Which 3D Printing Filament is Appropriate for Your Product?

Are you aware that plenty of plastic objects that you use are made with a 3D printing filament? The technology is being used extensively for manufacturing and creating prototypes. 3D printing filaments are usually made of plastic that may or may not be infused with other materials.

For example, the ABS filament is pure ABS plastic. However, the wood filament is 70% PLA plastic and 30% wood. Likewise, there are plenty of filaments, made from different varieties and combinations of plastic.

What is a 3D Printing Filament?

We’ve known a filament to be an extremely thin thread or fibre that could be made of any material. A 3D printing filament is one that is made of plastic. They’re usually 1.75-2.85 mm thick. It will look like a wire of plastic to you, which could be of literally any colour.

How does it Work?

You need a FDM or FFF 3D printer to work with filaments. They have a heating chamber and a filament extruder. Here’s how it works:

  • You insert the filament in the heating chamber and set the temperature to its melting point.
  • The filament extruder is a metal nozzle that will squirts the melted plastic on the surface.
  • It does so layer by layer, in the shape of the object that you’ve made in the 3D file.

Various of 3D Printing Filaments and Their Applications

There are plenty of varieties of plastics that we already use. This gives you even a larger varieties of 3D printing filaments. This is because a filament can contain a fusion of 2 substances – at least one of them being plastic. Here are a few good varieties of 3D printing filaments that make some good quality products:

Polycarbonate Filament

This is the strongest 3D printer filament known so far. It is highly resistant to heat, shock and physical impact, which makes it highly durable too. It is transparent, which makes its usage appropriate for making tough glass.

Tensile Strength: 9,800 PSI

Flexibility: Medium

Durability: Very High

Print Temperature: 270°C-310°C

Soluble: No

Food Safe: No

Applications:

  • Bullet proof glass
  • Display screens for gadgets
  • Scuba diving masks
  • Electrical, mechanical and automotive parts

Rainbow Filament

This is another name given to multi-coloured filaments that are mostly made of PLA. When you’re extruding the filament, the colour transition takes place every 3-5 metres. So, the finishing of the product will be that of a rainbow gradient. They’re easy to print and have a very bright visual appeal. Eryone is a well-known brand for rainbow filament.

Tensile Strength: 8,702 PSI

Flexibility: Low

Durability: Medium

Print Temperature: 180°C-230°C

Soluble: No

Food Safe: No

Applications:

  • Toys
  • Vases
  • Décor items
  • Figures

PETG Filament

Most of the plastic water bottles that you use are made of PETG, which is glycol induced PET plastic. The material is popular for its cost effectiveness, colour options, ease of printing, durability and strength. It is corrosion resistant and can be recycled.

Tensile Strength: 7,700 PSI

Flexibility: Medium

Durability: High

Print Temperature: 220°C-250°C

Soluble: No

Food Safe: Yes

Applications:

  • Water bottles
  • Food containers
  • Face shields
  • Clothing fibres

PLA Filament

Polylactic acid is known for being a biodegradable plastic that is made out of plant resources. It is super easy to print and does not emit any odour during the process. It is flexible, durable and one a commonly used plastic for making composite filaments like carbon, wood or metal.

Tensile Strength: 7,250 PSI

Flexibility: Low

Durability: Medium

Print Temperature: 180°C-230°C

Soluble: No

Food Safe: Yes

Applications:

  • Toys
  • Prototypes
  • Food packaging
  • Cosmetic prints
  • Laptop stands

Nylon Filament

You’ve known nylon to be a synthetic material that’s used to make fabrics and toothbrushes. It is a strong, flexible plastic that is known to be resistant to wear & tear as well as heat. It offers low friction and can be shaped into any object after melting. The finish is smooth and glossy. Overture filament is a good brand for nylon.

Tensile Strength: 7,000 PSI

Flexibility: High

Durability: High

Print Temperature: 240°C-260°C

Soluble: No

Food Safe: No

Applications:

  • Plastic gears
  • Cable ties
  • Screws, nuts & bolts
  • Machine parts
  • Living hinges
  • Tools

Carbon Fibre Filament

Like I said, a 3D printing filament can be either plastic or plastic fused with another material. The base material of carbon fibre filament will be thermoplastic – mostly PLA, nylon, PETG, ABS or polycarbonate. It is lightweight, strong, stiff and heat resistant with a good dimensional stability.

Tensile Strength: 6,527-6,962 PSI

Flexibility: Low

Durability: High

Print Temperature: 215°C-230°C

Soluble: No

Food Safe: No

Applications:

  • Functional prototypes
  • Lightweight props
  • Décor items
  • Airplane parts
  • Sports goods

Wood Filament

Wood filament is a blend of PLA and wood, the former being greater in quantity of course. There are plenty of benefits of using wood filament over wood. Some of them include cutting lesser trees, better resistance to water and lighter weight. Most importantly, you still get the look and feel of wood with a smoother and shinier texture.

Tensile Strength: 6,672 PSI

Flexibility: High

Durability: Low

Print Temperature: 190°C-220°C

Soluble: No

Food Safe: No

Applications:

  • Bowls
  • Sculptures
  • Furniture
  • Décor items
  • Bracelets

HIPS Filament

The word “HIPS” here stands for high impact polystyrene. It is quick and easy to print with this material, having both aesthetics and low cost. It is resistant to heat, water and high impact. Moreover, it is food safe and lightweight too. Being non-dissolvable, it acts as a good support material.

Tensile Strength: 5,801 PSI

Flexibility: High

Durability: High

Print Temperature: 230°C-240°C

Soluble: Yes

Food Safe: Yes

Applications:

  • Home appliances
  • Toys
  • Food packaging
  • Product packaging

Flexible Filament

Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) and Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) are two flexible filaments for being stretchy and soft. At the same time, they are highly durable with a good impact resistance and vibration dampening. The most popular brand you’ll get is the Ninjaflex filament.

Tensile Strength: 3,771-6,237 PSI

Flexibility: Very High

Durability: Very High

Print Temperature: 210°C-230°C

Soluble: No

Food Safe: No

Applications:

  • Phone, watch, camera and air pods covers
  • Bracelets & watches
  • Shoes
  • Wallets
  • Vibration dampener
  • Cable ties & USB sleeves
  • Drain stopper
  • Bottle sleeves

Metal Filament

Metals like aluminium, brass, bronze, copper and iron are fused with thermoplastics to get a metallic feel. Since the metal powders are fused with thermoplastic, it is lighter and cheaper than pure metal. In fact, the lustre can be better than pure metal too because of the glossy finish that plastics have. They print faster than pure plastic filaments.

Tensile Strength: 2,901-4,351 PSI

Flexibility: Low

Durability: Low

Print Temperature: 190°C-220°C

Soluble: No

Food Safe: No

Applications:

  • Jewellery
  • Artefacts
  • Sculptures
  • Prototypes
  • Display materials
  • Home décor items

ABS Filament

This is the most common plastic that we all know of. Most of the plastic products we use are made of ABS. It is a strong, durable, shock resistant and flexible filament and can withstand high temperature. The finishing of the product will be hard and glossy. To be precise, the LEGO blocks are made out of ABS.

Tensile Strength: 4,700 PSI

Flexibility: Medium

Durability: High

Print Temperature: 210°C-250°C

Soluble: No

Food Safe: No

Applications:

  • Toys
  • Automotive parts
  • Prototypes
  • Phone covers
  • Tool handles
  • Musical instruments
  • Electrical enclosures

What Should You Consider While Buying a 3D Printer Filament?

Mostly when you’re choosing a 3D printing material, the first thing you need to see is what you want to make. You cannot use polycarbonate for making food containers as it is not a food-safe material. Likewise, if you want to make a phone cover, you need a flexible material like TPU. So, here are 3 main things that you need to look into:

Properties: Every kind of plastic has its own properties. Stuff like melting point, cooling point, durability, flexibility, food safety, warpage, solubility and ease of printing matter.

Brand: The brand or manufacturer of the 3D filament always matters. Go for those who are well-known in the market like Makerbot filament or Polysmooth.

Price: There are times when you can choose between 2 filaments with a slight difference in its strength, durability, ease of printing and availability. If you have budget constraints, you can go for the cheaper one for once.

What to Do With the Waste Material after Printing?

Every manufacturing process generates waste and 3D printing is no exception to it. However, you can omit these wastes completely if you have the ProtoCycler. You can call it a filament maker as it helps you make your own filament from the waste you generate after printing.

Here’s how it works:

  • You need to insert the waste in the shredder.
  • The extruder will produce a new filament out of the waste you’ve inserted.
  • You can do this with materials like HIPS, nylon and HDPE.

Ready to Start Your 3D Printing Manufacturing?

You have tons of options to choose from when it comes to 3D printing filament. You give your first priority to the quality of the product you want to create, followed by the aesthetic appeal and manufacturing cost. The rest will fall into place for you, hopefully with the help of this guide.

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