Friday, November 21, 2014

3D Printing Video : Printing With Ninjaflex and Rubber TPE

So with the holidays arriving soon, I again wanted to make some gifts this year for various relatives and friends who I'll be spending the holidays with.  While searching thingiverse i found this pretty cool Bear model in the Voronoi style.

So after printing it in a transparently blue PLA filament from polymakr, I decided to try out some of the flexible filaments I've had on hand for awhile but have done nothing more than print a sample chip out .

(if you're a filament manufacturer and want me to test a sample of a filament you're developing feel free to contact me)
I tried printing out with this type of filament before, and failed, mostly because either the extruder that I was using caused the filament to buckle and just wrap itself around the stepper motor, or after extruding a bit for the first few layers would just stop extruding as the gripper gear would just lose its grip and not push the filament along ending up in "air prints".  

Being that I have about 15 rolls of various flex materials I figured I better start using these filament and decided to try various methods of getting these filament to print correctly. (read and see more after the jump!)

So one of the things I saw that people were doing to solve the buckling issue, where the filament because its so springy and bends in the wrong place and gets wrapped around the stepper motor gear, is by using a bit of PTFE tubing and sticking it through their extruder arm all the way to the hot end entrance. In some instances for example when using a e3dv6 hotend they take the tube right to the hot zone inside the hot end itself!.

Typically you cut a notch in the tubing so that the stepper gear can latch on and pull the filament in.   Another item to use as well is a spiked or pointy gripper gear on the end of the stepper motor to get the full "bite" of the stepper motor. I ended up cutting completely through the tubing I had instead of just a notch but decided to try it anyways, and just pushed the top portion down to where the stepper gear was and then used the smaller piece to push up from the bottom to where the stepper gear was. (hopefully you can see this in the pics, you can click on any of them to make them full size for better viewing)

The tube I'm using are both PTFE tubes (they can withstand moderate heat), and I have a larger diameter that I'm using for a "guide tube" from the spool to the 3d printer, and now i'm using a smaller diameter that goes to the hot end entrance, and subsequently fits within the guide tube. 

 So after a bit of fiddling to get the filament hole lined up I was able to successfully print out two bear models.  I used BLUE Ninja Flex and 3d2prints TPE Rubber Filament which I printed in RED.  The initial print I used the following settings when slicing the model using makerware:

Infill 100%
Shells 1
Resolution 200 microns
Extruder 225°c
Bed 75°c
Nozzle Speed While extruding 15 mm
Nozzle Speed While traveling 25 mm

These settings resulted in a lot of stringing but the models printed out very nice, just needed a lot of clean up:

Ninja Flex, Really Spongy
3d2Print's TPE Rubber, Still Squishy,
however MORE rigid when compared
to NinjaFlex.
This was the Transparent PLA
Very Rigid, No FLEX

So then I tweaked the settings a bit and printed another in Ninjaflex:

Extruder 215°c
Nozzle Speed While extruding 10mm
Nozzle Speed While traveling 150 mm

This model came out much better with less thick stringing than previously, however there is still some but its pretty fine and can be cleaned up fairly easy:

Hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for stopping by!


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