The word ‘flexible’ is an adjective that refers to a thing that will not break if bent. The other word ‘filament’ refers to an object like thread/fiber. Altogether we can say that Flexible Filament is a fiber that will not break if it bends.
Notably, in 3D printing technology, the flexible filament is a modern breakthrough. Normally we can see that the 3D pen /3D printing technique uses materials as ink which will harden immediately after it gets out from the device nozzle.
However, flexible filaments are those materials that stay flexible after the shaping is done by 3D printer/3D pen nozzles.
Materials Used As Flexible Filaments
These materials are prepared to blend plastic & rubber polymers. The results are:
- Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE)
- Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU)
- MatterHackers PRO Series Flex
- Polyester Copolyamide Thermoplastic Elastomer (PCTPE)
- Soft PLA
Hardware Requirements To Use Flexible Filaments
The below-mentioned hardware requirements are necessary to 3D print using flexible filament:
- The printing bed should have a temperature control option. Preferably it should be made out of glass. The printing can be directly done on to the glass printing bed.
|Extruder Temperature||Printing Bed Temperature|
|TPE||220°C (+/-)10||30°C (+/-)10|
|TPU||250°C (+/-)10||50°C (+/-)10|
|Pro Series Flex||220°C (+/-)10||35°C (+/-)15|
|PCTPE||235°C (+/-)10||30°C (+/-)10|
|Soft PLA||230°C (+/-)10||30°C (+/-)10|
- Build surface should be – 1) PEI (Polyetherimide) printing surface or 2) Painters tape
- Part cooling fan required.
Advantage Of Flexible Filament
The Advantages Of Using Flexible Filaments Into 3D Printing Are:
- The result made of flexible filament is very flexible. Also, it is soft in quality. It also has minimal elasticity. So we can prepare smartphone covers, bike handles, Toys, grip sleeves, etc. from this.
- Excellent vibration dampening items /parts can be made out of this material.
- Items made with these materials have a longer shelf life. As the other 3D printing materials are hard in nature. So they will shatter if it slips out from a height. But this material will remain unbreakable for its softness & stretch-ability.
- We can make a good impact resistant tool also for shock absorption.
Disadvantage Of Flexible Filament:
The Disadvantages Of Using Flexible Filaments Into 3D Printing Are:
- The print job using flexible filament is very tough as there are several rules one has to follow. Like such as:
- You can’t hasten the process of printing. The higher the speed of feeding the filament would stick to the printer.
- You have to keep the extruder temperature & the printer bed temperature on control. Or else the shape will not be perfect.
- You have to keep a close watch on the temperature factor, printer bed material & filament feeding speed. If any-one of them gets out of specified limits then spots, dash, looping will happen which may spoil the result or make it a faulty or defective item.
- There is a high possibility the material can be stuck upon the printer due to small changes in the temperature & speed of feeding the printer.
The technology of using flexible filament in 3D printing is very recent. It may open a new horizon to the printing industry shortly.