Carbon fiber filaments are the stronger, sturdier, and more dimensionally stable versions of their base material. They are fun and exciting to work with as it is perfect for making parts for prototypes and other applications.
When it comes to 3D printing, the material occupying the largest market share are photopolymers as compared to composite materials such as carbon fiber filled 3D printing materials.
To be able to compete with traditional materials, these composite materials are necessary for 3D printing to be a viable technology and replace more conventional processes. As for composites, carbon fibers are a leading contender in the industry.
With carbon fiber reinforced into the base materials, strength and dimensional stability are added while keeping the prints lightweight. It is a cost-effective substitute for more expensive options like titanium.
This is among the favorite items for automotive and aerospace applications. As of the moment, the methods for introducing carbon fiber in the 3D printing process is still limited. On this page, we will be discussing this material.
How Carbon Fiber is Used in 3D Printing
At present, the easiest technique for using this material in 3D printing is through CFRP filament. Extrusion is possible through FFF technologies or fused filament fabrication.
3D printers with this particular technology are not expensive. They are entry-level systems that can already be used for industrial-grade as well as professional applications.
What is Carbon Fiber Filament?
Carbon fiber makes the 3D printing material stronger and sturdier. The prints produced using this material are also lighter and are more stable in terms of its dimensions. The fibers aid in preventing any parts from shrinking as the print cools down.
The print settings of the extrusion rates, bed adhesion, speed, and printing temperature for this material are similar to the base material’s normal settings.
If you are using carbon fiber PLA, you can try using the print settings for PLA.
However, you have to take note that because of the added fibers, this material may clog your extruder. You may need hardware that is specifically designed for this to avoid damaging your 3D printer.
Tips for 3D Printing Carbon Fibers
Here are some tips that can help you in reducing the risk of encountering common issues when using a carbon fiber 3D printer filament. Some of these issues can be your nozzle starting to wear down or clogging in your extruder.
Use a Nozzle Made of Hardened Steel
Carbon 3D fiber filaments can be very abrasive. In most cases, the fibers are much harder compared to the nozzles in typical 3D printers which are usually made of brass. If you proceed to use the brass nozzle, it will just be a matter of time until your printer breaks down.
To address this issue, upgrade to a nozzle made of hardened steel. With this type of nozzle, you can be sure that it can endure the wear brought about by carbon fibers. A disadvantage of this nozzle though is that it is less conductive thermally compared to the brass nozzles.
It may be necessary to set the temperature for the extruder at 40°C higher than the usual setting. This will also aid in reducing the chances of clogging. You may also reduce your fan speed so that you can avoid any thermal issues with the hardened steel nozzle.
Adjusting the Retraction Settings to Prevent Clogs
A carbon fiber filament contains little fibers that will not melt. Thus, the chances of clogging the nozzle are much higher. But, you can address this by reducing the retraction distance.
Apart from that, you can also disable the retractions altogether. This is because it can increase the possibility of fiber buildup inside your extruder assembly. Reducing or disabling retraction settings can help you deal with the issue of clogging.
Reducing Print Speeds for a More Consistent Print
When you use a print speed that is slower, it can be advantageous because it means less effort for the extruder. Apart from that, small clogs can be pushed through the steel nozzle when they start forming.
Try to reduce the print speed by around 25% to 50% and observe with setting works best for your 3D printing material. There may be several trials before you get the right setting but when you do, you will have better and more consistent prints.
Using a Guided Filament Path
Carbon fiber filaments have the tendency to be more brittle compared to the base material. If you force it into tighter corners or even rub on the printer frame’s sharp edges, it will most likely snap.
Make sure that the path from spool to nozzle will have gentle curves. There shouldn’t be any sharp turns or spaces where the material can be dragged on the surface. You can use a PTFE guiding tube. Also, you should make sure that the spool is in an area that will lessen any chances of breakage.
You can use nozzles that have larger diameters such as 0.5mm or bigger. These will less likely have issues with clogging will be able to easily fit through this larger nozzle.
Pros & Cons
3 Best Carbon Fiber Filament Brands
There are a number of companies producing this material and reading reviews will help you decide which is the best one to get. Here are three of the best brands when you need a carbon fiber reinforced material.
1. ColorFabb Review
The prints have a high melt strength as well as excellent stability and dimensional accuracy. The XT-CF20 is a great choice for prints that need to be sturdy. It is perfect for drone parts as well as for aerospace and automotive prototypes.
2. Ziro Review
Ziro has the reputation of providing 3D printing filaments that are of great quality. The materials the brand produces are environmentally-friendly. The standard of their products is guaranteed to be accurate.
It is best to use a 4mm nozzle or larger for your project and use a low print speed. As for print temperature, the recommended range is from 210°C to 230°C.
3. Proto-pasta Carbon Fiber PLA Filament Review
Proto Pasta Carbon Fiber PLA is an American company that manufactures high-quality 3D printing filaments. They take pride in the fact that the design and manufacturing, as well as the packaging and labor of their products, are all done in the USA.
|Print Temperature||240°C – 260°C||210°C – 230°C||190°C – 230°C|
Carbon fiber filaments are an exciting 3D printing material to work with. The prints produced will be stable, sturdy, stiff, and lightweight compared with their equivalent if the base materials were used solely.
Although this type of material is challenging to use for 3D printing because it has the tendency to clog the nozzle, once you have addressed that issue by upgrading to a steel nozzle, you will surely enjoy printing with this material.