Printrbelt from Printrbot and Polar3D is Going to Blow your Mind
By Bulent Yusuf
Printrbot and Polar3D collaborate on the Printrbelt; with an infinite build on the Z-axis, it takes a radical angle on desktop 3D printing.
The 3D printing community has caught a strange new fever, and it’s all about the Z-axis. The concept in a nutshell: if you take a fused filament fabrication 3D printer and position the print-head at a 45 degree angle over a print bed that doubles as a conveyor belt, you can theoretically have an infinite build space. Sounds a bit loopy, right?
And yet, somehow, it actually works. Prototype hardware has already surfaced on Kickstarter, where Dutch startup Blackbelt is seeking funding to mass produce their own infinite build 3D printer. Elsewhere, Opencreators has a model that dispenses with angles but still wants to automate production on the Z-axis.
But why bother waiting for crowdfunding campaigns to hit their goals (and eye-rolling with resignation as the shipping delays kick in). Early adopters can buy one now, today, from Printrbot for $1,999. It’s called the Printrbelt, it’s the fruits of a collaboration with Polar3D, and it’s a thing of beauty.
Let’s skip over the logistical hurdles for a second. Let’s not get hung up on questions about software, or patents, or how exactly you’d be printing complex models with bridges and overhangs. Instead, let’s celebrate the crazy innovative spirit that possessed the folks at these two companies to just forge ahead and build one.
Printrbelt Opens Up New Angle on Desktop Manufacturing
In practice, the way it works is that Polar3D supplies the cloud software to process the 3D printing files. That takes the heavy lifting out of the workflow, so new users needn’t be intimated by this new approach to digital fabrication. Polar3D have been working on “infinite Z” hardware designs and software since 2014.
Moreover, access to the cloud software is entirely free, since Polar3D will receive a cut from every Printrbelt sold. That said, Printrbot does not guarantee compatibility with any third party software or operating system. For the time being, Printrbelt requires access to the Polar3D cloud to operate.
Those technical specs in full:
Model: 1706 Build Volume (X-Y-Z):
Print Resolution: .2mm layer height recommended
Print Speed: 30-60mm/sec depending on material. Results may vary
Filament: 1.75mm PLA (sample included)
Extruder: Gear Head v2 Alu Extruder
Hot End: Ubis 13HF
Rails: Linear Rail and carriages for X & Y
Belt: Stainless steel covered in Kapton
Belt Drive Pulleys: 20 tooth, dual flange GT2 aluminum
Electronics: Printrboard Rev F6, Raspberry Pi 3
Software: Polar3D will provide the cloud software. WIFI or ethernet is required
Power Requirements: Standard 110V outlet
Motors: Nema17 for X, Y and Extruder. Geared stepper for Z belt
Overall Footprint*: 20.25″ x 13″ x 14″
What do you reckon? Are you a fearless maker, ready to journey into an exciting new frontier in desktop 3D printing? Or do you have doubts about the viability of the concept? Sound off in the comments.
3DEO Reduces Metal Printing Costs With “Intelligent Layering”
By Hanna Watkin
Los Angeles based company, 3DEO, is using a new technique called Intelligent Layering to help reduce the costs of metal 3D printing.
With the average cost of even lower-level metal 3D printer starting at extraordinary prices, it’s no surprise that many manufacturers are hesitant to integrate additive manufacturing into their production process.
According to Matt Sand, president of the Los Angeles-based company 3DEO, 42 percent of the market believes cost is the biggest obstacle keeping metal printing from being adopted. However, 3DEO is aiming to bring down the cost of of this technology with a method they’re calling “Intelligent Layering”.
Currently, there are many companies developing 3D printing metal methods, including Desktop Metal and Markforged. However, 3DEO believes that their unique process will help lower costs and enable mass production.
The way that Intelligent Layering works is to spread a thin layer of metal powder over an 8-in x 8-in build tray. A reliable and low-cost spray head then deposits a binding material across the entire print bed.
However, unlike the commonly used process binder jetting — a CNC milling head does all of the dirty work. By tracing the outline of the part, the process is repeated until a print is finished. Finally, the object is sintered in a furnace.
3DEO to Offer Intelligent Layering Service
There are many benefits of Intelligent Layering, especially when it comes to lowering production costs. For example, due to no high power laser, there is little maintenance necessary with this technology. This process enables a layer thickness of 100 microns, but the CNC mill is capable of cutting down 20 microns at a time.
Additionally, Intelligent Layering can lay down multiple layers of powder and binder at once, and then cutting into them 10-20 at a time. This feature will greatly increase print speed, thus reducing the operational costs and enhancing manufacturing output.
In terms of quality, the CNC head improves a print’s resolution. It also speeds up the process of printing objects that have a continuous shape. The way this works is simply laying down multiple layers of powder and binder at a time.
Sand explained to Engineering.com that all 3D printing metal processes are currently too costly. He explains: “Even binder jetting is expensive, including the maintenance of the machine… The inkjet head for a $450,000 machine may require $75,000 in maintenance just to maintain the inkjet print head.”
Instead, 3DEO will be able to offer a cheaper alternative and will monitor the quality of prints. To do so, the company will keep the Intelligent Layering technology in-house and enter the marketplace as a service provider.
One obstacle that 3DEO has had to account for is that printed parts shrink by up to 20% while in the furnace. However, is developing a software that will be able to predict part behavior and ensure that dimensions always come out correctly.
Right now, the company can print 17-4 stainless steel. Sand hopes that two more metals will be added and qualified before the year is over. Head over to the company’s website to find out more.
MeshMixer Tutorial for 3D Printing Beginners
By Frederik Bedrich
MeshMixer is a free open source software from AutoDesk. It’s one of the leading programs to edit and prepare mesh files like .stl and .obj. MeshMixer offers a large variety of different tools to prepare and improve 3D object for 3D printing.
Here is a list of the best tools MeshMixer offers to improve the quality of your 3D prints. Click on them to jump to a part of this Meshmixer tutorial on how to use the specific tool:
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 1: Easily Import and Export Mesh Files
First of all, you will need to download and install Autodesk MeshMixer. Next, you’ll need to import the 3D model file you want to optimize: Start MeshMixer and click on Import in the middle of the window.
Next, select the file you want to edit. Autodesk MeshMixer supports the common mesh file types: .STL, .OBJ, .PLY, .AMF and also .3MF, .OFF and .MIX. You can also simply drag and drop files out of the Explorer into the edit space. You can choose between the option to replace the current object or append to the model.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 2: Setup of a Custom Print Space
When using MeshMixer, you can either choose your 3D printer from a list or, if not listed, enter the 3D printer properties manually. You can also disable the Printer Bed by clicking on View and uncheck Show Printer Bed. If you own a 3D printer or plan on 3D printing your object, you can choose your type of 3D printer in the top right corner. If your desired 3D printer is not listed or you built your own 3D printer, you can easily add your personal configuration.
Click on Print in the bottom left corner.
Select Printer Properties.
Select Settings in the Printer Properties window.
Now switch to the Printers tab and click Add New Printer. This will return you to the Printer Properties.
You can now name the printer and select Process of printing.
Set the size of your Print Space measured from the bottom center of the build plate or a bottom corner.
Set the Thickness Threshold to 1.
Click on Add to list your 3D Printer so you can work with it in the digital print space.
To leave the printing area, click on the arrow in the top right corner.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 3: Learn the Basic Movements
Pan across the current plane by holding the central mouse button.
Orbit around the center of the coordinate system by either holding down right mouse button, left mouse + ALT or middle mouse + SHIFT.
Zoom with your mouse wheel or by pressing right mouse + ALT.
When you get lost, you can click on View>Recenter View to focus on the center of the coordinate system again. If you are limited with your mouse, you can hold down the space bar to access all camera tools. When holding down the space bar, you can also change the visual style of your object. MeshMixer can smoothen the surface of your object or show all the triangles your object is composed of.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 4: Translation and Scaling of 3D Objects
Click the Edit button on the left and select Transform. Here you can change basic placement data of the object or move and rotate it manually.
Meshmixer Tutorial: Manual placement
When placing objects you can switch between two reference points. First, you have the World Frame which is defined by the center of the coordinate system in your build space. Every transformation or rotation will be in relation to the center. Secondly, you can work with the Local Frame. Here the translation is still relative to the center of the coordinate system. However, the rotation is now defined by the coordinate system of the object you are currently working with. You can also scale your object alongside the X-, Y- and Z-Axis. Switch between both frames via the Transform menu or the bubbles on the Transform circle. Use these basic steps to move and scale your selected object.
Check the Enable Snapping box at the bottom of the Transform window. You can change the Snap Step to the accuracy you need for placing objects. Here you change the
Click and drag one of the arrows to move the object alongside an axis.
The quarter circles will rotate the object. Overlap the black increment circle to activate snapping.
To scale your model, click and drag the withe cube in the center to scale it uniformly. To stretch the model to one side, click and drag the square at the end of the arrows.
Shift your model alongside a plane by click and dragging the triangles.
Meshmixer Tutorial: Automatic placement
By using the Align tool, you can place a flat side your object perfectly onto the build plate. Select the object you want to align and set Base Point as source. Now set “Destination” to the axis of the world coordinate system you want to align. You can flip your object by clicking the blue arrow.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 5: Create a Plain Surface
Use the Plane Cut command to create a flat surface. This is a fast tool for creating a smooth and stable surface to print on. Like the transform tool you can move the plane in relation to world or local frame. Rotate and move the plane to the position. The blue arrow indicates the direction you are going to cut. Click on the blue arrow to switch directions.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 6: Auto-Repair and Patch Holes in Your Models
Before 3D printing your model, you want to make sure, there are no unwanted holes or cuts in the object. You can simply check for irregularities with the repair feature. Click on Analysis>Inspector. After computing, you will see different colored balls pointing towards holes and gaps. The color of the ball symbolizes the severity of the hole. Blue indicates a minor error, which can easily be patched. Red stands for larger holes. MeshMixer will still fix them, but you might want to check these areas after repairing. Pink indicates an island which will be removed in the first step of repairing. You will have to run the Inspector tool a second time to fix the hole for good. You can either click on the balls to fix each error individually or hit Auto Repair All.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 7: Create a solid model
It is now time to turn the mesh into a solid.
Click on Edit, and then Make Solid.
Select Solid Type. Now you can decide between different levels of accuracy to transform the mesh. Choose Fast, as this is pretty precise and also fast to process.
Set Color Transfer Mode to Automatic.
You can now adjust Solid Accuracy. This setting will connect generated cells to each other. Higher accuracy means a better detection of gaps but it will also take longer to process. First, set Accuracy to about 100. You can either use the slider or click on the value next to it and change it by typing.
Change Mesh Density to 100 as well. This will determine edges. If you enter a smaller number, edges will be projected as chamfers.
Offset Distance allows you to make your object thicker or thinner. The filament you are printing is always going to shrink when it cools down. PLA shrinks by up to 1.5% and ABS in some cases by up to 5%! So if you know the percentage of how much your filament is going to shrink, you can add some material to your object. If accuracy is no big issue and if you have a rather small object, just leave accuracy at zero. Click on Accept to continue.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 8: Hollow Your 3D Print to Save Material and Time
Sometimes when 3D printing big models with a big volume, you might want to save time and material. This step will show you how to hollow your object.
Click on Edit, and then Hollow (right below the Make Solid command).
After processing, you will see the object as a see-through and with black pockets, representing the hollowed out area.
You can now change the Offset. This will determine the thickness of the walls. But remember: Do not make the walls too thin or else the print might collapse. Adjust the wall thickness to the properties of the printing process!
Solid Accuracy and Mesh Density will improve the smoothness and the accuracy of the holes. The difference between a medium and a high-quality setting is a noticeable but not much of an improvement. Higher quality will take a lot longer to calculate, though. So for a fast and good result, best pick about 250 for Accuracy and 100-150 for Mesh Density.
Leave the other settings at their defaults and click Accept to proceed.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 9: Create Custom Escape Holes
When you have hollowed your 3D object, it is not yet ready for 3D printing! Some 3D printing technologies like metal sintering use metal dust as material. With SLS printing you only need the shell of your model in most of the times, so it is great to hollow it. However, the powder material inside your model will still be your part of the bargain and will cost you a lot of money if it cannot be removed. If you are planning on sintering your model, you will need to create escape holes for the dust. Luckily MeshMixer offers an effective tool to create custom escape holes! 3D Printing services offer detailed information on minimum wall thickness and size of escape holes.
Execute the hollow command and set Holes per Hollow to 2. When 3D printing larger models you can also add more, but two is sufficient to remove all the dust from the inside. Now set the hole radius and if needed you can add a slight angle to the hole with the taper option. Click on Generate Holes when you have entered the desired settings. You can now reposition the holes by dragging the red dot. You can update the parameters by clicking on Generate Holes again and remove the holes by clicking on Remove All Holes.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 10: Prepare for 3D Printing
Before 3D printing, you want to make sure your object is aligned with the ground plane. To check if your model is planar to the ground plane go to Analysis > Stability. This Meshmixer tool will calculate the Surface Area and Volume of your object. Furthermore, it will show you in red the contact area with the ground plane and if your object can tip. By adjusting the Contact Tol you give or take some clearance between the ground plane and the object. The red dot in the middle of your object indicates an unstable position. Green-lit, it’s a stable one. There is one trick to adjust your object perfectly to the ground plane without transforming in small steps.
Go to Edit > Create Pivot. Set the Placement Mode to Surface Point and Coordinate Frame to Geometry. Now click on the plane of your object you want to align. This will place a pivot which functions as an independent coordinate system. Click on Drop Pivot to confirm the placement and click on Done to exit.
Now go to Edit > Align, set the source to pivot and click on the pivot you placed before. Set the destination to one of the Wold Origin coordinate axis. You can also use Flip to turn your model.
Check the placement of your model again by using the Stability tool. It should now be placed perfectly aligned to the ground plane.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 11:Stability and Thickness Analysis
Analyze the Thickness of your model with Analysis > Thickness. You can now set the minimum thickness to the printing service or your own requirements and MeshMixer will highlight the thin areas. When you click on the Balls indicating thin spots, it will select the area and you can edit the area.
MeshMixer analyses the wall thickness by shooting rays from each vertex through the object and measures the closest intersection of rays. You can adjust The number of rays with cone sample. You will get a higher accuracy but it will also take longer to calculate. Cone angle sets the angle between the rays from one vertex. If you want to analyze a wall in every direction and if your object is built out of big mesh tiles, set this angle to high. If you are just interested in the overall wall thickness you can let them on Default. Grazing Angle is the threshold for intersecting rays to define the maximum detection angle. Again, if you are working with a low poly mesh it is best to use a high angle.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Step 12: Automatic and Custom Supports for your 3D Print
MeshMixer offers the great tool to create your own supports. It can also generate supports automatically. Do not generate supports when you plan on printing your model with a 3D Printing service!
You need to place your object on a ground plane as stated in Meshmixer Tutorial Step 10. Then go to Analysis > Overhangs. You can now set preset to one of the listed printers or choose Custom Settings.
Adjust Angle Thresh to set when an overhang is detected. An overhang is defined when the angle of the perpendicular vector on each mesh tile compared to the vector pointing straight to the ground is less then the set angle.
Contact Tol is the threshold between two faces. If the distance between an overhang to another fave is below this value it will not be detected as an overhang.
Y-Offset is the distance between the ground plane and overhangs. It works like Contact Tol but in reference to the ground plane.
Adjust the dimensions of your supports below Support Generator. Max Angle is the maximum angle of overhang supports are allowed to have. This angle however is in relation to the ground plane. So 1o° is a close to horizontally support structure, which is not very useful as you would generate more overhangs. The best supports are at more than 45° depending on your Printer.
Density sets the spacing between the supports. If you need supports for big and heavy overhangs set this one to a lower value.
Layer hight needs to be set to the layer thickness of your 3D printer.
By adjusting Base, Post, and Tip Diameter,you can design very small or huge support structures.
You can now click onto a red marked overhanging area to create a support with the selected setting. When you change the settings, the next placed support will adopt these properties. You can delete supports by clicking on them while holding CTRL if you made a mistake. Remove Support will delete all support structures! You can also drag supports in the direction you want them to face.
Click on Place Supports to automatically place support structures with the selected settings.
Create Solid will transform all the support structures into a solid model.
MeshMixer Tutorial – Tip 13: Print your 3D model
Now your 3D model is optimized and ready for 3D printing! You can now export your object by clicking on Export. If you own a listed 3D printer, you can send it directly to the 3D printer’s original slicing program by pressing Print. You can also export the file and open it in the slicing program of your choice. Autodesk MeshMixer also has the option to directly send the model three online 3D printing services: Sculpteo, i.materialise and Shapeways.
Congratulations! You have finished this MeshMixer tutorial.
Rize One 3D Printer Eliminates Post-Processing With Disruptive Technology
By Tyler Koslow
After unveiling its Augmented Polymer Deposition technology last year, Rize is finally ready to release its flagship printer: the Rize One.
Last year, the relatively unknown company Rize emerged onto the 3D printing scene with a groundbreaking technology in tow. The process, called Augmented Polymer Deposition (APD), combines fused deposition modeling and inkjetting, offering some unique advantages over other techniques.
This week, the Massachusetts 3D printer manufacturer finally started shipping out its Rize One 3D printer to customers. While all eyes have been on HP’s Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing, Rize’s technology also has the potential to revolutionize the additive manufacturing industry.
How Does Augmented Polymer Deposition Work?
As mentioned before, APD is a process that essentially mixes FDM and inkjetting technology. Similarly to HP’s printer, this allows the Rize One to print with voxel-level control. Using an inkjet print head, the Rize One is able to bind thermoplastic filament with functional inks.
Rize has developed a speciality thermoplastic called Rizium One, which is both an engineering and medical-grade material. Meanwhile, the inkjet head is capable of depositing unique inks anywhere within the printing process.
Their Release One ink allows for exceptionally easy support removal. It’s deposited between the print and supports, preventing them from forming a strong bond. According to Rize, the easy support removal system reduces the total turnaround time by 50 percent.
This reduction in post-processing time is one of the major benefits that the Rize One offers. Another advantage is that the voxel-level control allows the possibility to print full-color parts. However, at the moment, the printer will be only produce objects in grayscale.
Rize One 3D Printer: The Specs
Unlike other expensive industrial 3D printers, the Rize One will cost just $28,500. The printer has a build size of 12 x 8 x 6 inches, and offers a layer thickness of up to 250 microns.
As for the Rizium One material, the house-made thermoplastic delivers watertight, isotropic parts that are stronger than polycarbonate, carbon fiber, and nylon parts. There’s also a marking ink available that enables 3D printed text and images on parts.
According to Eugene Giller, the founder and president of Rize, there are already a number of global manufacturers and healthcare entities that have sought out the new 3D printer. The company has been servicing the athletic sportswear company Reebok since the printer was unveiled last year.
Now that the Rize One is officially ready for delivery, don’t be surprised to see this printer gain as much traction as HP MJF or Carbon CLIP. Rize is aiming to disrupt the additive manufacturing industry, making 3D printing a more appealing option for businesses and manufacturers.
Ultimaker Add Bigger Print Cores, Pro Filament Profiles, Cura Updates
By Anatol Locker
With a combined hardware, software, and firmware update, Ultimaker address some issues of their 3D printer flagship Ultimaker 3. Here‘s what‘s improved.
Dutch 3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker just came up with some interesting new updates for their printers.
Ultimaker 3 Update #1: Speeding Up with 8mm Print Cores
The Ultimaker 3 and its bigger brother, the Ultimaker 3 Extended, are excellent machines (review here), but they are printing notoriously slow. Ultimaker tackles the problem by decreasing the print resolution. They introduce a new nozzle size for their exchangeable “print cores”. While the already existing 0.4 mm print cores can print in great detail, the new 0.8 mm ones are designed to achieve faster print results like quick mockups and initial prototypes. The 0.8 mm print cores can print in different quality profiles. They are plug and play ready. Exchanging them should be a matter of seconds.
The two new 8mm print cores (AA and BB) will set you back $200.
Ultimaker 3 Update #2: New Profiles for Professional 3D Printing Materials
The company has updated the 3D printing profiles for more professional filaments like CPE+, PC, and TPU 95A. Also, profiles for soluble PVA have also been updated, improving the reliability of printing with PLA/PVA and enabling the combination of CPE/PVA.
As usual, Ultimaker is offering the filament on their website. A 500-gram spool of Ultimaker PP will set you back $40. Of course, you are not limited to the Ultimaker brand and can choose your materials from any manufacturer you like.
Ultimaker 3 Update #3: Closing the Box with the “Advanced 3D Printing Kit”
To make the best use of the new materials, Ultimaker now offers an “Advanced 3D Printing Kit” for $90. This kit is specifically designed to ensure temperature consistency throughout the build room. It stops heat from escaping, creating a constant temperature of 45 ºC, while protects the print from external influences. The front enclosure protects prints from air currents and ensures a stable temperature environment within the printer.
Also new are adhesion sheets ($20 per pack), that will give you better adhesion surface for the first layer (although for most prints some glue stick will to the trick). Ultimaker recommends for PP, CPE+, or PC materials.
Ultimaker 3 Update #4: Firmware Updated to Version 3.7
The latest firmware update includes a number of improvements. Among its most significant new features is the ability to restart a print directly from the Ultimaker 3 – without the need to start up Cura – and an improved material change procedure. When changing materials, the Ultimaker 3 automatically flushes out all residue material, ensuring the print core is fully clean when a new material is inserted.
Ultimaker 3 Update #5: Slicing Software Cura Now Officially Updated to 2.6.1
A version of the popular 3D slicing Software Cura 2.6 has been available in public beta since May (more here). Now the official version Cura 2.6.1 is available for download. Here are the most important updates:
Model auto-arrange. Ultimaker improved placing multiple models or multiplying the same ones, making it easier to arrange on the build plate. If there’s not enough build plate space or the model is placed beyond the build plate, users can rectify this by selecting ‘Arrange all models’ in the context menu or by pressing Command+R (MacOS) or Ctrl+R (Windows and Linux). Cura 2.6 beta will then find a better solution for model positioning.
Local version folder. Cura 2.6 beta has local version folders, which means the new version won’t overwrite the existing configuration and profiles from older versions, but creates a new folder instead. This means you can safely try out new beta versions and roll back with without the danger of losing printer profiles.
Better support adhesion. Ultimaker added extra support settings to allow the creation of improved support profiles with better PVA/PLA adhesion. The Support Interface settings, such as speed and density, are now split up into Support Roof and Support Floor settings.
Multi-extrusion support for custom FDM printers. Custom third-party printers and Ultimaker modifications now have multi-extrusion support.
Gradual infill. You can now find the Gradual Infill button in Recommended mode. This setting makes the infill concentrated near the top of the model – so that you can save time and material for the lower parts of the model. This functionality is especially useful when printing with flexible materials.
Support meshes. It’s now possible to load an extra model that will be used as a support structure.
Molds. An experimental feature: Users can use it to print a mold from a 3D model, which can be cast afterward with the material that you would like your model to have.
Towers for tiny overhangs. Ultimaker added a new support option allowing users to achieve more reliable results by creating towers to support even the smallest overhangs.
Cutting meshes. Easily transform any model into a dual-extrusion print by applying a pattern for the second extruder. All areas of the original model, which also fall inside the pattern model, will be printed by the extruder selected for the pattern.
PETG Filament for 3D Printing: Explained & Compared
By Anatol Locker
Have you heard of PET/PETG filament? Curious about what the benefits are? Let’s take a look at what PETG 3D printer filaments have to offer.
Most desktop 3D printer users are familiar with the benefits and disadvantages of PLA and ABS materials. But, when it comes to producing flexible and durable objects, PET and PETG filaments are gaining popularity among filament producers and the 3D printing community. In this guide, we’ll explain the science behind the material, when you should use it, what the benefits are, and where you can buy the best PET/PETG filament.
Before we get into how this material was adapted for use with 3D printing technology, let’s break down PET and PETG with a brief explanation.
PET and PETG Explained
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the most commonly used plastic in the world. You can find the polymer almost everywhere you look, from your water bottle to clothing fibers, even in your food containers. PET is also used in thermoforming processes and can be combined with glass fiber to create engineering resins. Basically, thousands of consumer products, foods, and beverages are delivered and packaged within this material.
On the 3D printing side of things, there’s PETG, which is is a modified version of PET. The ‘G’ stands for “glycol-modified”, which is added to the material composition during polymerization. The result is a filament that is clearer, less brittle, and easier to use than its base form of PET. The molecular structure is irregular; the resin is clear and amorphous with a glass transition temperature of 88 C (190 F). If you’re into chemistry, this material is known as Polyethylene Terephthalateco-1, 4-cylclohexylenedimethylene terephthalate (try saying that mouthful three times quickly…).
It’s also worth letting Polyethylene coTrimethylene Terephthalate (PETT) make a cameo in this guide. PETT, as you can probably tell, is another variant of PET. It’s slightly more rigid than PETG, and is popular for being transparent.
If you were to shop for 3D printing filament, you’d likely notice way more PETG filament on the market than PET. There are a number of benefits that this variant offers over the base material, especially when it comes to 3D printing. But first, here are the general reasons why it is more advantageous than PET:
It is more durable.
Overheating regular PET makes it hazy and brittle, but not with PETG filament. The added glycol prevents the material from crystallizing and becoming breakable.
It is highly impact-resistant.
Unlike PET, it is RF sealable.
It can be sterilized.
The unique benefits of PETG filament for FDM 3D printing
PETG filament has the reputation of combining the functionality of ABS (stronger, temperature resistant, more durable) and reliability of PLA (easy to print) in one material.
The layer adhesion is usually excellent.
Reduced potential of warping or shrinking of your prints.
Also, you can recycle the material, along with prints and misprints. However, don’t take this as permission to start printing irresponsibly – sustainably speaking, PETG is still a plastic that should be utilized and recycled properly. Check price:
Is PETG filament food safe?
Yes, it is considered to be a food safe material in nearly all countries. But better to be safe than sorry, so you’d be wise to check the specifications supplied by the filament manufacturer.
To be frank, there aren’t many disadvantages to this material. Still, there are a few worth mentioning. For starter, PETG is more prone to scratching than PET is. Additionally, the material properties can be weakened by UV light. Many makers agree that it’s not the easiest material to print with, and usually requires you to find the “sweet spot” with print settings. Therefore, when 3D printing it, you’ll likely have to experiment with the 3D printing parameters more than usual.
What’s the price for a spool of PETG filament?
In general, it comes at a higher price point than other materials – roughly, you pay $5 to $20 more per spool than for a comparable spool of PLA. Prices for PETG filament will vary depending on the filament manufacturer, but you can usually find a decent quality spool for around $25.
Again, just like price varies, the optimal printer settings for PETG filament will also vary depending on the filament producer. Still, there’s a general range of properties that you can expect from every spool of PETG filament. The print temperature will usually range between 220°C – 250°C, while manufacturers will also recommend a print bed temperature between 50°C – 75°C.
How do you know if you’re using the best print settings for your PETG filament? There are a couple of ways to ensure more success and higher quality when printing. First, take a good look at the first layers. If the extruded material isn’t somewhat sluggish, you’ll probably want to raise the temperature a bit. Also, you should always start with a low print speed of around 15mm/s, which will usually help you find what works best with your material. Once you decipher what the best settings will be, feel free to increase your print speed.
What if my 3D printer doesn’t have a heated bed?
A heated bed is not a must, but it’s certainly an advantage, especially when it comes to avoiding warping of large-scale prints. However, we have previously managed to print with PETG filament on an Ultimaker 2 Go without a heated bed. Still, it took us a while to find the right settings that would allow for successful printing.
Although you can attempt the usual hairspray or blue tape tricks, some makers claim that these won’t work with PETG filament. Like most things involving 3D printing, finding the best practice will take patience and the willingness to experiment.
As always, you should first try to use the specifications provided for the heated bed temperature. If the manufacturer doesn’t provide these specs, start with a temperature of 80°C and see if the first layer sticks to the bed.
Does PETG filament come in different colors?
Absolutely! You can have nearly the same variety of colors as you would have with PLA or ABS. We’ve spotted shades of green, red, blue, orange, and yellow, as well as translucent or colored translucent variants.
How do I store PETG filament?
It should be stored in a dry environment. Air humidity may alter it, result in failed 3D prints and misprints. This is because this material is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air. As this has a negative effect on printing, make sure to store the 3D printer filament in a cool, dry place using silicate bags.
PETG vs PLA
PLA (Polylactic Acid) is a thermoplastic material, classified as a polyester plastic. It is the most common 3D printing material. PLA filament is easy to 3D print and biodegradable. There are many different colors and varieties, and almost every filament producer on the market dabbles in the production of PLA. Also, its properties allow the addition of other materials like metal powders, hemp, coffee or wood.
So, how does PLA compare to PETG filament?
PLA is easier to 3D print and handle than PETG filament. Also, PLA is also more forgiving when it comes to 3D printing errors.
Both materials show minor shrinkage during cooling.
Both are considered to be food-safe.
Also, both are user-friendly, but PETG is more durable, stronger, and can handle higher impact.
PETG is more prone to scratches than PLA.
You don’t technically need a heated bed to 3D print both materials, but it is easier to 3D print PETG filament on a heated bed.
PETG filament is generally more expensive than PLA.
PLA Filament offers more way more variations than PETG filament.
How does it compare to ABS?
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (better known ABS) is the second most popular 3D printer filament. This thermoplastic is cheap, durable, slightly flexible, lightweight, and it can be easily extruded — which makes it perfect for 3D printing. It is the same plastic used in LEGO bricks and bicycle helmets.
But there are disadvantages to using ABS filament. It requires a higher temperature to reach melting point, usually in the range of 210°C – 250°C. Moreover, a heated build platform is required. This prevents the first layers of the print from cooling too quickly, so the plastic doesn’t warp and contract before the fabrication of the object has completed. Another drawback of this 3D printer filament is the intense fumes that arise during printing. They can be dangerous for people (or pets) with breathing difficulties.
So, how does PLA filament compare to PETG filament?
Both materials are highly durable, offer good strength and impact resistance.
Both materials can be recycled, but are not biodegradable.
ABS is more flexible, with minor bending before snapping
ABS is soluble in Acetone, PETG filament isn’t.
ABS is not food-safe. When handled properly, PETG is.
ABS needs a heated bed for 3D printing.
Both materials show shrinkage during cooling.
When should PETG filament be used?
PETG is a good all-around material but truly stands out from many other filaments due to its flexibility, strength, and temperature and impact resistance. This makes it an ideal 3D printer filament to use for objects which might experience sustained or sudden stress, like mechanical parts, 3D printer parts, and protective components. Additionally, PETG is likely the perfect option for objects that will encounter food or drink.
Where can I buy PETG filament?
There are three routes you can take to purchase PETG filament for your FDM 3D printer.
Buy a spool of PETG filament at Amazon
Most relevant manufacturers offer their spools directly at Amazon. Brands like Colorfabb, SainSmart, Taulman, eSun, Aptopro, extrudr, 3D Prima, Sunlu, advanc3dmaterials and 3DPSP are offering PETG filament for a reasonable price. You can browse the Amazon shop by clicking on the link below.
Alternative Limb Project Offers Children Cheap 3D Printed Prosthetics
By Hanna Watkin
Gino Tubaro is offering thousands of children across the world the chance to receive a 3D printed prosthetic thanks to his Limbs project.
8-year-old Kaori Misue was born without fingers. Usually, creating specialized prosthetics costs upwards of $15,000. However, thanks to a 21-year-old inventor, Misue received a prosthetic hand which has changed her life.
Gino Tubaro is offering kids born without limbs the chance to receive a cheap 3D printed prosthetic. Misue’s mother, Karina Misue, adds: “It was magical… The confidence it gives kids is tremendous. They’re using it with pride.”
Tubaro’s 3D printed prosthetic designs are part of the “Alternative Limbs Project”, which began in his home of Argentina. The prints come in a range of designs, offering users the chance to decide what they need the prosthetic for most, whether it’s playing an instrument or ping-pong. The prosthetics for kids can even be superhero themed (and shoot rubber bands).
Impressively, the work was also praised by President Barack Obama when he visited Argentina last year. Tubaro explains:
“It’s a wonderful experience because we’re getting photos of kids using the prostheses in Thailand, Mexico, Egypt … doing things that they couldn’t do before.”
Tubaro Helps Kids All Over the World
Tubaro has always been interested in creating. As a child, he spent his weekends at a local workshop and now, he’s enrolled in an electrical engineering course at National Technological University in Buenos Aires.
Back in 2014, Tubaro was still in high school and dabbling in 3D printing. He was asked by a mother if he could 3D print a limb for her child. He delivered the hand and since over 500 more prostheses. However, there are still more than 4,500 people on the waiting list.
For the Alternative Limbs project, volunteers around the world who own 3D printers create and assemble prosthetic pieces before delivering them. The designs are custom modified and orthopedists help make sure the final prosthetic fits the user.
Amazingly, 3D printing lowers the cost of the designs to as little as $15. Currently, the project is financed through both award money and donations.
Tubaro splits his time between the project and his degree. He adds: “Seeing a kid wearing a hand from Iron Man, Batman or Princess (Elsa from Frozen) gives us so much pride.”