TPE filaments are a great 3D printing material to work with. The designs that you can print using it will be flexible while remaining strong and durable.
3D printing is exciting especially when you are starting to use new materials for your prints. Have you tried using flexible filaments for 3D printing? One of these flexible and rubber-like materials is the TPE filament.
If all these are new to you, don’t worry. You will learn more about TPE 3D printing filaments as you read along. So, let’s get started with the basics.
- 1 What is TPE Filament?
- 2 Usual Challenges You’ll Encounter with TPE Filament
- 3 Tips for Printing TPE Filaments Successfully
- 4 Best TPE Filament Brands
- 5 Conclusion
What is TPE Filament?
With these elastic prints, you can even stretch them up to double their length and they will easily go back to their original form. And this you can do without damaging your prints. Apart from the elasticity, the prints are soft. The shore hardness of prints made from TPE material is 85A.
As you may already know by now, when it comes to working with flexible 3D filaments, it can be challenging. However, this depends greatly on the type of extruder which you are using in 3D printing your designs.
Usual Challenges You’ll Encounter with TPE Filament
No one can deny the fact that TPE filaments along with other flexible filaments are very useful. But as you would expect from any new technology, there can be a few hiccups. Let’s take a look at some of the usual challenges when you use TPE filaments for 3D printing.
Feeding the TPE Filament to the Extruder
To be able to feed the filament successfully from your drive gear towards the hot end, you will need to have a direct path for the filament. You may not have encountered this issue with other filaments before because they are stiff. However, with TPE filaments, the risk of them getting stuck and deformed is quite high.
Buckling of the Material
Because of the nature of TPE filament, the nozzle’s pressure may, at times, cause the filament to buckle while it is being pushed through the extruder. The usual cause for this is when you print too fast. Also, it may be possible that the pathway may not be narrow and tight. This may cause jams in the process.
Getting the Material to Stick
When printing with TPE filaments, you may discover that it is quite challenging for it to stick to the build plate. To be able to get good adhesion to the print bed as well as to avoid any shrinkage, try adjusting the temperature of the print bed.
There are several factors that can cause this. It can be retraction settings, speed, or temperature.
Tips for Printing TPE Filaments Successfully
Now that you are aware of the challenges of 3D printing with flexible filaments, let us share with you some useful tips on how you can get good prints with TPE filaments.
1. Don’t Speed Up the Printing
Generally, it is recommended that you set the speed at 30mm to 40mm per second when printing with TPE and other flexible filaments. This is so that you can get the best timing as well as print quality. If in case you will be using Flexifil, the speed recommended is as 10mm to 20mm per second.
You can set your print speed to 5mm per second to make sure that your prints are precise. Yes, it can be very slow but this will ensure you that you have better chances of getting the perfect print that you want to have.
2. Try Using a Direct Drive Extruder
It can really be a hassle when your filament jams the extruder. To avoid this from happening, you can lessen the space between the nozzle and the cold end. You can do this by using a direct drive extruder.
3. Keep the Extruder Temperature Hot Enough
To get the best print, you will have to make adjustments to your printer so that you will know which settings are the most appropriate for your TPE filament. At this point, don’t be afraid to try out several settings until you find the right one.
4. Adjusting the Retraction Settings
Retraction may be able to lessen the hot end’s pressure. Also, it will be able to stop the TPE filament from being moved towards the nozzle when your extruder is not printing. Adjustments can be made to your retractions settings.
What you can do is to find the least amount of retraction that is necessary so that there are less issues with your prints being stringy. If you observe that extra material comes out from the nozzle, you can try increasing the retraction speed or distance.
5. Adjusting the Temperature of the Hot Bed
The temperature settings of your hotbed depend on the TPE filament you are using as well as the kind of printer that you have. The usual recommendation for the temperature is at 40°C to 50°C. But to get even better prints, do check the filament guide of the brand of TPE you have selected.
Pros & Cons of TPE Filaments
Best TPE Filament Brands
If you’re all excited to try 3D printing with TPE filaments, here are some of the best brands in the market that you can try. They are widely available in many stores online. Let’s take a closer look at their features.
1. NinjaFlex TPE Filament
You can print many designs with NinjaFlex including watch bands, phone cases, as well as shoes. You can print designs that need to be flexible while remaining strong. This is one of the TPE filament brands that you should definitely try.
2. Robotjoy Flex 3D TPE Filament
Robotjoy Flex is a product of the USA. If you are looking for a US brand, in particular, this is it.
As a TPE filament, Robotjoy Flex is better compared to the typical filaments such as PLA. This is because it is flexible and excellent for 3D projects that need to be soft while remaining strong. You can bend it and twist it and it won’t have any permanent damage on the print.
3. eSUN Elastic TPE Flexible Filament
eSun is a TPE filament brand that has satisfied plenty of customers with the quality of their filaments. The prints you will get from eSun will be elastic and very flexible. Its shore A hardness is at 85 while its tensile strength is at 30 MPa.
With the development of new materials, 3D printing becomes more exciting. If it is your first time to use TPE filament, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. As what we’ve shared in the challenges of printing with this material, you may have to have several tries before you get the right settings.
You will learn more about the characteristics of this material the more you use it. So, start printing your designs and push this material further. Try and see what other designs you can print using TPE filaments.
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