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The best 3D printers can now print at high temperatures above those capable of the plastic filaments used previously.
High-temperature filaments are made from a variety of plastics that have been improved to withstand higher heat and stay liquid long enough for a print. They range from around 200 degrees Celsius up to 350 degrees Celsius.
It’s still possible to use PLA filament on a high-temperature 3d printer by printing what you want first then covering it in resin or clay, but this limits what you can make as only what has an existing surface you can print onto.
Higher-temperature materials make it possible to create things with cavities and inner structures, so they don’t need support material when printed, such as airplane wings.
This guide will look at what are the five high-temperature filaments available for 3D printing.
5 High-Temperature 3D Printer Filaments
#1. ABS filament
ABS is one of the oldest filaments used by 3d printers, being made from Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. It can be printed between 200 and 220 degrees Celsius, commonly around 210 degrees.
It’s a very strong and rigid material and can easily be sanded or cut into pieces to allow for what was printed to be removed easier than with other materials like Nylon, which we’ll now look at.
#2. Nylon filament
Nylon is another common type of plastic, but it has some important differences compared to ABS, such as not bending as much, being more flexible, and being transparent. It can be printed between 240 and 260 degrees Celsius.
#3. PETG filament
PETG is what all the cool kids are printing with these days, an improved version of what was previously known as PET or PETT, which stands for Polyethylene terephthalate. It’s what plastic bottles are typically made out of but improved to resist UV light better.
It can be printed at temperatures between 250 and 280 degrees Celsius, so not too far off what ABS needs to be printed at, so still possible to 3d print some objects using both. This means that what you print should last longer outdoors if exposed to sunlight since it won’t break down as quickly.
#4. TPU filament
TPU is what’s known as thermoplastic polyurethane. It likes hot stuff, like up to 240 degrees Celsius. Other than that, it does what all other filaments do by being melted down and printed.
In the last few years, what was previously common for 3d printing has been Nylon, so PETG being more popular these days shows how quickly things change.
If you liked what you see or have an interest in 3D printing, then check out what else I have on here by clicking the follow button on my profile page; what you’ll see is a page full of what 3d printers I have, what spare parts I have and what things I print.
If you liked reading this, please share it with others via the buttons at the end. The range of temperature tolerances that can be printed has increased massively since this guide was originally made, so please let me know if anyone sees any inaccuracies or anything missing.
Another polymer filament that can handle high temperatures is Polymaker Polycarbonate 1.75mm Silver PC-Plus PLA Filament For 3D Printer With High Tg 187c, which has a glass transition temperature of 73 degrees Celsius and melts at around 200C depending on the quality of the printer.
Its carbon atoms give it great strength properties and are one of the most impact-resistant thermoplastic polymers available, making getting things like tool handles printed with it perfectly.
The material can also be used for electronics applications, making it an excellent choice if you’re looking to replace the plastic in certain parts of your printer, like heated beds or hot end components that experience high heat regularly.
How are these temperatures calculated?
Certain factors are used to determine what temperature represents the maximum recommended temperature for something to be printed with. The two main ones are what’s known as glass transition temperature (the point where plastic goes from being a solid to what you’d call more of a rubbery state where it’s very bendy) and what’s known as the Melting Point (the point above 0 degrees Celsius where plastic begins to melt).
Most filament you can buy will have these two temperatures added to what is known as the Vicat Softening Point. This last temperature is mostly not stated by what I’ve found online but helps know how hot something needs to get before it becomes pliable enough to be used on some 3d printers.
How this works for those interested is that when something drops below the glass transition temperature, what happens is that molecules start getting closer together. Since they’re now closer, they pack together tighter than before, which you’ll now call a solid since what we’d previously know as a liquid is now what we’ll label as a solid.
The Vicat Softening Point then works by determining how hot it needs to be such that what’s around the material can begin to dissolve what the plastic is made of, which is what we’ll call melting.
Since molecules are closer together, there’s more chance for them to intermingle and work with one another, so melting shows up as what we see as something becoming putty-like and can be used on 3d printers.
When looking for types of 3D printer filament, it is important to know what kind of printing process you want. Suppose your goal is more accurate and detailed prints with the ability to print in both ABS or PLA material- you’ll want to choose the best filament possible.
In that case, we advise that you purchase an FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) 3d printer filament such as Makerbot Filament. On the other hand, if you are interested in faster printing speeds and lower cost per gram without sacrificing quality, we recommend purchasing our new HIPS filament. I hope this article has been helpful.