Netherlands-based Formfutura announced a pair of new composite metal 3D printer filaments today, but there’s a surprising twist: they’re almost entirely metal!
Metal-composite 3D printer filaments are definitely not new; they’ve been around for a few years now and you can find such filaments including a wide variety of common metals, including copper, brass, magnetic iron and many more.
All of them are mixtures of plain old PLA plastic with finely powdered metal particles. The typical ratio of metal to plastic in most metal composite filaments tends to be around 50% - or even less.
I know of one other company attempting to provide a high-ratio metal filament, Filamet, who ran a successful Kickstarter campaign over a year ago. They attempted to produce an 85% ratio filament.
However, Formfutura is might be one of the first well-established 3D printer filament producer to issue a high-ratio metal 3D printer filament.
The two filaments announced by Formfutura are: MetalFilTM - Ancient Bronze and MetalFil™ - Classic Copper. As you might gather from their product name, Formfutura is positioning them as materials specifically for applying simulated ancient finishes, much like I did when “bronzing” a 3D printed statue last year.
Here you can see the process they envision for producing a very attractive print: Brushing, tumbling, acid application, and clear coat.
One concern I have about these products is that if you intend on using them, you absolutely must have a higher-performance nozzle. A common brass 3D printer nozzle will quickly be worn away by the gradual abrasion of metal particles. Best to swap to a stainless steel version before printing with any metal filaments - or indeed any composite filament with particles harder than brass.
At this time we’re not aware of the price of the spools, but you can bet they’ll be at premium levels.
[UPDATE] Pricing is now set at €47.50 (USD$54) per spool.