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What would be best material for parts being used outside and potentially requiring paint?

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Hello,

There's a variety of materials and colors out there (especially for PLA) but the more demanding needs you have for the material (strength, heat/UV resistance, ...) the less choices you have.

I'm trying to create some sort of enclosure for a videophone unit that should be capable to resist UV, (rain) water, heat (sun), ... since it will be placed outside of the front door. I created a first test print in PLA which I used for a couple of weeks but after a sunny day, that got completely warped (which I did expect, was just a test).

Now I've been looking at other materials like the new Ultimaker material PP (good heat resistance up to 110) or PC (same HR) but such materials are available in limited colors (PP only transparent, PC black & white). I first thought that painting could solve that but painting these materials doesn't seem to be a trivial job.

So I'm wondering whether anyone of you have experience with creating 3D printed parts for outside use or having similar requirements, including color choice (painting it)?

Any thoughts / ideas would be appreciated!

Thanks,

Yves

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To add another possibility:

In the old days one used ABS, protected with UV-resistant paint. Nowadays ASA (Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate) seems to be the best choice regarding temperature-, UV- und weather resistance. It's available in several colors. But i have no personal experiences yet.

Edit: two more links:

https://www.solidsmack.com/fabrication/asa-3d-printer-filament-different-5-can-try/

https://rigid.ink/blogs/news/175845063-the-difference-between-abs-and-asa

Edited by Guest
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That does look nice and clean.

Just out of curiosity, how did the printing go? Any tips on settings that you used? I read the settings on YM, but am curious about your impression of the filament, starting point (which profile did you choose), ease of printing....silly things like that.

Edited by Guest

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It all went very smooth without any trial and error. I literally shared my first print after I unboxed the filament. I started from an ABS profile and then adapted based on recommendations from Formfutura. As indicated on YM, I did put a door in front to maintain good temperature inside but other than that, it just worked. Meanwhile printed my second part same way and is again of equal good quality.

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It all went very smooth without any trial and error. I literally shared my first print after I unboxed the filament. I started from an ABS profile and then adapted based on recommendations from Formfutura. As indicated on YM, I did put a door in front to maintain good temperature inside but other than that, it just worked. Meanwhile printed my second part same way and is again of equal good quality.

Thank you very much. Consumer experience beats company hype any day :)

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To improve UV-resistance, maybe you could use black or highly opaque materials? This prevents the sunlight and UV-rays from penetrating deeply into the material. That was a reason they originally started to make car tires black by adding carbon in the old days. Originally they had the light brown natural rubber color. Of course, manufacturers use synthetic rubber now, and they add lots of other things into the mix (e.g. silicon), so I don't know if they do still add carbon.

Disadvantage of black is of course that it accumulates more heat. So it definitely won't work with PLA. :)

I guess you need to expect that you have to reprint it anyway in a few years. Apart from car dashboards (vinyl?) and rear light lenses, I haven't seen many plastics that survive in sunlight. Even not headlight lenses: you see a lot of lenses that get brown or get cracked, even in expensive cars.

Maybe you could print a small test plate in any material and any color you have, and put them all out in the sun and rain? Then, in a year, you can compare?

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I guess you're right to say that not many plastics (if any) survive well outside due to UV, rain, ... even so called UV-resistant stuff you buy for outside use (e.g. chairs) will wear over time. So yes, absolutely fine to reprint after some years. But I initially started with PLA and after couple of days enjoying nice outside temperatures, the whole thing warped. So then got more into the characteristics of the different materials trying to figure out what would be "best". Currently it's reprinted in ApolloX material and seems good so far although warmest days are over. TBC :-)

I also did think of your suggestion making same thing in different materials and putting it outside, would indeed be a great test. Just need to think of a good object I want to put outside and make sure I take a snap every couple of weeks. :-)

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I think printing little test plates of 10cm x 2cm x 1mm would do. This doesn't waste too much material. Design them with a hole so you can hang them on a line, like a decoration. :)

Even better: print two copies of each, and keep one stored inside in a dark space, to compare.

Then every month you could compare the plates visually, and flex them to feel if they got brittle and if they snap under pressure. In some materials UV-damage may be visible, but in some it is not, and the item just falls apart when you flex it.

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