Material options within the 3D printing space have been expanding quite significantly over the past several months, as companies have begun to realize that the potential that 3D printing provides and the practicality behind the technology is limited by the materials currently available. It’s not so much the print resolution, print speeds, or nozzle diameters which are affecting the growth within the desktop 3D printing space. Instead it is material availability and options that remain the greatest limiting factors.
Fortunately, there are brilliant scientists out there who are now just beginning to understand the importance of material science within the 3D printing space, and we are finally beginning to see them get creative with filament options.
One company, 3DXTech, seems to be at the forefront in the creation of unique, high quality filaments for 3D printers. Today they have informed 3DPrint.com that they are releasing three new carbon fiber-based materials for use in FFF/FDM 3D printers. These include Carbon Fiber PLA, ABS, and Nylon.
“The PLA and ABS are ready for pre-launch sale — we are targeting next week for a limited release, early/mid December for production quantities,” Mark Haskins, material manager at 3DXTech, tells 3DPrint.com. “The PLA uses NatureWorks 4043D as the base resin and the ABS is based off Sabic MG-94. Our beta testing shows the PLA and ABS are on-par or slightly improved compared to the leading suppliers in this segment. We plan to offer .5kg, 1kg, and 3kg reels at more attractive pricing than is currently in the market, especially to non-profits and educational institutions.”
The material, called 3DXMAX Carbon Fiber Filament, is currently available for presale via the 3DXTech website, starting at $38 for a .5kg spool. In order to produce this carbon fiber-based material, the company tells us that they use “twin-screw compounding” to wet and disperse the carbon fibers into a resin. They have partnered with a leading carbon fiber supplier to help in the creation of this filament, which includes determining the correct carbon fiber to used in order to prevent the jamming of 3D printer nozzles. So far, they have been quite successful in doing so.
“We are pretty excited about the nylon,” Haskins tells us. “It is a partially aromatic high-performance polyamide. The website page for this explains the rationale behind using an aromatic grade vs. the standard aliphatic grades. This product is still a bit further off – 2-3 weeks until we start low volume pre-launch sales. All indications have been promising so far.”
The Carbon Fiber Nylon filament will be priced starting at $48 for a 500g spool, and will only be available in quantities of 1 spool per order during the coming pre-launch sale.
“We have made test specimen and will have the mechanical data ready for distribution soon,” says Haskins. “The initial tests indicate we’ve hit our targets with respect to flexural modulus — the key reason you use carbon fiber to stiffen the base plastic.”
This is just one more option to choose from in the ever growing list of materials to use for FDM/FFF 3D printing. What do you think about the potential that these materials have? What uses do you think they would be just right for? Discuss in the 3DXMAX Carbon Fiber Filament forum thread on 3DPB.com.