We Are Learning 3D Printing Through Our Personal Experience…
The European 3D printer filament maker ColorFabb has announced a new wood-type of filament called corkFill and as the name implies it is should offer characteristics similar to that of cork as the filament is a mix from cork and ColorFabb PLA/PHA filament. The new ColorFabb corkFill filament is already available for pre-order on the official website in 650 gram spools for 39.95 Euro in both 1.75mm and 2.85mm versions with shipping expected to start next week. The sample photos provided by ColorFabb show a nice detail level and good looking color results in general for prints made with the new filament. Since is is based on the PLA/PHA filament it should be easier to print and not require Heated Build Platform (HBP) to be present on your 3D printer to use it.
The recommended settings for using the new corkFill filament from ColorFabb are printing temperature of between 210 and 230 degrees Celsius, print speed of 40-60 mm/s and if a HBP is present to use a temperature of 50-60C for the bed, though as mentioned you should be able to print on cold build plate as well. ColorFabb also recommends that for stronger prints and better reliability you should increase the flow rate with about 4-10%, depending on the printer you are using. We are expecting good results from the new corkFill as so far we’ve been pretty pleased with the results we have achieved using different ColorFabb filaments for our MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer. We have tested multiple of the more exotic filaments that the company makes and have a few more waiting to be tested and we are certainly also going to give out a try of the new corkFill filament as well when it becomes available.
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 try out another of ColorFabb’s PLA/PHA filaments, this time it is a Woodfill Fine filament that contains actual wood particles – about 70% ColorFabb PLA and 30% recycled wood fibers. The end result from printing with this filament is a 3D printed object that feels like it is made from wood and looks like one, it is also lighter than the same print using only plastic filaments. ColorFabb uses fine pinewood fibers for this filament that are mixed with their PLA/PHA filament acting as a binding agent and the combination does seem to work pretty well. The box of the filament says recommended printing temperatures are 190-210 degrees Celsius and the official website mentions 195-220, 40-100 mm/s printing speed and if a heated build platform is available to set it at 50-60 C, though it is not specifically required.
We have tested printing with ColorFabb WoodFill Fine filament with a temperature of 190, 210, 230 and 250 degrees Celsius – outside of the recommended values to see what we are going to get as a result. The MakerBot Repilicator 2 3D printer that we are using was set to print with 0.2 mm layer height and 90 mm/s extrusion speed. Last year we have tested the Orbi-Tech LayWoo-d3 3D Printer Filament that was similar to the WoodFill from ColorFabb, but there were distinct differences between the two. At 190 degrees Celsius the ColorFabb WoodFill was having some trouble printing properly and we were getting filament jams inside the nozzle, going for 210 to 230 degrees things were fine in terms of printing and even at 250 the results were acceptable though the quality was not so good. We should note that around 210 degrees Celsius is probably the best temperature as with higher temperatures the filament is oozing too much from the nozzle and that requires a lot of cleanup work for larger models as you can see on the photo above. Also, unlike with the Orbi-Tech LayWoo-d3 where extrusion temperature affects the color of the printed object, with the ColorFabb Woodfill there is very little variation in color of the print using different extrusion temperature. The good thing however is that you can use standard printing speeds and settings with this filament just as you would with a normal PLA/PHA plastic only filament from ColorFabb.