3D printing filament is the thermoplastic feedstock for fused deposition modeling 3D printers. There are many types of filament available with different properties, requiring different temperatures to print. Filament is available in two standard diameters; 1.75 and 2.85 mm/3 mm.
Commercially produced filament
3D printing filament is created using a process of heating, extruding and cooling plastic to transform nurdles into the finished product. Unlike a 3D printer the filament is pulled rather than pushed through the nozzle to create the filament, the diameter of the filament is defined by the process that takes place after the plastic has been heated rather than the diameter of the extruder nozzle. A different force and speed is applied to the filament as it is pulled out of the extruder to define the width of the filament, most commonly 1.75 mm or 3 mm diameter.
The plastic nurdles are always white or clear. Pigments or other additives are added to the material before it is melted to created coloured filament or filament with special properties, e.g. increased strength or magnetic properties. Before the filament is extruded the nurdles are heated to 80°C to reduce water content. From there the nurdles are fed into a single screw extruder where it is heated and extruded into a filament. The diameter is often measured by a laser as part of a quality control mechanism to ensure correct diameter of the filament. The filament is then fed through a warm water tank which cools the filament which gives the filament its round shape. The filament is then fed through a cold water tank to cool it to room temperature. It is then wound onto a spool to create the finished product.
DIY filament production
DIY filament production machines use the same method as FDM 3D printers of pushing the filament through the extruder to create the correct diameter filament. There are several DIY filament machines available as both open source plans and commercially available machines, these include Recyclebot, Filastruder and Multistruder.
The process of transforming 3D printing filament into a 3D model
The filament is fed into the FDM 3D printer.
The thermoplastic is heated past their glass transition temperature inside the hotend.
The filament is extruded and deposited by an extrusion head onto a build platform where it cools.
The process is continuous, building up layers to create the model.
|Filament||Special Properties||Uses||Strength||Density||Flexibility||Durability||Difficulty to print||Print
|PLA||Easy to print||Consumer Products||Medium||1240 kg/m³||Low||Medium||Low||180 – 230||No heated bed needed|
|ABS||Durable||Functional Parts||Medium||1010 kg/m³||Medium||High||Medium||210 – 250||50 – 100|
|PETG (XT, N‑Vent)||More flexible than PLA or ABS||All||Medium||1270 kg/m³||High||High||Medium||220 – 235||No heated bed needed|
|Nylon||Strong||All||High||High||High||Medium||220 – 260||50 – 100||Hygroscopic, keep sealed when not in use|
|TPE||Extremely flexible||Elastic Parts||Low||High||Medium||High||225 – 235||40||Print very slowly|
|TPU||Extremely flexible||Elastic Parts||Low||High||Medium||High||225 – 235||No heated bed needed||Print slowly|
|Wood||Wood-like finish||Home Decor||Medium||Medium||Medium||Medium||195 – 220||No heated bed needed|
|HIPS||Dissolvable||Support structures when using ABS on a dual extrusion printer.||Low||1040 kg/m||Medium||High||Medium||210 – 250||50 – 100|
|PVA||Dissolvable||Support structures when using PLA or ABS on a dual extrusion printer.||High||Low||Medium||Low||180 – 230||No heated bed needed||Hygroscopic, keep sealed when not in use|
|PET (CEP)||Strong||All||High||High||High||Medium||220 – 250||No heated bed needed|
|PLA Metal||Metal Finish||Jewelry||Medium||Low||High||High||195 – 220||No heated bed needed||Use hardened nozzle|
|PLA Carbon Fiber||Rigid||Functional Parts||Medium||Low||High||Medium||195 – 220||No heated bed needed||Use hardened nozzle|
|Stronger Than Pure PLA|
|Lignin (bioFila)||Biodegradable||Medium||Low||Medium||Low||190 – 225||55|
|Stronger than PLA|
|Polycarbonate||Very strong||Functional Parts||High||1.18 – 1.20 g/cm³||High||High||Medium||270 – 310||90 – 105|
|Conductive||Conductive||Electronics||Medium||Medium||Low||Low||215 – 230||No heated bed needed||Use hardened nozzle|
|Wax(MOLDLAY)||Melts Away||Lost wax Casting||Low||Low||Low||Low||170 – 180||No heated bed needed|
|PETT (T‑Glase)||Strong||Functional Parts||High||High||High||Medium||235 – 240||No heated bed needed|
|ASA||Rigid||Outdoor||Medium||Low||High||Medium||240 – 260||100 – 120|
|PP||Flexible||Flexible Components||Medium||High||Medium||High||210 – 230||120 – 150|
|POM, Acetal||Strong||Functional Parts||High||Low||Medium||High||210 – 225||130|
|PMMA, Acrylic||Rigid||Light diffusers||Medium||Low||High||Medium||235 – 250||100 -120|
|Sandstone (LAYBRICK)||Sandstone Finish||Architecture||Low||Low||Low||Medium||165 – 210||No heated bed needed|
|Glow-In-The-Dark||Luminous||Fun||Medium||Medium||Medium||Low||215||No heated bed needed||Use hardened nozzle|
|Cleaning||Cleaning||Unclogging of Nozzles||N/A||N/A||N/A||Low||150 – 260||No heated bed needed|
|PC/ABS||Rigid||Functional Parts||Medium||Low||High||High||260 – 280||120|
|Magnetic||Magnetic||Fun||Medium||Medium||Medium||High||195 – 220||No heated bed needed|
|Color Changing||Changes Color||Fun||Medium||Medium||Medium||Low||215||No heated bed needed|
|nGen||Similar to PETG||All||Medium||High||High||Medium||210 – 240||60|
|TPC||Extremely Flexible||Elastic Parts||Low||High||Medium||High||210||60 – 100|
|UV light resistant|
|PORO-LAY||Partially Water Soluble||Experimental||Low||High||Medium||Low||220 – 235||No heated bed needed|
|FPE||Flexible||Flexible Parts||Low||High||High||Medium||205 – 250||75|
Source from Wikipedia