3D printing utilizes many innovative materials that offer unique applications and challenges. However, some filaments stand out above the rest due to their strength, durability, and resilience. Explore some of the toughest filaments to use in your 3D printer so you can find the best options for your most elaborate projects.
Carbon Fiber Reinforced Filaments
Carbon fiber reinforced filaments and traditional thermoplastics, such as PLA, ABS, or PETG, have short carbon fibers. These filaments supply added stiffness, reduced weight, and enhanced durability compared to their unfilled counterparts. However, their abrasive nature does cause rapid wear on printer nozzles, so try using a hardened steel or ruby nozzle when working with these materials.
Polyetherimide, or PEI, is a high-performance thermoplastic with excellent mechanical, thermal, and chemical resistance properties. Due to its exceptional strength and temperature resistance, industries like aerospace, automotive, and electronics use PEI. Printing with PEI requires a high extrusion temperature of around 350 degrees Celsius, making it challenging for some hobbyist printers. To prevent producing harmful fumes when heating this filament type, ensure there’s a proper enclosure to use and that the room has sufficient ventilation.
Polycarbonate (PC) is a strong and tough material known for its exceptional impact resistance and versatility. It has widespread usage in construction, electronics, and optical products. Printing with polycarbonate typically demands a high print temperature of around 300 degrees Celsius and a heated build platform, making it best suited for more advanced 3D printers. Its hygroscopic nature also means that PC filaments are extremely sensitive to moisture, so they need proper storage and careful handling to prevent print defects and lower print quality.
Nylon Kevlar offers an unrivaled combination of strength, toughness, and abrasion resistance—but those aren’t the only properties Nylon Kevlar is known for. Typically used to construct bullet-proof vests, this material translates well to 3D printing, supplying functional parts that can withstand demanding applications.
To successfully print with Nylon Kevlar, a higher nozzle temperature of around 260–280 degrees Celsius and a heated bed temperature of 70–90 degrees Celsius are necessary. Proper filament storage is vital to prevent bubbling during the printing process because this material is susceptible to moisture absorption.
Print With Strength and Durability
These options are the toughest filaments to use for 3D printing, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible by offering design applications that were once unattainable. Working with these materials can open new project opportunities and help bring your wildest ideas to life.
Remember to keep safety and printability in mind when experimenting with these tough filaments, and don’t forget to explore beyond your perceived limitations throughout the creative process.