Advantages of TPU 3D printing filament
There are many impressive advantages to TPU. One of the main ones is simply its tensile strength as it will be able to take a lot of punishment before ever breaking. That durability is also aided by its abrasion and chemical resistance. All of these qualities make it one of the toughest materials to work with.
Depending on the specific type that you get, TPU can offer you a range of flexibility and/or elasticity. This gives you plenty of versatility on what you can make with the material.
Finally, TPU also works very well in a wide range of temperatures and is fairly simple to work with. This makes it the 3D printer material of choice for many users.
To sum up, we recommend it because of these fantastic qualities:
- Abrasion resistance
- Low/high temperature performance
- Chemical resistance
How to pick the best TPU filament
There are many things you need to consider when getting a TPU filament. Firstly, you need to ensure that it’s going to be compatible with your printer. After that, you have to ponder which specifications are important to you.
This includes looking at the temperatures required, diameter, and speed. Once you know that it’s the right fit, you can look at overall performance, ease of use, shore hardness, and color selection. Once you’ve considered all of this, you’ll know what to pick.
Not all extruders are going to be a perfect fit for flexible filaments. This generally comes down to the difference between Bowden extruders vs. direct-drive extruders. For the majority of occasions, it’s going to be better for you to use a direct-drive extruder due to the short distance between the drive gear and the melt zone. Bowden extruders can still be used but usually only for partially flexible filaments rather than fully flexible filaments.
If you’re unsure about compatibility, it’s a good idea to check the manufacturer’s instructions to see if the specific filament can be used for your 3D printer.
There are two standard diameters with 3D printing filaments, and they are 1.75mm and 2.85mm. 2.85mm filament is often referred to as 3mm, so no need to get confused between the two.
The difference in terms of application is minimal most of the time, but there are a few reasons why 1.75mm is the more commonly used type. 1.75mm allows for a greater level of accuracy, gives you greater control, and you can also use it at a faster printing speed.
So why use 2.75mm (or 3mm)? Well, due to its thicker size, it works better with larger nozzles, is more rigid, and less likely to bend. It also doesn’t jam as easily as 1.75mm.
The extrusion temperature (or nozzle temperature) required for TPU is fairly consistent between different models. Often 210C is going to be ideal for most models, but some need to be a little hotter or colder than that.
If you are looking for something a little cooler, the PRILINE TPU 1.75 3D Printer Filament can operate with an extrusion temperature of around 190C. At the other end of the scale, the NinjaTek Cheetah TPU Filament may need temperatures of up to 240C.
One of the big advantages of TPU is that it doesn’t require a high bed temperature. In fact, some products, such as the NinjaTek Cheetah TPU Filament, can be used at room temperature, and thus, they don’t need the bed to be heated at all.
It’s always important to follow the guidance on the ideal bed temperatures. Some, such as the YOYI TPU 3D Printer Filament, do require a bed temperature of up to around 80C. If you don’t want to use a heated bed, you’re going to have plenty of options out there.
If you want to get more value for the money, it’s also a good idea to check the net weight of the filament. This will give you a good grasp of just how much is on the spool. We see some, such as the PRILINE TPU 1.75 3D Printer Filament, which has a full 1kg of net weight.
If you’re looking for something a little lighter or don’t need as much filament, you could opt for the Fillamentum Flexfill 92A, which has just 0.5kg net weight. Before buying, it’s important to check how much material you’ll be working with.
The shore hardness relates to a material’s resistance to indentation. The higher up on a scale you see, the more rigid a material is going to be. We see a lot of these TPU’s have a 95A shore hardness rating, such as with the Overture TPU Filament. This allows for high strength but still with flexibility on thinner parts.
If you want to have something with a little more flexibility, the YOYI TPU 3D Printer Filament would be a great choice at 85A.
Between 85A and 95A, you have plenty of versatility as you can make thinner parts with more flexibility, such as a belt, or denser pats with more strength, such as a skateboard wheel.
One of the downsides to TPU is that it generally has lower printing speeds than other types of filament. The reason for this is that material is more difficult to push through, and it can quickly lead to jamming issues if you try to do it too quickly.
While that is true, the printing speeds can vary between different TPU’s. If you want to have a particularly quick model, you can choose the NinjaTek Cheetah TPU Filament, which can print at more than 60 mm/s. That is more than some other models that have a maximum of 30 mm/s.
It’s always nice to have a wide range of colors to get exactly what you need. The importance of this is going to depend on what you’re making. The Fillamentum Flexfill 92A is only available in luminous green, which leaves you quite limited.
The SainSmart Flexible TPU 3D Printing Filament, on the other hand, gives you a wide range of great colors, which gives you more flexibility in what you can make. Not only are there plenty of colors available, but they are also vivid and look brilliant with whatever you’re making.