Sept. 2, 2016
Nylons are a fantastic group of 3D printing materials. Excellent chemical, abrasion, and impact resistance coupled with its durability and toughness make it a perfect choice for strong, functional 3D printed parts.
The main “cons” of nylon filaments are the lack of rigidity, relatively high shrink rate, and the fact that it is highly hygroscopic (absorbs water from the air).
Enter Nylon X.
By adding chopped carbon fibers to nylon, we increase the rigidity, reduce the shrink rate, and the amount of water it can absorb, while still maintaining the durability and toughness of nylon.
NylonX is a Nylon at its root - for this reason the same practices for 3D printing Nylon should be used. Below are specifics for NylonX, but you can find deeper information in our article 'PRINTING WITH NYLON.'
Extruder Temperature: 250 - 265°C
Nylon X, like other nylons, will extrude at lower temperatures, but parts easily delaminate and break when not printed hot enough. An all-metal hotend is recommended for these printing temperatures, read more here.
Bed Adhesion: 60 - 70°C heated bed with PVA based glue stick
We like Elmer's Washable disappearing purple glue stick. Nylon doesn't stick well to BuildTak, PEI, or other similar bed surfaces. Heated glass with glue, or a sheet of Garolite LE with no heat are the best options.
There are no special speed requirements or limitations for Nylon X. It prints well from 10 - 80mm/s depending on your nozzle size, temperature, and layer height settings.
Dry Filament Before Printing
To dry filament, place it in an oven at 180°F - 200°F for 6 to 8 hours. After drying, store in an airtight container, preferably with desiccant. Learn more here.
A stainless steel or hardened nozzle is required. Carbon fiber is very hard and abrasive and will quickly abrade and ruin brass or other soft metal nozzles.Larger nozzles (0.6mm and larger) produce incredibly strong parts. This is because interlayer adhesion is directly proportional to trace width. For the highest strength parts, try printing with the largest nozzle you can use on your hot end.
Layer cooling fans are not recommended
We’ve been printing carbon fiber PLA, PETG, and ABS for a while now. The carbon fiber does the same thing to these materials. PLA, which is already stiff and fairly brittle, becomes even stiffer and more brittle. PETG and ABS, which are both fairly ductile and impact resistant, also become considerably more brittle with added carbon fiber. All 3 seem to delaminate easier as well, which is likely due to the fact that the fibers don’t chemically bond to the base resin and create what essentially are tiny weak points throughout the part.
NylonX is different though. Because nylon is considerably tougher and more durable than ABS, PLA, and PETG, sacrificing a small amount of impact resistance for a significant increase in stiffness is a great trade-off.
To show the difference, we 3D printed a part and did some testing.
The design is 60mm wide, 10mm deep, and 25mm tall. The unsupported span is 50mm.
They were all printed at 0.25mm layers, 25% infill, 3 perimeters, and 5 solid top/bottom layers. These settings make the bridge solid. To bridge this gap, we have our bridge speed set to 20mm/s and the cooling fan at 100%. Finding the right settings for your specific printer will depending on the ambient air temperature, how dry the filament is, your printer's layer cooling ability, and the length of the bridge.
We used a force gauge and pressed down slowly to deflect the bridge enough to touch the desk.
These GIFs show the test being performed on Nylon 645, NylonX, PLA, PETG, and PETG with carbon fiber.
We also shot a few clips showing these parts being bent by hand
We ran 6 parts of each material with the force gauge. Here's what we found:
Nylon 618: 2.6 - 3.5 lbs
Nylon X: 6.6 - 7.81 lbs
PLA : 6 -11 lbs (it sometimes breaks during first bend, and almost always breaks on 2nd or 3rd bend)
PETG: 4.5 - 7 lbs (permanently creases/deforms at the bend)
Carbon Fiber PETG: 12 - 18 lb (always shatters on first attempt)
So Nylon X is only slightly less stiff than PLA, but it maintains the toughness and durability of nylon. This makes for awesome functional parts.
The other great feature of NylonX is that the carbon fibers reduce the shrink rate during printing. If you’ve ever printed with ABS or Nylon, you’ve likely experienced warping or curling on your part. There are ways to help prevent this, but NylonX virtually eliminates any issues with warping or curling. The added fibers help to keep the material dimensionally stable.
So, if you're looking for strong, durable, and functional parts, pick up some Nylon X and start printing. It's awesome stuff.
We shot some additional footage showing the strength of Nylon X. Stay tuned - those videos are coming soon.
As always, Happy Printing!
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