Many experts believe that the next frontier in 3D printing doesn’t lie in the actual hardware itself, but rather in the materials that can be used to print with. After all, what good is a 3D printer, if you are limited to only printing in a handful of materials, all with similar physical properties?
One company, ColorFabb, seems to be at the forefront of material engineering, when it comes to FDM 3D printers. They have already produce and sell more types of filament than you would know what do with. They offer PLA/PHA (compound), XT-Copolyester, and woodFill (a wood based filament), in dozens of different colors.
Just today, the company announced the release of two new specialty filaments; glowFill and bronzeFill. Both of these filaments have been under beta testing for some time now, along with a third material – bambooFill, which hasn’t been released yet.
GlowFill is a glow-in-the-dark filament that can certainly add some really cool properties to 3D prints. Think about all the possibilities, from night lights, to toys, to interior design.
“This filament will literally make your work shine,” explains ColorFabb on their website. “During the day it’s a beautiful creamy color which prints to a perfect smooth finish. In the dark your prints will start to glow like you would not believe.”
The company recommends that you charge your prints by putting them in front of high powered lights or sunlight. For best print quality, they also suggest that all prints be made at 195-200 degrees C, at a print speed of 40-100 mm/s.
BronzeFill is probably the most unique filament on the market today. As we all know, it has not been possible to print using metals on a consumer level FDM 3D printer. If you want something 3D printed in metal, you must outsource the service to companies like Shapeways, who can utilize ultra-expensive laser sintering 3D printers. With this said, however, ColorFabb, with their new Bronzefill filament, has created a way for this to become a reality using your own 3D printer, in the comfort of your own home.
“3D printing with metal on your own desktop 3d printer,” says ColorFabb. “This amazing one of a kind filament will allow you to print with actual bronze at home! Straight from the printer, parts look almost laser sintered with a matte finish.”
The material is 4 times heavier than traditional PLA filament, and consists of 80% bronze powder, thus making it extremely dense (up to 4 grams/cubic centimeter).
Once an object is printed out in BronzeFill, it may be left in its printed out state, or it may be sanded /polished to make the bronze particles shine. ColorFabb recommends sanding with a grit of 120-180, to remove all the printed lines (the typical layer lines). Then they suggest that you take a finer sand paper (240-320 grit) to smooth the print further, and then finish with an ultra-fine 600 grit paper. After sanding is complete, you may take some copper polish and shine away!
The new BronzeFill filament now gives 3D printing enthusiasts the ability to print out items such as jewelry, home decor, and even extra sturdy phone cases. It really looks and feels almost exactly like metal.
The GlowFill is available to order today, while the BronzeFill is available for pre-order. It should be interesting to see what ColorFabb comes up with next. What will you make with their new GlowFill and BronzeFill filaments? Discuss in the ColorFabb discussion thread on 3DPB.com.
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