May 4, 2017 | by Josh SniderView full article →
Though some 3D printing filaments are already made with durability in mind, here's a technique that can add some sturdiness and durability to our good-old ABS parts.
Strengthening parts with this post processing technique can be a good idea for parts that will be used outdoors and will be subject to weather elements. Also, it is recommended for parts that will be under physical strain. Some examples are: propeller blades, canoe paddles, cases, handles.
The idea is simple: print a part as you normally would, and then apply a fiberglass coating.
Here are the steps and some example photos of the technique I just described.
Since we are aiming for robustness, try printing with a nice infill (50% to 70% sounds reasonable).
Layer height should not be a concern. The coating will cover any and all small details in the print, so no need to go HI-RES here, if you have a 0.4mm nozzle then go for a 0.25mm layer height.
For increased strength, try printing with thick shell (perimeter) and bottom/top. A thickness of 5 or 5 times the nozzle size should be fine.
Don't be shy to print support material as needed, just be sure to remove it after the print is done.
Part being printed (the square borders is only the support material)
Once the part is printed, let it cool and remove it from the build plate.
Remove all support material (if any).
Apply some light sandpaper just to get a more rough and non-slippery surface.
Printed part with support material already removed and some light sandpaper already applied.
Put on the gloves and prepare the fiberglass resin according to the kit's instructions. Usually this process consists of putting the required amount of resin in a container and then adding a little bit of hardener (catalyst) and stir everything with a disposable stick.
Use scissors to cut pieces of the fiberglass fabric (so it is easier to handle)
Use the paint brush to apply an initial coat of prepared resin over the piece of fabric.
Push the piece of fabric against the printed part so the fabric is "glued" to the part by the resin. Use your hands to mold the layer of fabric to the shape of the part.
Apply a 2nd layer of resin on top of the fabric.
Repeat the process until the part has 2 or 3 layers of fabric and the last layer is covered by resin.
Allow it to dry. Depending on the specific kit and amount of layers, the part can be dry and hard in just a few hours, however, read the instructions of the fiberglass manufacturer since some recommend to wait longer.
Optional: after the part hardens, you could use a power-tool to grind any excess fiberglass or to smooth the surface of the part, of you decide to do this, be sure to wear breathing and eye protection when grinding fiberglass.
Recommended: apply paint!! fiberglass can be ugly, if you want your part to look good, it may be a good idea to apply some color. Traditionally, fiberglass parts are coated with "gel coat", a wax rich polyester resin, but many other common paints can also be used.
Go ahead and try the part. The reinforced fiberglass coating will let the part sustain heavy exposure to weather and physical stress
Part already covered with a few layers of fiberglass and mounted on a boat's motor.
Notice that this part has not been grinned nor painted and looks fairly ugly.
3D printing is a fairly new technique and usually there are no "standard solutions" for industry-specific applications, so there is still a lot of trial and error experimentation among hobbyists and professionals. If you are the DIY kind of person, I encourage you to try this technique and even send us an email with pictures of your results so we can showcase them!
Z layer separation, also called delamination, is the phenomena of having one or more layers in the Z axis not sticking correctly to the layer beneath it. This is often more visible near the corners and edges of the printed piece.
This issue is normally not related to the printer itself, but rather to the user-defined settings and elements.
While this problem can happen with any kind of filament, I have only experienced it with ABS. This is no coincidence, ABS is in fact the most prone to suffering delamination due to its tendency to warp.
Be sure to check for all the possible causes I mentioned above. If you experience delamination it may be happening due to some of those reasons or a combination of many.
The best complement for a good 3D Printer is a user that took the time to understand the underlying principles that will let the machine achieve its potential.
3D Printing can be an exciting activity and there is a small learning curve, but whether if you are hobbyist or a professional, the rewards are well worth your while.
I hope you found this information useful and I invite you to take a look at our catalog. Have a great day.
The most common thermoplastic used in personal 3D printing has always been the oil-based ABS though recently its popularity seems to have been matched by the bio-degradable PLA.
Though ABS and PLA are widespread, easy to find, inexpensive and suitable for most projects, they are not the only options. Many other filaments are available for the 3d printing enthusiast and each one has unique mechanical properties worth knowing.
As you can imagine, "flex" is short for "flexible". We are basically talking about a material that can be easily bent and squeezed without breaking.
PET is strong and it is recommended whenever you need a strong and durable part.
I encourage you to try all available types of filament so you can fully experience the possibilities that the 3D printing technology currently offers. In all cases, keep in mind that each filament type (and even each brand) may have specific requirements in terms of printing temperature, printing speed and even spool storage.
Printing at home is nothing new, but 3D printers drastically change the meaning of printing. Now we have the ability to upgrade our printing abilities into three dimensions. This opens up many possibilities for creation from say, a wine rack, to a combination safe.
Once you decide you want a 3D printer for yourself, you get to decide whether you want a fully assembled kit, or one that you build yourself. Both options have pros and cons about them, so your choice is going to depend on your personal preferences. Here are some factors to weigh to help you in your decision:
3D Printer Kits
First up is the 3D printer kit, which comes in pieces and you assemble yourself. The pros of the kit include:
With this being said, there are several cons about a kit that you are going to have to consider as well. These include:
Assembled 3D Printers
The assembled printer comes fully assembled and ready for use. The pros of this option include:
Though many would assume an assembled 3D printer is the better option, there are some cons to this
decision. These include:
So which option is the best for you? This really depends on what type of person you are. For those who are tech savvy, do-it-yourself types, have the time and the patience required to finish a project, and want to have a hands on look at the 3d printer, then the kit is going to be the best option. For those who simply want to start designing, you cannot go wrong with an assembled 3d printer. Either way, at the end of the day, you will be able to bring your ideas to life once you purchase your new 3D printer.
One of the most important parts of a 3D printer is the filament itself. Generally, this is a thermoplastic that is able to melt and solidify with the changing of temperatures to allow seamless layering of material. Two of the most common filaments on the market are Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS). Both of these filaments have their own benefits and shortcomings, which will be reviewed and analyzed to determine the overall best solution for current 3D printing.
PLA is a natural, bio-degradable plastic due to it being formed from corn starch and sugar cane. Because of this, it is suitable for interaction with foods and consumables. This contrasts heavily with ABS as it is oil-based and much worse for the environment, also causing it to be unsafe for food handling. This causes a major limitation in the design possibilities for ABS printing that PLA can easily fill. However, this benefit raises a con for PLA; it has a much lower melting point. Although this can be a good thing, as it doesn’t require a hot surface to print on, PLA is much more susceptible to deformations caused by heat. For this reason ABS can be used in higher heat applications such as parts for automobiles. Not only is ABS more optimal for applications such as this because of the higher melting point, but it is also much more sturdy and solid. This increases the lifespan of ABS printed parts and makes it a better solution for scenarios where force will be constant and large. However, PLA is able to print at a much higher speed smoothly and consistently due to the flow of material and is able to support higher detail in the prints. Although the difference isn’t incredibly dramatic, it still provides a benefit, in this aspect, over ABS. Another benefit of PLA is the lack of dangerous fumes that is produced while printing. ABS should not be used in a poorly ventilated area, as the fumes could cause negative effects to the user’s health. PLA, on the other hand, has a sweet smell that reflects the natural ingredients used to make it.
Overall, both materials have a set of benefits that make them application specific such as ABS being ideal for scenarios where large, consistent forces and high temperatures will be present and PLA being extremely useful for higher detailed prints and applications that involve consumables. The aspect of PLA that makes it the best solution for current 3D printing is the natural materials that it is constructed from. Due to the corn starch and sugar cane, it is bio-degradable, emits safe fumes when melted, and can be safe to use with food and beverages. For most scenarios, PLA will effectively get the job done resulting in quicker and more detailed prints. However, it is a good idea to keep ABS around for objects that will be affected by high forces and temperatures. Together, these materials will provide users with the ability to print an enormous multitude of objects that is sure to meet his or her needs.