Thermoplastic Elastomer is a blend of rubber and hard plastic and this flexible filament is commonly used for the 3D printing method. Most advanced features of these TPE’s are that they have a high shelf life, flexibility, vibration damping, and impact resistance. Before you use a filament for the 3D printing process, make sure that the machine is working perfectly. For the printing process, you should keep the temperature of the bed around 60 degrees Celsius. The build surface should be of PEI and the temperature of the extruder should be around 245 degrees Celsius. \
Things To Consider For Best Practices
Focus More On Feed Rate Of Flexible Filament
To print the best product you need to keep feed rate consistent since the elasticity of the fiber is very high and you won’t be able to regulate sudden changes. In case, you are printing at a high speed, there is a possibility that the filament might get jammed inside of the machine. Speed around 20mm/sec is considered as optimal to print the products.
Travel Movement Of Flexible Filament
The flexible filament shouldn’t be exposed much to retraction. Thus, you are required to minimize retraction for a printing process. To stay inside the object which you are printing, it is very essential to use such software that chooses different points instead of following a set pattern.
Resistance Reduction From Filament’s Spool
Tweaks inside the material spool cause a difference in flexible filament. Extruder pulls filament inside the nozzle which forces the filament spool to unwind a little amount of plastic in the process. In such a situation, it is essential to mount spool above the printer. In this case, the filament gets unwind downwards, this process reduces resistance. You can even mount the spool overbearing so that it can spin at a high speed.
Directly Driven Extruders
Highly flexible filament requires directly driven extruders. It is very essential to reduce the overall distance of the melt zone as well as drive gear so that the filament can be effectively fed inside the nozzle. The pathway of the filament should be of tight tolerance, so that filament can be prevented from coiling and kinking on the inside.
Tune In Retraction Settings
Due to the elastic nature, the filament is highly sensitive to fast movements viz. retractions. To print the product with relative ease, it is very essential to manage retraction settings. In case, you are using highly flexible material for the first time it is recommended to disable retraction altogether. After initial disabling, you are required to find the perfect speed of the filament so that you can reliably print the product.
Different Types Of Flexible Filament
Just like TPE, Thermoplastic Urethanes are also used to print different types of products with the help of printing machines. They are generally of three different types viz. semi-flexible, flexible and ultra-flexible. The Shore Durometer rating of ultra-flexible filament is about 60A, this means that the material is highly flexible even when it is filled. This filament is used in soft robots or overprinted parts.
Flexible TPU has a Shore Durometer rating of around 85A and it is used to develop items like tire, gaskets, grippers, hinges, etc. Semi-flexible TPU is most rigid with Shore Durometer reading around 90A, it is considered ideal in case of rigidity along with flexibility is in demand.