3D Printing with Flexible Filaments

Today, we pulled out an old,small batch of non-standard flexible filaments we almost forgot we had! Been meaning to test these out for a while but then got busy with the move and events lined up, but anyhow, on with it!


So we have actually 3 types of filament to test with but we’ll go with trials on the pale colored filament first. For this first 3d printing test, we will use our favorite 3d-modelled squirrel which acts as a standard piece for us to compare things against.


One down side with a small sampler batch is there wasn’t a spool for them, so a little tricky in that there was a need to manually turn the filament a couple of turns now and then. Just to prevent it from knotting up on itself.


Starting off with the standard 220C which we normally use, the raft layers seem good as a start but there were some slight sounds from the material which keep us on edge for a bit. But apart from that (and the obvious spring nature of the flex filament) nothing was too different from our regular filament.


And moving on to the model itself, the filament at times seemed to under-extrude as compared to the regular 3d printing materials we use. One possibility could be the flexibility gives a challenging time to the extruder but as the model progressed through the print, it did not seem to have too much effect on the exterior perimeter of the model.


Coming to the overhanging parts of the model started to present some difficulties for the flexible filament, although for our regular PLA filaments these are easy peasy parts. This is still a shot of the model printed at 220C so part of it could be that the temperature is a little too high here, making it gooey and too soft to support itself after extrusion. Ditto the same issue for the hands of the squirrel.


And here’s the final 220C model, and in the background printing is the same squirrel model but at a lowered temperature of 210C. Halfway through the print, we were a little more optimistic that the reduced head would allow for a better print of the overhanging part.


But the final print at 210C turned out to face the same overhanging parts issue as the 220C model, albeit less severe. Perhaps a further reduction in the print temperature would help things somewhat. (More temperature tests coming up then!)


But back to the main point of things – the flexibility of the filament, so here’s a squish test of the model. Both had the same infill percent of 10% which is what we typically use for our 3d prints. And to the touch when being squeezed, they felt almost like those foam toys or stress toys made for squeezing. Definitely an interesting material to be working with if for models with much less overhanging portions than these.

With this quick test, perhaps we will be designing some new model specifically to be squashed soon then. Well, watch this space! =)


===== Update 18-Dec-2015 =====

Did an incomplete, larger flexible filament 3d print to see how it turns out and see the infill compression:

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