Improve Your Prints with Open-Source 3D Printer Research (Abridged Version)
Want better prints? Find out how you can improve the quality of your 3D prints using scientific research provided by Valparaiso University.
As 3D printing becomes more accessible for the average consumer, more variety in 3D printers and 3D printer consumables is introduced into the market. Looking at MatterHackers' website alone, users can find over 100 different printers and 25 different brands of over 70 types of filament that satisfy every type of project makers can imagine. With all these different printers and filaments available, how does a user find the best results specific to their printing needs?
Enter the Valpo Team from Accelerated 3D Printing Lab at Valparaiso University. This team designed an experiment that demonstrates the effects of slicer settings on mechanical strength for 3D printed parts, specifically through Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). Contributing countless hours of 3D printing, Samuel Hart and Trevor Gray from the Valpo Team, with oversight from Dr. Daniel Blood, developed one method that delivers consistent 3D printed results when factoring in items such as filament type, extruder-hotend-nozzle combination, and slicer settings. This method of determination they established contains core principles for the average consumer to incorporate when researching what parameters are necessary to achieve the type of mechanical strength the individual wants for their particular 3D printed part. Looking for a way to narrow down your selection of filaments for a particular project? The Valpo Team has a solution.
What Type of Filament Was Used?
Seeing the valuable information the Valpo Team would contribute to the 3D printing community, MatterHackers' donated the following types of filaments for their experiment:
Down below are graphics that showcase the data the Valpo Team gathered for the past few years detailing the extensive testing process of slice settings on MatterHackers' line of filament. With the method and data shared below, the Valpo Team hope users in the Fused Filament Fabrication community can apply similar principles in comparing and determining which filament types will provide the necessary mechanical strength for the user's specific needs. To read the extensive details of their findings, you can find their full report in our article here.
Designing a specimen specific to their experiment, the Valpo Team repeatedly printed this specimen in batches of ten using the "best" extrusion temperature. The "best" extrusion temperature in this experiment is determined as the minimum temperature where the tensile strength remains relatively constant regardless of an increase in extrusion temperature. All baseline parameters were pulled from MatterHacker's 3D Printer Filament Comparison Guide. These specimens were then tested for mechanical strength using a tensile testing machine. For further details on the critical parameters set for this experiment, check out Sections 2.1 - 2.4 of the Valpo Team's full report.
The Valpo team experimentally determined how hotend temperatures affect tensile properties for the following filament types: PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon, and micro carbon fiber infused Nylon. Listed in the figure above are two of six sets of data the Valpo Team gathered. Check out how MatterHackers' other filaments fared in this experiment by checking out Sections 4.1.1 - 4.1.6 of their full report.
Thanks to the controlled experimental tests the Valpo Team have performed, they were able to conclude the data of various mechanical strengths listed above. For further explanation of the comparison, check out Section 4.3 of their full report!
Based on preliminary tests, layer height seems to not play as significant of a role in tensile strength as makers may imagine. However, it does positively affect the cosmetic appearance of a printed part (at the cost of an increased overall print time of course). For more details on the Valpo Team's exploration of Infill, check out Section 4.2.2 of their full report.
With their specifically designed specimen, the Valpo Team found a more noticeable increase in tensile strength due to infill set anywhere between 80 - 100%. For further explanation on what other factors may affect infill tensile strength, check out Section 4.2.4 of their full report.
As shown above, where you add your plastic plays an important role in increased tensile strength. See what other important notes the Valpo Team have regarding outlines and top/bottom layers in Section 4.2.3 of their full report.
Faster print speeds is something many users want, but does it come at a cost of mechanical strength? Based on the parameters of the Valpo Team's experiment, significant impact to their specimen's mechanical strength was not seen until changing speeds from 3600 mm/min to 4800 mm/min. To see what other factors may affect a user's print strength using print speed, check out Section 4.2.5 of their full report.
Big thanks to the Valpo Team over at the Accelerated 3D Printing Lab in Valparaiso University for researching and sharing their results with us! Want to support and follow their efforts? Check out the links below.
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