A flexible filament, also called flexible 3D printing material, is a category of thermoplastic polymers specifically formulated to achieve elasticity and resilience. Unlike traditional rigid filaments, their flexible counterparts can bend, twist, and deform without breaking. They can also produce objects with dynamic shapes and intricate geometries.
However, not all filaments possess equal flexibility and capacity. With a vast selection of options, it is crucial to grasp the key factors to consider when choosing the optimal material for particular applications. Here are some of the essential considerations to look for in a flexible filament:
1. Shore Hardness
Shore hardness measures the material’s resistance to indentation or penetration by a rigid object. It is a standard method for assessing the hardness of various materials, including polymers, elastomers, and rubbers. Higher Shore hardness values indicate greater hardness and less flexibility, while lower values entail softer and more flexible materials.
For instance, a filament with a high abrasion resistance requires a material with a greater Shore hardness. In contrast, a lower Shore hardness may be more appropriate if flexibility or impact resistance is essential. It ultimately depends on the application’s specific requirements and constraints.
2. Elongation at Break
Elongation at break is a mechanical property that measures the ability of a material to stretch or deform under tension before it breaks. This property is particularly important for materials that will experience stretching or elongation in their intended applications. For example, materials with high elongation at break values indicate excellent ductility and the capacity to undergo significant elongation.
3. Tensile Strength
Tensile strength is a mechanical property measuring the maximum tensile or pulling force a material can withstand before it breaks. High tensile strength indicates that a material can withstand greater forces without breaking.
Remember that composition, microstructure, manufacturing process, and environmental conditions affect tensile strength. Different materials also have distinct inherent tensile strength capacities, and the desired value should be determined based on engineering specifications and safety factors.
Printability is the suitability and ease of 3D printing a specific material on a particular 3D printer. It encompasses several factors influencing a material’s successful and reliable printing, including filament properties and printer settings. It also includes the interaction between the material and the printer’s hardware.
5. Diameter and Consistency
The filament diameter is the thickness of the filament strand used during the printing process. The typical filament diameters for consumer-grade printers are 1.75 mm or 2.85 mm, while industrial printers may utilize larger filaments. Therefore, selecting a flexible filament with a diameter that aligns with the correct specifications of the printer is essential to ensure optimal performance.
Consistency refers to the uniformity of the filament diameter along its entire length. When the filament exhibits consistent diameter, it facilitates a smooth and uniform extrusion process, resulting in even material deposition. In contrast, inconsistent filament diameter can cause under-extrusion, over-extrusion, or nozzle clogging.
Different types of flexible filaments vary in cost. For example, basic thermoplastic elastomers such as polyurethane are typically more affordable than specialty or high-performance flexible materials like thermoplastic copolyester. Filaments are also normally sold in different spool sizes and quantities. Larger spools often offer a better price per unit than smaller spools.
Upgrade Your 3D Prints With Terrafilum’s Eco-Friendly Filaments!
At Terrafilum, we are passionate about offering our customers top-notch, eco-friendly 3D printing filament solutions. We maintain rigorous quality control measures to ensure the highest standard of our products. Moreover, our dedicated customer service team is always ready to assist, providing a seamless experience throughout your journey with us.
Polylactic acid (PLA) is a popular 3D printing filament made from renewable resources, such as cassava, cornstarch, and sugarcane. It has a biodegradable composition and low melting point, making it ideal for 3D printing beginners. It also comes in a range of colors, finishes, and diameters, providing a wide variety of options for creative projects.
PLA is a widely available filament that can generate quality prints with minimal warping and shrinkage. It is also odorless and does not require a heated bed, which is why it is popular among 3D printing enthusiasts. However, not all filaments are created equal. The following are some of the most important considerations to look for in PLA filaments to ensure optimal performance and print quality:
The filament’s diameter can affect the thickness of each layer of the print, and inconsistencies in diameter can cause uneven layers or gaps. PLA filaments typically come in two standard sizes: 1.75 mm and 3 mm. Choosing the incorrect diameter can lead to several issues, including under-extrusion or over-extrusion.
Under-extrusion happens when the diameter is too large for the printer’s extruder, causing the filament to become trapped and inhibit proper extrusion. On the other hand, over-extrusion occurs when the diameter is too small for the extruder. This causes the printer to extrude too much material, resulting in a stringy and messy print.
It is also crucial to remember that the diameter of PLA filament can vary across manufacturers and even between batches of the same brand. As a result, it is critical to check the diameter frequently. Adjusting the 3D printer’s settings is also recommended to ensure consistent and accurate prints.
The filament’s color can affect the overall appearance and aesthetic of the 3D print. For example, a 3D model with a natural or translucent filament will look different from a bold, bright color. However, it is essential to consider that the color can affect the printing process and the final quality of the print.
Filaments with darker colors, such as black, need higher printing temperatures. If they are not printed at the right temperature, it could lead to clogging or under-extrusion. Meanwhile, lighter-colored filaments need low temperatures and can be more tolerant if printed at slightly lower temperatures. In addition, the quality of the pigment utilized in the coloration process can impact its quality.
Not all filaments are suitable for every printer, and using an incompatible component can cause clogging under-extrusion or even damage to the machine. Compatibility is often determined by the diameter of the PLA filament and the printer’s extruder system. For example, some printers have different extruder systems, such as a direct-drive or Bowden extruder.
One way to ensure compatibility is to choose PLA filament from the same manufacturer as the printer. This can help ensure it is designed to work well with the printer’s system and will minimize the risk of printing issues.
PLA filament is generally more affordable than other 3D printing filaments such as ABS or PETG. This makes it an attractive choice for those on a budget or those experimenting with 3D printing. However, it is important to remember that the price can vary depending on its quality, color, and manufacturer. For instance, higher-quality filaments — such as those with tighter tolerances — can be more expensive but produce better results.
Choose Terrafilum for High-Quality and Eco-Friendly Printing Products and Services
At Terrafilum, we develop and provide top-of-the-line, eco-friendly 3D printing filament solutions to customers in diverse industries! From custom filaments for large-scale industrial projects to meeting strict engineering design criteria, we’ve got you covered. Our commitment to exceeding all our customers’ printing needs has been achieved, and we manufacture our products right here in the USA.
ASA filaments are thermoplastic polymers that blend the properties of acrylonitrile, styrene, and acrylate. They have a glossy finish and come in a variety of colors. Moreover, they’re similar to ABS filaments but offer superior weather and UV resistance. They also have a high melting point, making them suitable for printing high-temperature parts.
Choosing the right ASA filament for your 3D printing project can be complex. With an overwhelming number of options available, it can take time to determine which filament best fits your needs. To help you, here are the essential factors to consider:
1. Print Temperature Range
ASA filaments have a higher printing temperature range than PLA and ABS filaments, typically 230–260 °C. Therefore, choosing a filament with a suitable temperature range for your 3D printer is essential to ensure that your prints are successful. Additionally, these filaments are temperature-sensitive, meaning they may require a heated bed or enclosure to print correctly.
2. Print Bed Adhesion
These filaments tend to shrink and warp, resulting in the print detaching from the bed or distorting during the process. To prevent this, you can use adhesive sprays or specialized bed sheets to improve adhesion. Maintaining a level and clean print bed is crucial to ensure optimal adhesion before initiating printing.
3. Diameter and Tolerance
Choosing a filament with an appropriate diameter for your 3D printer’s extruder is essential. If the filament diameter is too small, it may cause under-extrusion and gaps in your print. Conversely, if the diameter is too large, it can cause over-extrusion and lead to clogs in your extruder.
Furthermore, the tolerance of the filament refers to the deviation from the stated diameter. Therefore, choosing a filament with a low tolerance can ensure consistency in your prints.
4. Filament Color and Finish
The color and finish of your ASA filament can impact the final aesthetic appeal of your 3D prints. While color may not be a significant concern for functional parts, it can be essential for decorative items. In addition, certain applications may require specific finishes, such as matte or glossy.
When comparing the cost of ASA filament to other filaments, it’s important to consider the price per unit of volume rather than just the overall cost of the spool. Some brands may offer larger spools at a higher cost, but it may not necessarily be more cost-effective than a smaller spool from a different brand.
It’s also important to consider the overall cost of 3D printing, including the cost of the 3D printer, maintenance, electricity, and other associated costs. ASA filament may cost more, but it’s worth considering if you need its specific properties for your project. In the long run, it could save you time and money.
Elevate Your 3D Printing Experience With Terrafilum’s Eco-Friendly Filaments
At Terrafilum, we are dedicated to providing high-quality and eco-friendly 3D printing filament solutions for customers across diverse industries. From custom filaments for large-scale industrial projects to meeting strict engineering design criteria, we have the expertise and experience to meet your specific printing needs.
Our commitment to exceeding customer expectations is reflected in the fact that we manufacture our products right here in the USA. This allows us to maintain strict quality control measures and ensure our customers receive the highest-quality products. Additionally, we offer competitive pricing and excellent customer service to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience for all our customers.
Terrafilum® Engineered Filaments is proud to announce its new biodegradable Terrafilum® & EcoLogic® ABS Eco-One® filament.
Terrafilum® Engineered Filaments (https://www.Terrafilum.com) is a US company that provides 3D printer filament solutions that intersect manufacturing, technology, and sustainability priorities of the 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing Industry. The company was formed in response to its owner’s, Chris Jackson, observations of the common frustrations that manufacturers face when it comes to leveraging 3D printing technologies.
“We address 3D printing’s sustainability issue by developing industrial-grade filaments that are made of bio-friendly and re-purposed materials. We are thrilled to be partnering with Ecologic® to produce quality ABS filament with enhanced landfill biodegradation,” Jackson stated. The addition of Eco-One® in our products helps reduce overall landfill space amounts required currently for plastic products by reducing the millions of tons of plastic that would otherwise sit for years on end. The organic biodegradation of Terrafilum ABS Eco-One®filaments produces valuable biogas that landfills can recapture to convert to electricity and alleviate our demand on traditional energy sources. You can learn more at the EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (https://www.epa.gov/lmop).
Through systematic chemical and biological processes in a microbe-enriched, well-controlled landfill, Eco-One® enhances plastic biodegradation into biogas which can be converted into energy, carbon dioxide, and inert humus that enriches the soil. ASTM D5511 tests that represent biologically active landfills on Terrafilum ABS Eco-One®filaments have shown 8.11% biodegradation in the first 60 days.
Using lean principles, Terrafilum® custom engineers complete solutions — from material to spool design and always striving for zero percent waste — bringing value to their customers with material quality that assures smooth printing operations. Terrafilum®solutions are available in a wide selection of colors, sizes, and materials. Support of custom projects and applications is central to the company’s core philosophy for customer needs.
”We are very pleased to have a strong relationship with Ecologic® which is supported by other market leaders in fiber and apparel, footwear, flexible and rigid packaging, foam, sporting goods, and much more. Terrafilum® is constantly researching the development of filaments with the planet as our main concern,” Jackson commented.
The introduction of Eco-One®’s organic additive enhancing the biodegradability of Terrafilum® ABS filament without compromising on the filament’s integrity during manufacturing, storage, and use, as well as no evidence of adverse effects on printing or other post-processes, is one of the many positive aspects to the additive’s performance.Eco-One®’s addition to our products does not change the manufacturing process. Additionally, the organic additive has no effect on the plastic’s chemical or physical properties, rendering the filament with the same tensile strength and identical performance. With all these wonderful attributions to our filament, we are excited about our partnering with EcoLogic® to provide you with an industrial-grade ABS filament that aligns with Terrafilum®’s values of sustainability.
“It’s a great time for EcoLogic® as we step into the 3D Printing world! Terrafilum® is a leader in 3DP Innovation and we are excited to see what the Terrafilum® team can achieve with the Eco-One® technology. The Terrafilum® ABS Eco-One®filament represents our passion for technology & science. We hope to inspire others and spark some curiosity about how we can all make a difference,” Michael Zuppa, Business Development Engineer at Ecologic® stated.
EcoLogic® owns, manufactures, and markets the Eco-One® brand of additives for plastic products worldwide. You can learn more at www.ecologic-llc.com.
Terrafilum® Engineered Filaments is proud to announce the inclusion of ASA Filament in its line of products. The filament will currently be available in black, white, and natural colors.
To build and strengthen their 3D Filament business, Terrafilum® has added ASA resin (acrylic styrene acrylonitrile) to the filament products that they currently offer.
ASA (acrylic styrene acrylonitrile) is a thermoplastic like ABS, but with improved heat resistance and durability. ASA printed parts are strong and rigid with exceptional UV resistance, incapable of yellowing, making them exceptionally useful in exterior or industrial settings. ASA is also water-resistant, has strong chemical resistance, anti-static, and highly impact resistant. For successful ASA printing, a heated bed is needed due to its high glass transition temperature.
Terrafilum® Engineered Filaments (www.Terrafilum.com) is a US company that provides 3D printer filament solutions that intersect manufacturing, technology, and sustainability priorities of the 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing Industry. The company was formed in response to its owner’s, Chris Jackson, observations of the common frustrations that manufacturers face when it comes to leveraging 3D printing technologies.
Using lean principles, Terrafilum® custom engineers complete solutions — from material to spool design and always striving for zero percent waste — bringing value to their customers with material quality that assures smooth printing operations. With the addition of ASA filament to what Terrafilum currently offers, we hope to continue to expand our customer base with an exceptional filament that maintains the same high standards of quality that we strive to attain.
From our virtual conference in April, Jeremy Simon (3D Universe), Matt Griffin (Ultimaker), and Chris Jackson (Terrafilum) share which materials are available for use in 3D printing, how they perform, and what they are commonly used for. Learn about what makes the difference between high-quality materials that yield consistently good results and other lower-quality materials available on the market.
Finding material strength from bio produced polymers is always difficult. A team in Korea has discovered that they can produce Polycarbonate (PC) from biomass that eliminates the need for synthetic based processing. The material is thus free of potential harmful chemicals. PC is one of the toughest materials produced and professional makers love to utilize the material. When this becomes readily available, it could provide a very nice alternative to conventional PC.
Talk about a revolution for sustainable materials!
If potential uses are optical fiber as the team in Korea asserts, then a logical conclusion is that the material could find uses within FDM processes because it can be drawn into a filament. Read the more in depth article here and stay tuned for more information!
3D printers can be used to craft almost any item, but the product will fail to work as intended if the wrong material is used. If you plan on making something that needs flexibility, you should avoid using filaments that are made from polylactic acid (PLA)– the most popular kind of 3D printing material. But if PLA doesn’t work, what can you use?
Find the answer in material flexibility with a filament made with elastomers. Elastomersare polymers that have elastic properties due to their weak intermolecular bonds which allow them to stretch without breaking covalent bonds. These properties make filaments made from elastomers an excellent choice for 3D printing projects such as tires, shoe soles, insulating elements, couplings, bands, clips, and more. The most common of these elastomers are thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), polypropylene (PP), nylon and thermoplastic elastomers (TPE).
Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU)
This flexible, abrasion resistant thermoplastic provides excellent layer to layer adhesion offering a durable product. Because of this, the rubber-like elasticity performs well for 3D printed sporting goods, prosthetic parts, footwear, gaskets, etc. There is some work risk, however. 3d printers are not always equipped to handle the extrusion– leading to blobs and stringing. You will need to find the “sweet spot” of temperature, printing speed, retraction and quality product materials such as Terra-Bend™.
Polypropylene (PP) is one of the most frequently used and recycled flexible plastic material with usage from pharmaceutical to food-based applications. Companies choose PP because it provides low density while maintaining desired mechanical properties. Because of this, PP finds best usage in food packaging, straps, leashes, etc.
Yet, regardless of its wide-spread usage, it is one of the more difficult materials to work with. The biggest consideration is regarding printing temperatures. Due to itslow melting point and semi-crystalline structure, polypropylene cools and solidifies differently than other materials. As a result, parts have difficulty adhering to the print surface and can warp a great deal. Heated enclosures and careful selection of print temperatures can combat these issues. In order to ensure print quality, it is important to consider adhesion properties and follow printing advice from trusted manufacturers such as Terrafilum.
Nylon has the best of both worlds by being both flexible and somewhat rigid. PA 12offers a high melting point and low friction making it perfect for functional applications such as plugs, sockets, clips, and bands. Even with all the functional benefits, working with this material offers a double-edge advantage and challenge. Nylon is very hygroscopic– absorbing moisture from both paints and from the air. This absorption rate is wonderful for aesthetics as it offers a variety of looks upon completion. Yet, the moisture from the air can be a problem prior to completion. For best results, it is recommended to dry the material prior to printing, and vacuum package between prints if possible.
Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE)
Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE)are the most popular choice for 3D printing projects needing material flexibility. When used correctly, products made with TPE material can stretch up to double their length then easily return to its original shape due to its rubber-like quality. This quality makes TPE appropriate for anything that needsimpact or vibration resistancesuch as gaskets, couplings, connectors, etc. But be sure to be on the lookout for buckling and plate adhesion as printing too fast with this flexible filament can cause these issues.
Regardless of what material flexibility you need, there are a multitude of aspects to consider. Therefore, it is important to do your research before buying and make sure you are matching the right filament material to the right application. This match will ensure a perfect print every time.