3D printing with Nylon for a more useful objects

[taulman] over on Instructables has been working on his own version of a 3D printer. Unlike the usual PLA or ABS filament all the RepRaps and Makerbots use, this printer uses nylon to make parts with very interesting properties.

Most extrusion printers are designed to print with ABS (a very hard plastic that melts around 220-230° C) or PLA (a somewhat softer plastic that melts at about 180° C). [taulman] is using Nylon 6, a very slippery and bendable plastic that melts around 320° C (about 600 degrees Fahrenheit). He’s doing this with a hot end of his own design and a ‘spiky’ extruder bolt that allows high-temperature thermoplastics to be extruded into any shape imaginable.

For the longest time, the 3D printer community has been using low-temperature thermoplastics such as PLA and ABS. There are obvious benefits to these materials: it’s pretty easy to source a spool of filament, and the low melting point of these plastics makes building a printer easier and safer. Now that [taulman] has the high-temperature plastic nut cracked, he’s moving on to easily-machiniable Delrin and transparent Polycarbonate. Very cool, and hopefully in a year’s time we’ll have a choice of what material to run in our printers.

After the break, there are a few videos [taulman] put up showing his printer at work and the properties of his 3D printed objects. It looks like [taulman] can print objects that are impossible on any other 3D printer we’ve seen; the flexible iPhone case probably couldn’t be made on any other DIY machine.


Comments

  1. http://goo.gl/FMP4X <– nylon printing december last year.. haven't done more because it smells revolting and emits hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide and other nasties… Need a garage that's not attached to the house so I can leave the prints unattended without risking poisoning my family

    • CB4 says:

      He did mention that the trimmer line gave of some noxious chemicals in on his page

    • taulman says:

      Good call, triffid. While there are several nylon polymers, trimmer line is “required” to contain an amount of fiberglass and other chemicals to be sold as trimmer line. Chinese were selling raw nylon as TL and pissed a few off….
      Technically, the fiberglass and added chemicals forces the temperature so high that it starts to burn the nylon and that’s where you get problems.
      Fishing line also has fiberglass, otherwise it would soak up to much water and stretch to much.

  2. Evocube says:

    Not very familiar with 3d Printing but it has always peaked my interest. Is there any reason one could not use Nylon fishing line filament or is it to thin? To me it seems to provide a nice consistent starting point.

  3. Havel says:

    If it weren’t for the nasty chemicals this would emit, I’d be all over this. Good stuff though. Is there a safer material that can imitate these results?

    • MrX says:

      Why are the fumes so much of a problem? You just enclose the 3D printer in a acrylic box and then put a exhaust fan and pipe to outside. Done, problem solved.

      • T.M. says:

        The chemicals it emits are toxic in very low quantities, as little as 10 ppm if I recall correctly. They are not something you want to mess with in a home built setup unless you know what you’re doing.

      • dex drako says:

        and pumping it out side doesn’t make the problem magicly go away it’s just hope it becomes someone elses problem.

      • octel says:

        Then you poison your neighbors.

      • taulman says:

        tm, dex and octel have good points, so I want to address them. First, I think it’s great that all of you have an interest in this material.
        The biggest problem with heating nylon is Not the nylon, but the additives and the main additive is fiberglass. Fiberglass is what gives nylon it’s strength at high temperatures and low densities.
        Fiberglass is cheap and as an additive it reduces the overall costs of the part being made. A win/win for injection molding…..not so much for 3D Printers. The fiberglass and other chemicals added to fishing and trimmer line actually force you to raise the temp to the boiling point of the raw nylon to extrude it. That’s way beyond what raw nylon requires. And at those temperatures, all plastics become unstable. Add fiberglass to ABS, PLA, PET, even PVC and you’ll burn and boil the base plastic. Those are the chemical odors ppl detect. Understand that the car and truck industry love a low cost plastic that can take 230F all day long…..and when you add fiberglass to Nylon, that’s what you get. Great for cars, again, not so for 3D printing.
        The solution is a nylon polymer that has a low melt point and is strong in and of itself. I am working with a large US Nylon mfg to design and test a polymer specifically for 3D printing.
        If you want to see “strong” there’s a video I added to the instructable of a 8 lb sledge hammer striking a taulman nylon polymer part at 320 frames’sec.

  4. Matthew says:

    Talking about the flexible iPhone case. Yesterday I just came across this,

    http://www.shapeways.com/blog/archives/1375-Introducing-3D-Printed-Black-Elasto-Plastic-I-Cant-Believe-Its-Not-Rubber.html

    Dont know if anyone else has seen it, but they have iPhone cases and other bouncy and flexible things..

  5. Hyratel says:

    You need to learn to not use the ALLSTEPS format in i’ble – it does not redirect to the relevant step for thoes without a paid i’ble account

    • ScottInNH says:

      Paid account _not_ needed… although you do need to register for a free account to see “All Steps”.

      (Annoyingly, Instructibles has a __very short__ life login cookie. I use more than one computer so on whatever system I use, I am always needing to log back in. Grr.)

  6. thantik says:

    Someone needs to stop this guy before he poisons himself. PTFE degrades after 260c, and starts decomposing around 360c – it’s bio-accumulative, meaning the effects will slowly poison him over time , even in low concentrations.

    • Ptolom says:

      That’s all very well, but what does PTFE have to do with this?

      • thantik says:

        Because he’s using PTFE in his extruder, and running it at these high temps too. The pyrolysis of PTFE is detectable at 200 °C (392 °F), and it evolves several fluorocarbon gases[18] and a sublimate.

        While PTFE is stable and nontoxic, it begins to deteriorate after the temperature reaches about 260 °C (500 °F), and decomposes above 350 °C (662 °F).[21] These degradation by-products can be lethal

      • thantik says:

        Here’s also another good read about the Fluorocarbons released when PTFE is heated beyond degradation temps: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorocarbon

        Look under “environmental and health concerns”

    • taulman says:

      It’s good to see people keeping up on their Teflon.
      I knew this going in on the design of the 2BEIGH3, so I designed the hotend such that the PTFE interface with the aluminum block was the smallest footprint possible. In addition, we did thermal gradient tests across the aluminum block from the heater cartridge to the nozzle and nylon heat chamber. The actual measured temp at the interface is 198.3c with nylon 6.6 and lower with PET and PLA. The plastic line you see from my extruder to my HE has a “TEE” where I pull a vacuum to reduce the nylons picking up water in the Hi HU air here. That also pulls a draft through the Teflon coupling cooling it. Please understand that I couldn’t explain a ton of stuff on the instructable site or I’d bore ppl to tears. Fact…the hot end is designed to accommodate, plastics thru nylon as designed. Other hot ends that I use for other materials, use a peek plastic interface. The reason is that my design will capture the temperature range of Bismuth, Tin and Zinc. And “yes” I have 3mm rods of Bismuth, Tin and Zinc!

      • David Emeron says:

        So what, young man, would you say to an N or He gas sheath similar to what we do when we weld Aluminium? Does such a thing make the high temperature melting of such composite materials less prone to burning or other chemical changes? Or do these toxic gas emissions and/or more importantly, chemical instabilities, occur without the presence of O2?

  7. T4b says:

    I think this iPhone case could be cast relatively easy.

  8. lwatcdr says:

    Those tempetures are high enough to use some metals like common solder with.

  9. Ptolom says:

    @thantik Ah okay. I must have missed that part in my quick grep through the article. That does sound concerning, although I’d hope he already has a decent extractor if he’s working with nylon.

  10. Hackerspacer says:

    Can’t do glass filled? Not useful.

  11. Teck-freak says:

    very nice. you think you’ll sell it to me ?

    my Brother and me are constructing a CNC-Multibot in modular type. till now its all “Pen and Paper”
    but Im looking forward to start building it in half a year. in the end the thing should be easy and cheap to build and the “How to Build” shall be available for everyone for free in the www.

    If there are some ideas just hand them in. Thx.

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