3d printing Filamant

Filaments

3D printing filaments are the feedstocks used for fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printers. They are made of thermoplastic materials, and now they come with many different properties, printing temperatures, diameters, and colours.
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Filament is most commonly available in standard diameters of 1.75 mm and 2.85 mm. More diameters are available for bespoke operations as well. (It is important not to confuse filament size with nozzle size. It is common to use different combinations of filament sizes and nozzle sizes for different printing applications.)
FDM filaments are produced into a single continuous plastic thread hundreds of metres in length. The thread is typically spooled into a reel, allowing for storage and distribution, and feeding into the 3D printer.
Filament thread for FDM 3D printing is made of a thermoplastic material. This is a type of polymer that melts when it is heated, rather than burning. The melted state of the polymer allows for it to be molded into any shape desired. When it cools, it solidifies into this shape.
The most common types of filament are acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polylactic acid (PLA). These are the least expensive filament materials available, partly explaining their popularity.
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How to Choose Filaments for 3D Printing

  1. Check physical requirements for your project. Make sure filaments have the strength or weight you need, and can be printed with enough resolution.
  2. Check mechanical requirements. Will your part need to survive lots of wear and tear? Will it be stationary and ornamental?
  3. Check chemical requirements. Does the filament need to be biodegradable? Water soluble? Will it have to withstand heat, or UV radiation from the sun?
  4. Make sure you’ve got the equipment you need for the filament you’ve chosen. This includes cooling fans and bed enclosures.
  5. Make sure you can get hold of enough filament material for your project. Check the size!
  6. Finally, double-check everything with an eye on price and your skills in design and 3D printing. When you’re prototyping, “barely working” is your first goal!
The rapid production times, high versatility, and low cost of desktop 3D printers is making them a common sight in the workplace. Desktop 3D printing is employed in any sector that involves a physical product, from the design and engineering stage of product development through to maintenance and repair.
Desktop 3D printers can produce highly accurate, working prototypes. They are being used in medical and dental offices, aerospace and automotive engineering desks, and in many industrial manufacturing sectors.

‍The big benefit to 3D printing is that making parts and pieces more complex (in terms of shape) does not result in a lengthier or more costly production process. Unlike traditional machining, where complex shapes have to be painstakingly milled from material at multiple angles, desktop 3D printing enables the quick and relatively cheap production of prototypes and custom jigs.
Desktop 3D printing allows designers to make unique and interesting jigs for innovative molding applications. Round and conformal jigs can be easily designed using CAD software and then 3D printed in the office to cast a delicate, thin, or curved object.Designers and engineers no longer have to wait days or weeks for third parties to finish manufacturing a jig or prototype. Instead, the desktop 3D printer prepares the desired part overnight, and the engineer or designer finds it on their desk in the morning.
This significant reduction in lead time for prototypes and jigs adds significant value to design and R&D processes in manufacturing. Engineers can test and reiterate designs more quickly, spotting potential problems that might arise in production before they happen.
Using desktop 3D printing for prototypes and jigs saves money and time, gives designers a much higher degree of creative freedom, and enables early problem solving to ensure a successful manufacturing process. These benefits are to be had for any manufacturing business today.
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What Are the Most Common 3D Printing Filaments?

The most common types of filament are acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polylactic acid (PLA). These are the least expensive filament materials available, partly explaining their popularity.

What 3D Printer Filaments Are Available?

  1. ABS (Acetonitrile butadiene styrene) – One of the most popular 3D printing filaments, good for making functional parts and outdoor items
  2. PLA (Polylactic acid) – The other most popular filament for 3D printers, really easy to use and ideal for design prototypes, decoration, and display
  3. Nylon – Also known as polyamide (PA), high-strength filament for objects that need to withstand a lot of wear and tear
  4. Recycled PA6 – PA6, or nylon 6, filaments can be made from recycled materials, while retaining the strength and durability of nylon
  5. HIPS (High impact polystyrene) – Low-cost filament commonly used as a support material in combination with other filaments
  6. PVA (Polyvinyl alcohol) – 100% biodegradable, non-toxic and water soluble, useful for disposable packaging
  7. PETG (Glycol-modified polyethylene terephthalate) – Extremely high-strength and heat-stable, used for medical and food packaging
  8. Recycled PETG – New technology enables PETG recycling for 3D printer filaments, minimising the environmental cost of food and medical packaging
  9. TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethane) – Prints in a flexible material like rubber, great for footwear and sporting goods
  10. ASA (Acrylonitrile styrene acrylate) – Verfy similar to ABS, but better at withstanding UV degradation from the sun
  11. Polycarbonate – Strongest 3D printing filament available to consumers, also has glass-like transparency so great for screens and safety visors
  12. Ultem – Brand name for polyetherimide (PEI) filament, same strength-to-weight as aluminium and can be machined like metal
  13. PEEK (Polyether ether ketone) – Comparable to metals in terms of strength and weight, can be used anywhere you’d have to machine a metal part
  14. Carbon fiber – Strong and lightweight material found everywhere from space rockets to road bikes, used in 3D printing as an addition to plastic filaments
  15. Carbon-filled Ultem – Adding carbon to Ultem makes 3D-printed objects from this filament stiffer and lighter
  16. Carbon-filled PEEK – 3D printing with carbon-filled PEEK filaments results in lightweight, strong objects with extremely high thermal conductivity
  17. Wood filament – Wood powders mixed in with a plastic filament material can 3D print objects that look like wood, great for decoration and jewellery
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When to Use Each Type of 3D Printing Filament  

ABS (Acetonitrile butadiene styrene)

ABS filament makes durable and rigid 3D-printed objects with high thermal and chemical stability. This means they don’t degrade easily over time, whether from physical, thermal, or chemical stresses.

ABS is good for 3D printing functional parts, from gears and cogs to hinges and brackets. These parts will have a smooth, glossy finish. Combined with their durability, this makes them ideal for daily use.

ABS filaments need a high print temperature – 220 to 250 °C. You also need a heated printing bed to cool ABS parts slowly without warping the material.

You must ensure you have excellent ventilation around your 3D printer if you want to use ABS filament. This is because it emits noxious fumes when heated to a printable temperature.

The low cost and high strength of ABS filament makes it one of the most popular filament types available. However, it’s not ideal for beginners due to the requirements for a printing bed and proper ventilation.

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PLA (Polylactic acid)

PLA is a newer filament type on the market which is quickly rising to become one of the two most popular filaments available. This is partly down to its low cost, but also to the fact that it’s very beginner-friendly.

It’s a low-temperature 3D-printing filament, only needing heating up to 150 to 160 °C for printing. This means you don’t need to worry so much about warping, and cooling can be done with a cooling fan on maximum power.

It’s also totally biodegradable. Because PLA is made out of organic lactic acid monomers – which are found in nature and even the human body – it’s able to break down through bioactive processes.

There’s no noxious fumes emitted when 3D printing with PLA, so you don’t need to worry about ventilation.

It’s not the strongest filament for 3D printers, or the most stable. But it’s low cost, ease of use, and biodegradability make it ideal for ornaments, design prototypes, and display items.

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Nylon and recycled PA6

Nylon has been used to make strong fabrics and textiles for almost a hundred years now. That’s because it’s extremely strong, durable, and versatile. These properties translate to strong, durable, and versatile 3D printing filaments as well.

As well as being an extremely durable material for 3D printing, nylon filaments also have fantastic layer-to-layer adhesion. This, and the inherent durability in the material, mean nylon can be used for extremely rugged applications.

It’s not the easiest 3D printing filament to use. It requires high temperatures (260 to 280 °C), and you’ll need to use a cooling enclosure to prevent warping.

Nylon 6 (PA6) is also very recyclable. With recycled nylon filaments, your 3D printing project can join the circular economy and help us to reduce waste and tackle global pollution.

The extreme durability of nylon filaments makes them ideal for use in functional parts. Wherever you need a part to withstand a lot of regular wear and tear, nylon will be a good filament choice.

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HIPS (High impact polystyrene)

HIPS combines two plastic materials, polystyrene and polybutadiene. In doing so, HIPS filaments can offer the low cost and good durability of polystyrene alongside the strength and flexibility you get with polybutadiene.

You will usually use HIPS filament as a supporting material in a 3D printing project, alongside a main structural material such as ABS. This is because HIPS can be completely dissolved in limonene, which is widely available.

The 3D printer will fill cavities and arches with HIPS filament to support the structural material while printing is still underway. This prevents your object from deforming during printing. When you’re done, you just drop the object in limonene, dissolving the HIPS support.

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PVA (Polyvinyl alcohol)

PVA is easily biodegradable, and it even dissolves in water (it’s used as a dissolvable film packaging for dishwasher tablets, for example). This means that it can also be used as a good support material for 3D printing.

When you’re done with your print job, you can just wash the object in ordinary water to get PVA filament-based support off the final product.

It prints at roughly the same temperature as PLA (185 to 200 °C), making it an ideal companion for PLA projects. With a multi-extruder printer, you can print the PLA product and the PVA support simultaneously.

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PETG (Glycol-modified polyethylene terephthalate) and recycled PETG

PETG is derived from PET – one of the most ubiquitous plastic materials in the world today. It share’s PET’s high mechanical strength and waterproof surface, but modifying it with glycol adds more durability, visible clarity, and handling ease.

High heat stability makes PETG a great filament choice for food and medical packaging. This is because it can withstand multiple steam-cleaning treatments for sterilisation.

PETG is not good in the sun. It’s susceptible to deforming after exposure to UV light, as the chemistry breaks down. It’s also a notoriously difficult filament to use, and not recommended for beginners.

You can also benefit from the strength, thermal stability, and waterproof surface of PETG if you are keeping an eye on your environmental impact. PET is readily recycled, and recycled PETG filaments are a good choice for 3D printing.

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TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethane)

TPU has a hardness of Shore A 94 – in other words, it’s flexible. Objects printed with TPU filament have a similar flexibility or hardness to rubber.

Because of this, TPU makes a great filament choice for footwear, various sporting goods, and impact protection in mobile phone or laptop cases.

Flexible filament materials aren’t supported by all 3D printers, or all nozzle types. If you want to print with TPU, you need to make sure that all the equipment it will come into contact with works with flexible filaments.

Otherwise, you’ll end up with a mess inside the extruder assembly in your 3D printer – ruining your project and potentially damaging your equipment.

As well as having the right equipment, you should also make sure you’re printing at low speeds (15 to 30 mm per second), and avoid using retraction techniques if possible.

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ASA (Acrylonitrile styrene acrylate)

ASA is a very similar plastic to ABS, with a key difference. ASA filaments include acrylate in the polymer, which greatly increases resistance to UV degradation.

This makes ASA a good filament choice for applications where a 3D-printed object will need to be outside for a long period of time. These include external signage, garden furniture, adventure equipment, and parts for cars.

Like ABS, ASA has to be printed at high temperatures (230 to 250 °C). This has associated difficulties for beginners, such as warping risks in the cooling process.

It also has to be printed in a well-ventilated area due to the noxious fumes it emits when heated.

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Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate filaments are made from polymer materials whose component groups are based on carbon. This makes them exceptionally strong. In fact, polycarbonate filament may be the strongest filament type available to consumers.

Polycarbonate filaments are also capable of 3D printing glass-like objects that let visible light through.

These properties make polycarbonate filaments well-suited for applications where you need a strong object that you can see through. This includes safety visors and glasses, protective screens for computers and mobile phones, and screens for ruggedised electrical displays.

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Carbon fiber

When you see 3D printing with carbon, this means that a polymer filament material has been “doped” with carbon fiber particles. In other words, carbon is suspended in a matrix of surrounding plastic.

When 3D printers heat up the plastic for printing, they don’t actually melt the carbon particles suspended within it. Instead, carbon is carried through the printer and extruder and deposited in the final part.

Adding carbon fiber to the 3D printing filament lends the famously great weight and strength properties of carbon to 3D-printed objects. Use a carbon-filled filament for the best strength-to-weight possible.

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Ultem and carbon-filled Ultem

Ultem, which is also known as polyetherimide (PEI), is an extremely strong and durable 3D printing filament material. These properties make Ultem already known to 3D printing enthusiasts, who may recognise PEI as the material used for many 3D printing beds.

With a tensile strength of 15,200 psi and a flexural modulus of 480,000 psi, Ultem is comparable to metals in terms of strength and hardness. It can be machined just like metals can, further adding to its manufacturing applicability.

Ultem is suitable for aerospace and automotive engineering applications, and can provide significant cost savings when compared to traditional subtractive manufacturing methods.

It’s also commonly used for 3D printing electrical components, insulation parts, and chip test sockets.

Ultem can be doped with carbon particles, adding the extreme strength-to-weight properties of carbon fiber to the filament material.

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PEEK (Polyether ether ketone) and carbon-filled PEEK

PEEK is a similar material to Ultem, although it comes at a higher price point. For that higher price, you get an even stronger and harder filament material.

PEEK is stronger than aluminium by the gram, and is also elastic and has a high tensile modulus.

The elasticity of PEEK filaments makes the material a good choice for engine applications, such as pistons and intricate wire casing.

Like Ultem, PEEK can also be infused with carbon particles to add the strength and light weight of carbon to the already extremely strong material. This adds cost, of course, and is used in extremely specialist and highly demanding applications in the aerospace and automotive industries.

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Wood filament

Wood-filled filaments, like carbon-filled filaments, aren’t actually made up of only wood. Instead, they suspend wood particles in a polymer matrix, which transports the particles through a 3D printer and into the final product.

Wood-filled filaments have great options for decorative finishes, and are very versatile in this respect. You can use different types of wood such as bamboo or cork for a different effect.

3D printing with wood filaments is great for making unique objects that seem impossible to carve out of wood. It’s great for decorative, marketing, or display applications.

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Selective laser sintering (SLS) is the oldest, cheapest, and most popular of the major 3D printing technologies today. Because of this – and its many benefits – SLS 3D printing for industrial production has seen widespread adoption across various manufacturing and advanced manufacturing sectors.SLS 3D printing is good for industrial production because it can make extremely strong products without a lot of waste or a relatively high cost to print. Low-volume component parts production and rapid prototyping are just some of the applications of SLS 3D printing for industrial production businesses.

‍In aerospace, SLS 3D printing is used for the industrial production of functioning interior parts of the aircraft. Using additive manufacturing helps aerospace companies to reduce weight as much as possible without compromising on structural properties of parts.
Emirates, the largest airline in the UAE, is currently using SLS 3D printing to manufacture components for their aircraft cabins, including air vent grills and video monitoring shrouds.
In consumer goods, Chanel uses SLS 3D printing to create mascara brushes for the mass market. The adoption of industrial SLS 3D printing technology has led to design optimisation, ensuring a rough granular texture that makes the mascara more readily stick to the brush.
The simple workflows, great versatility, and low cost of industrial SLS equipment has led to the technology’s prominent place in the additive manufacturing scene. Now, around three quarters of industrial 3D printing projects use SLS methods.
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