3D PRINTING FILAMENTS – TYPES ANG USE

There are many types of 3D printing filaments that provide many applications. They have different physical properties and different uses. Using practical examples, we will present the five most popular and most commonly used types of filaments – TPU, PVA, PA (nylon), PC, and PLA composites.

3D printing filaments

1. TPU or “ELASTIC” FILAMENT

TPU, made from TPE thermoplastics and polyurethane, is an elastic filament with high strength. Compared with traditional physical materials such as PLA, ABS, TPU is a material showcasing elasticity and flexibility and feels like tough rubber.

When using the TPU 3D printing filament type, there is almost no odor. Because of the low shrinkage properties of TPU material, TPU 3D printed objects show good stability in dimensional size, which reduces failure application caused by print size shrinkage.

TPU filament za 3D tiskanje

Use of TPU filament

Due to its good tolerance to different weather conditions and outside wear, 3D printer filament TPU is widely used for making parts applied in the automobile industry, footwear components, and spare parts for medical facilities. Also, a good choice for model prototyping.

Flashforge 3D tiskalniki, s katerimi lahko tiskate TPU

3D printing tips with TPU filament

More settings:

To print the TPU 3D printing filament, select a 3D printer with a direct-motion-drive extruder and with cooling fans. The function of cooling fans is to cool down the hot biting gear inside the extruding system, but not be used to directly blow and cool the printed model. 

  • Layer thickness: > 0.1mm
  • 3D printing temperature: 220 – 240°C
  • Build plate temperature: 70°C – 90°C
  • 3D printing speed: ≤ 30mm/s

Flashforge 3D printers able to meet those TPU printing requirements:

2. PVA FILAMENT

PVA 3D printing filament is a water-soluble polymer with a wide range of uses. PVA could completely dissolve in normal water and dissolves faster in hot water. It’s non-toxic and non-irritating to the skin. The touch feeling of 3D printed objects of PVA filament is something between plastic and rubber. 

PVA filament za 3D tiskanje

Use of PVA filament

Because of the water-soluble properties, PVA is used to print model supports. Each 3D printer user knows that support structures are necessarily needed when printing a model that has some body parts dangling in the air. PVA, as one of the 3D printing filament types, is perfect for printing supports. When you finish with 3D printing, just soak the printout object in the water. The support structures will dissolve and automatically separate from the model body after some time.

Of course, in such a situation, users need a 3D printer with two extruders. One nozzle printing model body and the other nozzle printing supports.

Flashforge 3D tiskalniki, s katerimi lahko tiskate PVA

3D printing tips with PVA filament

More settings:

As to which types of filaments are proper for model body printing, here is the suggested PLA filament. The printing temperature of PVA is close to that of PLA and PVA has better viscosity with PLA than other materials. 

If encountering non-smooth extruding or the viscosity of the model body is not enough, users please try to raise the print temperature a little bit. PVA is super absorbent and easy to get moisture, so please use it up as soon as possible once opened the filament package.

  • 3D printing temperature: 190 – 230°C
  • Build plate temperature: max. 45°C
  • Well seal it when in no use
  • Once getting wet, please use a
    “Filament Drying Station”.

Flashforge 3D printers able to meet those PVA printing requirements:

3. PA FILAMENT

What is PA (polyamide) material? Many people may not know that PA stands for nylon. Printed objects made of PA (nylon) filament are excellent in terms of strength, flexibility, and durability.

Not all 3D printers support 3D printing with PA (nylon) 3D printing filament, and the production of this filament is also difficult. If the filament is not produced well, it can cause errors in 3D printing on FFF 3D printers.

PA (najlon) filament za 3D tiskanje

Use of PA (nylon) filament

For a good use of PA filament, users first need to select the right 3D printer. To meet people’s demand for printing PA (nylon), Flashforge, after going through many difficult technical barriers and R&D tests, has developed some good 3D printers that not only print PA filaments very well but also well print PA composites.

Flashforge 3D tiskalniki, s katerimi lahko tiskate PA (najlon)

3D printing tips with PA (nylon) filament

Currently, PA filament is the most difficult to print among all other filament types for FFF technology. To print well, you must first choose a 3D printer that supports this type of filament. If it is compatible, it will already have default settings for 3D printing with PA in the FlashPrint software, which we recommend you stick with.

Flashforge 3D printers able to meet those PA (nylon) printing requirements:

4. PC FILAMENT

PC is one of the most commonly used 3D printing filament types on industrial 3D printers. It proposes very high strength, about twice the strength of ABS, able to tolerate high temperatures up to 120°C. Compared with other 3D printing filament types, PC has poor fluidity and is difficult to print. PC also has good flame retardant performance.

PC filament za 3D tiskanje

Use of PC filament

The 3D printer filament type PC can endure long-time work at temperatures over 100°C, so it’s good for making small parts on electronics, impact-tolerant auto parts, or high-temperature parts in aerospace fields.

3D printing tips with PC filament

More settings:

PC is an environmentally friendly material and has no odor when printing. When selecting a PC filament product, users please pay some attention to its fluidity. Choose the one with better fluidity and easier to mold. PC needs a high temperature when 3D printing.

  • 3D printing temperature: 230 – 280°C
  • Build plate temperature: >100°C
  • Recommended a 3D printer with an enclosed and heated chamber.

Flashforge 3D printers able to meet those PC printing requirements:

5. PLA COMPOSITES

PLA is the easiest of all materials to print with, so any tips would be redundant, but we can learn something about PLA composites. Here different PLA composites mean PLA mixed with other materials like metal and wood. The proportion of PLA material is approximately 70%, while 30% is made of wood or metal powder. The ratio may vary due to different performance requirements.

PLA kompiziti za 3D tiskanje

Use of PLA composites

Wood PLA filament is good to display a wooden texture when printing models, like trees, flower pots, and miniature buildings which need to resemble real-world natural objects.

A mixture of PLA, including copper, silver, bronze, etc., prints out objects with a metallic surface look. The outer appearance of metal PLA printed objects is just like real metal, but their strength and toughness are far less. So stage performance props of metal arms and industrial craft modes are the better application cases of metal PLA.

NOW YOU KNOW WHICH 3D PRINTING FILAMENTS ARE MOST COMMONLY USED…

We have presented the five most commonly used types of 3D printing filaments and their use as well. TPU is a good choice for printing flexible and elastic models. PVA is soluble in water, making it perfect for support material. PA and PC have high strength and are able to tolerate high temperatures, perfect for printing industry-use parts. And finally, wood PLA filament prints out objects with the surface look wooden, while metal PLA offers a metallic finish that is indistinguishable from real metal. Different 3D printing filaments have their own advantages depending on the application, so it is important to know a little more about them.