There are various kinds of filament on the market with varying properties, requiring varying temperatures to print smoothly. For FDM manufacturers, the only limitation is the model that needs to be made. The amount of thermal conductivity and thermal insulation also plays a role in designing the right filament for the application. In this article, I will discuss the different kinds of filament that have different applications and which is best suited for a certain type of 3D printing process.
Consider Talking About Polyethylene
First, we will talk about polyethylene (PE), a popular thermoplastics used for high-resolution, low-cost printing in desktop 3D printers. PE has a very smooth surface, excellent optical properties and good mechanical stability at low temperatures. It is also quite affordable as it can be used in a wide range of commercial products, from protective coatings to industrial lubricants. Low cost, high performance – these are the basics of every good quality PE plastic filament.
Another choice for 3D printing filaments are polyimide based polymers. Polyimide is similar to polystyrene but is stronger and more durable than PE. The resulting model has good high-temperatures and high cure speeds, offering good value for the money spent. Polyimide can be used in a wide range of applications, including air bags and injection molding foam, and is great for rapid prototyping, thin-foil production and large-scale engineering design drawings.
Another common choice among 3D printing filament brands is butadiene, which is usually made from synthetic rubber derived from petroleum. Butadiene is thermally fused onto a suitable plastic support. Because butadiene is fused, it is more flexible than PE or other types of thermoplastics. However, it is still relatively expensive compared to PE and injection molding filaments. Most butadiene filaments are low-density, low-melting and high-temperatures resistant. They are ideal for use in low-volume, low-payload situations, such as low-volume computer enclosures.
The final common choice for 3D printing filament brands are polyurethane based resins. Polyurethane is usually formed through a cold process that involves injection of melted polymer into molds. Some polyurethane brands have additives, like silicone, to improve its wear resistance and performance characteristics. While polyurethane is extremely reliable and stable, it can be very expensive as well, often exceeding the price of PE and injection molding filaments.
Fused Deposition Modeling
Last but not least on the list of popular 3D printing filament brands are fused deposition modeling (FDM) fibers and resins. FDM is an abbreviation for flexure-fed-deposition modeling and has been used for decades in the manufacturing of metal casting parts. A major benefit of FDM 3D printer filament is its capability to provide smooth surfaces without using any plasticizing chemicals, which can cause surface irregularities and warping.
In short, it is important to make sure your next 3D printing project will utilize the best 3D printing filament. The right choice can change the outcome of your next 3D printing project dramatically and can help shorten the development time of your next 3D project. Even if you are not considering a particularly large scale project at this point, understanding your options is key to getting started with the right 3D printer filament and system for your project. Getting started with the right materials today can mean the difference between getting your next 3D project completed in record time and getting it delayed longer.