FUSED DEPOSITION MODELING


FDM INTRODUCTION

There is a very good chance that you’ve ever seen a 3D printer at a trade show or your school, it was an FDM printer. The FDM printer is the most common type of 3D printer currently available, coming in a host of makes and configurations.

Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is a 3D printing process where thermoplastic filament or feedstock is heated to the required temperature and incrementally laid in a specified pattern. The technology makes use of gantry mounted belt/chain drives to move the extrusion head along the X and Y axis, and then either the extruder head is elevated or the build plate is moved downwards in order to allow layered deposition along the Z axis to effect completion of the 3 dimensional object. Subsequent layers of thermoplastic material fuse fuse together as they are deposited ultimately forming the desired shape.

Sounds simple, right?

It can be.

And it can certainly be very entertaining and rewarding watching as an object of your creation comes – literally – to life. However there are a great many details about the type of material, design and settings that should also be considered when FDM printing.

Extruder
Broadly defined in two parts – the cold and hot ends – the extruder is the heart of the FDM printer. Primary components of the cold end include stepper motor controlled feeder gears that control the flow rate of filament. The hot end melts the filament, and the nozzle is one of the ways used to define how fine the layer being deposited will be.

WHY SHOULD I USE FDM PRINTING?

  • FDM printing is the most common type of 3D printing currently available.
  • Because they are so common, they are also the most affordable type of 3D printer – ranging from less than $500 upwards.
  • The popularity of FDM printing means there are a large number of support forums.
  • FDM printing offers the broadest range of filament materials – ranging from entry level PLA to PEEK.

…AND THE DRAWBACKS?

  • FDM printing is slower than other forms of additive
  • Though generally FDM layer resolution is good, it is not as good as resin printing (for example) or selective laser sintering

FILAMENTS/FEEDSTOCK

Below is a partial list of the various thermoplastic filaments that can be used when FDM 3D printing.

Clicking on the picture will allow you to view further information on each filament.

COMMON FILAMENTS

PLA (click to view)

ABS (click to view)

PETG (click to view)

PVB (click to view)


SUPPORT FILAMENTS

PVA (click to view)

HIPS (click to view)

Breakaway (click to view)


COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL FILAMENTS I

PC (click to view)

PP (click to view)

ASA (click to view)

Acetal (click to view)


COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL FILAMENTS III

FLEXIBLE FILAMENTS

TPU (click to view)

TPA (click to view)

TPC (click to view)

PCTPE (click to view)


SPECIALTY FILAMENTS

Antibacterial (click to view)

…filled (click to view)

Polywood (click to view)


COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL FILAMENTS II

Nylon (click to view)

Metal Casting (click to view)

Carbon Fiber (click to view)

Glass Fiber (click to view)



FDM PRINTERS

i3D has nurtured relationships with various manufacturers to offer a range of 3Dprinters that offer the widest range of options and features. The FUSION 3, FLASHFORGE and TIERTIME line of polymer FDM 3D printers: Exceptionally easy to use and cost-effective, they are also the most reliable and offer the most versatility — for business and personal users alike.

You are sure to find one below with just the features you need. Models vary according to:

  • number of extruders
  • extruder temperature
  • filament sensors
  • auto leveling bed
  • automatic filament feeding

Both FLASHPRINT and Tiertime’s UP STUDIO and new Catfish softwares offer the user a wide choice of slicing and printer control capabilities.

FUNMAT HIGH TEMPERATURE FDM PRINTER

FUSION3 F410 HIGH SPEED COMMERCIAL FDM PRINTER

TIERTIME X5 CONTINUOUS PRINT FDM PRINTER

CREATOR 3 INDEPENDENT DUAL EXTRUDER FDM PRINTER

GUIDER 2s ECONOMY HIGH VOLUME FDM PRINTER

CREATOR PRO ECONOMY DUAL EXTRUDER FDM PRINTER

TIERTIME UP MINI 2ES ECONOMY FDM PRINTER


HOW BIG IS BIG?

FDM printers come equipped with a wide range of features, Below is a comparative illustration of the build volumes for the various FDM printers, and the Shining A300 SLA printer, and the size of the LG smartphone.


%d bloggers like this:

PLA

OVERVIEW

PLA (Polylactic Acid) is likely THE most commonly used desktop 3D printing filament material.   PLA is found commonly in everyday items like shopping bags and candy wrappers.

It is widely considered the “default” material for many desktop 3D printers, and with good reason – PLA is useful in a broad range of printing applications, has the virtue of being both odorless and low-warp, and does not require a heated bed.   PLA filament is considered eco-friendly 3D printer material because it is made from renewable resources like corn-starch and is reclaimable.

POSSIBLE USES 

Prototyping, low-wear toys, modeling, containers

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • 180° – 210° Celsius extruder temperature
  • 20° – 50° Celsius build platform temperature
  • Minimal warping or shrinkage

POST PROCESSING NOTES

PLA is not the easiest material to post process. It is strong to be sanded smooth and can be painted. In addition, there are now products available that will help smooth out layers

BRANDS AND PRICING

 

____

Shop the i3D Store

 

ABS

OVERVIEW

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is one of the most widely used thermoplastics in the world, used in such products as Lego and piping.  It is also a common 3D printer material.

ABS is great for making strong and durable parts that need to withstand higher temperatures or stress. In comparison to PLA filament, ABS plastic is less brittle and a little more pliable – which essentially means that under stress the component will ‘give’ a little rather than crack.

POSSIBLE USES

Phone cases, high-wear toys, tool handles, automotive trim components, and electrical enclosures.

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • 210° – 250° Celsius extruder temperature
  • 80° – 100° Celsius build platform temperature
  • Proper ventilation strongly recommended
  • Prone to warping or shrinkage

POST PROCESSING NOTSE

ABS is made soluble by acetone. Acetone can be used to fuse ABS components together, but additionally the layers making up an ABS component can be smoothed using a process known as acetone vaping.

BRANDS AND PRICING

i3D offers both the Polymaker ABS Polylite filament, and the Firewire® Flame Retardant ABS 3D Printing Filament.

Firewire® FR-ABS is made using a premium UL94 V-0 rated ABS.  Our FR-ABS is high-gloss jet black and supplied on 1kg reels (2.2 lbs.), sealed in vacuum bags to keep them dry.  This filament is ideal for applications that require UL94 V-0 self-extinguishing characteristics.

Available in black only.

Flame Rating (UL94)*

Filament diameter specs:  

Recommended Print Conditions:

Please note:  Direct ventilation from your printer is required to print Firewire® ABS.  This grade has a much more pronounced odor during printing and we highly recommend venting outside or via HEPA and carbon filtration.

*This is the UL94 rating of base resin we use to make Firewire® FR-ABS Filament.

____

Shop the i3D Store

COPOLYESTERS

OVERVIEW

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the most commonly used plastic in the world. Best known as the polymer used in water bottles, it is also found in clothing fibres and food containers. While “raw” PET is rarely used in 3D printing, its variant PETG is a popular 3D printer filament.

The ‘G’ in PETG stands for “glycol-modified”, and the result is a filament which is clearer, less brittle, and most importantly, easier to use than its base form. For this reason, PETG is often considered a good middle ground between ABS and PLA, the two most commonly used types of 3D printer filament, as it is more flexible and durable than PLA and easier to print than ABS. PETT in another copolymer, popular because it is slightly more rigid than PETG and more transparent.

POSSIBLE USES

PETG is a good all-rounder but stands out from many other types of 3D printer filament due to its flexibility, strength, and temperature and impact resistance. This makes it an ideal 3D printer filament to use for objects which might experience sustained or sudden stress, like mechanical parts, printer parts, and protective components.

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • 220° – 250° Celsius extruder temperature
  • 50° – 75° Celsius build platform temperature
  • Sticky, should not be used as its own support structure
  • Minimal warping and shrinkage

POST PROCESSING NOTES


PET prints are not the easiest to post process. PET components can be sanded and coated to the users specifications, and it can also be smoothed – though not as efficiently as ABS – using the vaping method mentioned in ABS but instead of using acetone, using ethyl acetate.

BRANDS AND PRICING

____

Shop the i3D Store

PVB – Polyvinyl Butyral

OVERVIEW

Polyvinyl butyral is a plastic that is widely used in laminated safety glass for automobile windshields. It is tough, flexible and offers optical clarity.

In the 3D printing world, PBV filaments offer the user a unique ability to smooth and polish to a beautiful glossy finish using alcohols such as IPA (isopropyl alcohol) or ethanol. Application of IPA can be by way of spray bottle or soft cloth, or the use of a more sophisticated delivery method like the “Polysher” by Polymaker, which delivers a fine mist in even proportions.

PVB  has impressive mechanical properties such strength, toughness and flexibility. Compared to PLA, PVB is significantly stronger and more heat resistant; PVB has a softening temperature of 70C, very low odor and prints as easily as PLA

POSSIBLE USES

 

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • 180° – 210° Celsius extruder temperature
  • 20° – 50° Celsius build platform temperature
  • Similar to PLA when being printed

POST PROCESSING NOTES 

As mentioned above, application of IPA can be by way of spray bottle or soft cloth, or the use of a more sophisticated delivery method like the “Polysher” by Polymaker, which delivers a fine mist in even proportions.

BRANDS AND PRICING

i3D offers the original Polymaker Polysmooth brand of PVB and the premium Polymaker Polysher.

____

Shop the i3D Store

PVA – Polyvinyl Alchohol

OVERVIEW

PVA in the everyday world is used as glue or as the soluble sheaths for laundry detergent balls.

In the 3D printing world, PVA takes on a whole different role. It is often used with multi-extruder FDM 3D printers as a support material. The most useful feature of PVA filament is its ability to dissolve in water. This can mean a reduction in post processing and ugly marks left on the print after the support material is removed.

PVA generally works very well with PLA filaments since it requires same operating conditions such as the desired temperature. It can work with ABS, but it is not recommended since ABS does not bond well to PVA. A better support for ABS is HIPS, detailed below.

Parts printed with PVA supports usually need to be placed in water for a few hours (depending on the manufacturer’s specifications), until all of the PVA is dissolved. Because PVA typically dissolves into Polyvinyl Acetate, you typically end up with a glue-like film that needs to be rinsed off the component.

POSSIBLE USES

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • 180° – 210° Celsius extruder temperature
  • 20° – 50° Celsius build platform temperature
  • PVA is very stringy, so adjusting other settings like print speed and retraction rate may be required to avoid contaminating the print.

*NOTE:  The print settings provided are for standard PVA, which is designed to support PLA best.  It is possible to obtain PVA formulated to better bond with higher temperature filaments like ABS, Nylon or more industrial filaments so when selecting a PVA, make sure that it is designed to work for your intended purpose.

POST PROCESSING NOTES 

Just like there are different chemical compositions for other thermoplastics, the same is true for PVA. So while all PVA’s will dissolve in water, the amount of time may vary.

BRANDS AND PRICING

i3D offers multiple lines of PVA filaments, and they can be found by clicking here.

____

Shop the i3D Store

HIPS – Hi Impact Polystyrene

OVERVIEW

In the commercial world, high impact polystyrene (HIPS) – a copolymer that combines the hardness of polystyrene and the elasticity of rubber – is commonly found in protective packaging and containers, like CD cases. In the world of 3D printing, HIPS can be used to play a very different role. When paired with ABS in a dual extrusion printer, HIPS is an excellent support material.

For dual extrusion printing with HIPS, simply crank the supports to the max and fill any gaps in your design with HIPS 3D printer filament. Immersing the finished print in limonene will strip away the HIPS leaving your final product behind.

Unfortunately to use HIPS as a support material limits you to printing your actual part from ABS. Other 3D printer filament materials will be damaged by the limonene. Handily, HIPS and ABS print well together in any case, being of similar strength, stiffness, and requiring a comparable print temperature.

In fact, despite its primary use as a support material, HIPS is a decent 3D printer filament in its own right. It is stronger than both PLA and ABS, warps less than ABS, and can easily be glued, sanded, and painted.

POSSIBLE USES

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • 225° – 250° Celsius extruder temperature
  • 100° – 110° Celsius build platform temperature

POST PROCESSING NOTES

HIPS can be dissolved using d-Limonene, which is a chemical found in the rinds of citrus fruits.

BRANDS AND PRICING

____

Shop the i3D Store

Breakaway Filaments

Like PVA and HIPS, breakaway filaments are designed to support prints while being printed. Unlike PVA and HIPS, break-away filaments do not dissolve but are rather designed to snap or break off when the print is complete.

The exact chemical composition of breakaway filaments may vary but they are typically a mix of polyurethane and polylactic acid. Designed to tear or strip away without leaving residue, breakaway filaments work well for a much wider range of filaments ranging from PLA to nylon.

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • 220° – 230° Celsius extruder temperature
  • 95° – 105° Celsius build platform temperature.

POLYCARBONATE

OVERVIEW

Polycarbonate (PC), in addition to being one of the strongest 3D printer filament presented in this list, is extremely durable and resistant to both physical impact and heat, able to withstand temperatures of up to 110°C, and insulates electricity making it an excellent filament to use in electrical components and hardware. It’s also transparent, which explains its use in commercial items such as bulletproof glass, scuba masks, and electronic display screens.

For the sake of comparison:

Despite being exposed to similar uses PC should not be confused with acrylic or plexiglass which tends to shatter or crack under stress. By contrast with these materials, PC is moderately flexible which allows it to bend until it eventually deforms.

POSSIBLE USES

 

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • Moderately difficult to use
  • 270° – 310° Celsius extruder temperature
  • 90° – 110° Celsius build platform temperature
  • Prints best in an enclosed and heated build chamber if possible
  • High possibility of shrinkage/warpage
  • Hygroscopic, so store in a dry location
  • Not considered food safe

POST PROCESSING NOTES 

For best performance, we recommend annealing polycarbonate prints at 100° C for 1 or 2 hours to maximize mechanical properties. Polycarbonate can also be wet or dry sanded and painted with an acrylic paint.

BRANDS AND PRICING

3DXtech, GizmoDorks, Polymaker, others

Polycarbon filaments typically start around CDN$50/spool

____

Shop the i3D Store

Polypropylene (PP) is likely the 2nd most widely used plastic in the world, and it is on the rise is as on the rise in 3D printing because it offers a lot of very key characteristics. It is lightweight but has a comparatively high tensile strength, fatigue resistance, biological and chemical resistance, higher melting point and electrical insulation, and is likely one of the most food safe thermoplastics available.

Unfortunately, as a 3D printer filament type, PP is notoriously difficult to print with, often presenting heavy warpage and lackluster layer adhesion. If not for these issues, PP may have contended with PLA and ABS  for most popular 3D printer filament types, given its strong mechanical and chemical properties.

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • Moderately difficult to use
  • 210° – 240° Celsius extruder temperature
  • 70° – 90° Celsius build platform temperature
  • High possibility of shrinkage/warpage
  • Print slowly in order to maximize layer adhesion.
  • Not considered food safe

 

POST PROCESSING NOTES: Currently not available.

ASA BRANDS: 3DXtech, others

PRICING: Polypropylene filaments typically start around CDN$50/spool

ASA

OVERVIEW

ABS may be very popular, but it has it’s weaknesses among which are it’s inability with withstand weathering and UV. Along comes ASA – acrylonitrile styrene acrylate – which was originally developed to be a hardy weather-resistant material primarily used in the automotive industry.

Sharing many of the physical properties of ABS – strong, rigid and relatively easy to print – ASA is also extremely resistant to chemical exposure, heat, and most importantly, changes in shape and color. By comparison, prints made of ABS have a tendency to denature and yellow if left outdoors.

Additionally, ASA tends to warp less than ABS during printing.

POSSIBLE USES

 

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • Mid to Easy to use
  • 220° – 230° Celsius extruder temperature
  • 70° – 90° Celsius build platform temperature
  • Little possibility of shrinkage/warpage
  • Mind cooling fans and possible drafts to avoid cracks.
  • Not considered food safe

POST PROCESSING NOTES 

Currently not available.

BRANDS AND PRICING

3DXtech, others

____

Shop the i3D Store

Polyoxymethylene (POM) is also referred as acetal and Delrin. It offers a very low coefficient of friction and is well known for its use as an engineering plastic, for example in parts which move or require high precision, and is commonly used in gears, bearings, camera focusing mechanisms and zippers.

POM performs exceptionally well in these types of applications due to its strength, rigidity, resistance to wear, and most importantly, its low coefficient of friction. It’s thanks to this last property that POM makes such a great 3D printer filament.

For most of the types of 3D printer filament in this list, there is a significant gap between what is made in industry and what you can make at home with your 3D printer. For POM, this gap is somewhat smaller; the slippery nature of this material means prints can be nearly as functional as mass-produced parts.

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • Difficult to use
  • 210° – 230° Celsius extruder temperature
  • 100° – 130° Celsius build platform temperature
  • High possibility of shrinkage/warpage
  • High adhesive on bed required
  • Print slowly in order to maximize layer adhesion.
  • Ventilation strongly recommended.
  • Not considered food safe

POST PROCESSING NOTES: Currently not available.

There is a sub-group of polymer elastomers that exhibit elasticity not unlike rubber. The degree of elasticity in the material depends on the type of elastomer and the chemical structure of the grade. In addition, this grade of elastomers come with the processing advantages of thermoplastics which is what allows them to be 3D printed.

A note about shore hardness…

It is not unusual to see an elastomer accompanied or defined by it’s shore hardness. The shore hardness is a reference to the materials elasticity and resistance to indentation. The smaller the number the softer and more malleable the material will be.

 

________

TPU – Thermoplastic Polyurethane

TPU is the most common type of TPE used in 3D printing. Compared to other flexible filaments, it exhibits greater rigidity, allowing it to extrude more easily.

Features

3D Printing Prerequisites

Challenges

Industrial Applications

A note about shore hardness…

It is not unusual to see an elastomer accompanied or defined by it’s shore hardness. The shore hardness is a reference to the materials elasticity and resistance to indentation. The smaller the number the softer and more malleable the material will be.

 

_____

TPA – Thermoplastic Polyamide

As you may have guessed from the name, thermoplastic polyamides are a very flexible form of nylon. Nylon offers the user a great number of benefits that it largely lends to the elastomeric version.

Features

3D Printing Prerequisites

Challenges

Industrial Applications

There is a sub-group of polymer elastomers that exhibit elasticity not unlike rubber. The degree of elasticity in the material depends on the type of elastomer and the chemical structure of the grade. In addition, this grade of elastomers come with the processing advantages of thermoplastics which is what allows them to be 3D printed.

A note about shore hardness…

It is not unusual to see an elastomer accompanied or defined by it’s shore hardness. The shore hardness is a reference to the materials elasticity and resistance to indentation. The smaller the number the softer and more malleable the material will be.

 

____

Thermoplastic copolyester (TPC) are copolyesther esters with alternating, random-length sequences of either long-chain or short-chain glycols. They have both hard and soft segments. Hard segments are typically short-chain ester units whereas soft segments are usually aliphatic polyethers and polyester glycols.

TPC is considered to be an engineering-grade material, which might explain why it doesn’t appear as much in the hobbyist 3D printing world.

Features

3D Printing Prerequisites

Challenges

Industrial Applications

First things first: Rubber is not 3D printable. Yet.

At least not yet, and not using a typical polymer 3D printer. Recall that polymer 3D printing relies heavily on thermoplastics, which are a family of plastics that can retain their essential properties when melted, extruded, and then allowed to cool again. Rubber is an organic compound that undergoes a process called vulcanization to harden, and cannot be melted without burning it.

There is a sub-group of polymer elastomers that exhibit elasticity not unlike rubber. The degree of elasticity in the material depends on the type of elastomer and the chemical structure of the grade. In addition, this grade of elastomers come with the processing advantages of thermoplastics which is what allows them to be 3D printed.

A note about shore hardness…

It is not unusual to see an elastomer accompanied or defined by it’s shore hardness. The shore hardness is a reference to the materials elasticity and resistance to indentation. The smaller the number the softer and more malleable the material will be.

A note about shore hardness…

It is not unusual to see an elastomer accompanied or defined by it’s shore hardness. The shore hardness is a reference to the materials elasticity and resistance to indentation. The smaller the number the softer and more malleable the material will be.

__________

PCTPE stands for "Plasticized Copolyamide TPE" or a chemical co-polymer of highly flexible nylon and TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) . 

PCTPE has several unique features that allow any user to print a highly flexible part with the added durability of our nylon polymers.  This combination of polymers was developed specifically to allow anyone using current FFF 3D Printers to print parts from durable prosthesis to complete cosplay wearable outfits, cell phone enclosures as well as highly flexible utility/industrial parts.  The flexibility of PCTPE means that the end parts will have the smooth lustrous texture of nylon, the added flexibility offered by a rubber like TPE, yet maintain the high durability and non-delaminating benefits of all taulman3D Printing materials.

Picture

Taulman3D's PCTPE filament can be found and purchased at the i3D store, here.

ANTIBACTERIAL FILAMENTS

COPPER 3D and others have designed 3D printable personal protection equipment files to help deal with the current pandemic situation. If you would like to find out more and to download the free-share .stl files, please view the article in our blog by clicking HERE

Many plastics can absorb trace elements – like moisture – from the environment, which means they can also absorb and house bacteria which can be passed along with human contact.

Antibacterial filaments are made of a root material, like PLA or PETG and laced with trace antibacterial agents like silver or copper ions which can greatly inhibit bacterial growth – by at least 99 percent – greatly reducing the risk of infections.

COPPER 3D PLACTIVE AN1 is one such patented, innovative nanocomposite which combines high quality PLA and a nano-copper additive. It is designed and ideal for use in medical applications, or any application where it is considered important to keep bacterial contamination down to a minimum. The combination has been scientifically proven to eliminate more than 99.99% of fungi, viruses, bacteria and a wide range of microorganisms. Importantly, PLACTIVE AN1 maintains all the mechanical properties of the host material and so prints with ease and has thermoforming characteristics that facilitates post-processing and final adjustments of the 3D printed application.

The virtual elimination of bacterial growth and contamination not only allows for polymer 3D printing to broaden its uses for medical purposes, but also household use where there is high contact like food serving implements or toys.

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • print setting will vary according to the base polymer – PLATPU, or PETG – being printed

POST PROCESSING NOTES: please see post processing notes for PLAPETG or TPU

-FILLED OR BLENDED FILAMENTS

If you are looking for something that is a little closer to metal or wood, blended filaments might be what you are looking for.

Filament producers like Colorfabb have created lines of filaments that have blended PLA with powders – from 50% to 80% – in order to allow the user to create prints that reflect the aesthetic appeals of the powdered component. The number of different blended filaments is growing but include brass, bronze, copper, steel, wood, aluminum, and so on.

Just a few things to remember, however…

Printing Settings and Considerations

Print settings for blended filaments will vary according to the base polymer. If PLA is the base polymer, then PLA print settings will work best. The same is true of ABS based blended filaments and PETG.

i3D offers Polywood for sale in our store and can be found here

POLYWOOD

OVERVIEW

Polywood filament is very similar to blended filaments and makes use of similar settings, however it differs in that it does not contain wood powder.

PolyWood™ is a wood mimic filament without actual wood powder, which minimizes risk of nozzle clogs and premature nozzle wear…especially when using brass nozzles which are known to be softer and more prone to wearing.

PolyWood™ is made entirely with PLA using a special foaming technology.

When sanded and properly processed, it exhibits some of the same properties of wood.

POSSIBLE USES

 

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • 180 – 210 degree print temperature
  • 20 – 50 degree, but heating pad required
  • Minimal warping or shrinkage

POST PROCESSING NOTES

Polywood comes out of the printer looking good, but applying a high grit (220+) directional sanding effort will smooth out layer lines and give the final model a more genuine wood look and feel.

BRANDS AND PRICING

i3D offers Polywood for sale in our store and can be found here

____

Shop the i3D Store

NYLON

OVERVIEW

Nylon refers to a group of 8 plastics also known as ‘polyamides’, typified by amide groups (CONH) providing a broad range of properties. There are 8 types of nylons: Nylon 6; Nylon 6,6; Nylon 4,6; Nylon 6,9; Nylon 6,10; Nylon 6,12; Nylon 11; and Nylon 12. Each nylon offers different physical properties and will be the subject of a future blog article.

For the purpose of FDM printing, our focus will be on Nylon 6 and Nylon 6, 6 which offers an excellent blend of heat and chemical resistance, and flexibility which makes it a favorite for tooling and the medical community, especially in cases where exposure to cleaning chemicals and heat is high. Even when considering nylon 6 there are many sub-categories, each offering a slight variation of properties so it is important to know what you are printing.

POSSIBLE USES

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • Moderately difficult to use
  • 235° – 275° Celsius extruder temperature
  • 75° – 100° Celsius build platform temperature
  • High possibility of shrinkage/warpage
  • Hygroscopic, so store in a dry location
  • Possibly food safe, but check with supplier

POST PROCESSING NOTES

Because nylon is hygroscopic, and since most nylons are available in white or natural, one of the post processing benefits is that it can be dyed. Following printing, the component can be immersed in a food safe dye for color.

BRANDS AND PRICING

3DXtechTaulman, others

____

Shop the i3D Store

METAL CASTING

OVERVIEW

Lost-wax process, also called cire-perdue, is a method of metal casting which dates back almost 3,000 years across all continents except Australia.

Lost-wax casting requires the creation of a wax model of the end product, which is then packed in clay or sand. Once packed, it is heated, melting the wax and allowing it to be drained away leaving a mold into which a molten metal can be poured. The metal is allowed to cool and the clay or sand is removed and this leaves behind the desired item.

3D printing offers users the ability to create ‘lost-wax’ CAD precise models that can be used for this process.

Because the heat used in the process, a wide variety of filaments – like ABS – can be used since all will melt and can be drained from the mold. However the required finish and the amount of time invested in post processing has required the development of filaments that are more suited to the task.

However filaments like PolyCast™ have been specifically designed for metal investment casting, and offer a two main benefits over other polymers:

POSSIBLE USES

 

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

POST PROCESSING NOTES

Polycast can be post processed much like PVB/Polysmooth, using isopropyl alcohol. It can be wiped on using a soft cloth, or it can be evenly applied using an ionizing mister like the Polymaker Polysher.

BRANDS AND PRICING

____

Shop the i3D Store

CARBON FIBER

OVERVIEW

Carbon Fiber is a polymer, sometimes referred to as ‘graphite fiber’. It is a very strong, lightweight material that pound-for-pound is five-times stronger than steel and twice as stiff. These traits make it the manufacturing material of choice for a vast array of parts.   Carbon fiber is comprised of crystalline filaments of carbon often thinner than a strand of human hair, and that gets stronger when twisted together like yarn. It can then be woven to form cloth and if needed to take a permanent shape, carbon fiber can be laid over a mold and coated in resin or plastic.

NOTE: Carbon fiber is not a filament on it’s own. It would be more correct to say that, carbon fiber strands are combined to reinforce a base polymer like PLA, ABS, PETG or nylon. The result is an extremely stiff and rigid material with relatively little weight. Such compounds shine in structural applications that must withstand a wide variety of end-use applications.

POSSIBLE USES

 

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • Consider base polymer when reviewing heat and speed settings
  • The carbon fiber strands are very rough and it is not unusual for brass nozzles to wear out on as little as 500 grams of filament. Consider upgrading your nozzle to steel or better prior to printing.

 

POST PROCESSING NOTES 

Currently not available

____

Shop the i3D Store

GLASS FIBER

OVERVIEW

Glass fiber filled filaments feature glass fiber reinforcement which increases both the strength and stiffness of the base polymer. This means that printed parts under stress will hold their shape better, retaining dimensional accuracy. The glass fiber filaments also increases impact resistance to printed parts, making these filaments great for functional parts.

Popular in aerospace development and testing, glass fiber reinforced materials can absorb large amounts of energy while maintaining shape and structural integrity.

POSSIBLE USES

 

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • Consider base polymer when reviewing heat and speed settings
  • Glass fiber strands are very rough and it is not unusual for brass nozzles to wear out on as little as 500 grams of filament. Consider upgrading your nozzle to steel or better prior to printing.

POST PROCESSING NOTES

BRANDS AND PRICING

____

Shop the i3D Store