Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel. One Mark twain is responsible for this timeless piece of advice. Although it was in reference to the common biro pens, I find more than applicable to 3D pens.
In that regard, if you are seriously into 3D art, you must know the importance of having enough 3D pen filament. Not just talking of quantity – quality matters also.
If you don’t yet have a 3D Pen, check this awesome review by Reviews Rabbit for a definitive guide on picking the best 3D pen. Otherwise, read on as I delve deeper into all you should know about 3D pen filaments.
What is 3D pen filament made of?
I bet you are no stranger to terms like PLA, ABS, and the like. In a nutshell, those are types of plastics commonly used in the manufacture of 3D pen filaments. Aside from ABS and PLA, we also have TPU and PCL. Here is a brief look at the characteristics of these different plastics.
If you are wary of smells, this is the filament to choose. And perhaps this is the reason why it is most popular among hobbyists and artists alike.
PLA is the short for Polylactic acid. This is a plant-based polymer, and thus it is biodegradable. That makes you and your art environmentally friendly, unlike with other filament types, as we shall soon discover.
Many praise the smooth manner in which it flows, in addition to its low temperature requirements.
Unlike the PLA filaments, ABS filaments are made from petroleum based chemicals. This means that they are not biodegradable. Additionally, you may notice some not-so-pleasant fumes while using it. You are therefore advised to work in a well ventilated space when using the ABS filaments.
Thermoplastic Polyurethane filaments
Models made from the above two filaments are somewhat rigid after the extruded filament hardens. With the TPU filaments, the 3D models are largely flexible and elastic. And thus you can use it for items that you can wear.
Other popular terms for the TPU filaments are TPE and FLEXY.
Call it polycaprolactone in full. This is the ideal filament for your kids since it melts at only 600 Celsius. You can also use it for simple repair tasks such as mounting lights on bicycles. One important thing to note is that it takes a bit longer to harden.
PETG stands for Polyethylene terephthalate glycol-modified. Think of the common plastic water bottles and you can visualize what material we are talking about. Though you may have to struggle with the printing – as it is not that smooth – the end product is reasonably strong and durable.
Can you use 3D pen filament in a 3D printer?
It is very natural and human to want to save that extra coin. And that is perhaps why many want to know whether they can use the 3D pen filament in a 3D printer. Why bother with an entire 1 kg, $40 roll while you can make use of some multi-color 3D pen filament with less than 10 bucks?
Ideally, the materials used to make the 3D printer filament are the same as that for the 3D pen. What you may need to take note of is the diameter of the filament.
But don’t fret when it runs out quicker than you expected. You certainly can’t compare a 1 kg spool with 10 feet filament.
What is the strongest 3D pen filament?
Going by the experiments of Airwolf 3D, it is evident that the polycarbonate filament is the strongest in the market. This is followed by the PLA, PETG, ABS, and TPU, respectively. To compare the strengths, they printed hooks from the different filaments and suspended weights from these hooks. The filament strengths were thus measured and graded as outlined above.
How long does 3D filament last?
The lifespan of 3D pen filaments greatly depends on the storage conditions you provide. The biodegradable types will disintegrate easily when subjected to poor storage conditions. Another pointer to their lifespan is your usage. If you are doing heavy 3D printing, you’re likely to run out of the filament within days.