proto-pasta-high-temperature-pla-filament

One of the most significant disadvantages of PLA versus ABS filaments is that the heat resistance of the PLA filament is significantly lower and if you want to 3D print parts that are going to be exposed to temperatures of 50-60 degrees or more Celsius, then PLA becomes unsuitable. The good news is that there are alternatives to ABS that are easy to be used as standard PLA, but offering higher temperature resistance as compared to standard PLA filament. Once such alternative is Proto-Pasta’s High Temperature PLA filament that we are going to try out now and see how it compares to standard PLA filament in terms of ease of usage and temperature resistance. Proto-Pasta High Temperature PLA is a custom compound consisting of mineral filled impact modified PLA with a nucleating agent to help promote crystallization. Crystallization is what gives this material added heat resistance. To increase crystallization, parts must be soaked in hot water or an oven after printing at 60C-80C for about 5 minutes. According to the manufacturer of the filament the High Temperature PLA should offer heat deflection of up to 88°C after being post-treated as compared 50-60 degrees Celsius for most standard PLA. There is no need for a heated build plate and the recommended printing temperatures are between 190 and 230 degrees Celsius.

proto-pasta-high-temperature-pla-filament-test

The Proto-Pasta High Temperature PLA filament is with white in color with grayish appearance and we did some test prints for the whole recommended temperature as a printing range on our MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer with a standard 0.4mm nozzle. The resulting quality was good for all prints of 200 degrees Celsius and up, only at 190 degrees we’ve had some issues with the filament getting properly extruded, so the test print of a simple house did not end up looking good. Just in case we have repeated the print multiple times and the result was pretty much the same – an unusable print, so apparently a temperature of 200 or above degrees should be fine. We have used a cup of hot water for the crystallization process and after that even at 80 degrees the printer part remained strong and did not soften. So if you need a PLA filament with higher temperature resistance the Proto-Pasta High Temperature PLA filament could be a good choice, though it comes with a higher cost and is apparently currently out of stock at the manufacturer.

replicator-2-teflon-filament-guide-tube-problem

Last week we were having a weird issue with our MakerBot 2 Replicator 3D printer that was stopping to extrude filament properly ater 5 to 10 millimeters from the height of a print is normally printed, resulting in a failed attempt to print the object. The filament was just stopping to extrude properly or completely and we’ve had to unload and load it again to resume normal operation. It was not like a standard filament jam that requires the disassembly of the extruder to clean a filament jam. We have started to check the usual suspects that might be a cause of filament jams such as improper leveling of the build plate, problems with the heating temperature of the extruder, worn off nozzle, the filament guide mechanism and motor and so on. None of this however made any difference and we were still having failed prints regardless if it was a simple or more complex model, we have even tried using various filaments to exclude a possible issue with the PLA filament we’ve been using from MakerBot.

Changing the filament did not help at first as we were changing complete spools, but once we’ve tried a few short samples of various filaments that were 10-15 meters and not on spool we got a hint of another unexpected possible issue. Using a shorter filament wrap for a test print we did not get it through the teflon filament guide tube that we use normally with the filament spools and surprisingly we’ve had no trouble with the filament stopping to extrude properly anymore and no failed prints. But bringing back a spool with filament that goes through the filament tube and the prints started failing again, so apparently the Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) guide tube was causing the problems with the print. We did not expect that to be the cause as there were no visual or any other kind of signs that something is wrong with the filament guide tube. After all the idea of this filament guide tube is to make the feeding of filament easier and more problem free, but apparently it also can wear off over the course of few months of usage and starting to cause issues. Since we did not expect the tube to be the cause of the problem we were having it took us some time to rule out every other possibility that we considered first, but if you are having a similar issue you might want to temporary remove the teflon filament guide tube to see if it might turn out to be the culprit in your case.

Next time we’ll have another new thing to consider when we start having issues with failing prints, and we are already waiting to get a replacement PTFE filament guide tube to see how long will the new one work without starting to cause troubles like the original tube. We are also going to be looking out for some alternative ways for improving the filament guide on the MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer to make printing less problem free.

makerbot-replicator-2-3d-printer-extruder-thermal-image

If you have wondered how the extruder of a 3D printer looks like in terms of operating temperature this thermal image can give you some idea about that. It is of the extruder of MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer, but the situation is similar with other devices that are based on the same technology using thermoplastic material. Pretty much the heating block is the hottest thing and the rest of the extruder remains with a relatively low temperature, but if you have trouble with the extruder working properly one of the things that may be causing this is other components getting hotter than they should be.

For more information about the temperature of a 3D printer extruder in operation…

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