True to form, Netherlands-based colorFabb introduced yet another pioneering 3D printer filament, this time based on Steel.
It’s called “steelFill”, as would follow their pattern of product names: this item joins brassFill, copperFill and bronzeFill as the fourth member of their metal product shelf.
At top you can see 3D printed samples of these four metal filaments, which are in fact carefully calculated mixes of fine metal powder with standard PLA-style plastic to hold it in filament shape. The steelFill is the bottom left sample; can you guess which filament the others are made from?
The new steel filament will be priced identically to their bronzeFill product, at €50 (USD$56) per 750g spool and will be available later this summer.
What’s most interesting about the steel product is that it can be finished in various ways. colorFabb explained that they’ve used such techniques as manual polishing, a belt with cloth or even a tumbler. All work, but you must choose the best method for your particular print: a spindly figurine print might not survive the tumbling experience, for example.
There are two concerns to be aware of with this product.
First, you probably don’t want to print steelFill - or any metal 3D printer filament for that matter - unless you have replaced the typical brass nozzle on your 3D printer with a stainless steel nozzle. The reason? The metal particles can be harder than brass and will eventually wear down your nozzle, leading to incorrect extrusion amounts.
The second thing to be aware of is that all metal 3D printer filaments are far more dense than typical plastics: the same volume weighs more! This means that when you are purchasing a spool, often specified by weight, you’re going to receive a lot less filament than you expected. As we’ve said before, the industry probably should switch to volume specifications to avoid this issue, but until then, be aware of what you’re buying.