In the past few weeks I’ve repeatedly seen desktop 3D printers of many brands attempting to print with unusual materials. Now it’s up to the filament vendors to meet that need.
It seems that 3D printing ABS and PLA is just not suitable anymore. When desktop 3D printers were a “consumer thing”, it was reasonable to 3D print these materials because the results did not have to be precise and engineering properties were of less concern. You just don’t need a fancy material when 3D printing another plastic dragon!
But now as many desktop 3D printer companies pivot their marketing towards professionals, there is an increasing need for materials once thought to be “unusual” in the space. Nylon, HIPS, PETG, Peek, PEI, Polypropylene and others are now printable on a much wider set of machine options.
But the success of these machines also depends on the availability of such materials.
So far the major filament producers are continuing to produce vast amounts of ABS and PLA, with an increasing amount of alternate materials, some specially designed chemically for 3D printing.
One vendor that’s going deep on this is Italy-based TreeD, who have just released a polypropylene filament called “P-LENE” that is said to print with strength comparable to injection molded parts.
But here’s the interesting thing: new materials means new challenges in print bed adhesion. The adhesion solutions that work for ABS and PLA may or may not work for other materials.
TreeD understands this and has produced their own solution. They explain:
In order to maximize the performance of the P-LENE filament, TreeD also created the LENEPLATE buildplate. Developed specifically for the new polypropylene, the new print bed is made entirely out of solid metal eliminating the need for adhesive solutions. The patented buildplate is both durable and rigid, and the filament producer will tailor the LENEPLATE for any type of 3D printer.
That’s the future of 3D printing materials: a combination of material and adhesion solution.