Your options for the plastic to use in your 3D printer
ROBO 3D printers build models in a range of colors with either PLA or ABS plastic.
PLA or to use it’s full name, Poly Lactic Acid is probably the best material to get started with when you first start 3D printing. With the help of the 3D printer’s on board fan it will cool and set very quickly. This means that you can avoid warping and achieve a range of shapes than would be difficult with other materials.
After 3D printing you c
an finish your model by sanding and spraying with automotive spray filler. You can also paint directly onto PLA with acrylic paints.
PLA is kinder to the environment that other plastics as it is derived from corn starch and not fossil fuels. It is also biodegrade in an active compost heap.
Solid: black, white, purple, yellow, blue and green
Translucent: clear, red, blue and green.
ABS, or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene is popular in industry, being used for products such as car bumpers and LEGO® due to its toughness and strength. ABS is probably the second easiest material to 3D print with, but care must be taken when printing larger objects as it can suffer warping as the 3D model cools.
ABS can be finished by sanding, spraying with automotive spray filler and using Methyl Ethyl Ketone as a solvent. You can also paint directly onto ABS with acrylic paints.
ABS is produced from fossil fuels and is not biodegradable.
Solid: white, black, red, blue, green and yellow
T-Glase (pronounced “tee glass”) launched by Taulman3D, a print materials company best known for the nylon co-polymer filaments. It has been described as printing more like ABS or PLA than the nylon filaments, but introducing more of a nylon-like strength to the printed parts.
The main features of t-glase:
- Strength – First, as it’s a taulman3D industrial line, it has to be strong and we, along with our local testers and some selected industrial testers, are very pleased with the strength of t-glase. Especially with the larger nozzles used on industrial units.
- Temperature – Optimum temperature is about 212c to 224C, but will print down to 207C and up to about 235C.
FDA approved – t-glase is specifically made of FDA approved polymers for direct food contact/containers. This includes cups and other liquid storage parts as well as utensils.
- Environmental – While t-glase is not biodegradable like PLA, it is a material that’s considered 100% reclaimable. Thus the new “struders” that convert failed prints back to usable line work perfectly with t-glase. If you have a “struder”, you can actually mix in 12% of the total weight in discarded clear water bottles.
- Clarity – like 645 nylon, t-glase’s clarity supports industry’s requirements for non-destructive evaluation of 3D Printed parts.
- Shrinkage – Very low shrinkage makes printing large flat surfaces a breeze. And it easily prints to acrylic, glass, Kapton and other platforms.
- Bridging – Those of us that have printed with acrylics and polycarbonates are always envious of their bridging capabilities due to glass temperature. And the new t-glase is very impressive at bridging.
- Fumes – Unlike some lines, there are no odors or fumes when 3D Printing with t-glase.
Laywoo-D3 (LayWood) is a wood based filament that can be used in most desktop 3D printers. The wood filament prints easily, similar to PLA, and has a wood smell when printing.
The material has shown no warping tendencies when printed on a heated bed during testing. Possible extrusion temperature is fairly wide with a good starting point at 180C. Hotter temperatures will extrude a darker filament; using variable temperatures during a print, a faux wood ring pattern can be generated. Finished prints can also be easily sanded.
In general, if you have printed with PLA you should be able to quickly start printing with the Laywoo-D3 filament. This 3mm diameter filament comes in a 0.25kg coil and has a cherry wood color
Bronze PLA Filament
BronzeFill is a PLA/PHA based compound mixed with 80% fine bronze powder. The material is four times heavier than standard PLA. It has a density of approx 4 gr/cc (cubic centimeters) and feels like real metal. Bronzefill can be polished to get the beautiful metallic sheen as all other solid bronze products. After polishing, the normal visible layer lines disappear and the bronze object begins to stand out. ColorFabb says it will start doing intensive material tests in the next two months. Meanwhile they are looking for alternative methods to polish delicate printed parts in the easiest and most effective way.
Nylon Taulman ‘Bridge’
Starting with our strongest base polymer used for a percentage of nylon 645, we began working all of these requests.
Adherence to the Printing platform:
First, was the adherence to the Printing platform. Those that follow the use of nylon in posts, blogs and 3DP discussion rooms know of using garolite (LE) as a print surface. While this works well for all of taulman3D nylons, garolite is not always easy to acquire and even so, requires a properly cut section that fits each user’s unit. Our thanks goes out to our chemical company for helping to change this requirement. The surface properties of most nylons is extremely slippery making adherence to the printing platform difficult. Our chemical company was able to make minor adjustments, to reduce the surface effect just slightly, thus allowing for the use of most PVA glues, either full strength or diluted. Initial testing shows that in some cases, the PVA was better with Bridge than garolite is with 618. Thus, some dilution was used. The specific PVA used in our labs is a very low cost “ELMER’S Glue-All” White PVA.
Reduced water up-take:
Next was Reduced water up-take from local humidity. While it is not possible to eliminate the water uptake by nylon, it is possible to localize it to the surface through final processing changes. Therefore when printing, rather than water creating a subtle popping that can effect the surface finish, Bridge will hold the water to the outer portion resulting in a slight steam when wet. The result of this is that Bridge needs little or no drying in the winter and just needs to be warmed in the summer months. This is a manufacturing process that our extrusion house developed and added to our existing taulman3D processes.
We found that the same process that reduces water uptake also helps to reduce shrinkage. While nylon will always have a slightly higher amount than ABS, we were able to reduce it to an in/in value less than our current nylons. These changes also led to a slight reduction in stringing as the extruded threads are a thicker melt.
Non-destructive evaluation of 3D Printed parts is a function of the transparency of Bridge. Like nylon 645, this transparency allows for visual inspection of printed parts. This is a combined request from our industrial and clinical customers. As noted early on, parts can be printed “too fast” for some polymers. While the outside of the part may look acceptable, a part printed too fast will not have internal fill material that actually adheres to the inside of the perimeter. With Bridge and nylon 645, Non-destructive evaluation is a simple visual verification.
Certified measure of strength:
With this combination of advancements, taulman3D proceeded with a limited test run. From this initial test run, we printed test samples to be sent out to the St Louis test labs. A fully accredited testing facility supporting the central US. The lab reported a Tensile Stress PSI of 4,800 for Bridge when 3D printed.
Carbon Fiber Reinforced PLA
Proto-Pasta Carbon Fiber reinforced PLA is made from NatureWorks 4043D PLA Resin compounded with 15% by weight Tenax short chopped Carbon Fibers. It is designed to be stiff, or to resist bending. It is the stiffest material we offer and makes parts with an incredibly solid feel. When printed, this material is a dark glossy black that glitters slightly in direct light from the fine chopped fibers reflecting the light.
Carbon Fiber Reinforced PLA does not require a heated bed and prints much like unreinforced PLA filament. The main difference is that it is brittle and care must be taken when handling the filament and loading the printer.
We have had good results printing at 190C-210C using a .5mm nozzle and direct-drive spring loaded pinch-roll style extrusion head. Layer adhesion is excellent and the material has low warpage.