3-D Printing

All of my 3-D printing work is done on a Lulzbot Taz5. At the time of purchase it was the highest rated hobby 3-D printer and the first the could print at a high enough temperature for polycarbonate. The available print area is (11.4in x 10.8in x 9.8in).


Polycarbonate

Essentially the strongest filament available for FDM 3-D printing at the moment, polycarbonate is also one of the most difficult to print with. The high temperature hot end extruder on the Lulzbot Taz 5 was one of the biggest selling points the printer had for us. It's hot end is capable of 300 dogs C which is just hot enough to print polycarbonate. Polycarbonate prints cloudy white to almost clear depending on the thickness and part design.

  • Extruder Temp: 290 degs C.
  • Bed Temp: 110 degs C.

Taulman Bridge Nylon

Bridge Nylon is a product from Taulman that is sold as an intermediate between two of their other nylon filaments to be more favorable for 3-D printing. It is more expensive than weaker plastics such as PLA, ABS, and HIPS. It prints at temperatures similar to ABS and HIPS. Good adhesion requires a heated bed and a layer of PVA glue, such as Elmers stick glue, is recommended. This nylon is surprisingly flexible particularly when printed single layer thick. This flexibility makes it much stronger in many 3-D printed applications, compared to more brittle filaments, due to it flexing instead of delaminating. This was particularly noted when comparing parts where bolts thread into printed holes in the part. The force of the bolt threading into the plastic caused delamination when printed with polycarbonate. 

  • Extruder Temp: 260 degs C.
  • Bed Temp: 80 degs C.

PLA (Polylactic Acid)

PLA is a relatively cheap and easy to print with material. It doesn't require a heated bed and PVA glue can be used if there are issues adhering to the printing bed. My results with PLA compared with HIPS were much more dimensionally accurate, able to be printed at a higher speed, and is a harder more brittle plastic. If the extruder is heated for a significant period of time without extruding a condition referred to as "heat soak" occurs where the filament becomes to soft for the extrusion gear and fills the gear teeth with debris. 

  • Extruder Temp: 235 degs C.
  • Bed Temp: 60 degs C.

HIPS (High Impact PolyStyrene)

HIPS is generally one of the cheapest 3-D printing filaments, considered the easiest to print with a good place to start for beginners. The main benefits I found with it is that it doesn't have the heat soak or decomposition problems that can be found with PLA and it adheres to a heated very well without the need for glue.  

  • Extruder Temp: 250 degs C.
  • Bed Temp: 80 degs C.