3D printing technology is enough proof that we are living in exciting times. It has brought imagination even closer to our eyes and continues to impress with new creations going forward.
Hence, such a trend can be extremely hard to ignore if you are a tech enthusiast or just a lover of art and innovation.
To make 3D printing possible, several ingredients and processes must come together to complete the final product. We are going to look at one of the key players of 3D printing technology: 3D filaments.
In this article, I will guide you through what they are, how they are formed, how they work and finally, where to get the best filaments for your next project.
The filament is the thermoplastic that is consumed by your 3D printer to model your desired designs.
Just like inkjet printers require ink cartridges for printing, a 3D printer uses filaments to make objects. It comes as a bundled spool and ready to be rolled into the printer. However, you can purchase filaments per meter if you want to start small or just want to do some tests.
The standard diameters for filaments are either 1.75mm-3mm, so you should know what size fits your printer.
Types of filaments
You will find countless types of 3D printer filaments ranging from: ABS, PLA, PETT, PET, PVA, HIPS, Wood, metal, Nylon, flexible, carbon fiber etc.
With such a wide variety of options available, it has become easier to imagine and build quality, functional prints with new and exotic materials.
However, ABS and PLA are still the most commonly used materials in 3D printing and my point of focus for the day.
PLA (Polylactic Acid)
PLA is one of two most popular 3D printing materials. You can also use PLA in different printing applications and is a highly recommended material in many 3D printers because of its attributes most notably being odorless and having no significant warping problems.
PLA does not require a heating bed to work with and being a product of very renewable materials (corn starch), is also one of the more ecofriendly plastics available and requires less energy to manufacture compared to traditional plastics. PLA filaments are popular in 3D printing and are available in different colors for both the 1.75mm and 3mm sizes.
This once dominant material made its mark with the creation of the world famous Lego toys.
It is an easily recycled thermoplastic material which traces this trait back to its creation. It is made through a process of emulsion where multiple materials are combined to create a single product.
It is still one of the most used and one of the most versatile materials in 3D printing to date. However, if you are just getting started in 3D printing, it just might be tougher for you if you lack the know how to effectively bring out the great results its famous for.
Where is it used?
Since ABS has great resistance against corrosion and physical damage, it makes very durable prints. If you use PLA more often, then you might find ABS just a bit harder to work with. There is always an extra step to observe in every print and comes with different settings as well.
Its best attributes however, like heat and physical resistance, ensure ABS offers great post processing options.
These characteristics enable it to be used across different industries.
It is also affordable and particularly easy to machine and use in injection molding processes, 3D printing and use on FDM machines.
ABS Pros and cons
High strength, durable, physical resistant and tough.
Ideal for parts, automotive parts, electronic housing and toys
Low flexibility, with minor bending before snapping
Soluble in Acetone
Not considered food safe
Temperature range is 210°C – 250°C
Shrinks during cooling and requires an enclosed chamber to control the cooling speed.
50°C – 100°C heating bed is recommended
Has moderate difficulty in printing and requires an accurate temperature in the bed and nozzle.
Works at high temperature to get to melting point- 210°C – 250°C.
Requires a heated build platform to stop the first layers of the print from cooling before the rest of the parts, so the plastic doesn’t warp and contract before the fabrication of the object has completed.
Produces unpleasant fumes during which may be sensitive to some people.
What Makes a good 3D Filament?
In this age and time, different materials continue to be used and tested for 3D printing with ABS and PLA being the most dominant. When heated, they allow for molding to take place then turn solid after cooling. This process can be redone many times making them the popular choices in the 3D printing world for their recycling and production abilities.
For any material to satisfy the 3D printing criteria, it has to pass a series of tests.
These tests include the first intrusion into plastic, a second phase of the same and a final process of trace binding and accuracy setting for the final application into the design/product that it’s to be used for.
3D printing technology continues to use all kind of different materials to varying results. Nowadays, consumer printers predominantly use plastic and for good reason. Unlike other materials, plastic filaments are not only easier to make, transport and store, they are also affordable and produce better prints with little mess if any. Thermoplastics also require less effort to melt and do not require special equipment like lasers as used in other printers.
In addition, plastic filaments are recyclable, and leftover scraps can be remolded into new and usable filament.
Filaments come in two major sizes, 3 mm and 1.75 mm. There is not a big difference between the two sizes although a section of users believe the 1.75mm produces slightly better results with smaller layers and is easier to extrude. This is not always accurate because settings have the biggest part to play towards the final results and this quickly undermines that diameter theory.
Every type of filament has a different melting point and depending on project, different settings offer different results. In most cases, you will have to tinker with the unique settings of the specific printer to accommodate the filament in use. ABS for instance, has a higher melting point than PLA and if used incorrectly, may deform and start to lose shape.
You should know the melting temperature of your filaments and printer settings to make sure they suit your project.
Techorbits 3D filaments
There are many sources of different types of 3D filaments in the market today each suiting different needs but with PLA and ABS thermoplastics winning over the market in most cases.
TechOrbits is an active player in the progressive 3D printing market with their quality 3D filaments and the following review features one of their most consistent products that you can count on for a variety of projects.
This TechOrbits 3D RED ABS 3D Printer Filament is made from oil based materials and is compatible with many 3D printers and pens alike.
Just like many ABS filaments, it has a higher melting point than PLA and this also gives it has a longer life span with sturdier and durable results.
Accuracy +/- 0.05 mm 1 kg Spool 1.75 mm RED.
Use a Heating Bed Temperature ranging from 90 to 110°C.
The Extrusion/Nozzle Temperature for this ABS filament is 210 to 230°C.
Remember to only print on a heated surface during the whole process to avoid your prints being deformed.
Durability & Longevity:
TechOrbits 3D printing filament is vacuum sealed and this helps the filament to avoid absorbing water in the air. An unsealed filament usually results in bad quality, higher temperature settings or breakage.
Special Giveaway for Creations
TechOrbits is giving away a free refill of their 3D filament when you submit and share photos on social media of finished projects that you have made with their product.
In the box:
TechOrbits 3D ABS Filament 2.2 LBS/1KG Green + TechOrbits unparalleled customer service.