Additive Manufacturing Strategies

3D Print with Stone: Formfutura Announces StoneFil Filament

ST Medical Devices

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Recently, we learned that 3D printer manufacturer CEL Robox and materials manufacturer Formfutura had formed a partnership, so Robox could sell FormFutura’s engineering-grade TitanX material. But while Formfutura, headquartered in the Netherlands, released several new materials in 2016, from three new thermoplastics to MetalFil PLA filament, the company hasn’t unveiled any new materials since its EasyCork filament in August. But the wait for innovative new materials is over: today, Formfutura is officially launching its stone-filled, PLA-based filament, appropriately named StoneFil.

Formfutura’s new StoneFil is based on its easy-to-print, modified EasyFil PLA compound. There are four StoneFil options: terracotta, pottery clay, granite, and concrete, and the company says the material is “gravimetrically filled with 50% of powdered stone.”

This easy-to-print, opaque filament, with its high amount of powdered stone filling, has a higher than normal material density: up to 37% more than regular PLA materials. StoneFil has aesthetically pleasing features, and all objects printed using this filament come off the print bed with a matte, but rough, stone-like finish, featuring natural gradient color linings, so each and every print has its own unique chromatic spectrum and color shading.

It’s important to note that StoneFil is an abrasive material: due to its high stone powder filling, this filament has an abrasive effect on brass nozzles; more so than unfilled filaments would cause. Formfutura has listed some general printing guidelines for its new StoneFil material, and noted that these settings are only meant as a form of guidance, to help users find their own optimal print settings.

“These ranges in settings should work for most printers, but please do feel free to experiment outside these ranges if you think it is suitable for your printer. There are a lot of different type of printers, hot-ends and printer offsets that it is extremely difficult to give an overall one-size-fits-all setting,” Formfutura notes.

The company suggests a nozzle size of ≥ 0.4 mm, with a flow rate of ± 110% and a ≥ 0.12 mm layer height. Formfutura’s suggested print temperature for its StoneFil material is ± 200 – 240°C, while the temperature of the heat bed is suggested to be ± 0 – 60°C. The print speed should be set to medium or high, with a 5 mm retraction, and a fan speed of 50-100%.

In case you want to print a set of terracotta plates or pottery clay glasses, StoneFil is manufactured with FDA-compliant polymers, and meets the requirements for the use in Food Contact Articles. It offers watertight printing, which is a nice feature to have for a material that can be used to 3D print your own vases. For smaller flowerpots and planters, Formfutura explained that four shells would be acceptable. The material allows for fine, detailed 3D print jobs, and if you’re interested in objects that require multi-material 3D printing, Formfutura mentions that its new stone-filled material offers “great aesthetics in combination with EasyWood and/or dual extrusion stone printing.”

The filament is now available for purchase, and comes in both a 50 gram coil and a 0.5 kg spool, both of which are available in 1.75 mm and 2.85 mm sizes. If you want to test the material out first, before buying a large amount of it, you can also purchase a sample size of StoneFil for €4. Discuss in the StoneFil forum at 3DPB.com.

 

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