As you enter the wide world of 3D printing, you’ll need to understand the filaments at your disposal. These materials are what create the high-quality prints you want, and they’re the catalyst for turning your product vision into a reality. So whether you’re a beginner looking to get a crash course or an expert who wants to brush up on some basic knowledge, check out our ultimate guide to 3D printing filaments.
What Are 3D Printing Filaments?
To begin, 3D printing filaments are a collection of materials that bind together under a pressurized heated environment. Often, these substances consist of several variations of thermoplastic, like PLA or ABS. However, some filaments have a polymer base to increase their range of flexibility. When extruded through a 3D printer, these components form a strong bond with the layer before them, crafting your desired product or prototype before your very eyes.
Depending on the base material of a 3D printing filament, these substances have applications in a plethora of industries, including many that involve manufacturing and product production. But stronger filaments like nylon have uses in high-stress industries like aerospace, healthcare, and warehousing. As such, 3D printing technology and its range of compatible filaments are quickly growing to meet these diverse needs.
Characteristics of Useful 3D Printer Filaments
When it comes to a quality 3D printer filament, there are several important factors to keep in mind. After all, each type of filament is different and has its own distinct features. Consequently, you need to know what traits to look for when deciding on the right one for your own 3D printing project. Here are some core characteristics to remember.
This trait is especially important for those who are new to working with this technology because it will ensure these filaments are less likely to cause printer issues during the process. PLA is one type of material that offers superior printability, making it the perfect option for beginners looking to experiment with prototyping.
Quality 3D printer filaments also have a certain degree of heat resistance. While filaments must have a reasonable melting point to print properly, a high heat resistance is incredibly useful for applications involving friction. General-use ABS and PETG filaments both have enough heat resistance to maintain their structure. However, if you’re making industrial components for heavy machinery, you’ll want something like a nylon thermal filament that has a higher tensile strength and can better disperse excess heat.
High Tensile Strength
Speaking of strength, this should be another characteristic to look for in your 3D printing filaments. Tensile strength refers to a material’s ability to resist breaking under tension. With high tensile strength, prints are much more durable and applicable to a wider range of potential uses. General-purpose filaments like PLA and ABS rank reasonably high in terms of strength and durability. Additionally, some formulas contain carbon fiber reinforcement to provide them with extra strength, so that’s an important consideration to keep in mind as well.
Though stiff and strong components have their uses, it can be helpful if your chosen filaments still have some degree of flexibility. Flexibility prevents a printed model from breaking when a large force presses down on it. Depending on the amount of stress exerted, these materials can bounce back and keep performing as necessary. This is ideal for applications that put your prints under pressure, like with industrial gears and platforms.
Tips for Choosing the Right Filament
No ultimate guide to 3D printing filaments would be complete, though, without discussing some additional tips and tricks for choosing the right one for your needs. Because there are so many different filaments to pick from, you’ll need to narrow your options based on the specific guidelines of your industry and project. Here are a few helpful tips for you to use.
Consider Your Print’s Applications
As mentioned previously, 3D prints play a significant role in hundreds of different industries around the world. For this reason, not every type will be a good fit for your project. Therefore, taking the time to map out your print’s applications and determine your basic needs for its performance will be the key to making the right choice.
Think About Your Experience Level
You also want to consider the amount of experience you have with 3D printing technology. Some filaments can be difficult to work with because they require additional printing accessories and monitoring to avoid errors. So if you’re new to this technology, you’ll want to find materials that are more suitable for beginners. Starting with easy-to-print filaments first and working your way up to nylon and polycarbonate can help reduce your margin for error significantly.
Reference Your Printer’s Configurations
Make sure you’re checking your 3D printer’s filament preferences as well. Not all printers can accommodate any type of filament, so you want to make sure that your material is compatible with your technology before you commit to the purchase.
Find a Quality Supplier
Above all, though, you want to find filaments from a quality 3D printing material supplier. These professionals know the characteristics of every type of filament on the market and put their own products through rigorous testing before selling them. Performing your due diligence into the company ensures that you acquire a reliable filament and gain a business partner that can get you what you need. Screen your suppliers carefully, and only buy from knowledgeable vendors who can get you what you need to succeed.
For a 3D printing filament manufacturer that you can trust, give Filamatrix a call. Catering to both beginners and experienced 3D printing professionals, we work hard to ensure that every filament we sell has high performance and appearance capabilities. Whether you need something with overall strength and resistance or would like your parts to withstand rigorous tasks with ease, we can help. Visit our website to learn more about our specific filament lines and determine which material would make the best fit for your project.