Nylon. A trade name of obscure origin to describe the plastic that we most commonly associate with women’s clothing. But to confine nylon (or should we say: nylons?) to a dresser with tights is a glaring understatement. High strength, easy dyeing, a multitude of industrial applications… Nylon is increasingly knocking on the door of the 3D printing industry, and it is this topic that we will be addressing today on the Botland Blog.
Nylon in 3D printing
Most 3D printer owners start with PLA and ABS. If you have 3D printed with PLA, then you probably know that this filament is quite strong, but also a bit brittle. If you’ve 3D printed with ABS, then you know that it’s a much more durable filament, but parts printed with ABS filaments are still not suitable for certain functional parts. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for nylon in 3D printing.
Nylon (also polyamide) is a popular material in the plastics industry. It is known for its strength and flexibility. Nylon filaments in 3D printing typically require extruder temperatures close to 250 ºC, but due to its chemical composition, some brands allow convenient 3D printing at temperatures up to 220 ºC. Many 3D printers are not equipped with a hotend that can safely reach such high temperatures, but versions of nylon for 3D printing that help us skip the step of upgrading the 3D printer itself are constantly on the rise.
One of the biggest challenges associated with nylon fibres is their hygroscopicity – easily absorbing moisture from the environment. 3D printing with nylon after moisture has been absorbed leads to a number of print quality issues, making the storage of the filament particularly challenging.
3D printer and nylon - hardware requirements, how to print?
Before 3D printing nylon, we make sure that our 3D printer meets the hardware requirements listed below to ensure the best print quality.
- Temperature: 70-90 °C
- Heated bed required
- Recommended enclosure
- 3D printing glue stick
- Temperature: 225-265 °C
- May require a metal hotend
3D printing from nylon - some good practices
Unlike other filaments, you can’t keep a spool of nylon exposed to air for any length of time. We talked about hygroscopicity – nylon easily absorbs moisture from its surroundings. As a result, you will get sort of hazy, rugged surfaces and even small holes or air bubbles on the outside of the 3D print. It’s a good idea to remove the spool of nylon from the 3D printer when you’re finished and place it in a sealed container along with a dehumidifier.
Using the casing
Some high-temperature nylons are vulnerable to distortion due to the large temperature change between the extruded plastic and the environment. Heated operating platforms can reduce warping to some extent, but the ideal solution is a 3D printer with a heated chamber or enclosure. Keeping the air temperature around 45ºC around the part will help eliminate warping – in short, it’s worth taking care to reduce temperature fluctuations.
Raft for 3D printing
In situations where adding a casing is not possible, consider a raft to help the first layer to stick. Adding such a base means you get a larger surface area to hold the edges of the printed piece.
Nylon filaments for 3D printing at Botland
Fiberlogy and Devil Design‘s Botland range of felts are a guarantee of quality at every level of 3D printing from nylon. Half-kilogram Fiberlogy Nylon PA12+GF15 1,75mm felt in black is an advanced combination of nylon with glass fibre.
Its range of properties is at the same time all the advantages that we described in the earlier part of the text – the filament is characterised by high resistance to the impact of chemicals, has high mechanical strength, and the enrichment of the material with glass fibre increases its resistance to cracking under load and stability. It does not require a closed working chamber.
A slightly cheaper proposition with a weight of 0.33kg is the Devil Design Nylon PA12 1.75mm filament. Like its predecessor it is resistant to high temperatures and alcohols. Filament can be used to print mechanical parts such as guides, gears, nuts or plain bearings. Obviously, both felts are designed for FFF/FDM 3D printing. Other items and their exact technical specifications can be viewed in the shop in the category of other filaments.