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rhymeandreason

Flexible Filaments comparison

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I'm trying to figure out the most reliable flexible filament to print with. I've tried almost all of the ones I can get.

I'll share my notes here. Hope others can contribute for the missing info.

Also, a question--

Is the Ultimaker Flex PLA the same as the FormFutura Flex PLA?

I kind of hope it's different...

I'm printing on a UM2

1) http://www.formfutura.com/3mm-filaments/specialty/flexible-pla/

 

  • Prints well if you put some machine oil on the filament to prevent jamming.
  • I've printed several large things at the standard 50mm/sec speed.
  • No retraction...but high travel speed will just break off the threads.
  • Slightly higher temp--using 230 C
  • Tends to stick to itself on the spool, which can cause print to jam.
  • Sticks to glass coated with hairspray
  • Glossy finished surface.
  • Bounces :)
  • Dye natural color with fabric dye

 

2) http://www.fennerdrives.com/ninjaflex3dprinting/_/3d/

(polyurethane)

 

  • Much softer than Flex PLA
  • Haven't gotten a finished print yet...jammed

 

3) http://store.makerbot.com/flexible-filament

Got someone with a Makerbot to run some prints.

(Apparently it's a type of PCL MSDS[/url])

 

  • Stiffer than FormFutura Flex PLA
  • Cleaner finish, likely since retraction works better
  • Difficult to feed through the machine...contact said he suspended the filament from a clothes hanger above the machine to get it to feed without tangling.
  • Translucent natural color...a bit of iridescent glossy finish, which is nice.

 

4) http://www.plastic2print.com/eu/flexible-polyester-filament-shore-40d-0-5kg.html

 

  • Comes in 40D and 45D shore hardness
  • prints well at 50mm/sec
  • 225 C - 235 C
  • glossy surface
  • comes in black, natural, silver

Overall very similar to FormFutura flex pla. Silver color is nice.

5) https://www.matterhackers.com/store/3d-printer-filament/300mm-samplepack-soft-pla-threequarter-kg

 

  • prints matte finish
  • more difficult layer adhesion than FormFutura
  • 230 C-235 C
  • stiffer than FormFutura Flex or Plastic2Print
  • decent retraction

 

6) https://www.shapeways.com/materials/elasto-plastic

Not a filament, but good for comparison!

 

  • Grainy surface
  • Minimum wall thickness = .8mm
  • Expands slightly from model dimensions.
  • Dyes well! (nice surprise)
  • SLS, so you can make crazy shapes.

 

Also, generally found that it's confusing because some brands list shore hardness in A, and some in D.

Here is a comparison chart: http://www.rexgauge.com/2-uncategorised/32-comparison-chart

 

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Thanks for doing this, looking forward to more results. I've been interested in making some flexible parts and have been wondering some of the same things.

Right now, I think I'm going to print negatives in PLA and cast positives in Silicone because I want a pretty low durometer and high level of detail. Might try some flex filaments if they work well though.

 

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I'll update if I get more things to work.

I feel like the Ninjaflex would be great, since it's polyurethane, but maybe you just need direct drive extrusion for filament that soft.

Yes, Formfutura flex pla is overall quite good. The only issue is retraction. So if Ultimaker flex pla is a different supplier, then I would try that too.

 

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Is the Ultimaker Flex PLA the same as the FormFutura Flex PLA?

I kind of hope it's differen

Almost certainly it is the same. I base this only by looking at photos of UM filament and Form futura website (and other manufacturers). The black spools that the filament comes on are identical. And every other company out there has a completely different spool - all companies are unique as far as I can tell.

 

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4) http://www.plastic2print.com/eu/flexible-polyester-filament-shore-40d-0-5kg.html

Haven't tried this yet...thinking of ordering

 

  • Comes in 40D and 45D shore hardness

 

I've just printed half-life logo in 45D shore black filament with 235C and 105 flow with retraction, 35mm/s, worked very nice, layers bonded very well (prev. attempt 220C, 100 flow, printed ok, but layes bonded badly, destroyed during stress test with hands).

Later on will try to print 50mm/s and 15-hour print.

Big thanks to my good friend Omar, who supplied me with this filament.

 

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Thank you, @AdepusOne for contributing your experience. I also got some Flexible Polyester in. Used different settings, but it also worked well. Similar to the FormFutura.

They also have some new colors. Not sure if it's on their site, but I got some silver FPE, which is great.

Also, I think the Matterhackers PLA might be the same as Ultimaker Flex PLA. This is because I noticed both kinds are matte finish instead of glossy...

Updated list with new info

 

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I'm trying to figure out the most reliable flexible filament to print with. I've tried almost all of the ones I can get.

I'll share my notes here. Hope others can contribute for the missing info.

Also, a question--

Is the Ultimaker Flex PLA the same as the FormFutura Flex PLA?

I kind of hope it's different...

I'm printing on a UM2

1) Eco-Flex PLA from FormFutura

 

  • Prints well if you put some machine oil on the filament to prevent jamming.

  • I've printed several large things at the standard 50mm/sec speed.

  • No retraction...but high travel speed will just break off the threads.

  • Slightly higher temp--using 230 C

  • Tends to stick to itself on the spool, which can cause print to jam.

  • Sticks to glass coated with hairspray

  • Glossy finished surface.

  • Bounces :)

  • Dye natural color with fabric dye

 

 

I've been trying to get stuff printed with Ultimaker's Flexible PLA (black), using UM2. So far the results have been far from spectacular. Following your advise on disabling retraction and oiling the filament, I have managed to get _something_ printed, but most prints get truncated due to feeder failing to push filament forward. I don't know how jammed the nozzle is - if it is jammed - but I have managed to clean the filament path by changing the Flexible PLA material into something else temporarily.

I have the filament reel placed on a lazy Susan. I have tried speeds from 10mm/s to 50mm/s and temperatures from 210C to 230C. I have tried material flows up to 120% as there seems to be quite a big problem with under-extrusion.

Have you possibly adjusted your filament feeder somehow? Any other modifications?

 

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@3Poro

You might just need to put more oil on the filament. I find that if you're printing something big that takes over an hour, the initial oil isn't enough and you have to put some more on later.

You can tell if that is the problem because the filament will start getting wavy looking in the bowden tube.

If your nozzle is clogged, it will make that clicking sound when it's printing. Then you'll need to clean out your nozzle.

@alnavasa and @yellowshark

Recreus filament would have an even worse problem than Ninjaflex. It is even softer than Ninjaflex.

I tried Ninjaflex several more times. Sometimes I can get it printing for a little bit, but it will jam after about 15 minutes.

The problem is simply mechanics. The soft filament is elastic. It's like trying to push a rubber band.

Unfortunately Flex Filaments work better with direct feed machines rather than bowden type machines.

There are several new flexible filaments that are coming out, hurray! I might write up all this information later in a better format. It's so silly that you have to hunt all over for material info.

 

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Heads up everyone-- The PolyFlex material only has 4 more days on kickstarter.

It looks like it has much better adhesion and retraction properties.

 

@netsrac

Admittedly bed adhesion is tricky.

With hairspray, you have to use a lot of hairspray.

Sometimes a glue stick also works, but you really have to get it even.

And depending on what you are printing, I've found that blue tape, cleaned with rubbing alcohol, and no bed heat works.

And it did take me a while...the whole first month or so I couldn't get any flex filament to print. :p

 

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Admittedly bed adhesion is tricky.

With hairspray, you have to use a lot of hairspray.

Sometimes a glue stick also works, but you really have to get it even.

And depending on what you are printing, I've found that blue tape, cleaned with rubbing alcohol, and no bed heat works.

And it did take me a while...the whole first month or so I couldn't get any flex filament to print. :p

 

Well...I tried hairspray and it did not stick...or at least got loose after an hour or so.

But the hardest part was to get the hairspray off the glass. Looks like the additional heat burned the hairspray into the glass. I tried water, glass cleaner, Aceton and Alcohol to remove it. The best was then was to put a wet towel on it, then scrap it off with a glass scraper. The process have to be repeated several times.

So if I would avoid it, I would not go with hairspray again :-)

Just ordered some blue tape and will give this a try...

 

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Hi Netsrac, I cannot see any bed temps stated in any posts but I assume you were at close to 60 for PLA and not something like 110. Hairspray comes off dead easy under warm water and a small blob of liquid soap/washing-up liquid. Just rub it off with a J-cloth or similar. If you were at 90+ I will admit I have no idea.

 

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Alnavasa, For people printing RC tires (and nearly everything else in the RC car) you can check the OpenRC project . It seem NinjaFlex works fine, but from this very thread it might have issues on an Ultimaker.

 

Thanks for answering, We should make our ultimaker go direct extruder in order to extrude this materials in a better way.

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:110269

 

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Thanks for answering, We should make our ultimaker go direct extruder in order to extrude this materials in a better way.

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:110269

 

In only got my UM2 late March, so I'm not comfortable modding it just yet :-)

I've printed lots of parts for the OpenRC Truggy in Colorfabb PLA/PHA, and I'm quite happy with everything so far.

I do wish I could print NinjaFlex on the UM2 for the tires, but I will probably try Nylon for fragile parts first. Flexible filament will come next... so many thanks to all those posting results :-)

 

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@3Poro

You might just need to put more oil on the filament. I find that if you're printing something big that takes over an hour, the initial oil isn't enough and you have to put some more on later.

You can tell if that is the problem because the filament will start getting wavy looking in the bowden tube.

 

I tried different amounts of oil, but only to notice a very subtle impact. Actually, I spent quite a lot of time trying different parameters and tricks, but nothing really helped - randomly the filament just got stuck. Yesterday, however, I made a significant breakthrough - by ditching UM2's original feeder and replacing it with this:

https://www.youmagine.com/designs/alternative-um2-feeder-version-two

IRobertI - THANK YOU !!!

Talk about night-and-day difference... When I first tested the new feeder with Ultimaker's Flex PLA, I actually forgot to disable retraction and add oil to the filament. Still, the results were better than ever before. My previous results were so poor and unstable that I had already lost much of my hope to ever see anything meaningful coming out from my UM2 using Flex PLA. For instance, using retraction was clearly a no-no - and without retraction I faced a lot of constraints related to print quality and/or feasible shapes in prints.

After seeing the results using IRobertI's feeder, I inspected the UM2 original feeder with microscope to see if it had any defect - but it really didn't seem to have. Knowing my experience with the new feeder is limited, I'm already willing to conclude the original feeder is quite a poor design.

i still have some challenges, some of which are not strictly specific to Flex PLA - but are more clearly visible with it:

1) Even if you have defined a lengthy minimum layer time, in certain situations Cura does not respect it strictly. For instance, when printing antennas of the Ultimaker Robot (http://files.youmagine.com/uploads/image/file/42629/export.png), UM prints layer n of left antenna, layer n of right antenna, layer n+1 of right antenna, layer n+1 of left antenna, layer n+2 of left antenna etc. In other words, there can be two layers printed one immediately after the other. If there are several "antennas", it's difficult to control this using minimum layer time, as a single layer can anyway take a long time to complete. In case of thin/fragile structures printed with non-rigid material this is a problem.

2) Even if I use 130% material flow, outer wall layers don't get properly fixed to each other. If I increase material flow, over-extrusion becomes a problem - especially in thin structures (see #1) and overhangs. This doesn't apply only to Flex PLA, though - here's my post on the topic, using normal PLA: http://umforum.ultimaker.com/index.php?/topic/5092-caught-in-the-middle-extrusion/

3) Overhangs seem to be a real challenge for Flex PLA. I still haven't found the optimal tools for finishing Flex PLA prints, though. A gas torch helps and gives a shiny finish on the surface, but the topmost material layer starts to easily peel/bubble, as it's barely attached to the layers underneath (see #2).

One way to fight the problems listed above is to turn off the bed heating after the first couple of layers. Flex PLA sticks to the bed _really_ well.

 

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@3Poro

Wow, that is really interesting!

So I recently got a 2nd Ultimaker 2. And I noticed that it is a bit different from my first Ultimaker 2.

(I had gotten one of the pre-production Ultimaker 2's.)

The new Ultimaker 2 seems to have a much tighter feeder. I have it loosened as far as it will go, but it is really tight, and sometimes it chews into PLA much more than it should.

I wonder if that is why people are having trouble with the extrusion.

Indeed, this would only make the problem worse when using flexible filaments.

Great to know that replacing the feeder can vastly help.

I am not having problems with the outer walls of Flex PLA not sticking to each other.

Try increasing your temperature?

I had some layer adhesion issues with the MatterHackers Flex PLA, but Form Futura adheres pretty well.

 

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I am not having problems with the outer walls of Flex PLA not sticking to each other.

Try increasing your temperature?

I had some layer adhesion issues with the MatterHackers Flex PLA, but Form Futura adheres pretty well.

 

I tried temperatures all the way up to 240C - it helped, but didn't solve the problem. Instead, the layer height seems to play a major role with Flex PLA. I haven't noticed such a big difference with other materials... With 0.1mm layer height vertical structures print quite nicely, but horizontal surfaces ("plateaus") are ugly and layer-to-layer adhesion is a big problem. With 0.06mm layer height this was precisely the opposite: smooth horizontal surfaces are very smooth indeed, but all slopes and vertical walls become over-extruded and/or malformed. 0.075mm layer height seems to work quite well for my current work.

 

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