Archive for the ‘Filaments’ Category

Using 3D Printing to Create Industrial Quality Molds

Posted by Editor On August - 7 - 2017

Using 3D Printing to Create Industrial Quality Molds

Superior strength and chemical property durability comes to desktop 3D printing

By Fred Kaplan

While the history of mold making goes back to the Bronze Age, injection molding was patented in 1872 by John Wesley Hyatt, four years after he patented the first celluloid plastic that was used as an ivory substitute in billiard balls. The injection molding market is expected to reach $162 billion dollars by 2020.

Among the disadvantage of additive manufacturing has been the high cost of proprietary materials. While the return on investment for open-source 3D-printing materials is better, it can’t compete with the return on investment of printing molds and casting urethanes or the wide variety of other materials.

3D printing could be a great way to create high quality molds faster, but 3D-printing high-quality molds require high-end 3D printers with specialized materials which made it impossible to get a reasonably return on investment until now.

Avante Technologies has introduced FilaOne gray injection molding filament for desktop printers. FilaOne is a proprietary, composite material formulated for high mechanical performance, resilience, water and chemical resistance, and is safe for easy printing on FDM 3D printers.

A true “engineering grade” material, FilaOne offers a unique combination of mechanical and chemical processing attributes. It provides a higher strength-to-weight ratio than other 3D printer materials attributed with an engineering grade reputation. FilaOne Gray is easier-to-print than polycarbonate, nylon, and ABS.

FilaOne key attributes include:
• Ultralight weight: 0.86 grams per cubic centimeter when printed with 100% solid infill.
• Flexural strength 48% higher than ABS.
• Resilient: FilaOne bends and recovers with minimal crazing.
• Hydrophobic: repels water, resists salt-water, and is not affected by humidity.
• Chemically resistant to acids, bases, solvents and selected gases.
For more on the specifics of its properties, see the Avante Technologies website for additional information.

Using 3D Printing to Create Industrial Quality Molds

FilaOne contains proprietary carbon nanotubes that reinforce the material like microscopic support rods to add strength and resilience to injection molds. To that extent, FilaOne has been tested on AirWolf, Roboze, and German RepRap 3D printers with notable results.

FilaOne prints at 225-230 degrees celsius but the print bed must be heated to 95C. It also requires high-torque stepper motors for feeding filament. For complete set of print settings see this report.

Fred Kaplan is a 3D-printing material specialist, who is currently working with UnionTech. He has worked with SLA, SLS, FDM, ColorJet, ADAM, DLP, LOM, FFF, MultiJet, Polyjet, and SDL 3D printers. Specializing in matching the best technology to a particular 3D printing application, he has also worked with many brands of 3D scanners and many CAD packages.

Prior to his work in additive manufacturing, Fred received a Los Angeles-area Emmy and other awards for documentary filmmaking.

The Daily 3D Detail: How safe are 3D printer plastics?

Posted by Editor On August - 4 - 2017

How Safe are 3D Printer Plastics?

VOCs produced by melting ABS, PLA, nylon and PET.

According to a recent privately-funded study conducted in Poland on the dangers of heated thermoplastics ABS, PLA, PET, and nylon, the risk to human health is nominal, and even in the case of ABS, is well under the prescribed exposure limitations of work safety organizations. (Above image courtesy of The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.)

According to the authors of the study, Szymon Wojtyła, Piotr Klama, and Tomasz Baran:

“The conducted study has shown that ABS is significantly more toxic than PLA. The emission of volatile organic compounds (VOC) has been in the range of 0.50 µmol/h. Styrene has accounted for more than 30% of total VOC emitted from ABS, while for PLA, methyl methacrylate has been detected as the predominant compound (44% of total VOCs emission).

According to the World Health Organization, a report on the danger of inhaled plastic gasses, toxicity occurs at higher temperatures and in environments without adequate ventilation. The report outlines specific data on methyl methacrylate (MMA), the most prominent Volatile organic compounds (VOC) in PLA:

“The acute toxicity of methyl methacrylate is low. Irritation of the skin, eye, and nasal cavity has been observed in rodents and rabbits exposed to relatively high concentrations of methyl methacrylate. The chemical is a mild skin sensitizer in animals. The effect observed most frequently at lowest concentration after repeated inhalation exposure to methyl methacrylate is irritation of the nasal cavity. Effects on the kidney and liver at higher concentrations have also been reported. The lowest reported effect level for inhalation was 410 mg/m3 in rats exposed to methyl methacrylate for 2 years (based upon inflammatory degeneration of the nasal epithelium); the no-observed-effect level (NOEL) in this investigation was approximately 100 mg/m3.”

While the recent study recommends implementation of better filtering systems into future desktop FDM 3D printers for added safety, the results clearly indicate that under normal print operations, the exposure danger to operators fall well below any danger levels.

For more on the story, see this article at

Print with Multiple Filaments with Palette+

A simple method of multicolor prints is now available

Type A Machines has introduced a new way of printing in multiple filaments with an add-on device called Palette+. The device, produced by Canadian company Mosaic Manufacturing Ltd, sits aside conventional FDM 3D printers and fuses multiple filaments together through a rotary cutting method. This method than allows not only multiple colors in one print, but a mix of material combinations including PLA with a soluble support material, PLA with flexible TPU, and PLA with PETG.

Print with Multiple Filaments with Palette+

The new and improved slicing method, referred to by Mosaic as closed splicing, allows for a more even distribution of heat across the bound surfaces of filaments. This process is complemented with its own software, Chroma 2.0, which incorporates a functionality enhancement called Raft, a new G-code processing engine that supports slicing programs like Cura.

For more on the development of Palette+, visit Type A Machines.

The Daily 3D Detail: Making 3D printed parts stronger

Posted by Franka Schoening On July - 24 - 2017

Brandon Sweeney and Blake Tiepel in action

Brandon Sweeney, a Doctoral Student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University and his advisor Dr. Micah Green, discovered a new technique to increase the durability of 3D printed parts. The process welds the layers together with the use of microwaves, increasing the pieces’ adaptability to real life manufacturing demands.

3D printers create objects by layering filament in the desired shape. These thin layers increase the possibility of fractures, limiting the applicability of some objects in the real world. While working on a different project, Sweeney was inspired to use carbon nanotubes and microwaves to weld the layers into one solid, more stable, part.

By adding the carbon nanotube to the outside of the filament, the composite gets embedded in the part during the printing process. A monitored heat source bonds the layers together, without melting the entire object.

In cooperation with Essentium Materials, the team hopes to integrate the electromagnetic welding process into the actual 3D printers. Find the article and video on


The Daily 3D Detail: 3D printer vs. childhood obesity

Posted by Franka Schoening On July - 24 - 2017

Vegetables in their natural state – often rejected by children

Obesity is on the rise worldwide. Enabled by fatty fast food and sugary drinks that are constantly available, flavorful and advertised to children at a young age. Getting kids to eat their veggies can be a constant battle for parents. Professor Carla Severini, and her team at the University of Foggia, are here to facilitate sneaking veggies into your family’s dinner. Using a 3D printer, the study turned blended banana, white beans, mushrooms and milk into octopus-shaped treats. Treats that are not only fun to eat, but also nutrient-rich. The team is furthermore experimenting with fish, cauliflower and insects, a source of protein commonly rejected in Western cultures. Allowing children to experiment with food, will hopefully transform them into vegetable lovers from an early age on. Read the whole article here.

Is this how we will ensure that our children eat a healthy diet? What do you think?

The Daily 3D Detail: 3D printing gives hope to Nepal’s community

Posted by Franka Schoening On July - 21 - 2017

Matthew Rockwell with one of his patients in Nepal. Photo courtesy of

Using your talents to do good in the world is what we all strive for. One tech company, Disaster Hack, a San Francisco- based non-profit led by Matthew Rockwell, is using its 3D printing expertise to help Nepalis affected with disabilities. In 2015, after a big earthquake shook the country, Rockwell brought a 3D printer to Kathmandu. His goal was to manufacture low-cost prosthesis for victims of the disaster, or illness. 3D printing will be a game changer for the critically underfunded Nepali health sector by reducing costs significantly. Limited to hands at the moment, the company nevertheless has identified 7,000 people that could benefit from the $30 functional prothesis. In the future, Disaster Hack hopes to use recycled plastic bottles as filament to expand their impact without requiring more funding, while positively impacting the environment.

Furthermore, Rockwell has trained 20 prosthetists at Nepali hospitals and is currently setting up a biomedical printing lab in Kathmandu’s largest university. These actions will create independent growth for the nation through jobs and manufacturing. Read the whole article here and find even more info at


The Daily 3D Detail: Stratasys awarded contract for Airbus

Posted by Franka Schoening On July - 18 - 2017

Airbus announced today that it will cooperate with Stratasys to 3D print polymer parts for installation on the new A350 XWB aircraft. The non-structural parts will be printed on Stratasys’ FDM printer out of a heat-resistant thermoplastic resin, called ULTEM™ 9085. Airbus expects this collaboration to enhance supply chain flexibility and achieve significant reduction of production waste and cost.

After recording a $77m loss last year, Stratasys has put a focus on commercial 3D printing, due to higher earning potential than selling personal printers. The company announced three new aerospace partnerships last month alone.

Read more here.

ULTEM™ 9085 Photo Credit: Stratasys



The Daily 3D Detail: Self-healing 3D printed gels

Posted by Franka Schoening On July - 14 - 2017

Self-healing 3D printed gel sea star

If you have friends that still doubt the usability and purpose of 3D printing, we have the story to convince them. A team at University of Melbourne in Australia is developing gels to print self-healing screens for smart devices. Considering the frustrating condition of having a shattered iPhone screen, all we can hope is that they hurry up already!

Based on PHEMA, a water-based gel used to create the first soft contact lenses, the team created twelve variations of gels with differing characteristics. Check out the whole article on to find out what this invention has to do with butterflies, cigars and sea stars.

The Daily 3D Detail: The pitfalls of metal printing

Posted by Franka Schoening On July - 11 - 2017

Surface finish – a common pitfall

3D printing with metal is mostly accomplished using selective laser melting (SLM) or electron beam manufacturing (EBM). Lasers fuse powdered metal together layer by layer to create the desired object. To improve this process – and other metal printing techniques – engineers are working to avoid common problems, such as: porosity, residual stress, density, warping, cracking, and surface finish.

Michael Molitch-Hou from compiled a fascinating report on seven issues and also offers suggestions on how to avoid them. If you are new to metal printing you will furthermore certainly enjoy his compact, but thorough, introduction to the subject and its various techniques.

RAPID + TCT 2017 Event Report

Posted by Fred Kaplan On May - 21 - 2017

Confessions of a 3D printing nerd at 3D printing’s biggest show of the year

By Fred Kaplan

RAPID + TCT 2017 Event Report

I admit it, I have an unhealthy obsession with 3D-printer tradeshows but the 2017 Rapid + TCT show, held May 8-11 in Pittsburgh, signaled the next iteration of 3D printing. All right, so what’s the big deal? How about a seemingly endless supply of new functional end-use 3D-printing technologies, and materials that had to be seen to be believed.

Carbon 3D
The best example of 3D-printing end-use parts was at the Carbon 3D booth. Carbon 3D burst onto the 3D-printing scene with a 2015 TED talk that has been viewed more than 700,000 times. After two years of anticipation and speculation during which Kodak announced that it would be providing materials for the printer, Carbon 3D is now leasing printers to end users.

Carbon3D Shoe Lattice

Carbon 3D recently partnered with Adidas to develop the first  3D-printed part that will be mass produced for consumer use; the midsoles of Futurecraft 4D shoes. Midsoles of shoes traditionally can’t be injection or compression molded in one piece with variable flexibility in a single piece. Carbon 3D experimented with a variety of lattices that were printed with a variety of production grade elastomers that don’t require support or excess materials — which reduce the manual post-processing steps of traditional 3D-printing. Adidas will have 5,000 pairs available in the fall/winter of 2017.

Carbon3D Shoe

Desktop Metal
All the buzz at Rapid + TCT 2017 was about the Desktop Metal printers whose booth was at the geographic center of the David L. Lawrence Convention Hall. Desktop Metals used some of the $97 million funding it received from Google, BMW, Saudi Aramico, GE, and others to sponsor the nametag lanyards, the convention hall wireless, and everything else that held still long enough to be branded. The anticipation for a desktop printer capable of printing in metal materials has hit an all-time frenzy.

Desktop Metals announced two systems the Studio and the Production systems. The Studio printer will be available in the fall of 2017, is designed to print individual metal parts. The Production system, designed for large-scale production, will be available in 2018.

Along with the announcement of the Studio Printer, Desktop Metals has announced an office-friendly sinter oven that reaches a peak temperature of 1400 celsius to post-process printed parts. With a price tag more than $120K, the printers promise to safely and easily print many metal alloys at a fraction of the cost of previous metal 3D printers. Among the advantages, Desktop Metals offers the raw material encased in a rod of metal and binder, instead of powdered metals that are possibly flammable — and definitely dangerous — and the ability to affordably and easily print a wide variety of different alloys. I was excited to see sample parts in all three stages of the process.

The first step in the process is the extrusion of metal and binder that is printed larger than the final product. The next step is the binder is removed, and the third step is the part is sintered in a sintering oven which shrinks the printed part to the expected size. The temperature of the sintering will vary depending on the metal alloy,but the temperature could be as high as 1400 C. Markforged also offers a similar product, the Metal X which has been said will be available in the fall of 2017.

The HP booth featured their Jet Fusion 3200 and 4200 printers which leverage HP’s history of jetting inks and fluids in traditional 2D desktop printers. The build area of the HP printers is 2,440 cubic inches (15″ x 11.2″ x 14.6″) and its ability to print on a voxel by voxel basis (the 3D equivalent of a screen pixel) simultaneously on the X and Y axis which yields high-quality printed parts ten times faster than a traditional FDM 3D-printer. HP have used the advantages of printing in powder (speed plus printing with no attached support structure) to create a profitable return on investment on 3D-printing projects similar to mid-size injection molded runs.

The HP Jet Fusion printers use a new series of processes developed by HP which include thermal control, fusing, and detailing agents printed in the X-Y axis on a layer of the printing material which is currently a low-cost nylon, PA12 powder. Future material developments will include full color parts and a variety of materials including ceramics.

The theme of producing functional end-use part has expanded and the UnionTech booth showed all four of their SLA printers. The largest build size is the RSPro 800 which has a build platform of 31.5″ x 31.5″ x 19.7″.

What I find most interesting about the UnionTech printers is that they offer the highest quality SLA printing with open source materials — which means that there is an almost endless selection of material options, including DSM materials, BASF and any other SLA printing materials on the market. The printers are assembled in China with globally-sourced parts. By increasing their laser power, UnionTech is able to increase the print speed of their 3D printers by 100% over competitive printers.

What makes a trade show like Rapid + TCT 2017 so great is the opportunity to see a technology, and feel the sample part of that technology that hitherto seems to be internet lore. XJET is an Israeli company whose CEO was the CTO of Objet Geometries — the original PolyJET 3D printer. XJET uses the concept of jetting microscopic particles of material to form an object, replacing thermoplastics with solid metal nanoparticles, suspended in a liquid ink, in a process called “NanoParticle Jetting.” The sample parts I felt were completely smooth with no visible or tactile evidence of layer lines on the sample parts.

I was pleased to see technological surprises in every row of vendors at the show. I have been anxious to see the Roboze 3D printer that prints in Ultem/PEI and PEEK, as well as 14 other industrial grade materials with more to come. Printing in PEEK and Utem requires extremely high temperatures which triggered my expectation of seeing a 3D printer reminiscent of a Soviet-era monstrosity, but instead, I found the Robooze printers to be sleek and elegantly designed. They are office-friendly printers that emit no heat on the exterior surface of the printer despite internal temperatures. Roboze is a completely gear-driven FDM printer that is accurate to within 25 microns across the print bed.

Do you think the world of additive manufacturing materials is limited to thermoplastics and metals? Wrong! Admatec, a Dutch company has combined DLP (digital light projection) 3D-printing with ceramics in their new Admaflex 130. The materials that the Amdaflex print are alumina, zirconia and fused silica. The advantages of ceramics include extreme hardness and excellent electrical insulation. They are also lightweight parts that are functional in high temperature, and under high pressures.

After walking the Rapid + TCT 2017 show, my head was exploding with the brilliance of the technological and material options at all price points of 3D printing. The fall of 2017 promises to be an amazing time, in which we will see the amazing new printers hit the streets. The original technology of the SLA system that Chuck Hull developed 30 years ago is being adapted to be perhaps the most functional technology yet.

I left Pittsburgh knowing that rate of innovation is not slowing down and looking forward to next trade show with enthusiasm.

Fred Kaplan is a 3D-printing material specialist, who has worked with SLA, SLS, FDM, ColorJet, ADAM, DLP, LOM, FFF, MultiJet, Polyjet, and SDL 3D printers. Specializing in matching the best technology to a particular 3D printing application, he has also worked with many brands of 3D scanners and many CAD packages.

Prior to his work in additive manufacturing, Fred received a Los Angeles-area Emmy and other awards for documentary filmmaking.