We Are Learning 3D Printing Through Our Personal Experience…
The filament maker Proto Pasta has released new version of their High Temperature PLA filament that looks very promising for anyone looking to work with PLA filament, but get much higher resistance to high temperatures that could be similar or even better than that of ABS. Earlier this yeat we have tested the original Proto-Pasta High Temperature PLA Filament and it did quite well, but it offered heat deflection of up to 88°C and the new version of the filament promises up to 140C. The print parameters are apparently similar to that of standard PLA filament, but with the High Temperature PLA you will need to heat threat the 3D printed part after it is ready.
Proto Pasta have used an oven at 110C for about 30 minutes with good results and they do recommend leaving the supports on your parts, placing them on a non-radiating surface (like glass, ceramic, or composite), and letting them cool in the oven to minimize distortion. Parts can be annealed at a lower temperature (though must be above 60C) for a longer time with less risk of unwanted deformation. There is an obvious visual change indicating the improved performance of the filament.
The new Proto Pasta High Temp PLA v2.0 is available in two variations – standard with Iridescent Ice or Silver Smoke color as well as a special limited edition Aromatic Coffee PLA. Both are available in 1.75 and 2.85 (3) mm diameter and come on 500 gram spools with a price of $35 USD at the moment. The Aromatic Coffee PLA comes with a nice pearlescent, translucent bronze color when printed and becomes very wood-like when annealed and releases an invigorating roast coffee scent when heated.
ColorFabb XT-CF20 is a copolyester based carbon fiber composite material that is based on the Amphora 3D polymer from Eastman Chemical and is loaded with no less than 20% specially sourced carbon fibers suitable for 3D Printing. The XT-CF20 filament uses the XT-Copolyester instead of the PLA/PHA from COlorFabb and the result is a filament with higher strength and toughness as well as resistance to higher temperatures before starting to get soft. The not so good thing compared to PLA/PHA is that a heated build plate is recommended for using the XT-Copolyester for your prints to stick better, although you could end up getting good results on 3D printers without a HBP as well. The combination of XT-Copolyester with 20% of carbon fibers in the ColorFabb XT-CF20 is very good and prints using this filament, we have previously tested carbon fiber-based filaments with PLA such as Proto Pasta’s Carbon Fiber PLA, but the XT-CF20 does seem to do better job.
The XT-CF20 does seem to be less brittle and a bit more stiffer with a better resistance to higher temperatures thanks to the 80 degrees Celsius glass transition temperature. The carbon fiber-based solution from ColorFabb also does seem to contain a bit more carbon fibers – 20% as opposed to just 15% in the Carbon Fiber PLA that we have previously tested. ColorFabb XT-CF20 does require higher printing temperature with 240-260C recommended, it is recommended to be printed using 40-70 mm/s speed and a heated build plate (if available) is recommended at 60-70C. Also do note that carbon fiber filament is more abrasive than standard filament, so it can shorten the life of standard brass nozzles by increasing the wear level. So it is recommended to use a printing nozzle with some sort of coating such as the ones we have tested from Performance 3-d or AVN Swiss.
We have tested printing with the ColorFabb XT-CF20 carbon fiber filament on our trustworthy MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer with some useful upgrades such as a coated nozzle and added HBP, so we had not trouble or worries using the XT-CF20 filament. The first test was to try and print using the carbon fiber filament on a cold build plate, we’ve already had some experience using the XT-Copolyerster filament using the ColorFabb XT Transparent Filament earlier this year before upgrading the 3D printer with a heated build platform. Interestingly enough the XT-CF20 carbon fiber filament does seem to print easier and to stick better than the XT transparent filament probably due to the carbon fibers. All we’ve had to do was to enable the use of rafts and we got a great quality print on our first try at 240 degrees Celsius printing temperature and going to 260C did not make much difference. We were able to print smaller parts at 90 mm/s printing speed at 0.2 mm layer height without any trouble, though you would probably want to reduce the speed a bit for finer details. Also no trobule removing the raft from the actual model and getting a good quality base of the part that was 3D printer on the raft.
Next was to test the ColorFabb XT-CF20 carbon fiber filament using the heated build plate at the recommended settings and see how things will go without having to use a raft when printing. We have started with 240C extruder temperature and tried with both 60C and 70C temperature of the HBP, but with both we’ve had trouble with the base of the 3D printer part to stick properly on the build plate. Moving to 250 degrees Celsius for the extruder we had the part sticking better and remaining on the build plate, but the base of printer part has shown that it still did not stick perfectly at either 60C or 70C HBP temperature. Going to 260C for the extruder and we got the filament sticking well at either 60-70C temperature for the heated build plate. The only problem that remains and that is associated with the high extrusion temperature is that the filament oozes from the nozzle a bit more when the printing head moves over longer distances to continue printing for larger objects. Other than that, with the right settings the ColorFabb XT-CF20 carbon fiber filament does seem quite easy to work with and provides good results, now we only need to print some parts that would be stress tested like something for an RC model.
Time to share our first impressions from printing with the new Innofil3D EPR PET 3D printer filament that we told you about last month. The recommended print temperature of the Innofil3D EPR PET filament is somewhere in between 200 and 230 degrees Celsius, so we have tested in that whole range to see what will be the results. The printing speeds that are recommended are between 40 and 100 mm/s and we had no trouble printing at the highest point with smaller details and higher resolution. The EPR PET filament should be printable without heated build platform, but if HBP is available the recommended temperature to use is between 75 and 85 degrees Celsius. We were able to print 3D models just fine without turning on the heated build plate of the printer, though the use of HBP might help prevent warping of edges when doing large and more complex prints the same way as with PLA. The glass transition temperature of the ERP PET material is listed as 62 degrees Celsius or maybe slightly higher than the 55 degrees of an average PLA, though some PLA filaments may go as high as up to about 65. This is the temperature when the material starts to soften, so similar to PLA this filament is also not suitable for use when high ambient temperatures are expected.
We are using our trustworthy MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer for printing and are doing our typical test using a simple 3D model of a house (Monopoly style) printed at various extruder temperatures with 0.2 mm layer height as well as printing a 1×1 cm cube with 0.1 mm layer height to compare the accuracy of the printed part to that of the same model printed from PLA. Innofil3D is positioning the EPR PET filament as an alternative to the most common PLA filament for 3D printers and although they are pretty similar in terms of specifications. Though Innofil3D notes that there might be some areas where their new filament could perform slightly better than normal PLA making the EPR PET an easier to print material and with better resulting prints.
What you can see on the image above is the results we got from our simple house test prints using various temperatures of the extruder. At 200 degrees Celsius the house did not print like that, but it seems that the temperature is too low for proper interlayer adhesion, so while we were removing the house from the printer build platform it started to cleanly break at various layers. At temperature of 210 degrees Celsius there were no longer any problems with interlayer adhesion like with the lower temperature and the best quality results we got were in between 210 and 215 degrees. Going with temperature of 220 degrees Celsius and higher the resulting 3D prints were still very good, but visually they had some small imperfections compared to the result we got at about 210-215. So for best quality and to avoid interlayer adhesion issues the 210-215 degrees Celsius seems to be working best with the Innofil3D EPR PET filament, at least for us on our Replicator 2 3D printer. The other test for the shrinkage of the material after printing has shown that the ERP PET 3D filament has very minimal shrinking just like PLA does, so that makes it suitable for more accurate prints and less problematic in terms of possible warping unlike when using ABS for example.
What is our conclusion about the ERP PET 3D printer filament after doing some test prints with it, well we consider it as a very good alternative to traditional PLA filament. It has very similar properties and ease of use, provides very good printing quality and even has some advantages. It prints well at higher extrusion speeds for smaller details, but good PLA does that as well, in terms of resolution and appearance it performs like a good PLA filament and probably better than cheaper PLA filaments. There is a bit of a catch however in terms of good layer adhesion and good quality, you need to use the right printing temperature to get these, if you don’t then you may end up with worse results than with PLA. The best working temperature for ERP PET seems to be a bit lower than what we are used to working with with most PLA filaments, that is if you really want to get the best quality and avoid problems with layer adhesion, but don’t go too low either. In terms of strength the ERP PET filament has some advantage over PLA, though it may not be as strong as material as ABS for example and with a price that is just slightly higher than that of normal PLA the Innofil3D EPR PET filament could really end up being an interesting alternative to traditional PLA filaments.