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How To Succeed When Printing With Versatile Filament

When most individuals consider 3D printing supplies, plastics like PLA, ABS, or nylon are among the first supplies that come to thoughts. These supplies all have one factor in widespread: their rigidity. Generally you need a half that’s ductile and capable of bend or compress as it’s harassed. Happily, there’s extra than simply inflexible 3D printing supplies; from TPU to PRO Sequence Flex, versatile 3D printing filaments are extensively helpful supplies to have on the prepared. By design, these filaments are basically printable rubber, permitting you to create advanced elastic designs in your particular form for any venture or product necessities. Versatile filaments are available in quite a lot of colours, chemical make-ups, and hardness, providing you with the pliability to use their varied properties in distinctive methods. Let’s speak about tips on how to efficiently 3D print versatile filaments.

What are Versatile 3D Printing Filaments?

Generally, most rubbers are thermoset by means of a course of known as “vulcanization”; you warmth them up, form them, allow them to cool, and that form is last. As soon as rubber is formed and molded, it will probably’t be melted again down and reformed into one thing new. To have the ability to soften rubber down into filament and re-melt it into the specified form when 3D printing, some cautious materials science was wanted to create a thermoplastic (reshapable) rubber. By combining plastic polymers with rubber polymers, you get a Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE). With this similar precept, you may mix supplies to create Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), Polyester Copolyamide Thermoplastic Elastomer (PCTPE), or Gentle PLA. Every of those supplies has totally different properties, like shore hardness or elasticity, relying on the formulation of the spool of 3D printing filament.

Flexibles are actually enjoyable to print and play with.

With a versatile materials like MatterHackers PRO Sequence Flex, you may drop it a thousand instances over and never break it. It is essential to do not forget that each materials has its place, and simply because flexibles do not break if you drop them doesn’t means they’re prepared to interchange different supplies like PLA. Versatile filament is a superb alternative for gaskets or bumpers, however you would not wish to print a shelf bracket with it. Conversely, PLA would make for a horrible sole for a shoe. Take into account the wants of the venture earlier than committing to anyone materials.

Keys to Success by When 3D Printing Versatile Filament:

Restricted retraction

The query of “how a lot retraction is sufficient” is completely depending on the fashion of extruder your 3D printer has. The newest extruders you should buy make it very clear that they’ve a “constrained filament path.” In older fashions of extruders, there was open area after the extruder gear for filament to maneuver into. This is not an issue for inflexible supplies as as soon as they’re directed to the bowden tube or the nozzle, they are going to hold extruding with out subject, however versatile filaments will nearly instantly spit out the aspect of the extruder and coil across the extruder gear.

With a more moderen extruder, after first 3D printing some calibration prints, it’s best to be capable to print flexibles with retraction settings akin to your regular inflexible filament settings. The E3D Hemera has been proven to excel at 3D printing with versatile filaments, with the ability to hold the filament tightly constrained and 3D print at excessive speeds with none kinks within the filament.

With an older extruder, you’ll have to disable retractions to realize an excellent 3D print high quality. This does imply that you could be expertise some stringing because the nozzle strikes round over the 3D print, however it can stop you from having below extrusion brought on by the filament bunching up within the extruder from the fixed back-and-forth movement it could expertise with retracting.

Hold it dry

Comply with the identical procedures described in this text to dry your versatile filaments: 135°F for six hours in a traditional oven, then flip it off and let the oven cool again to room temperature. You can too use a vacuum oven to dry your filament in a half hour to an hour, or use a PrintDry to simply dry your filament and hold it dry. Most versatile filaments are hygroscopic to a point, and can pop and sizzle should you strive extruding earlier than the fabric is dried. The scorching is brought on by pockets of water absorbed into the filament immediately turning to steam as they hit the nozzle, leaving voids in your print or inflicting extreme stringing alongside your components. Not solely is the visible high quality considerably worse, however the molecular chains throughout the materials are damaged down, making a weaker half total. Utilizing the identical 3D printer, gcode, and spool of filament, the 2 3D prints beneath had been 3D printed. The important thing distinction: the one on the left had been left within the open air for some unknown period of time, and the one on the proper was printed instantly from a PrintDry after letting it dry for a number of hours.

Moist versatile filament on the left, lately dried filament on the proper.

Gradual it down

Prefer it was talked about with retraction settings, PLA or ABS, you may print quick as they’re a tough materials, so it’s very easy to grip and push the filament by means of the nozzle. Printing flexibles is like attempting to information one finish of a rope by pushing the opposite. By slowing it down, you lower the stress throughout the nozzle making the filament a lot much less more likely to bind up and even wrap round your extruder gear. Like some other filament, precise pace settings will differ from one printer to a different, so it’s possible you’ll have to experiment to find out what pace is the higher restrict that your particular 3D printer is able to. For some which may imply 10mm/s, and different extra superior 3D printers may not want any adjustments in any respect and might print at 60mm/s with ease.

Dispelling Some Myths

This fable definitely is not as pervasive because it as soon as was, however there existed a time when it was widespread perception that bowden 3D printers had been unable to 3D print versatile supplies. Whether or not or not that was the case, it’s most positively not true now. There’s nothing that particularly precludes bowden 3D printers from with the ability to use flexibles. All of it comes again to constrained filament paths being the foundation reason for any issues. Whereas sure, most direct-drive 3D printers are extra responsive than bowden 3D printers when utilizing versatile 3D printing filaments, bowden 3D printers are absolutely able to creating stunning 3D prints with versatile filaments.

Getting the First Layer Proper

The primary layer is an important a part of any print.  There are some things it’s worthwhile to do to get the primary layer to stay properly.

  • You want the print floor to be degree. If you’re unfamiliar with tips on how to degree your 3D printer’s mattress, you may learn concerning the process right here.
  • Have your Z-Offset set to the proper top. This may rely upon the fabric that your 3D printer’s mattress floor is manufactured from, as some supplies will bond too properly to versatile filaments, completely attaching to them. For many surfaces, you want a good “squish” to your first layer.
  • You want an excellent base materials in your versatile filament to stick to.  Blue painter’s tape or a heated glass mattress with PVA glue stick or MatterHackers Stick Stick are supreme surfaces in your print mattress.

3D Printing on Blue Painters Tape

Blue Tape, or Painter’s Tape, is without doubt one of the best and quickest methods to get a dependable mattress adhesion in your versatile filaments. Here’s a fast guidelines of stuff you wish to ensure you are doing.

  • Ensure that each bit of tape strains up edge to edge with none overlap or gaps.
  • Hold the mattress temperature pretty low when utilizing Blue Tape, as a temperature that’s too excessive could trigger the tape to stay too properly to your printed half. 55°C-65°C needs to be sufficient warmth to get the job achieved with most flexibles.
  • Substitute any tape strips that get broken when eradicating components.
  • Substitute the tape after 5-10 prints, when components cease sticking, or when there’s a noticeable loss within the texture on the tape’s floor.
  • In case your first layer isn’t sticking – be sure the print head is shut sufficient to make a pleasant squished line of filament. If that does not maintain your drawback, you may apply a skinny smear of PVA glue keep on with get a bit of extra adhesion.

Printed PRO Sequence Flex on blue painters tape.

3D Printing On Glass With A Heated Mattress

When you’ve gotten a temperature managed mattress, printing instantly on glass could be a nice choice.  The really helpful mattress temperature for versatile filaments differ vastly, from room temperature to 110°C, so comply with the really helpful mattress settings as described in our Filament Comparability Information or within the Technical Specs for the filament. Generally, PVA glue stick is a superb adhesive to use to the glass when 3D printing with versatile filaments to make sure that they stick all through the whole lot of the 3D print job.

Printed PRO Sequence Flex on a heated glass plate.

Getting The Temperature Proper

When working with a brand new roll of filament for the primary time, we usually like to start out printing at about 235°C after which adjusting the temperature up or down by 5°C increments till we get a top quality print.

Really helpful printing temperatures for varied versatile filaments.

If the temperature is just too excessive

If the spool of filament is already dry however your temperature is just too excessive you’ll nonetheless see strings between the separate components of your print, like cobwebs. When this occurs it’s best to attempt to incrementally decrease the temperature by 5°C till the nozzle does not leak any materials. Generally that is not treating the underlying drawback, which may merely be retraction settings that are not fairly aggressive sufficient and wish only a small bump to get all the things in tune.

If the temperature is just too low

A 3D print with an extruder temperature set too low for the fabric being printed can have layers that do not bond collectively very properly or in any respect and will be simply pulled aside. Ensure that the filament is dry and take a look at once more, but when you recognize that it is dry and you might be nonetheless experiencing issues, increase the temperature of the nozzle in 5°C increments till you obtain robust layer adhesion and might see that the edges and infill of the 3D prints aren’t sparse and are properly linked to one another.

First Layer Troubleshooting

When you adopted the steps to getting your first layer proper and your print isn’t sticking, listed here are some suggestions to assist enhance your expertise:

  • It takes extra torque for the extruder to push versatile filament out of the nozzle, so be sure the nozzle is satisfactorily primed earlier than your half begins being printed. Use a skirt, prime blob, or purge line initially of the print to verify there’s sufficient filament within the sizzling finish by the point it will get began in your half.
  • Ensure that the extruder temperature is sizzling sufficient to correctly soften the filament. In any other case, the plastic could not circulate and go away you with sparse layers and infill disconnected from the edges. Step by step increase the printing temperature by 5°C to a most of round 255°C if filament is not flowing as properly as you want.
  • Ensure that the speeds in your printer aren’t too quick. Printing too quick may cause underextrusion and make infill appear to be a spider net. With versatile filaments, printing sooner takes extra torque to get by means of the recent finish, so your choices are enhance the torque of your extruder by upgrading to a stronger extruder and motor, or decelerate to decrease the torque essential to extrude the filament.
  • Flip up the extrusion multiplier a bit extra. When E-steps are calibrated for a 3D printer, it’s often achieved utilizing a inflexible materials like PLA which suggests extruder actions are far more responsive. When utilizing a versatile materials, it’s possible you’ll have to recalibrate to get the identical expertise. An effective way to get this correct, is to do an E-step calibration in your versatile filament. The Extruder steps/mm that extrudes 100mm in PLA would possibly solely get you 85mm with TPE, so comply with our E-step calibration article to get that arrange. Or, as soon as you discover the right E-steps for the versatile filament, calculate the p.c distinction from the unique E-steps (versatile E-Steps divided by inflexible E-steps multiplied by 100), and you’ve got your extrusion multiplier proportion you need to use anytime you come again to this materials, somewhat than modifying the firmware of your 3D printer to get the identical outcome.
    • For instance, your printer makes use of 400 E-steps for PLA, and after calibrating you discover TPE makes use of 500 E-steps. 500/400=1.25. Multiply by 100 to seek out an extrusion multiplier for TPE at 125%. Now you may print PLA with an extrusion multiplier of 100% and TPE at 125% and hold these profiles at all times in sync with out modifying the opposite.

With the assistance of this information it is possible for you to to 3D print versatile supplies with ease or know what it’s worthwhile to do to get your 3D printer up and operating. 

When you’ve got any feedback or contributions, please drop us an e-mail or give us a name. We’re at all times in search of suggestions, and greatest practices – and would love to listen to from you. Be happy to achieve out with any particular questions within the feedback down beneath.

Try our Filament Comparability Information to get the inside track on all the newest and biggest filaments.

Completely satisfied Printing! 



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