ABS vs PLA Glow in the Dark Filament

22 Nov


As we like to play with various materials to print 3D objects with we got some samples of 3D printer filament that glows in the dark thanks to the presence of phosphors inside the thermoplastic. We got both ABS (left) and PLA (right) Glow in the Dark samples of filament from 3DFilaPrint that is apparently being manufactured by the Chinese company RepRapper Tech. Both filaments are white in color and they need to be exposed to stronger light to “charge” the phosphors, so that the filament will be able to glow in light green color in the dark. The PLA glow in the dark filament does seem a little bit yellowish than the ABS one that looks more white under normal light conditions, so we expected that the results we’ll be getting from the two filaments will differ a bit.


After exposing both types of glow int he dark filaments to stronger light for a bit and putting them in not totally dark environment we have noticed that the ABS filament has a stronger green-ish glow than the PLA one. Both filaments were exposed to the same amount of light, so it seems that the ABS glow int he dark material “charges” faster and initially glows brighter for a brief period of time, after a bit the glow in the dark light from both the ABS and PLA filaments seems to become the same. So probably the initial difference comes from the ABS “charging” the phosphors faster than PLA, but then quickly things get pretty much even.


Do note that the light that is produced from these glow in the dark filaments is not much, unless they were exposed to strong light for a while right before they get into complete darkness. So the glow in the dark effect could be considered more of a cool effect that is not very useable, but still could be quite fun to print some stuff using glow in the dark ABS or PLA filament. A good idea would be to use this one for keychains or other stuff that might help you find something it the dark, such as a battery holder or similar. We however don’t think we’ll be needing a full spool of Glow in the Dark filament for the moment as the wraps we have will be enough to play with the filament. We do plan to soon try another interesting alternative to achieve the same effect – paint a 3D printed object with paint that contains phosphors in order to produce the same glow in the dark effect. This method could be more useful and easy to implement as you don’t need to get special type of filament, but print in any filament that can be then turned on to a glow in the dark object. The only drawback from using paint is that it may not be so durable as if you have the thermoplastic itself producing the glow in the dark effect.

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