A flexible filament is also called as TPE or TPU. You can use them in 3d printing for making flexible things. If you are looking for a filament that is flexible to print wearable, then this is the best choice. The filament is elastic that is easy to bend and stretch.
Thermoplastic Elastomers or TPE is called as flexible filaments. They are a mixture of plastic and rubber that is the main cause of elasticity in this element. The TPE is also available in different forms like TPU, Thermoplastic Polyurethane.
You can choose the material to use in printers depending on the stretching limit needed. It is possible to make a completely flexible material like a rubber band and partially flexible like tires.
Best Practices To Follow While Using Flexible Filament
If you are using flexible filaments you should be careful. The filament is soft to use it on the 3d printer. To avoid clog, kink, and string of the printer, you should follow the tips below.
Less Retraction And Extrusion
While printing using this filament make sure you completely turn off the retraction. The repeated motions can cause under extrusion. If any flat spot is there, you can grind it to prevent extrusion.
You can choose the filament that offers better resistance. While feeding the filament to the nozzle, the distance must be short between gear and melt zone.
You will not notice any difference even when you turn off retraction. The extruder is available which you can purchase to prevent the coiling.
Keeping Flexible Filament Dry
Most flexible filaments are hygroscopic. You can heat the filament in the oven before printing into desirable shapes. The temperature required to microwave is 135 degrees Fahrenheit for six hours.
After heating, you need to allow the filament to dry for a few hours before use. Many people do it wrong by directly feeding the filament to the printer. While doing this, the filament can pop due to moisture content.
When a filament is used dry, the finish of the print is so smooth and neat.
Slow Processing Rates In Flexible Filament
You can notice that the filament print is better when it is done slowly. The consistent feed rate enables the filament to have a smooth finish.
The elastic material of the filament is difficult to process at high speed. If you do this in high speeds, you can get the print to jam. You need to adjust the process settings at fewer rates before starting to print.
To find the optimal speed, you can adjust by trial and error method. A good starting rate is 20mm/sec and you can try this setting.
Optimizing Retraction Settings
You can see that flexible filaments are sensitive to faster motions. Hence you should adjust the retraction settings to prevent the filament. You need to adjust the speed in the process settings of your 3d printer.
When this speed is lowered, the pressure is also low near the nozzle. This produces a reliable 3d print at less retraction rate.
These are important tips to follow when using flexible filaments. While making an object using a 3d printer, you can adjust these settings for a better finish.