BigRep’s focus recently has been all about print speed, and now they’re using a new filament technology to achieve more rapid prints.
The company is known for producing very large format 3D printers, with print volumes exceeding 1m on a side. While it’s entirely possible to print large objects, the duration of prints has been problematic.
Prints of that magnitude can take days or even weeks to complete, raising the possibility of print failure – the longer you operate a machine, the more chance there is for something to go wrong.
Previously, BigRep introduced larger nozzles to deliver more plastic more quickly and also introduced large-weight filament spools to match. Now they’re producing what they call a “high speed” filament.
But what does that mean?
According to BigRep, the “HS” filaments provide greater mass flow per unit of time. In other words, the flow rate can be increased significantly.
In the chart at top, you can see that the HS filaments can be used to print larger layers at a faster speed. Yes, you can achieve similar speeds with their original PLA filament, but only with smaller layer heights.
This means that the HS material will be quite suitable for printing very large objects much more quickly, but with not quite as good surface quality.
But surface quality matters far less on larger objects. Many people exposed to 3D printing worry obsessively about increased print resolution, but that is really only useful for very small objects, like jewelry. For large objects, you will typically use and see them from a distance where the surface imperfections are literally invisible.
There is another very interesting feature of this high speed filament: ecofriendliness.
The filament is evidently made from biodegradable raw materials and requires a relatively low print temperature of only 170C, which is lower than even PLA. This means the very long print jobs that will take place using this material will use less energy.
And there’s another energy aspect: this filament, according to BigRep, should print up to twice as fast, meaning your 3D printer will be energized for only half the time. Much energy savings to be had here.
BigRep is now selling two species of this new high speed filament, in 2.85mm format on spools of 2.5, 4.5 and 8kg, with pricing between €110 and €350 (USD$123-392).
Would this material be usable on other machines? I think it could, if you have a machine capable of using 2.85mm filament. However, on a smaller machine you would likely have to swap your nozzle for something wider than 0.4mm and print in large sized layers. You’d get faster prints, but your smaller objects wouldn’t have as good surface quality as you may have expected.