Alternative Printing Materials

 |  Anastasia Misiuk

Types of 3D printing Materials

Which non-commonly used printing materials have you heard about?

We are used to standard ABS and PLA filament, but there are many alternative printing options out there. We selected some interesting examples to take a closer look at:

  • Magnetic filament

It’s is possible to create filament with magnetic properties by mixing the iron powder with PLA filament. Not only it makes material magnetic but also gives a grainy metal finish to a print.

  • Glowing in the dark

This material glows in the dark, but not exactly by itself. A printed object must spend some time under the light for the source to recharge and keep glowing. We can find both PLA and ABS with such properties. The glowing filament is considered to be safe and environmentally friendly, however, it’s still abrasive and recommended to use with hardened steel nozzle.

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  • PVA filament for supports

Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is a water-soluble synthetic polymer. This material is great for support structures that hold the print. PVA melts at about 200 degrees and might release toxic chemicals if heated to higher temperatures. Using PVA as a support material makes it easier to print complex models. Used in a standard extruder, it can be dissolved after putting the whole printed model into the water.

  • Sandstone 

Sandstone filament is mostly used by architects and landscape designers in prototyping or in printing home decor elements. It’s harder than the regular plastic filament because it’s mixed with brick powder. This mixture allows to also achieve the texture and color closed to stone or chalk.

  • Coffee filament

Used coffee grounds considered a waste material are already widely re-used in textile manufacturing. So likewise this resource moved to 3D printing as a base for the mixed filament. A waste from coffee preparation is mixed with a traditional PLA plastic and brown semi-transparent bio-based printing material is ready.

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  • Hemp-based eco-friendly filament

As eco-friendly 3D printing becomes a bigger trend, the demand for biofilament is higher. Hemp-based filament provides a fine eco-solution for printing because thanks to its natural abilities hemp can grow without pesticides and chemicals in soil. The fiber particles are mixed with a PLA polymer base and create a natural filament. If the particles are mixed with biodegradable plastics, the filament can be later composted or recycled.

  • Wood filament

This filament is not entirely made from wood. It’s a hybrid of PLA/PHA plastic base and wooden particles. Recycled wood and wine corks are often used as a base for this type of filament. Some filaments change the color depending on the printing temperature. Lower temperature gives the lighter shade while the higher temperature provides a dark shade and a slightly burnt look. Wood filament gives a very natural finish when polished, it looks like actual wood.

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We hope you’ve picked something for your next experiments with filament!

Let us know at which other alternative materials would you use in your projects.


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