3D Printing Materials: Metal mixed with ABS or PLA

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3D Printing Materials: Metal mixed with ABS or PLA


Some vendors provide filaments based on metal.  These filaments mix metal with ABS, thereby allowing desktop 3D printers to be able to use them.  Most of these filaments can be printed at temperature similar to PLA or ABS used in the filament.  Examples of these filaments are as follows.

Bronzefill Filament:  A bronzefill filament is made of eighty percent bronze and twenty percent PLA. Having a mix of metal and PLA allows the filament to work with desktop 3D printers.  A bronzefill 3D printed object can be polished to make it shine.  A similar filament is copperfill filament that is made of copper particles mixed with PLA.

Proto-Pasta’s Stainless Steel Filament: A filament called Proto-Pasta’s Stainless Steel combines PLA with finely ground stainless steel particles. The 3D printed object has steel like properties including weight, density, and texture.  The proto-pasta filament is not stronger than PLA because the steel is in powdered form.  Nor is the proto-pasta filament conductive because the steel particles are separated by PLA.

Proto-Pasta’s Magnetic Iron Filament: Proto-Pasta’s magnetic iron filament is made of PLA and iron powder.  It acts like iron and is attracted towards magnets.  It even rusts like iron.  However, since the iron particles are separated by PLA, the magnetic iron filament is not conductive.

Tungsten Metal ABS Filament: Another metal filament called GMASS Tungsten Metal ABS Filament includes ABS and Tungsten.  Adding tungsten to ABS gives the filament a metal feel and also makes it heavier like metal.  Also, the material has radiation shielding properties.

Bismuth Metal ABS filament:  Another metal filament is GMASS Bismuth Metal ABS filament made of ABS and bismuth.  This filament is also radiation shielding (but contains no lead) and can be used  for creating parts for use in medical environments.



3D Printing Materials: Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA)

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3D Printing Materials: Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA)

Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) is a type of petroleum based plastic that is water soluble.  It is biodegradable and recyclable, and non-toxic.  It can be extruded at temperatures of 190-210 deg C.  It is relatively expensive compared to materials such as PLA and ABS. Due to its ability to dissolve in water, PVA based material must be stored carefully, away from water and moisture.  For example, it can be stored in sealed bags with silica gel.  Once removed from its packaging PVA can absorb moisture.  
Since PVA is water soluble, it is used for providing support for overhanging portions of objects being 3D printed.  The 3D printer has to be capable of extruding two materials.  A PVA based structure is 3D printed before the overhang portions.  The overhang portions are 3D printed, with support from the PVA based structure.  The final 3D printed object is put in water to let the PVA based support structure dissolve.  After the PVA based support structure dissolves, what remains is the 3D printed object with overhangs.