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Fenner Drives, the maker of NinjaFlex a flexible 3D printer filament has announced a new variant of the NinjaFlex family, the SemiFlex 3D printer filament. Like the original NinjaFlex 3D Filament, SemiFlex material boasts flexibility, strength and reliability for your 3D printing projects, and is slightly more rigid to expand your printing possibilities. For the moment the new SemiFlex 3D printer filament is available in just 4 colors: Black, White, Blue and Red with the spool price for the standard more flexible NinjaFlex and the less flexible SemiFlex filaments being the same.
The new SemiFlex 3D filament features a consistent diameter and material properties providing reliable, high quality prints like the original NinjaFlex. It uses a patent pending technology for smooth feeding with a low friction exterior that allows smooth feed through filament guides. The filament provides high elasticity and excellent abrasion resistance, excellent build platform adhesion and bonding between layers and comes with a filament hardness of approximately 98A (50D) for SemiFlex as opposed to 85A for the NinjaFlex. The new SemiFlex 3D filament is available in both 1.75mm filament spool 0.50 kg weight and 3.00mm filament spool with a weight of 0.75 kg.
SemiFlex is best for the following types of projects:
– High level of detail
– Contain intricate parts
– High resolution text
– Unsupported vertical printing
– Shock-absorption needed
– Requires less flexibility than NinjaFlex Original 3D Filament
The SemiFlex 3D Filament Processing Guidelines recommend extruder temperature of between 210-225°C with no heated bed required for printing, though if you have and use one you might want to keep the temperature below 50°C. The recommended Print Speed is 30 mm/s, just like for printing with the original NinjaFlex filament, so prints using this material might require more time than what you would need as compared to when using standard PLA filament for example.
NinjaFlex is the name of a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) filament for 3D printers developed by a company called Fenner Drives. This is not the first flexible 3D printer filament that we are checking out, but it is probably one of the most popular one for this type of filament. The NinjaFlex filament is designed to print on a wide range of 3D printers that use direct-drive extruders with settings similar to the ones you would use for normal prints using ABS or PLA material. There are some differences though that you should be aware of regarding the use of flexible filaments and more specifically NinjaFlex.
This filament does not require you to have a heated build plate, it should stick well to the standard build plate of 3D printers designed only for PLA printing and it should stick well to most surfaces. The manufacturer recommended extruder temperature is between 210-225°C and what you need to make sure to do is to lower the extrusion speed to about 1/3 of the normal one for your 3D printer or to about 30 mm/s in order to have best results. This is similar to other flexible filaments such as the Arnitel Eco Flexible filament that we have already tried. Arnitel is producing flexible filaments with a sightly higher hardness of Shore D between 40 and 70 and the NinjaFlex is rated Shore A hardness of 85, making the NinjaFlex filament slightly more flexible than the Arnitel 40A that we have tried.
The recommended maximum temperature for exposing the NinjaFlex printed parts is 66°C, going higher than that they can start to feel softer not because they are flexible, so the thermal stability is similar to the one that PLA filaments have. The recommended minimum temperature for NinjaFlex printed parts is -30°C, because going below this temperature will make printed parts increasingly brittle and they may even shatter. Also you should note that while occasional contact with water will have no adverse effect on NinjaFlex, the product will degrade and lose its elastic properties when submerged in water for extended periods of time.
The NinjaFlex flexible filament is available in multiple colors including: Black, White, Blue, Red, Silver, Gold, Orange, Green, Semi-transparent, Yellow and Pink in 1.75mm 0.50 kg spools as well as 3mm 0.75kg spools. We got a Green Grass filament spool with diameter of 1.75mm for trying the filament out on our MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer. Printing with our regular settings for PLA with an extrusion speed of 30 mm/s at three different temperatures has produced varying results. The recommended temperature range by the manufacturer is 210-225°C and we have tested printing at 210, 220 and 230 degrees Celsius with the results as seen on the photo above. At 210 degrees Celsius our test simple house was not not perfect, the base was fine, but the roof had some glitches making the printed part looking ugly, though the filament had no trouble sticking to the build plate. At 220°C visually the result was the best, great looking and smoother finish at 0.2mm layer height at Standard print quality. Going a bit higher and out of the recommended by the manufacturer temperature range still gives us a good print, but the surface finish looks a bit rougher when reflecting light. So it seems that you might want to stick to the upper recommended temperature range when printing with NinjaFlex flexible filament such as 220-225 degrees Celsius for best results.
Arnitel is a high-performance ThermoPlastic Copolyester (TPC) that offers you a unique combination of flexibility, high temperature resistance and strength. Arnitel Eco is manufactured using renewable feedstock, in fact 50% of its content comes from renewable resources, and in particular, rapeseed oil instead of mineral oil. This elastic product outperforms conventional rubbers according to the manufacturer across a variety of applications, and is available in hardnesses ranging from 40 to 70 Shore D. The Arnitel Eco 3D printer filament can be used with any 3D printer that supports PLA filaments as you need to have an extruder temperature of about 230 degrees Celsius for the Arnitel when printing, the same as for PLA.
The higher melting and printing temperature of the Arnitel Eco compared to other flexible filaments that can be used with 3D printers means that you can you can use the printed parts under higher temperature conditions where standard PLA for example will not be suitable. Arnitel Eco has a melting point of up to 200°C, depending on hardness, though at over 100 degrees Celsius it should not start melting for sure, unlike PLA that can start getting softer at over 65 degrees. Even at high temperatures the flexibility of the printed parts using Arnitel Eco the flexibility of the printed elements remain pretty good, so you do not have to worry about that either
As with other flexible filaments you may have trouble on some 3D printers that do not have filament feeding mechanism capable of properly using flexible filament, so you may need to upgrade or modify your filament feeded. The latest MakerBot Replicator 2 printers do not have problem using the Arnitel Eco flexible filament, though you may still get filament jams in the extruder if you are not using the proper printing settings. The rule that generally applies for using flexible filament is also in action here – use slower printing speed of about 1/3 of the normal speed you would use for standard PLA filament. So for example if using a Replicator 2 3D printer you will need to lower the parameter “Speed while Extruding” from 90 mm/s to about 30 mm/s. Depending on your 3D printer you may need to tweak a bit more the speed setting, especially if you are also printing small details where the movement of the extruder is not long enough to allow the cooling of the previous layer before applying the next one over.