Printing Flexible Filaments

posted in: 3D Printing, Design, Masters Major | 0


My first foray into flexible filaments was using Soft PLA. This material boasted the benefits of PLA while being elastic.



The material is quite flexible and springy, it feeds fine into the extruder.



I started by printing slow, very slow, and the material came out ok, but it was not perfect. Printing the hexagonal structure was fine but the layers did not bond particularly well and the infill to the walls either.


Next step was to experiment with one of the structures I have been designing for my masters project.



The structures definitely did not print perfectly. Also it had to be printed incredibly slowly. This was not down to the extruder end, as I had no drive problems, snagging or anything, but due to getting adhesion of the material to each other. Printing too fast meant the filament printed messed up and did not stick. There were also problems with the material post print. It seemed to shrink somewhat, some time after printing, and the layers were pulling apart from each other, making it more structurally unstable. I was somewhat pulling hairs out at this point because I was unsure whether it was my set up or the material.


I decided to move on to try a TPE material to see whether or not it was by 3D print set up.



The TPE, which I sourced from amazon, branded NuNus, printed far far better. It seemed like a dream compared with the Soft PLA, which lead me to conclude the soft PLA was simply an incredibly poor material. There might be better places to source flexible based PLA’s but I did not find any others. I found the TPE and even the Soft PLA too flexible for my aims however. They might be all right for an arm rest but too much flex for a seat. My next step was to look at printing nylon.


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