Here in California, it could be the middle of December or July and it's great weather for fun at the beach. Unfortunately, our Creative Lead, Dylan, had a broken paddle for his paddle board, and replacing his paddle would be hundreds of dollars. Rather than throw away an otherwise excellent paddle, NylonX would be the perfect material to replace and fix the broken parts.

Why NylonX?

Unless you're picking up a paddleboard from a big box store, they're usually made from carbon fiber tubes to keep them strong but light enough to not tire out while paddling. NylonX is light, yet durable from the nylon base and strong from the chopped carbon fiber strands infused into the filament, making it the optimal choice of filament for something that needs to maximize the strength to weight ratio. To test if the prototype would actually work, the part was printed in PLA to see how it fit on the rod and how it felt in Dylan's hands. The PLA print passed the test, but the heat from the sun was making it deform just enough to discount using PLA for the final part and use the much more thermally resistant NylonX instead.

What Printer Can Handle NylonX?

Out of the box, only one printer can print NylonX without damaging the machine: The Pulse XE. The chopped carbon fiber strands within the filament are highly abrasive, making it one of if not the most abrasive 3D printing filament you can use. Normal 3D printer nozzles are made from brass since it's very thermally conductive, but it's also incredibly soft and won't take more than one spool before your brand new 0.4mm nozzle is widened beyond use. Instead, the Pulse XE has an Olsson Ruby nozzle; a brass based nozzle for thermal conductivity with a ruby inset into the tip of it, making it the only part to face any wear. Rubies are harder than carbon fiber and therefore will last basically forever while printing NylonX.

The Olsson Ruby solves the problem of abrasiveness, but what about bed adhesion? Nylon is notoriously warpy (although not as bad as ABS), so bed adhesion is extremely important to keep the proper shape and dimensions once your modeled part is printed. Garolite solves that problem; a interwoven glass fiber fabric impregnated with epoxy resin, creating a build plate just textured enough to grip onto your nylon or NylonX print. And when you pair garolite with the Flexplate system, you can be absolutely certain that your part will stick and release with ease.

A freshly 3D printed NylonX paddleboard handle on a garolite bed.
A freshly 3D printed NylonX paddleboard handle on a garolite bed.

Creating the Paddle

Once the material and printer were determined, it was time to get to printing. Before printing out the parts in NylonX, a prototype was made in PLA to test the shape of it and how it felt in his hands, and so Dylan could check it fit over the carbon tube of the original paddle. Once it passed the test and fit together, he printed the two parts out on the Pulse XE, with the basic settings consisting of: extruder temperature of 255C, layer cooling fan off, 70C on the bed, and 50mm/s. If you'd like a more in depth guide and discussion of the optimal settings when printing with NylonX, you can read more in our How to Succeed When Printing with NylonX.

With the parts printed, heat set inserts pressed into the handle, and screwed a couple bolts connecting the two parts, it was time to test out his newly repaired paddle and take a relaxing break from work out on the water.

NylonX and the Pulse XE were the perfect combination of material and machine to handle what Dylan needed.

To read about the specific settings, recommendations, and best practices when printing with NylonX, read more in our article all about Succeeding with NylonX.