Let’s Talk Specialty Filaments



First, let me preface this week’s blog by saying that any product mentioned in this article is not an endorsement of that product. In most cases, I have not purchased, used, or even seen these products. This week’s article is an information delivery article on products that are available for 3D printers and or the 3D printer community.

Makerbot has a large line of standard PLA filaments as well as a line of specialty filaments. Their standard PLA colors are just about all basic colors you might want including neon colors. However, more interesting are the translucent colors and the specialty line. The translucent colors do not print as see through, though, they do print in a neat, interesting, and unique color. The Specialty filaments are especially interesting. Within this line are glow in the dark, sparkly colors, and photochromatic colors. The photochromatic colors change colors when exposed to ultraviolet light. You can see a demo of this filament here: (http://www.makerbot.com/blog/2014/06/19/makerbot-filament-colorful-transformation-coming/).

NinjaFlex is a flexible thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) rubbery type filament. It comes in multiple colors and when printed maintains its flexibility. This works well for phone cases and bracelets and you can find it here (http://www.fennerdrives.com/25c4272a-f5ab-404a-af98-a0ade180419c/_/3d/). There are other types of flexible filament available such as Flex EcoPLA and FilaFlex. If you are interested in a flexible type filament take a gander at this comparative test blog between 3 different types of flexible filament (http://forums.reprap.org/read.php?1,269018,269018).

Maker Geeks sells a huge line of specialty filaments which includes a line of metallic, conductive ABS, carbon fiber, ceramic, sandstone, and wood filaments just to name a few. This is definitely a website worth investigating if you are looking for that one plastic for a special build you are planning (http://makergeeks.com/index.html).

If you are a heavy printer, i.e. you print A LOT and use a lot of plastic, then you may want your very own plastic extruder. The ExtrusionBot is a small footprint extruder that can spit out 4′ of filament per minute in PLA or ABS. The machine uses plastic pellets and the company touts that you can extrude your filament for $4 per spool! (http://www.extrusionbot.com/590-2/?gclid=CKSKgv28hMACFSpo7AodmTcA9w)

Just a few words of advice. All of these filaments are considered experimental and may not work in your machine. Check with your machine manufacturer before running any of these filaments to insure they will not damage your machine. Additionally, be aware when purchasing the specialty filaments the spools will likely not be the standard 2.5 KG weight. They will likely be considerably less, just be sure to take that into consideration when pricing these plastics.

Until next time, happy printing!

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