Home 3D Printing Easy methods to Succeed when 3D Printing with TPU and Versatile Filament

Easy methods to Succeed when 3D Printing with TPU and Versatile Filament

Easy methods to Succeed when 3D Printing with TPU and Versatile Filament


Let’s check out what makes versatile filaments simpler to print and how one can add versatile filament to your 3D printing materials toolbox.

Up to date on February 2, 2023



When most individuals consider 3D printing supplies, plastics like PLA, ABS, or nylon are a few of the first supplies that come to thoughts. These supplies all have one factor in widespread: their rigidity. Typically you desire a half that’s ductile and in a position to bend or compress as it’s careworn. Luckily, there’s extra than simply inflexible 3D printing supplies; from TPU to PRO Collection Flex, versatile 3D printing filaments are extensively helpful supplies to have on the prepared. By design, these filaments are primarily printable rubber, permitting you to create advanced elastic designs in your particular form for any undertaking or product necessities. Versatile filaments are available quite a lot of colours, chemical make-ups, and hardness, supplying you with the pliability to use their numerous properties in distinctive methods. Let’s discuss the right way to efficiently 3D print versatile filaments.

What are Versatile 3D Printing Filaments?

Usually, most rubbers are thermoset by way of a course of known as “vulcanization”; you warmth them up, form them, allow them to cool, and that form is last. As soon as rubber is formed and molded, it might probably’t be melted again down and reformed into one thing new. To have the ability to soften rubber down into filament and re-melt it into the specified form when 3D printing, some cautious materials science was wanted to create a thermoplastic (reshapable) rubber. By combining plastic polymers with rubber polymers, you get a Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE). With this similar precept, you may mix supplies to create Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), Polyester Copolyamide Thermoplastic Elastomer (PCTPE), or Delicate PLA. Every of those supplies has completely different properties, like shore hardness or elasticity, relying on the formulation of the spool of 3D printing filament.

Flexibles are actually enjoyable to print and play with.

With a versatile materials like MatterHackers PRO Collection Flex, you may drop it a thousand occasions over and never break it. It is necessary to do not forget that each materials has its place, and simply because flexibles do not break while you drop them doesn’t means they’re prepared to exchange different supplies like PLA. Versatile filament is a superb selection for gaskets or bumpers, however you would not need to print a shelf bracket with it. Conversely, PLA would make for a horrible sole for a shoe. Think about the wants of the undertaking earlier than committing to anybody materials.

Keys to Success by When 3D Printing Versatile Filament:

Restricted retraction

The query of “how a lot retraction is sufficient” is solely depending on the model of extruder your 3D printer has. The newest extruders you should buy make it very clear that they’ve a “constrained filament path.” In older fashions of extruders, there was open house after the extruder gear for filament to maneuver into. This is not an issue for inflexible supplies as as soon as they’re directed to the bowden tube or the nozzle, they are going to maintain extruding with out subject, however versatile filaments will nearly instantly spit out the facet of the extruder and coil across the extruder gear.

With a more moderen extruder, after first 3D printing some calibration prints, it is best to be capable of print flexibles with retraction settings similar to your regular inflexible filament settings. The E3D Hemera has been proven to excel at 3D printing with versatile filaments, with the ability to maintain the filament tightly constrained and 3D print at excessive speeds with none kinks within the filament.

With an older extruder, you’ll have to disable retractions to attain a superb 3D print high quality. This does imply that you could be expertise some stringing because the nozzle strikes round over the 3D print, however it should forestall you from having underneath extrusion attributable to the filament bunching up within the extruder from the fixed back-and-forth movement it could expertise with retracting.

Preserve it dry

Observe the identical procedures described in this text to dry your versatile filaments: 135°F for six hours in a traditional oven, then flip it off and let the oven cool again to room temperature. You can even use a vacuum oven to dry your filament in a half hour to an hour, or use a PrintDry to simply dry your filament and maintain it dry. Most versatile filaments are hygroscopic to some extent, and can pop and sizzle in case you attempt extruding earlier than the fabric is dried. The scorching is attributable to pockets of water absorbed into the filament immediately turning to steam as they hit the nozzle, leaving voids in your print or inflicting extreme stringing alongside your components. Not solely is the visible high quality considerably worse, however the molecular chains inside the materials are damaged down, making a weaker half general. Utilizing the identical 3D printer, gcode, and spool of filament, the 2 3D prints beneath have been 3D printed. The important thing distinction: the one on the left had been left within the open air for some unknown period of time, and the one on the proper was printed straight from a PrintDry after letting it dry for a number of hours.

Moist versatile filament on the left, just lately dried filament on the proper.

Gradual it down

Prefer it was talked about with retraction settings, PLA or ABS, you may print quick as they’re a tough materials, so it’s very easy to grip and push the filament by way of the nozzle. Printing flexibles is like attempting to information one finish of a rope by pushing the opposite. By slowing it down, you lower the stress inside the nozzle making the filament a lot much less prone to bind up and even wrap round your extruder gear. Like another filament, actual velocity settings will differ from one printer to a different, so you could have to experiment to find out what velocity is the higher restrict that your particular 3D printer is able to. For some that may imply 10mm/s, and different extra superior 3D printers won’t want any adjustments in any respect and might print at 60mm/s with ease.

Dispelling Some Myths

This fantasy definitely is not as pervasive because it as soon as was, however there existed a time when it was widespread perception that bowden 3D printers have been unable to 3D print versatile supplies. Whether or not or not that was the case, it’s most positively not true now. There’s nothing that particularly precludes bowden 3D printers from with the ability to use flexibles. All of it comes again to constrained filament paths being the foundation explanation for any considerations. Whereas sure, most direct-drive 3D printers are extra responsive than bowden 3D printers when utilizing versatile 3D printing filaments, bowden 3D printers are absolutely able to creating lovely 3D prints with versatile filaments.

Getting the First Layer Proper

The primary layer is crucial a part of any print.  There are some things you must do to get the primary layer to stay effectively.

  • You want the print floor to be degree. In case you are unfamiliar with the right way to degree your 3D printer’s mattress, you may learn in regards to the process right here.
  • Have your Z-Offset set to the proper peak. This can rely upon the fabric that your 3D printer’s mattress floor is made from, as some supplies will bond too effectively to versatile filaments, completely attaching to them. For many surfaces, you will have an honest “squish” to your first layer.
  • You want a superb base materials to your versatile filament to stick to.  Blue painter’s tape or a heated glass mattress with PVA glue stick or MatterHackers Stick Stick are ultimate surfaces to your print mattress.

3D Printing on Blue Painters Tape

Blue Tape, or Painter’s Tape, is without doubt one of the best and quickest methods to get a dependable mattress adhesion to your versatile filaments. Here’s a fast guidelines of belongings you need to be sure to are doing.

  • Be certain each bit of tape strains up edge to edge with none overlap or gaps.
  • Preserve the mattress temperature pretty low when utilizing Blue Tape, as a temperature that’s too excessive might trigger the tape to stay too effectively to your printed half. 55°C-65°C needs to be sufficient warmth to get the job accomplished with most flexibles.
  • Change any tape strips that get broken when eradicating components.
  • Change the tape after 5-10 prints, when components cease sticking, or when there’s a noticeable loss within the texture on the tape’s floor.
  • In case your first layer just isn’t sticking – ensure the print head is shut sufficient to make a pleasant squished line of filament. If that does not handle your downside, you may apply a skinny smear of PVA glue persist with get a bit of extra adhesion.

Printed PRO Collection Flex on blue painters tape.

3D Printing On Glass With A Heated Mattress

When you might have a temperature managed mattress, printing straight on glass generally is a nice choice.  The really useful mattress temperature for versatile filaments range tremendously, from room temperature to 110°C, so comply with the really useful mattress settings as described in our Filament Comparability Information or within the Technical Specs for the filament. Usually, PVA glue stick is a superb adhesive to use to the glass when 3D printing with versatile filaments to make sure that they stick all through everything of the 3D print job.

Printed PRO Collection Flex on a heated glass plate.

Getting The Temperature Proper

When working with a brand new roll of filament for the primary time, we typically like to begin printing at about 235°C after which adjusting the temperature up or down by 5°C increments till we get a high quality print.

Really useful printing temperatures for numerous versatile filaments.

If the temperature is just too excessive

If the spool of filament is already dry however your temperature is just too excessive you’ll nonetheless see strings between the separate components of your print, like cobwebs. When this occurs it is best to attempt to incrementally decrease the temperature by 5°C till the nozzle does not leak any materials. Typically that is not treating the underlying downside, which might merely be retraction settings that are not fairly aggressive sufficient and wish only a small bump to get every little thing in tune.

If the temperature is just too low

A 3D print with an extruder temperature set too low for the fabric being printed can have layers that do not bond collectively very effectively or in any respect and could be simply pulled aside. Be certain the filament is dry and check out once more, but when you already know that it is dry and you’re nonetheless experiencing issues, elevate the temperature of the nozzle in 5°C increments till you obtain sturdy layer adhesion and might see that the sides and infill of the 3D prints aren’t sparse and are effectively related to one another.

First Layer Troubleshooting

In case you adopted the steps to getting your first layer proper and your print isn’t sticking, listed here are some ideas to assist enhance your expertise:

  • It takes extra torque for the extruder to push versatile filament out of the nozzle, so ensure the nozzle is sufficiently primed earlier than your half begins being printed. Use a skirt, prime blob, or purge line firstly of the print to verify there’s sufficient filament within the sizzling finish by the point it will get began in your half.
  • Be certain the extruder temperature is sizzling sufficient to correctly soften the filament. In any other case, the plastic might not move and go away you with sparse layers and infill disconnected from the sides. Step by step elevate the printing temperature by 5°C to a most of round 255°C if filament is not flowing as properly as you want.
  • Be certain the speeds to your printer aren’t too quick. Printing too quick may cause underextrusion and make infill seem like a spider net. With versatile filaments, printing sooner takes extra torque to get by way of the recent finish, so your choices are enhance the torque of your extruder by upgrading to a stronger extruder and motor, or decelerate to decrease the torque essential to extrude the filament.
  • Flip up the extrusion multiplier a bit extra. When E-steps are calibrated for a 3D printer, it’s often accomplished utilizing a inflexible materials like PLA which suggests extruder actions are way more responsive. When utilizing a versatile materials, you could have to recalibrate to get the identical expertise. A good way to get this correct, is to do an E-step calibration to your versatile filament. The Extruder steps/mm that extrudes 100mm in PLA may solely get you 85mm with TPE, so comply with our E-step calibration article to get that arrange. Or, as soon as you discover the right E-steps for the versatile filament, calculate the p.c distinction from the unique E-steps (versatile E-Steps divided by inflexible E-steps multiplied by 100), and you’ve got your extrusion multiplier proportion you should utilize anytime you come again to this materials, relatively than modifying the firmware of your 3D printer to get the identical end result.
    • For instance, your printer makes use of 400 E-steps for PLA, and after calibrating you discover TPE makes use of 500 E-steps. 500/400=1.25. Multiply by 100 to search out an extrusion multiplier for TPE at 125%. Now you may print PLA with an extrusion multiplier of 100% and TPE at 125% and maintain these profiles at all times in sync with out modifying the opposite.

With the assistance of this information it is possible for you to to 3D print versatile supplies with ease or know what you must do to get your 3D printer up and working. 

When you’ve got any feedback or contributions, please drop us an electronic mail or give us a name. We’re at all times searching for ideas, and finest practices – and would love to listen to from you. Be happy to achieve out with any particular questions within the feedback down beneath.

Take a look at our Filament Comparability Information to get the inside track on all the newest and biggest filaments.

Pleased Printing! 



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