Your Guide to Printing with Polyamide Filament

Printing With Polyamide

 

Introducing the latest in the Essentium lineup of engineering grade filaments, Essentium PA.  Specially formulated by BASF, Essentium PA is well suited for 3D printing, providing exceptional strength and durability while retaining a surprising amount of stiffness.  Good melt flow properties also allow for easy use and consistent prints which is one of the most important properties for FFF printing.

                                     

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What is Polyamide?

Polyamide is found in rope, clothing, tents, the bristles on your tooth brush, and much more. In the pantheon of printing materials, Polyamide is a material known both for its exceptional durability and strength. These qualities make it suitable for a variety of real world applications. Printing with polyamide can cause some issues but this guide will help you ensure that each Essentium PA print is smooth and strong.

 

The problem with ALL polyamides:

 

Moisture Uptake.

 

It’s hard to avoid!  And if your filament has too much moisture, it will make it almost impossible to 3D print.  The last thing that you want is your print having the surface finish of the pyramids.

To fight this inevitable battle, here are a few tips on how to handle your polyamide.

 

Keeping your Polyamide Filament Dry

Store your filament in a dry box or other sealed container with desiccant. If you have access to a dry box, utilize that to keep your filament dry while printing. At the very least, your filament needs to be stored away while printing. Vacuum bags or fruit dryers can work as a suitable substitute to prevent moisture uptake.

 

Printing PA Without Drying

Should your print be only a few hours long the moisture uptake won’t dramatically decrease the quality of your print. You may hear a sizzle while printing from the excess water transforming into steam at high temperatures. For longer polyamide prints a drying setup will be needed. Proper care of polyamide materials is critical to ensuring smooth prints so to avoid ruining filament, it is better to be safe than sorry and invest in a drying chamber. If you don’t have a drying setup try to only print for short periods of time to prevent moisture uptake. Know that at the end of the day a little bit of moisture is okay because it is such a challenge to keep PA from absorbing moisture.

 

It’s not all bad

Sure, moisture may be a pain whenever you are printing, but once your item is done, the moisture uptake will increase the impact strength. 

Studies have shown that typical polyamides uptake 2-3% moisture in the first 24 hours of exposure [1].  Compare that to PLA and ABS, of which typical values are usually less than 1%.

 

Polyamide Print Settings

Essentium PA is best printed on a glass bed using a bed ahesion solution like Wolfbite. This prevents your parts from sticking to the bed or warping. The ideal nozzle temperature ranges from 250-270C. A heated bed is critical to printing PA and should be between 80-100C. Parts come out best when printed between 30-40mm/s. Be sure to also use a high-quality slicing software like Simplify3D to prevent failed prints.

 

Summary

There are two key factors to ensure you get perfect polyamide prints: quality materials and proper care. Select from a trusted filament brand like Taulman Nylon or Essentium to ensure that the PA you print with is up to spec. Avoid moisture uptake by selecting moisture resistant PA’s and drying the material. Remember that even after printing, your material will uptake moisture and the mechanical properties will change. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it can increase impact strength. Polyamide is an exceptionally durable and strong material that is great for a variety of applications, just be sure to take proper care of this filament.

 

[1] http://www8.basf.us//PLASTICSWEB/displayanyfile?id=0901a5e180004880

 

 

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