speeds is 240C.

PCTPE is a tricky material to keep stuck to the build plate. The best approach is to apply a thin layer of PVA to a clean sheet of glass heated to 45C. We used an 8:1 ratio of elmers glue to water and thoroughly mixed the solution before spreading it evenly onto the build plate. When removing the PVA solution use hot water and soap. Do not apply isopropyl alcohol or acetone to the plate until the PVA has been thoroughly removed

Due to the high layer adhesion and flexibility of this filament, we have found brim is very difficult to remove.  We recommend a close skirt instead of a brim to limit the amount of cleaning required post-print.

Aside from the slight difficulties to print, this material is our favorite elastomer for any industrial application. This is perfect for high impact parts under significant loads as well as vibration dampening applications.  PCTPE comes in clear and can be easily dyed to specific color requirements. We used the RIT brand dyes and followed their packaging instructions without any issues.

t-glase

t-glase

blue t-glaseStrength: 4516 PSI, Elongation: 7.8%, Tg: 76C

t-glase is taulman 3D’s version of PETT which is meant to be a direct substitute for any material currently being printed in ABS. It has improved layer to layer bonding properties which allow it to achieve a higher tensile strength than typical ABS prints. t-glase has an ultimate tensile strength when printed of 4500PSI and 7.8%+ elongation to break which outperforms ABS. However, it has a lower glass transition temperature of 76C compared to the 90C Tg of typical FDM ABS filaments. This is perfectly suitable for outdoor applications, but may be a concern if placed in operation next to machinery generating significant heat.

Another interesting benefit to taulman’s t-glase is the optical properties of the specialty PETT material. When printed in clear, t-glase is partially transparent, clouded only by the interfaces between layers.

T-GlaseIf optical clarity is the goal in your design, we recommend printing at layer heights measuring approximately 80-90% of your nozzle diameter, slicing at a larger nozzle size, running your printer slow, and applying XTC-3D solution to the part after it finishes printing.  

Since it has such good layer adhesion, brim removal can be difficult.  Also due to it’s layer adhesion and properties, parent support material can be very difficult and complex models can be a nuisance trying to print.

Our preferred extrusion temperature for t-glase is 235C with our build plate heated to 45C. t-glase prints well at slower speeds of 50mm/s off a 0.6mm E3D nozzle. Layer settling times are particularly high on t-glase (and other PET based materials). We recommend using active print cooling as you would with PLA.

t-glase material comes in multiple color variations direct from taulman 3D.

Bridge

Bridge

Strength: 4800 PSI, Elongation: 248.2%, Tg: 52C

Bridge is a particularly easy to print industrial grade nylon from taulman3D. Bridge was developed as an adaptation from 645 nylon specifically to reduce the overall shrinkage properties when used in FDM 3D printers.

This is a very welcome advancement in the state of nylon since all other samples we have tried have been very difficult to print without bed adherence or corner warping issues on typical heated bed configurations.  Just make sure you print on a glass, not PEI, bed.

Bridge taulman

Nylon 680

Nylon 680

Strength: 5,188 PSI • Elongation: 186% • Tg: 52°C

The polymer is a pure polymer that is FDA approved and made by taulman 3D.  There are no additives used in the chemical manufacturing or extrusion processes.  Nylon 680 uses taulman3D’s processes to accommodate it’s use in FFM style/type 3D Printers.

We do not have extensive experience printing in Nylon 680 yet, but are looking forward to making some prints that can be eaten off of.

nylon 680

Nylon 910

Nylon 910

Nylon Pullies

Nylon 910 Gear Pullies

Strength: 8100 PSI, Elongation: 32%, Tg: 82C

Nylon 910 is the absolute highest strength material we have ever printed with. It is specially formulated by taulman 3D to reach an ultimate tensile strength of 8100PSI with 32% elongation to break. To top that off, alloy 910 also has the lowest rate of water absorption of any of the nylons we tested and a very low shrinkage rate of 0.33%.

The glass transition temperature for nylon 910 is 82C, just 8 degrees shy of typical ABS filaments. This makes it an excellent substitution for small ABS parts that need the highest durability 3D printing can provide.

We were able to print parts up to approximately 10 cubic inches without significant warping on a glass bed heated to 50C treated with the same PVA solution we used for PCTPE. Alloy 910 printed well at 0.2mm layer heights at 80mm/s and 255C extrusion temperature on our 0.6mm E3D hotend.

PET+

PET+

Strength: 6640 PSI, Elongation: 18%, Tg: 82C

The PET+ from MadeSolid is a great material for high impact parts. It has an even higher tensile strength (6640PSI) and elongation to break (18%) than the taulman 3D PETT, with similar interlayer bonding properties. MadeSolid’s PET+ comes in many different colors, making it a versatile plastic for production printing. It is a good substitute for any part that is currently printed in ABS so long as it does not exceed a service temperature of approximately 70C.

We were pleasantly surprised at the ease of printing when starting out with PET+. It is nearly as simple to print with as PLA with minimal tendency to warp and high adhesion to heated glass or PEI at 75C. This was particularly helpful when printing out large format prints that would typically be difficult to print with ABS. This material also is capable of bridging large overhangs particularly well. The only difficulty we found in printing PET+ is that it requires significant active print cooling for smaller format parts due to its high thermal density. Most printers, however, have sufficient print cooling capabilities so long as the minimal layer time is kept to >40 seconds. For large format parts, PET+ can be printed relatively fast, capable of reaching 100mm/s at 0.2mm layer heights and a 0.6mm nozzle and an extrusion temperature of 255C.

PET+

FlexSolid

FlexSolid

Strength: 7250 PSI, Elongation: 450%, Tg: 74C

FlexSolid is an amazing elastomer from MadeSolid. It combines an incredibly high elongation to break and low durometer rating, making it the closest material to rubber we have ever seen formulated for FDM printing.

Like any flexible material, it must be printed slow on a direct drive extruder, but we were surprised at how reliably this material printed at slow speeds of 40mm/s at 0.2mm layer heights on a 0.6mm nozzle. We were able to create functional GT3 belts with tooth counts that cannot be readily purchased off-the-shelf.

From what we can tell the color selection is limited to a semi translucent white.  It seems extremely difficult to print support material and would not be preferred for any complex model.

FlexSolid MadeSolid

PORO-LAY

PORO-LAY

The composition of the PORO-LAY filaments consist of two different materials; a functional component, for example an Elastomer (i.e. a rubberlike) and a soluble component (e.g. PVA, sugar, salt, or soluble resins).

This means that PORO-LAY  becomes extremely flexible after post processing in a 24 hour bath of water and then drying.  While this can be a long process, PORO-LAY almost becomes cloth like after since it is so soft.

We have found that PORO-LAY is a very difficult material to print in and is not easy for complex parts.  We run this material very slow in our printer and allow ample time to cool post print before removing from the bed.  Our print temperatures are 210°C for the nozzle and 60°C for the bed.

Carbon Fiber ABS

CF-ABS

Strength: 8500 PSI, Elongation: 2.17%, Tg: 90C

The carbon fiber reinforced ABS is an amazing material by 3DXTech. It boasts a tensile strength of 8000PSI, an improvement of 77% over standard ABS filaments. It is also much easier to print than typical ABS, as the carbon fiber reinforcement resists the built up internal stresses that typically cause warping on large ABS prints. This is our go-to material for drone applications and other robotic parts that require high strength while maintaining low deflection and weight. CF-ABS retains the high glass transition of standard ABS, making it particularly useful in demanding mechanical applications.

Another improvement of CF-ABS over standard ABS is enhanced surface quality, particularly when vapor post-processing is used to weld the layers together. This process makes CF-ABS parts as smooth as injection molded parts with full interlayer adhesion. CF-ABS can be printed at standard ABS speeds of up to 120mm/s at 0.2mm layer heights on a 0.6mm E3D nozzle.

There are two small issues to be aware of when starting out printing with CF-ABS. First, it is significantly more brittle than standard ABS and slightly more brittle than PLA. It may have a tendency to break off in certain spool feeding configurations so watch it closely upon first usage. The second issue to note is that CF-ABS will wear out your nozzle; upgrade to a stainless steel nozzle or be ready to change out your nozzle on a much more regular basis.

CFABS

Carbon Fiber PLA

Carbon Fiber PLA

Strength: ~8400 PSI, Elongation: 1.2%, Tg: 56C

Proto-pasta Carbon Fiber PLA is made from top quality PLA and 15% carbon fiber by weight. Prints made with CF-PLA are more rigid, with easy printing and support removal.

It has the advantage over ABS and Carbon Fiber ABS in that it is much easier to print.  Since it prints with settings very similar to PLA, CF-PLA does not seem to warp easily.  Like PLA though, it does not offer the ability to acetone vapor finish.

We have used this material for drone arms and other large prints on printers that do not have an enclosure with ease.

Polycarbonate-ABS Alloy

PC-ABS

Strength: 5050 PSI, Elongation: 4.3%, Tg: 125C

The polycarbonate-ABS (PC-ABS) alloy by Proto-Pasta is a very exotic material that provides the best properties of both PC and ABS. This material has the highest heat resistance of any polymer we offer with a glass transition temperature of 125C. We use PC-ABS on our printers to interface with the heated bed due to it’s high Tg and tensile strength.

Although PC-ABS has an ABS component, it does not vapor smooth very well since it is an alloy. When undergoing the vapor smoothing process, the PC and ABS components actually appear to separate and create internal flowing channels of homogeneous material. We have not found an application for that particular reaction at the moment, but it is very interesting experiment for anyone who has a vapor smoothing station set up for ABS.

PC-ABS

Review:

We have used these filaments throughout our production in-house printers for their unique properties.  The image to the right is an example of this – a dual hobbed extruder for our 24″ x 24″ printer. The body is made with Carbon Fiber ABS, the pinch hinge with PET+, bearing cap with ABS, gear pulley in Nylon 910, and secondary belt with FlexSolid. 

As you can tell, each one of these extruders is roughly 40 grams lighter than a standard Greg’s Wade – yet it is still able to maintain it’s strength.

Jarvis Extruder