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Going Beyond PLA and ABS

Going Beyond PLA and ABS

I recently had a chance to experiment with some new filament that I ordered from and decided to do a brief review.

I used Makey, the Make robot designed by Eric Chu to test each filament.  This is the same model that Make Magazine used in its 2014 review of 3D printers (
Before I dive in, let’s start with a comparison of the three types of resolution that Makerware allows you to choose.  The image below is of 3 models printed using low, standard, and high resolution (left to right).  I used Makerbot filament with these 3 models.
ResolutionComparisonFrom left to right the resolutions are 0.30mm, 0.20mm and 0.10mm.  Click on the image above for a closer look at the layer resolution.

The following models are all printed using standard resolution (0.20mm).
The image above is of models all printed with Makergeeks PLA.
Makerbot and MakergeeksThe picture above shows Makerbot PLA in the middle and Makergeeks PLA on each side.  What do you think?  I wasn’t able to tell a difference in quality.
I’m very happy with the quality of Makergeeks PLA.  I really wasn’t able to tell the difference between their PLA and Makerbot PLA.  I had no problems getting Makergeeks PLA to stick to the build plate and am overall very satisfied with the performance.

Now to the fun stuff.  What I was really excited about was their Exotic Pack.  This includes their wood filament, sandstone like filament, nylon, rubber, color changing filament, and glass like filament.
Let’s start with the wood filament.  Its called LayWoo-D3.
Ok, it’s not what it looks like.  These are nice robots and they wouldn’t do that.  I can explain.  I printed 3 different robots at 3 different temperatures to see what the difference in temperature would produce.  First I printed the robot on the right at 210 degree Celsius and it came out a bit stringy.  The close proximity of the arms to the head resulted in what actually looked like dreads on the robot’s head, which is a very cool effect if that’s what you’re going for.  Who wouldn’t want a Rastafarian robot?  I then printed another one at 165 and one more at 140.  There was less of a stringing effect as I decreased the temp but it was still there.  I then took one of the robots and grabbed my wife’s hair dryer and thought maybe if I heat it up the strings would shrink away.  Well the robot got hot and then blew to the floor and when I took a step back to look for it I accidently stepped on it.  Since I had heated it, it became very squishable but I promise it was over fairly quick and he only screamed for half a second.
 I only received a small sample of the wood filament and there’s so much more I want to do with it so I ordered some more.  I had no problem getting it to stick except when I printed at 140.  Makergeek recommends staying between 165 and 210.  You actually can vary the color of the prints by varying the temperature.  It’s made of recycled wood and binding polymers and smells like burnt wood when printing.
Next up is the LayBrick.  The sandstone – like filament.
I also really enjoyed working with this filament and can think of many artistic applications for it.  The left model was printed at 210 and the right at 175.  The one on the left came out very rough and stringy while the one on the right printed very smooth and less stringy.  This material is not as strong as PLA so it’s easy to lose a limb if your not careful (thus my one arm robot on the left).

Thermochrome – Color changing PLA
It was very cool to watch this guy being made.  This filament changes color whenever the temperature reaches 29 degree C or higher and turns back as it cools.  Besides being able to change color it behaves just like PLA because that’s what it is – color changing PLA.

Flex EcoPLA – Soft rubber like filament
It’s definitely rubbery and I can think of quite a few applications for this filament but it was a bit difficult to work with.  You’ll have to experiment a bit.  As you can see from my legless robot, I had some issues with binding strength between layers.  However, the vase in the back held together very strong.  I tried to rip the layers apart and wasn’t able to.  I printed without a heated bed, which I don’t recommend because I had a bit of trouble getting it to stick.  The weak joints on my robot may be explained by the fact that I had my fan on during print which you should probably turn off.

PET – Glass like filament
Not sure I see too much difference between this filament and the clear PLA as far as appearance goes.  I’ll have to experiment a bit more.  It’s hard to tell based on this model alone.
VaseI designed this vase using Sketchup and experimented with Nylon, Bendlay, PET, and clear PLA.   I’ll save my results for a different post.



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