What To Look For in Flexible Filaments

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.

4. Printability

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.

6. Cost

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.

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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.

Contact us to learn more about our products, or request a quote now!