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7 Amazing Ways to optimize the Finish of your 3D Printed Object

There are several ways to improve the finish of your 3D prints and get better prototypes at a faster rate. 3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing that is used by many companies for producing the parts of a product or for prototyping as well. 3D printing by using ASA filament is done with the help of a computer, which lays down one layer after the other of a specific pattern to print your desired product. In 3D printing, mostly plastics or metals are used for obtaining the final model.

In this article, we will include for you 7 excellent tips that are going to help you in printing finer 3D objects with sharper edges (not literally) but with a clearer definition. Our goal is to help you print models that stand out from the rest. Therefore, continue reading to know more.

1-Set the height of the nozzle and level the bed accordingly:

One of the primary ways to improve the quality of 3D prints is by making sure that the bed of printing is well leveled and the distance of the nozzle is accurately set. You can make use of a feeler gauge or a sheet of paper to measure the distance between the bed and the nozzle. Make sure that the nozzle of the printer is clean, especially while working with ASA filament.When the distance between the printing bed and the nozzle is set correctly, there will be minimum resistance in pulling out the gauge or paper.

In case if you are re-inserting the gauge or the paper, they will slide back underneath without any additional force. Make sure to repeat this procedure of inserting and removing the paper or the gauge from between the bed and the nozzle to make sure the distance is appropriate.

2-Measure the temperature of the nozzle:

The quality of your 3D prints will be directly affected by the temperature of the nozzle of your 3D printer. If in case, the temperature of the nozzle is very high, it can leave behind the strings of ASA filament between separate parts of your printed objects. When you are trying to print tall models, with a high temperature of the nozzle, the lower layers will start melting down, ruining the entire print.

Therefore, when you plan on printing taller prints, make sure to add a one-centimeter cubical built on the other side of the building plate. This will help in removing the hotter parts of the nozzle from the print and will offer them some time to cool off. In case you notice any filament strings in between the structures, you can either use ooze or wall shield structure, which is one of the most common features included in slicer programs.

3-Identify the perfect bed temperature:

Controlling the bed or the build plate temperature will help dramatically in enhancing the adhesive properties of printing. As the model begins to print, each layer will start shrinking automatically once the model starts to cool. This is going to give a more refined finish to your 3D prints, specifically when you are working with ASA filament. Therefore, each layer above the build plate starts to contract, and the shrinking layers tend to pull away from the edges of the print out from the bed.

On the other hand, when the temperature of the building plate is not checked, the prints can develop something known as the “elephant feet.” This should be your cue to decrease the temperature of the bed for your next project.

4-Make use of different printing plates:

Different build plates are known to be yielding different textures on the 3D printed objects. Building plate materials such as –PEI, Kapton tape, or glass leave smooth textures on the printing surface, whereas –painter’s tape or glue-on polycarbonate sheets are known for imparting matt finish to the sheets. If you are making use of glue or spray on the surface of the 3D prints, make sure to use enough of the substance to stick the prints, but not in excess, which could further lead to malformation of the 3D objects or might leave behind dents on it.

Also, the excessive usage of spray or glue when combined with ASA filamentprints can cause you difficulty in removing the final objects from the bed. And if you forced more than the structures can resist, you might even damage your 3D prints. Therefore, make sure to conduct a few experiments before you come to a conclusion.

5-Pay attention to the maintenance and adjustment of the printer:

Every 3D printer has the features that make it stand out from the rest, and probably there are different things in every 3D printer, which would require specific attention in order to fetch you extraordinary results. Therefore, to optimize your 3D prints, you need to take small steps that include the lubrication or cleaning of the rails as instructed by the manufacturer. If your 3D printer consists of two-stepper motors for the printing of the Z-axis, ensure that the gantry is located at the same height on either side.

Do not forget to check the time and again for any sort of wobbling noticed in the frame. Although working with the ASA filament is one of the most convenient choices that you can make, your 3D printer should also be in its best condition to impart relevant results.

6-Treat the printing filament with meticulous care:

Many filaments are hydrophilic in nature, and they tend to absorb water from the surrounding atmosphere. The exposed filaments, such as ABS or PLA, flexible, and nylon materials, have a tendency to absorb moisture, which ultimately causes many problems when printing 3D models. However, the benefit of using ASA filamentyou will face no such difficulties. Typically, the damp filaments expand when extrusion takes place as the moisture absorbed forms bubbles or steams out of the printed plastic.

As a result, the filament either crackles or pops and comes out through the nozzle, and when you take a closer look, you will notice that something like smoke is oozing out of the prints. However, this is not even the main problem. You will notice these errors affecting your entire 3D printed model, as the ultimate product is going to have an uneven finish. To avoid this mistake, make sure to store the filaments in plastic bins with decessants.

7-Learn to use a slicer:

Enhancing 3D printing quality is almost impossible if you didn’t make use of slicers. A slicer is a type of software that converts the 3D model into a set of instructions in the form of a G-code, which will ultimately be used to drive the printer. You will find many 3D slicers that are available for free, which you can easily pick up and learn the way it works. Once you do so, you will notice how drastically the prints of your 3D models will have improved.

If your 3D printing by using ASA filament isn’t as neat as you expect it to be, you can look for “hyper” or “fine” quality settings. It will probably slow down the rate of printing, but you can rest assured that the ultimate results which you are going to obtain will be worth the wait. Also, make sure not to jump to a different slicer as soon as you get any bumpy results. In fact, conduct your research with more precision and master the slicer that you had picked in the first place to enhance the quality.

Bottom Line:

When you are beginning your 3D printing project, do not panic or lose hope too soon. Also, don’t expect perfect results in the first few tries. Another tip that you must keep in mind is, do treat every change of ASA filamentas a new filament, specifically when you have left the roll in the open. When you notice any kind of problem with the quality of the prints, do not rush to change everything at once. Instead, take your time and change one thing at a time.

While you are making any changes with the settings of the printer, take notes for future reference. And notice the pattern in which the quality of your 3D prints change. Keep in mind that every print you obtain is an opportunity for you to discover something new about your printer.

Are you looking for a reliable source to purchase ASA filament? Then if you buy from MakeShaper, you won’t be disappointed, and that is a guarantee. We have a plethora of collections of all the highest quality filaments available. If you are looking for getting more pleasing prints of your 3D projects, then make sure to purchase top-notch quality printing filaments from us at a discounted rate.

A Sneak Peek into the History of 3D printing and its Evolution

3D printing is not introduced in recent times! But, we can bet on it that not all of you knew about it, did you? In this article, we are going to talk about the history of 3D printing –its origin since the 1980s to what it is currently. So make yourselves comfortable and take an exciting reading ride with us to know the details about 3D printer filament.

 In reality, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology gained popularity and impressed the general public in 2009 because it could be well exposed through the media. As a matter of fact, most people still believe that FDM is the one and only additive manufacturing technique that has gained the eyes of the audience recently. But, let us tell you that FDM is not even the first 3D printing technique that was introduced, and the origin of 3D printing began in the 80s.

Here we will give you a quick timeline for 3D printing, starting from the 80s to the current scenario. Let us tell you that the history of 3D printing is quite fascinating. The origin of the first printing machines, the expectations that everyone had, and the several 3D applications used for printing are flourishing in this era. However, let us take a step back and look at how all this began in the first place.

The birth of 3D printing: 1980s

Although the concept of 3D printing was introduced in the 70s, the first experiments on the subject did not start until the early 80s. The first baby steps towards the revolution of printing were taken by Dr. Kodama, who developed a rapid technique for prototyping. He was the one who made the initiative to describe a layer-by-layer procedure for creating and manufacturing the ancestor of Stereo lithography or commonly known as SLA.

An SLA: is a resin that possessed photo-sensitive properties and could be polymerized by using UV rays. However, Dr. Kodama failed to register the patent requirement prior to the deadline. In 1986, a Charles Hull, submitted the first patent for SLA as the technology had intrigued him. The 3D Systems Corporation was a brainchild of Hull, which was founded in the year 1988, which later released its first product to the market under the name of SLA-1, which would then evolve to become 3D printing filaments.

While SLA was commercially introduced into the market, at the University of Texas, SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) technology was sent out for its first patent for 3D printing technology by Carl Deckard. In this method, the powder grains were technically fused by using a laser. And the Scott Crump, who co-founded Stratasys Inc., went ahead and sent out a patent for FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling). As a matter of fact, within ten years of time, the three different models of 3D printing technology were patented, which gave birth to 3D printing.

The emergence of Main 3D printers, CAD tools, and manufacturers: 1990s

Now that we have already discussed the basics, it’s time that we talked about how additive manufacturing evolved. In the 90s, the 3D printer manufacturers emerged, new technologies were taken up and polished to perfection. The 3D modeling tools started to develop as well, which further took additive manufacturing to the next level.

EOS GmbH was discovered that led to the creation of the first EOS “Stereos” technology in Europe for production applications and prototyping of 3D printers. The 3D printed filamentthat we use today has undergone ample transformations to offer us what we have today! EOS Stereos’ industrial quality today is known worldwide under the flagship of SLS technology for metals and plastics.

In the year 1992, after the patent issue of FDM to Stratasys, many 3D printers were developed for an individual as well as professional use. Between 1993 and 1999, the primary roles for the 3D printing sector started emerging with the inculcation of several techniques. Meanwhile, we could witness that CAD tools were taking the path of development, which allowed creating the 3D models.

Media Visibility Gained by 3D printing: 2000s

In 2000, the millennium was introduced to a kidney that was printed by making use of 3D printing technology. However, its transplantation was only done after 13 years of conducting appropriate research. The kidneys that were printed through 3D printing are now functioning correctly, and the researchers have further accelerated the experiment to enhance the opportunity of transplanting organs quickly and efficiently.

2004 was marked as the year in which the initiation of the RepRap Project took place that consisted of the self-replicating 3D printers. This might come across as a surprise, but with the use of 3D printing filaments,we can even print a 3D printer. This open-source of the project gave rise to the spreading of FDM 3D printers and desktops, and the technology gained ample popularity in the maker’s community.

While in 2005, Zcorp introduced Spectrum Z510 to the market; in 2008, 3D printing achieved even greater heights by printing a prosthetic limb for the first time. This fantastic medical 3D printing project could then be incorporated in the production of all biological parts of a limb. In the present scenario, 3D printing and scanning medical orthosis and prosthesis are becoming a faster and cheaper process and exposing the patients to more significant opportunities to get prosthetic limbs. These 3D printed prostheses are more adapted and optimized with the patient’s morphology. Also, due to additive manufacturing, new opportunities concerned with the mass-customization are being initiated.

The Year of Innovation, Hopes, and Visibility for 3D print: 2010s

In recent years, 3D printing has gained ample importance. With the expiration of the FDM patent, the first years of this decade have proved to be the years in which 3D printing flourished. Additive manufacturing gradually became an affordable and real production and prototyping technique for the world of businesses, which gave way to newer possibilities.

In the year 2013, President Obama talked about 3D printing in his speech for the State Union as one of the significant issues that needed to be addressed in the future. Today 3D printing has been imprinted in the minds of the general public and is being included in the decisions made by the policymakers as well. The technology is rapidly progressing, along with the use of technology. The small, as well as big companies, are taking advantage of this situation by making use of 3D printer filamentfor the creation of astonishing projects.

They include 3D printing in their innovation, production, and iteration process. Did you know that in 2010, a 3D printing car was produced? Yes, you read it correctly! Urbee was the first 3D printing car to be created then. Eventually, 3D printed car is becoming a reality, while additive manufacturing is taking up significant space in the automobile sector. Perhaps, from the evolution of 3D printing technology used for the making of the tooling process to the creation of 3D printed cars, additive manufacturing has proven to be very useful on several levels. It has also helped the challenge takers and technology improvers to try out new projects.

3D printing technology is still progressing and evolving. Also, newer types of 3D printers with additional features are regularly issued; they print faster and can furnish efficient results while giving access to the innovative 3D printed filament. Carbon us further working towards the development of CLIP (DLS), whose ultimate aim is to process more accurate and faster results ever than before.

Bottom Line:

Through this article, we have been able to witness the revolution of 3D printing influencing significant sectors such as –medical, automotive, and architecture. But, there are still several fields in which 3D printing can always evolve. 3D Bioprinting with the use of 3D printing filaments is becoming a significant sensation in the arena of medicine. The limits of 3D printing are still higher, and the niche is transforming in every step. Now that you are aware of the history and evolution of 3D printing, you can work towards contributing to the field in a much better way.

Are you looking for a reliable online source that deals with 3D printer filament? At MakeShaper, we deal with the highest quality of products. We are here to help you out with your queries related to the purchase of 3D printing filaments. You can also take some time to look at the variety of printing filaments that we have to offer you at MakeShaper.

 You can choose from PVA Filament, HIPS Filament, PLA Filament, Elite PLA Filament, ABS Filament, PETG Filament, or more. You can rest assured after shopping from us that the quality of a product is going to be up to the mark. Also, do not forget to use the Promo Code: VILLAGE20 to avail of a 20% discount on your purchase.

Highlighting the Crucial Aspects of the ASA Filament in 3D Printing

We are amidst the fourth industrial revolution, and technology has taken the central role in the on-going chaos. The 3D printing technology is one such bright example and hence could not be ignored at all cost. ABS filament, the darling of the 3D printing technology, has transformed how the products are manufactured in an entirely inexpensive way.

However, the items are limited to a fraction of the exposure only. However, elements like ASA filament have proved to be effective in all climatic and external pressures and hence is loved by enthusiasts all across the globe.

So What Exactly Is ASA?

ASA is the acronym for the chemical compound Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate. The substance is used extensively in 3D printing and shares similarity in the molecular structure of ABS – another item used extensively in 3D printing. The material is resistant to weather conditions, and UV radiation compared to ABS and hence is quite popular all across the globe.

The strength of the substance makes it suitable for outdoor applications like garden fixtures (drain pipes, flower boxes, shutters, gutters, and others) to outdoor adventure equipment like boat hulls, shutters and flower boxes. In addition to it, the ASA filament is also wildly used in the automotive industry like bumper covers, grilles, side-view mirror housings, and others.

Understanding the Benefits of Using ASA

When it comes to the ASA filament, there are a ton of factors that come into play. The mechanical properties of the substance make it suitable for outdoor solutions. The filament retains its glossy finish, mechanical properties, and color even after prolonged exposure.

On the other hand, the item displays more significant resistance to environmental stress in comparison to its counterparts and hence is a huge hit all across the globe. To add on top of it, the thermoplastic products are heat and chemical degradation, making it one of the most sought after products among the 3D printing enthusiasts.

Read: 3D Printing: Understanding more about ASA filament applications

Printing Your First Item Out of the ASA Filament

The printing procedure is quite simple and requires quite a simple procedure to follow.

Step 1: Make Sure That Your First Layer Has Been Done Right

The first step in the process involves two significant distinct steps that ensure the first layer is even and without dirt and debris while maintaining the nozzle at an appropriate distance.

Leveling the Bed

The first thing in the process is to ensure that the bed is at the right level. Most printers come up with clear instructions about the same while on the other hand, some of the major companies provide a bed from their end. Using the screws attached, one can adjust the levels for better solutions.

Here are a few things to watch out.

  • Move the print head out of the way of the bed to prevent it from crashing.
  • Make the Z-axis as close to the device possible. The nearer is the nozzle to the Z-axis, the better it is. If there exists some gap between the printer and the nozzle, then it’s perfect. However, if the gap exceeds certain limitations, then an ideal thing is to tighten the screw and tilt it at an angle.
  • Then move the print ahead of the three or four screws and insert a piece of paper between the bed and the nozzle.
  • Loosen the screw until there is quite an amount of resistance between the bed and the nozzle.
  • Repeat the procedure with the rest of the screws to make sure a certain level of accuracy is achieved.

Adjusting the Nozzle Distance

The next step in the process is changing the nozzle distance. Here are some of the tricks to follow.

  • Make sure that your material for the bed is already applied by now.
  • Test and trail the results with a skirt that uniformly covers the entire area of the bed.
  • Observe how the filament has been laid out. Is it uniform and dense? Or is it bubbling up against each other? Try to get a thorough knowledge of a few trails and errors.
  • If nothing works out, try rotating each screw by the same amount to get the most exquisite finish on the skirt. Otherwise, you can manually change the settings of the 3D printer to get the best results.

Step 2: The Printing Bed and the Adhesion

If by now the bed is not attained, the ASA filament may not work in favor of you. The ASA needs the right temperature and splits if the temperatures are not up to the mark. Here are some of the steps to get things right.

  • Print with a brim. Fifteen loops of the rim are sufficient enough to print anything.
  • Try to maintain a high range of temperatures, such as 110C. Most printers do not support that much and hence should be avoided at all costs.
  • If the hairspray for the adhesion does not work out, use the molten ABS juice to brush the bed adhesive to get the best results.
  • One can also opt for Kapton tape along with the hairspray to uniformly spread heat all across the printer.

Step 3: Calibrate the Print Temperature

As a rule of thumb, with the ASA filament, most experts print at 250 degrees Celsius and a bed temperature of 110 degrees Celsius.

  • For better results, adjust the temperature by more or less five degrees at one time.
  • Printing too hot for the filament is not an issue. Rather than writing at low temperatures can ruin the entire experience.

Step 4: Avoiding Wrapping and Splitting

Despite no matter what, all most all the 3D printed material wrap out from the edges and thus, spoils the entire project. The following is achieved with the quick cooling of one layer concerning another. Here are a few tips to get the best results.

  • Build an enclosure for your model to sustain the heat and draft out the cold air.
  • Turn off the cooling fans as it will prevent some parts from drying faster than the others.

Step 5: Changing the Filament

The last element in the process is changing the filament. While the procedure is relatively easy for the ASA filament, other methods can, too, follow the same to get the best results.

  • Heat the filament to the highest temperature and pull out the previous filament smoothly.
  • The nozzle is already filled with the previous elements and hence keep on heating until it is completely drained out.
  • Once the previous filament is completely drained out, insert the other filament until the next color starts to drain.

Step 6: Regularly Maintain and Take Care of the Devices

Once you have learned the ins and outs of the industry, the next step is to regularly maintain and take care of.  For example, if you aren’t able to remove ASA at all and the hot end is at temperature, then chances exist that the nozzle is stuck. Ask the experts for help, and you will get a ton of information from the house of MakeShaper.

Parting Remarks

The world of 3D printing is still in its nascent stage and is expected to boom all across the globe on account of serious developments in technology like the ASA filament. The industry is characterized by a number of factors based on which it is expected to flourish exponentially all across the globe. Have queries regarding the 3D printing industry or want to make a difference for the same? Visit MakeShaper and give your dreams wings!

3D Printing: Understanding more about ASA filament applications

Today 3D printing isn’t simply a trend, but the need for the hour. After years of experimentations and tests, the market is now flowing with different types of 3D printing machines and filaments. One such popular 3D printing option is the ASA filament.

What is an ASA filament?

Also known as Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate, the ASA filament is your go-to amorphous variant of thermoplastic terpolymer that shares several similarities to the ABS filament. The structural difference between these two is the fact that the ASA makes use of acrylic elastomer while the ABS makes use of butadiene elastomer.

ASA is popular as the engineering plastic given its property to maintain appearance & impact resistance. Even after the filament is exposed to prolonged periods of rain, air, cold, as well as salty seawater, it retains its make and looks for long.

This is the reason it can be used for the creation of several products that we use and see on a daily basis.

But, before we go into the uses and applications of the ASA filament, let us take a look into the advantages and disadvantages of using it.

ASA: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Highly resistant to the UV rays
  • Resistant to impact or wear and tear
  • The high temperature for glass transition

Cons:

  • Exceptional ventilation required to avoid the potentially toxic fumes
  • Extruder temperature very high
  • High price tag

Uses/Applications of ASA Filament

While the ASA filament is near-perfect in all sense, it has just ventured into the application market. With time, the ASA filament will surely see large scale applications. However, this doesn’t mean that the ASA filament isn’t just as popular now.

Its popularity can be known through its wide range of applications. Let us take a look at some of them in brief.

1-Automotive Exterior Parts:

As compared to other materials available in the market for the creation of automotive exterior parts, the ASA is relatively cheaper with a plethora of features. With regards to automotive applications, the ASA filament can be easily used for creating a prototype of parts such as bumper covers, housing for side view mirrors, dashboard holders, or grilles.

2-Tooling:

Printing with the ASA filament results in the production of sturdy yet lightweight parts. So, if you are in need of tools, ASA filament can be used for such 3D printing requirements. With this filament, you can print yourself ergonomic grips/handles, assembly jigs & fixtures, tool caddies, dunnage, and so much more.

3-Outdoor Applications:

Apart from the applications mentioned above, the ASA filament is something that can be used outdoors without any probable issue. Given its resistance to the Sun’s UV rays, it is optimally suited to be used for outdoor needs. If you are someone who wants to build their very own garden from scratch, you can build some cute and exclusively customized flower pots with the ASA filament.

Why just stop there?

You can also print some gnomes to take care of your garden with the ASA filament. Additionally, ASA filament can also be used to create signage. Other items you can print with the ASA filament include roof coverings, junction boxes for electrical installations, toys, pipes or construction profiles, and so many more!

Read: Comparing 3D Printing Filament Features: ABS vs. ASA Filament

ASA Filament Use: Recommendations

For 3D printing enthusiasts that generally use the ABS filament, the use of ASA will be just as easy. With ASA filament, you get access to a piece that is highly resistant to any damage caused by water and sun. For ones with no training or any experience in dealing with the ASA filament, here are some recommendations you can follow:

  • Avoid Drafts:

Just like several other 3D printing materials, the ASA filament is highly sensitive to abrupt temperature changes during the 3D printing process. When printing with the ASA filament, it can be beneficial if you print with a device that has closed printer casing or room that is free of any drafts.

  • Use the Kapton Tape:

In order to improve the adhesion of the object being printed with the device’s printing base, you need to use the BuildTak or Kapton Tape. You can also increase the adhesion further with the use of the DimaFix.

  • Minimize the layer fan:

Once you have achieved the right adhesion, you can focus on printing quality to avoid issues such as overheating or cracking. In order to avoid these issues, it is highly recommended that you use your layer fan with the minimum setting on. Keep in mind that you should decrease the overall power by 10 to 25 percent, depending on the item being printing with the ASA filament.

This allows proper solidification of your print while avoiding the overheated areas. Low layer fan speed ensures that there is no abrupt temperature change that might cause cracking to your printed item.

  • HIPS Support Material:

Given the fact that ASA filament works as a versatile filament, you might have to incorporate it with a sturdy support material such as HIPS. Talking about this support material, it is a D-Limonene used widely in conjunction with the ABS filament.

Given its similarities shared with ABS, it can be incorporated with the use of the simplest and highly-used method for post-processing which is acetone smoothing. In this process, you introduce the piece to a steam bath consisting of acetone. This brightens and softens the item’s surface layer.

You can also opt for machining of the part at low/medium speeds, which can later be glued & painted directly. There is no need for any previous primers.

ASA Filament Caution: Fumes

When printing with the ASA filament, you need to print in a room that comes with high-quality ventilation. The fumes emitted by the ASA filament can be potentially dangerous when inhaled. It emits a smelly & intense smoke that comes from Styrene present in this plastic compound. This fume can cause health issues such as headaches, irritation, and so much more.

When printing with the ASA filament, make sure you wear the right kind of mask to avoid breathing in the smoke. Further, make sure your exhaust comes with a filter or fan for the extraction of these fumes.

Conclusion

The ASA filament might be prone to water absorption. So, if you have plans to print with this filament, make sure you dry it properly before the same can be used for printing purposes. You can use your regular oven to dry out the filament. However, make sure that the oven temperature is set below the ASA filament’s glass transition temperature for perfect drying.

Looking for a top-quality seller for ASA filament? At MakeShaper, we house some of the best and quality-tested filaments ranging from the classic ABS to PETG filament. Our prices are highly affordable and available in a wide range of colors and sizes as per requirement. If you shop today, you can get amazing deals on some of our filaments. So, choose what you need from our high-quality 3D filament inventory today!

The 7 Most Important Things to Know Before Using PVA Filament

Thanks to the advanced technology, people can now create three dimensional objects using 3D printers. It has helped people from various walks of life to create objects that were impossible to create before. From creative projects to selling items online, 3D printing has made things possible for people. It has given unique way to peopleto create unique objects and sell them.

The one thing that makes 3D printing possible is the filament. Filaments are like the raw materials that are used for creating 3D objects. There are many types of 3D printing filaments and one of them is the PVA filament. It is more of a support filament than anything else, nevertheless it is an important component in 3D printing. Using the right filament and in the right way is important for getting the desired results. Using the PVA filament can help you get the right results.

Here are the 7 most important things you need to know before using the PVA filament:

1. What is 3D Printing

If you are new to 3D printing, you probably want to know in technical terms what it is. It is a process of creating 3-dimensional solid objects of a digital design. You can use 3D printing software to create and print high-quality 3D objects using filaments. In the 3D printing process, the filament material is used to lay down several layers after it is melted to create an object. These layers are thin and look like a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the resulting object. 3D printing is one of the best ways to create different objects as compared to conventional manufacturing methods. It is much faster and uses less materials. All you need is a good 3D printer and the right filament to go with it. In few easy steps you can create objects for your various needs.

In 3D printing process, the PVA filament is used with other filaments like the PLA as a support material. Some objects need support while printing as they could fall or break off before they dry. Letters like T, or objects that are hanging and have hallow designs need support an the PVA filament is the best option.

2. What is PVA Filament?

PVA the PolyVinyl Alcohol, is a 3D printing filament. It is a soft, biodegradable polymer and water-soluble material. It is also known as the PVAL of PVOH. It is made by the process of polymerization of vinyl acetate to form polyvinyl acetate, which is then hydrolyzed to create the PVA filament.

The PVA material can easily dissolve in water, which makes it the perfect option as a support material. After the object is created it can be put in water where the PVA will dissolve, leaving a clear 3D object in desired design.

PVA filament is very useful for creating complex shapes especially the one with partially enclosed cavities. The PVA filament support can be easily removed by dissolving the object in warm water.

3. Why use PVA Filament

There are many advantages of using the PVA filament. The primary advantage is that is water-soluble, which makes it easy to use and remove. You can use them to make prototype model before making the actual object.

The PVA filament is also biodegradable and sustainable material for 3D printing. It is a non-toxic material without any oil content in it. Unlike other filaments, the PVA filament is one of the most user-friendly material to work with. They are great for creating testing object as you can easily dissolve them and not worry about space for extra objects.

It does not require additional solvent, which saves time and money. And, PVA does not need any additional hardware too. You can say that PVA is a hassle-free material to work with when you want to create 3D objects.

4. When not to use PVA Filament

There is no doubt that the PVA is a great support material and as well as protype 3D printing material. But it cannot be used all the time. It all depends on your 3D printing and storage needs. For instance, the PVA filament is great for prototyping, but they are not great for creating object you want to last for a long time. As soon as it comes in contact with water or moisture, it will dissolve or lose some of its character. If you have storage issues, the PVA filament should no be used as it can dissolve in water, humidity, moisture, and high temperature.

PVA has a low melting point of 190°C and in high temperature of 200 degree centigrade, it will start pyrolysis and form a jam like structure while printing. You should not use it for 3D printing for objects that require high-temperature.

5. 3D Printing Setting using PVA Filament

It is important to use the PVA filament wisely so that you can get the best results. First you need a printer that offers dual extrusion. It is important to have the right 3D printer for using PVA filament 1.75. Never use PVA along unless you want the 3D object for few hours of not for long. Use PLA filament along with the PVA as they both have very similar printing temperature. Choose printing objects that have intricate designs, or parts that have internal cavities.

Temperature setting is the most important part of 3D printing irrespective of what material you use. Likewise, correct temperature setting for the PVA filament is very important as it can dissolve and become a lump in high temperature. Depending on the brand you are using, the temperature setting can change. Some may work at 180 degrees centigrade while some may work in higher temperature.

6. Storage of the PVA Filament

The PVA filament needs carful storing as it is very venerable to moisture and high temperature. Make sure you store them in places where it can remain dry. Store them in airtight containers with silica at room temperature. Proper storage will ensure that the PVA material last for a long time. It is very useful for making objects that are not required to last for long such as laundry detergent tags.

7. Dry PVA Filament

It is important to first dry the PVA filament before using it. PVA filament can easily absorb water and dissolve quickly. It can easily absorb water from the air. You have to be very careful when using the PVA filament. You can keep it dry with the help of the desiccant and use it for storing as well. If you don’t store the PVA filament properly, it will not help in providing high-quality print. Dry the filament well before using it so that you can enjoy the 3D printing results.

The Bottom-Line

The PVA filament is one of the best ways to print 3D objects that have internal cavities or intricate designs. They work best when they are used as support material for printing as they are water-soluble. Its high flexibility and ease of use make the PVA filament one of the best materials for 3D printing.

Makeshaper is your one stop destination for finding high-quality 3D printing filaments. We have a wide range of high-quality 3D printer filaments for various printing purposes We have a wide range of filament options including PLA, ABS, ASA, HIPS, PVA, PETG and more. Our products are made from high-quality materials are designed to provide you the best printing solution. Call or email us at - (330) 753-0100 and Email: makeshaper@villageplastics.com

Comparing 3D Printing Filament Features: ABS vs. ASA Filament

For most 3D printing enthusiasts, the introduction of ASA filament in the market is relatively new. While it might not be as common as other filament types, it serves as an excellent 3D printing filament for items that are to be kept outdoors, such as a garden gnome, planter, or any outdoor fixture. The ASA filament is relatively similar to the ABS filament with similar print output.

However, there is one thing about ASA that makes it rank over ABS is the fact that the former can stand longer under the sun without yellowing, deteriorating, or losing strength. If you have never ever printed with the ASA or ABS filament, here is a guide to help you out.

What is ASA Filament?

ASA filament functions as an amorphous variant of thermoplastic polymer that stands for Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate. It is generally used as the substitute filament for ABS. The ASA filament has so many advantages in terms of application that it is being used by the topmanufacturers of the automotive industry. The most prominent feature of ASA is the fact that it doesn’t yellow easily.

Buy Here: Black ASA Filament -1.75 mm
Buy Here: Black ABS Filament – 1.75 mm

Why & when should you use the ASA filament?

Before we start comparing the features of ASA and ABS, we need to understand what makes it stand out in the crowd. Here are some of the use cases for the ASA filament.

  • It’s mechanically robust feature makes it perfect in terms of applications that require high resistance
  • It is resistant to the U.V. rays which explain its non-yellowing property
  • ASA filament also finds application in the underwater usage or the pump junctions given the fact that it is highly water-resistant
  • It can also generate a good finish for different parts without any kind of deformation
  • It also provides superb dimensional stability with no warping and high tolerance
  • The ASA filament also works well as an element that is resistant to chemicals treatments
  • It also flaunts a higher thermal resistance as compared to ABS
  • Its matte finish towards the surface of the 3D print is something similar to ABS.

ABS vs. ASA filament: Pros and Cons Compared

In general, most of the properties flaunted by ASA are similar to that of ABS. However, the features such as U.V. resistance is exclusively flaunted by ASA filament.

So, what makes these two filaments different from each other? Well, let’s talk about the finishing of the 3D prints with both. Here warping is the issue that makes the two different. If you are unaware of what warping defines, let us explain it to you.

What is warping?

The warping or curling issue occurs when the 3D printed item doesn’t cool down in an even manner. As we all know, cooling leads to contraction & this particular process causes stress on the lateral surfaces of the object. The quicker your 3D printed item cools down, the higher the stress over its lateral surfaces. This stress is maximum towards the corner where two of the sides from your 3D print meet. This hence leads to deformation or a pull-up shape. The eventual result might seem displeasing to you.

Unless you use a closed printer, this could be a major issue with the ABS filament prints.

Apart from this, there is one more issue that dims down the quality of ABS filament. It is a phenomenon similar to warping, known as cracking. This issue occurs towards the upper section of the print. You need to keep in mind that both cracking and warping can affect the quality of your 3D print. It isn’t just about the aesthetics; the warped or cracked pieces have mechanical features that are comparatively inferior to that of perfectly welded layers.

So, to sum it up,

  • ABS and ASA filament both have similar properties in terms of mechanics
  • ASA is resistant to UV while ABS isn’t
  • ASA has better temperature resistant as compared to ABS (ABS- 81ºC vs. ASA- 95ºC)
  • Both these filaments produce items with matte finishing

ASA Technical Properties

  • Density: 1.07 [g/cm3]
  • Elongation at Break: 35 percent
  • Tolerance: +/- 0.05 mm
  • Flexural Strength: 660 kg/cm2
  • Max. Printing Temperature: 80 to 90 mm/s
  • Melting Temperature: 250 to 260ºC
  • Solubility:dichloro-ethylene, methylacetone, &cyclohexanone

Pros of Using ASA Filament:

  • It is a great alternative to ABS as it doesn’t show the same degradation during cooling, as is seen with ABS.
  • It flaunts a combination of UV resistance with mechanical strength making it perfect for use in the outdoors.
  • ASA filament portrays a higher degree of resistance to prolonged sunlight exposure.
  • It also comes with exceptional resistance to chemical or harsh weather with higher durability as compared to ABS.

Cons of Using ASA Filament:

  • One downside to using ASA filament is the fact that it tends to release fumes that might be potentially toxic during printing. It is critical for printing enthusiasts to opt for the use of high-quality masks during the process and get the printing in a room that is well ventilated.
  • It tends to be a bit expensive as compared to other filaments available in the market. Plus, its low market availability further increases its pricing factor.
  • Its high melting temperature is surely a boon for 3D printing enthusiasts. However, it also requires to have a higher temperature for the extruder to facilitate proper printing. This leads to more energy utilization and hence higher bills.

Tips to get the best prints with ASA filament

  • Get the first layer correct:

Even though ASA filament has minimal warping as compared to ABS, it isn’t completely free of this issue. In order to ensure there are zero warping problems, make sure you have calibrated the printer properly to get the base layer right. You need to level your print bed correctly. Plus, you need to assure that the distance starting from your printer’s hot-end to its bed is leveled.

  • Print with high-adhesion hotbed:

If your printer lacks a high-quality hotbed, the idea of printing with the ASA filament is eons away for you. This is due to the fact that ASA requires high temperatures to refrain from cracking as a result of thermal deformation. You have to keep the hotbed within a temperature range of 80 to 100 ºC. Plus, you should also work on improving the adhesion by using some kind of stick glue or lacquer for 3D printing needs.

  • Calibrate the Temperature Properly:

ASA has its melting temperature that ranges between 250 to 260ºC. This is why the printer hot end should be adjusted to keep within this temperature.

Conclusion

ASA is slowly gaining popularity among its users, given its range of benefits over the alternative ABS filament. So, if you are planning to create some exterior signage, garden equipment, sporting goods, housing components, or exterior parts for automotive needs, picking the ASA filament could be just right for you. However, keep in mind that printing with ASA requires a high-quality 3D printer that can maintain such high temperatures.

Looking for the best seller for high-quality ASA filament? Stop at MakeShaper and shop for your favorite ASA filament at pocket-friendly prices. Our range of collection for ASA filaments includes different colors such as red, yellow, pink, blue, cool gray, and so much more! Shop today to get access to this warp-resistant filament at MakeShaper.

Everything you Need to Know About PLA 3D Printer Filament

When it comes to the best 3D printer filament, there are many options. One such option is the PLA filament. It has actually become a popular choice for FDM 3D printing and for all the good reasons. PLA is a very versatile 3D printer filament as it comes in a wide range of colors and styles making it a perfect choice for various printing applications. It is a type of printing filament that allows ease of use with vibrant color options and blending freedom. It is easily the best 3D printer filament if you want aesthetically superior printing.

The Polylactic Acid or the PLA is an amazing 3D printing filament. But what makes it so great? In this post, you can find everything important you need to know about the PLA filament and how you can use it for the best results. The more you know about the filament, the better you will be able to use it for your various creative projects. It will also help you choose the best 3D printer filament from the other top choices like ABS, PVA, PETG and more.

Here are the important things about the PLA 3D printing filament:

What is PLA Filament

The first thing you need to know is what exactly is PLA filament. PLA or the Polylactic Acid is a thermoplastic polymer and is derived from various natural resources like the corn starch or sugar cane. There are various other materials from which the PLA is derived like wood and pinewood. Most of the PLA filament is derived from natural resources which sets it apart from the other filaments that are derived via distillation and polymerization of nonrenewable petroleum sources. The PLA filament type became very popular with the popularity of the FDM 3D printing. They are available in a wide range of colors and blends, which also makes them quite different than the others. One of the reasons why the PLA is considered as the best filament for the FDM 3D printing is that it offers a great aesthetic appeal and perfect for creating a prototype of any kind.

PLA filament is created using a raw, granulated resin. The color is transparent and very clear. The material is then put a blending machine where it is mixed with other pigments and additives that forms a color. You can choose the PLA filament from two different sizes - 1.75 mm and 2.85 mm. These sizes are ideal for the FDM 3D printing needs.

When to Use the PLA for 3D printing?

PLA is the best 3D printer filament if you want to create visually appealing prototypes. It does not have mechanical strength or properties like other materials, but is perfect for the beginners. There is nothing scary about the PLA filament.

  • Use PLA 3D printing filament when want rapid prototyping or visual prints.
  • It is ideal for creating objects that does not have to face too much stress or strain.
  • Avoid using it for creating objects that can be twisted or bent, as the PLA does not have the mechanical properties to support that kind of 3D models.
  • You can use the PLA filament for creating various decorative pieces.
  • They are great for art and creative projects because of their great aesthetic appeal.

Despite the lack of mechanical strength and properties, PLA is great printing option for various things like visual models, characters, figures, containers, toys and other things that does not required to be moved much.

Advantages of Using the PLA Filament for 3D Printing

PLA filament is considered the best 3D printer filament because of all the benefits it has to offer. You may find superior quality filament, but the PLA is ideal for so many things that makes it an ideal choice. If you are looking for some great reasons for using the PLA filament for 3D printing needs, here are some reasons that make it an ideal choice:

  • PLA filament is very easy to use and work with. It is a hassle-free printing option that saves both time and money.
  • PLA is a great material that will come out easily from the 3D printing nozzle without warping or clogging.
  • PLA printing temperature is comparatively lower making it a convenient option of printing.
  • High-quality prints with superior quality surface details. The 3D prints will be of superior quality with great aesthetic appeal. This makes it an ideal choice for printing decorative pieces.
  • Unlike the other 3D printing filaments, the PLA filament does not give off offending odor while printing.
  • PLA filament is a highly pigmented material, which is why they are available in so many blends and color options.
  • It does not require too much or trimming or sanding after the printing which saves time while giving a high-quality printing result.
  • It is a non-toxic and bio-degradable material making them ideal for safe printing. Kids are safe around this material.
  • It is a great option for people who are environmentally conscious and need a printing filament that is green and safe for everyone.

These are some of the best things about the PLA filament that also offers it an edge over the other types of materials. Using the PLA filament is easy, cost-effective and versatile option for the serious 3D printers.

PLA Filament storage

Even the best 3D filament needs proper storage. No matter what type of filament you prefer, storing them properly will ensure that remain efficient and safe for a long time. The PLA filament storing is important if you want to keep them safe for using them for years. Generally, the PLA filament can last for a long time. Depending on the various factors, the PLA filament can be stored for a long time. Moisture and humidity can make it less efficient. It can start foaming and discolor too when it comes in contact with moisture. Make sure to keep them in safe place where it does not have to come in contact with moisture or humidity. Keeping it dry will ensure it lasts for a long time.

How to Set Pinter for PLA 3D Printing

The print setting for PLA filament will depend on the type or blend you are using. The PLA filament has an average melting point between 180 to 200 degrees C.The temperature setting for 1.75mm diameter PLA filament will be different than the one for 2.85mm diameter. Unlike the other types of filaments, the PLA does not necessarily require a heating bed as a glue stick can do the job of making the first layer to stick. One of the best options is to consult the manufacturer to find out the ideal temperature setting for the PLA filament setting. Nevertheless, the PLA filament s quite easy to use and very budget-friendly option for people. The end results will be great and post printing, you don’t have to do much to make the printed object look perfect.

The Bottom-Line

These are some of the important things about the PLA filament. Its features, benefits and flexibility make it the best 3D printer filament. You can create a wide range of things with it and enjoy the quality and performance it has to offer.

MakeShaper offers high-quality 3D printer filaments for various printing purposes We have a wide range of filament options including PLA, ABS, ASA, HIPS, PVA, PETG and more.

New Year 3D Printing Ideas Using PETG Filament

The New Year 2020 is just a few days away and everyone is gearing up for it. For the 3D printing geeks, it is another great opportunity to try something new. Whether you are a creative person, professional printing company or a home décor enthusiast, 3D printing is for everyone. You can do so many things with it and create something unique and mind-blowing for the New Year Eve. It is time to impress your family and friends with some New Year 3D printing ideas.

PETG filament is one of the most popular 3D printing filaments that can be used to create various attractive pieces. It is superior to other types of 3D printing filaments for various reasons. You can create some amazing designs using the PETG filament with excellent results.

Here are some of the best New Year 3D printing ideas using the PETG filament:

Why PETG Filament are Best for 3D Printing?

PETG filaments is an excellent material for 3D printing because of its extraordinary strength, toughness, sturdiness and offers strong prints. With features like low shrinkage, it is perfect for printing objects of larger surface. Compered to other materials like the ABS and PLA, the PETG filament has higher strength, and much smoother finish.

PETG stands for polyethylene terephthalate glycol-modified, and is known for its perfect combination of strength and ductility. Because of these popular features, PETG is widely used for making mechanical parts and robotics. Some of its other features include being high chemical resistance, acidic and alkalic resistance. If you are into creative projects like rings, collars and bracelets, then the PETG is one of the best options out there.

These are some of the reasons why PETG if perfect for 3D printing and you should be using it for 2020 New Year printing ideas.

2020 New Year 3D Printing Ideas using the PETG Filament

If you want to make the New Year extra special, create something fun, original and colorful to enjoy. Here are some of the best ideas for 2020 New Year 3D printing ideas:

  • 2020 New Year's Shades

This is one of the most popular themes for 3D printing. Every year you get to see the large glasses with the New Year design on it. Be creative this time and use a different design to create a 2020 New Year Shades.You can add accessories as well. Browse the internet for the ideas or create your own and make a history this New Year eve with an amazing 2020 Shades for the New Year. Make for the family and for friends and wear them to the party and show off your creative skills. PETG filament can be used to create high-quality sturdy pieces.

  • 2020 Key Ring

Key rings are the most popular themes for 3D printing. You can gift the key rings to friends and family. The best thing about them is that you can customize it to make it extra special for the New Year occasion. A New Year key ring will not only keep your keys together, it will also give it a festive look. And, it will also remind everyone of the great time you had together in the New Year Eve. You can use many designs and colors to create that special key ring for the group. With a flexible 3D printer filament like PETG, you can create any kind of design and it will last for a lifetime.

  • 2020 Decoration

The next best idea is creating 2020 theme decorations. You can link the four numbers together to create unique patterns and in different bright colors. These nicely printed 3D décor items can be used for gift wraps, decorating the room, or cake. If you are looking for some unique décor ideas for the New Year for general purpose, this is one of the best ones. You can easily create a theme decoration and make the evening special. Likewise, you can use any other theme as well for creating décor items. PETG filament is a flexible material that makes 3D printing easy and effortless. Choose the design, set the printer and let the magic begin. You will not be disappointed with the end results.

  • 2020 Earrings

If you want to show the world your festive mood, add a pair of 2020 earrings and your ensemble for the evening is complete. Wear them or gift them to a loved one and see the buzz they create in the party. Everyone will be asking where did you get it from. You can create some amazing 2020 earring designs using the PETG material. They are widely used for creating jewelry pieces as the PETG materials are strong and sturdy. Add 2020 earring to your creative list and customize it to make your New Year celebrations memorable. If you are thinking of a gifting idea for someone special, this earning can become that special gift. A customized earring for the New Year party will make all the difference in the world.

  • 2020 Wine Bottle Topper

Cracking open the wine or champagne when the clock strike 12 on the New Year’s Eve is the classic way to welcome the new year. You can make the occasion even more special with a 2020 wine bottle topper. Show the guests how festive your wine bottle is with a customized wine bottle topper. After popping the bottle open, put the topper back on and take that picture that will remind of the special day. You can use the topper for various occasions as well.

The Bottom-Line

These are some of the creative 3D printing ideas for the New Year Eve that you can use throughout the year. These 3D prints will help you bring out the festive mood and help you create a great impression on your guests. MakeShaper offers high-quality 3D printing filaments. We have a wide range of filaments for various 3D printing purposes like PLA, ABS, ASA, HIPS, PVA, PETG and more.

How PETG Filament Make 3D Printing Great

When it comes to getting the best 3D printing the PETG filament is the top choices. No matter what printing skill level you have, PETG makes 3D printing easy and effortless. It stands for Polyethylene Terephthalate and is the most common type of polymers used today. It is widely used for making water bottles, food packaging and various other plastic items. But, its most popular achievement is being the number one choice for 3D printing. Soon PETG is going to be the preferred 3D printing filament and for all the right reasons.

The popularity of the PETG lies in its various features and advantages that combines the characteristics of ABS filament and PLA filament’s ease of printing. With PETG, you get the best of both the worlds.

Even buying PETG filament online is so easy and convenient. If you are looking for a quality 3D printing filament, then PETG is the best option. It makes 3D printing great in many ways.

Knowing PETG Filament

If you are new to PETG then you definitely want to know what it is. It is a filament created from a mixture of polyesters and has the same kind of plastic used for manufacturing plastic bottles. The only difference is the presence of extra glycol, which make it such a strong material.  in order to make it a stronger material. The reason why it is considered as one of the best filaments for 3D printing is that it has great strength, temperature resistance, quality and durability. You can rely on its various features for better quality 3D printing. It is better than ABS or PLA because of the quality and efficiency difference between them. The PETG is definitely greater than the other two.

PETG Filament Meets Practicality Needs Easily

The PETG filament has many practical properties which makes it an ideal option for 3D printing. It can meet the quality and efficiency needs easily. It is stronger than the other materials and can withstand the demand of high-quality printing needs.

Here are some of the features that make PETG so great:

  • It does not create any odor during printing. Strong odor is one of the most unwanted things for 3D printing, Thankfully, the PETG filament does not create string smell when printing.
  • It offers greater printing results, better than any other printing filaments. With the regular PETG filaments, the heating can result in hazy prints as overheating can may cause it to be brittle. The Glycol present in the PETG is a helpful material that does not get affected from the heat and provides a high-quality result.
  • Most of the printing filaments may buckle under the impact, but not the PETG. PETG filament is known for its strength and has high resistance to damage from impact.
  • Another great thing about the PETG filament is that they can be sterilized easily. This is helpful in keeping the PETG strong and it offers greater resistance.
  • Layer adhesion is another desirable trait that filament should have. PETG filament offers a great layer adhesion.
  • PETG is a material that does not shrink or warp under pressure and provides great end results, which make them a great option for 3D printing needs.
  • PETG can be recycled as well. This feature makes it a cost-effective option as well. It does not matter whether it had been printed or not, you can still recycle them. The only thing you need to take care of is to recycle them as per the industry standard for quality and safety reasons.

PETG filament had any practical properties, which makes them such a great option for high-quality 3D printing results.

When to Use PETG Filament?

Is it PETG filament right for you? If you want high-quality print, reliable filament and save time and money then the answer is yes. Many people who prefer PETG over ABS or PLA, do so because it is very flexible.  If flexibility is something you are looking for then the PETG is the perfect option.

Strength wise, the PETG is the hardest filament to break. They are ideal for printing jobs that needs a very strong filament that is highly resistant to damage. If you have to print a large number of photos or documents the PETG can meet your specific needs easily. PETG has low shrinkage properties, which makes them such a great option for people who need large number of prints without losing quality. Likewise, you can use the PETG filament for printing larger items without worrying about the quality. The PETG is very strong and highly resistant to elements like chemicals, acids, water and even alkali.

Quality of the Printer Matters

While the PETG filament is strong and can withstand a lot of things, you need a quality printer for the best results. When it comes to 3D printer, you must have the best one to get the best results. There are so many options for 3D printers, but not all printers are of high-quality or can give you the same results you want. PETG comes with specific requirements to get the best result. It must have some important features like it must be equipped with a hot end capable of reaching a temperature of at least 235°C.While the ideal temperature is 265°C, but 235°C is quite sufficient for some PETG filament.

The Bottom-Line

The PETG filament is one of the best options for getting high-quality 3D printing results. The filament comes with many features that allows for high-quality results in a cost-effective manner.

MakeShaper Filament Factory Tour!

We try and accommodate customer visits and plant tours as often as time permits. A while back we had Ben visit and pick up some filament (he was a local), and he was nice enough to chronicle his experience you see below.

A few months ago, I went to a 3d Hubs meetup and found out there is a filament company called MakeShaper that's located in Sanford NC, just a few towns over from where I live. Naturally, I was interested - I've been on the hunt on-and-off for a quality American-made filament source, and if that place happens to be right next door - that's a bonus!

One of the gentlemen I met at the meetup who worked for MakeShaper provided me a filament sample and was also kind enough to offer me a tour of the facility (his name is Bob). I definitely wanted to take him up on that, but to be honest, I wasn't expecting much. My inner skeptic was saying loudly that "this is just going to be ten guys renting space in some dirty warehouse with an oversized Filastruder, don't get your hopes up."

...Little did I know.

As it turns out, MakeShaper's parent company is Static Control Components and they are, for lack of more precise details, a pretty big deal. From what I understand, they're one of the biggest companies making aftermarket laser and inkjet printer parts and toners in the world. I'm skipping ahead a bit, but I learned on the tour that they were involved in a precedent-setting lawsuit against Lexmark whose outcome determined that manufacturing printer cartridges with an aftermarket DRM chip was not a violation of the DMCA. There's even a Wikipedia article on it! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexmark_I ... nents,_Inc.) So, definitely not the small fries I was expecting.

Back to my story, my wife and I are driving along and the GPS tells us we're getting close and I'm still expecting ten guys in a dirty warehouse. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for a sign that's obscured by some overgrown bushes or something when suddenly, we realize we're driving toward this huge industrial campus. My wife and I both say, no way can this place be the place we're looking for, but yep! It wound up that that's the place!

Here's what it looked like when they GPS says we're close - definitely "sign behind an overgrown bush" territory:
https://www.google.com/maps/@35.444085, ... 312!8i6656
And then suddenly we burst onto this - quite a difference!
https://www.google.com/maps/@35.44712,- ... 312!8i6656

We go inside after having picked the most likely-looking parking lot - we had at least 5 to choose from and I'm sure more if we kept driving - and get signed in and we meet Bob and a lovely lady from Sales named Erica. Bob asks us "did you have any trouble finding the place?" with a poorly-masked grin. Har har, Bob! I learned that SCC has 12 factories on that campus and employs 800 people. I realize very quickly that I'm totally out of my league, but darn it I'm going to make the best of things anyway while I try not to sound like a complete dunce.

Bob also tells me that they're still in the middle of moving their filament-making equipment into a different building, so we won't get a chance to see any of that today - BUMMER - but we can come back later after they're finished! (You bet your behind I'm taking him up on that offer at the next opportunity.)

They specialize in all sorts of filaments like ABS Filament, ASA Filament, PLA Filament, Elite PLA Filament, PVA Filament, PETG Filament, Nylon Filament, HIPS Filament. For anyone looking for the best filament for 3D printing these are some of the best. The PETG filament is actually getting more popular than the others though.

before_after_tornado

The first stop on the tour is something of a memorial. About five years back, some severe tornadoes came through the area and caused a lot of damage, *especially* in Sanford. A few of SCC's buildings were heavily damaged, and a couple were completely destroyed. They got a call from someone who lived 50 miles away because they found some SCC-labeled microprocessors on their front lawn! Fifty miles! Luckily, since the storms came on the weekend, no one was working and no one was injured. The scrap metal sculpture was a tribute to their employees' dedication to rebuilding, and I'm sure glad they did rebuild, because otherwise I wouldn't have been on that awesome tour! scc_memorial_sculpture

Next was their R&D area. Essentially, it was a cubicle farm with one or two 3d printers on each person's desk - and they were tasked with running OEM and competitors' filaments through each machine and making observations on print quality. They had a pretty good representation there - I saw machines ranging from a low-end Da Vinci machine to a big Stratasys uPrint. I met another gentleman named Stephen (who was also at the 3d Hubs meetup I mentioned earlier) who showed me a Marvin printed on the Da Vinci with some XYZprinting PLA. It was a neat print because it was pretty clear - but it also had some stringing, which honestly I was glad to see, because it made me feel pretty good knowing my printer could do a better job.

us manufacturing, usa filament, american made filament(Side note: I asked Bob if I could take a picture of the R&D area, because I didn't want to accidentally capture something sensitive on someone's desk. We decided to play it safe and not take a picture, but then I found that one in MakeShaper's own twitter feed! Ha! So now Wake Tech is on the hook instead of me!)

One of the things Bob mentioned while on the tour was that they have researchers responsible for reverse-engineering OEM lockout chips. In my head I'm thinking, how on earth do you reverse engineer something that's made up of about a billion tiny transistors? So I try to ask an intelligent-sounding question to that effect, figuring that if I use the words "electron microscope," I might sound at least a little bit informed. Bob tells me that the traditional method was to peel back the chips layer by layer and just examine the traces that you found, but nowadays you'll often see protective measures like specially-designed structures that effectively self-destruct the chip if you try and peel them apart. That was news to me! I figured that reverse-engineering a chip like that would be hard enough by itself, but no, apparently you need physical countermeasures to make it even harder. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised in retrospect, but at the time it blew my mind. Oh and yes, to my question, they also do have their own electron microscope on site. (Bob told me that so casually that I was wondering if that was actually as big of a deal as I thought it was...)

While we were on the topic of chips, Bob mentioned that he sees the 3d printing industry today looking a lot like what the paper printing industry looked like 25-30 years ago. Lots of new players entering the market, and some manufacturers responding by trying to lock down their machines. I think this is the point in the tour where I learned about the DMCA decision, and Bob mentioned that since MakeShaper has the full resources of SCC behind them, they are uniquely positioned to become a significant player in the 3d print market. I hope they succeed - my thoughts at the time wandered to the Da Vinci machines. I didn't bring it up, but I remember reading that if you want to use aftermarket filament in a Da Vinci machine, you have to reflash its firmware - but that also voids the warranty of the machine. It would be great to have a third option; a third party chipped filament cartridge that was compatible would be a welcome offering to those customers, I'm sure.

Some of the best printing filaments are the ABS Filament, ASA Filament, PLA Filament, Elite PLA Filament, PVA Filament, PETG Filament, Nylon Filament, HIPS Filament. Based on what you actually want, you can choose the one that matches your need. There is no doubt that these printing filaments have changed the printing methods and made it better.

Anyway after that, we walked to an area of their testing facility. I can only describe it as an inkjet/laserjet printer farm - rows and rows of desks upon which sat as many printers as would fit, and as we walked among them I caught some more 3d printers sprinkled in as well. We learned that in that building, there were around 2000 printers available for immediate testing, and about 7500 us manufacturing, usa filament, american made filamentmore in storage "just in case." Basically any printer that was marketed in a significant quantity, SCC picked up at least one of them to test with.

While we were talking numbers, Bob also mentioned that they go through an enormous amount of paper - I forgot the exact number, but I want to say it was 1,000,000 sheets per week? A MILLION! (per WEEK!!) - so recycling is very important to them. (This also won a huge amount of brownie points with me)! They print on both sides of every sheet, BUT of course it's not such a simple matter as I would naively assume. After a sheet of paper has been printed on, Bob explains, its properties have changed - it's dirtier, its moisture content is different, for example - and it needs to be reconditioned before its other side can be used for a second test. My take on that is that I'd hate to be the guy whose job it was to clean an endless mountain of paper, but on the other hand they're clearly serious about making sure their products work as advertised, and I'll buy the heck out of their filament based on that alone eight days a week.

We continue on and before long we pass by some windows that look into what resembles (to me) a clean room you might see at a hospital. Bob points at the labels in the corner of the windows and tells us that they're environmentally-controlled rooms - both temperature and humidity. One is set up at around 60F and 15% humidity; the other is at 85F and 80% humidity - I might've gotten the numbers a bit off, but one was supposed to be winter conditions (indoors, obviously) while the other was supposed to emulate the tropics. Anyway I'm sure you can guess, they had printers set up in those rooms too making sure that everything still worked to spec under non-ideal conditions.

As if that weren't enough, the next thing we saw as we walked by were some big electrical panels. They weren't too visually engaging - just some metal boxes with conduit coming out of them - but Bob shared that their function was to generate 220v power, and that each desk in the testing lab had both 120v and 220v outlets. They would test all their printers on both, because it exposes quirks in the internal mechanics - the difference in voltage and frequency has an impact on the behavior of the corona wire, the fuser, the drum, as well as a bunch of other parts that I hadn't heard of before. I did my best to keep everything straight, but the entire tour was filled with so much information that it was like drinking from a firehose, and this was certainly no exception!

My mind wandered back to the paper recycling Bob mentioned earlier and I asked whether or not they did the same sort of recycling/reconditioning with their plastic filaments - and since I was trying to sound smart, I mentioned that I'd heard mixed opinions on filament recyclers because of the extra "stress" the process puts on the filament's "polymers." I don't know if I used all the right words there, but hey! Even if I completely messed it up, I got the spirit of the question across successfully, so score one for me! Bob said I was basically on the right track and took the opportunity to teach us a bit about "heats and heat signature." He said if you get material from a quality supplier, that filament has only been through 2 heats. You then print with the material and your printer counts as another heat, so that's 3 heats total. That's generally the ideal case. If you buy pellets and extrude them yourself, you also wind up with 3 heats in the end - one heat from the supplier to turn the material into pellets, once through your extrusion machine, and then lastly through the printer. And if you're into recycling prints, then you can mix recycled material with virgin material and wind up with fractional heats for the overall blend. MakeShaper, for one, avoids the issue entirely by only testing with virgin material - afterward, the prints are recycled into bottles for the toner part of their business. Smart, I like it!

If you have to choose from the various filaments - ABS Filament, ASA Filament, PLA Filament, Elite PLA Filament, PVA Filament, PETG Filament, Nylon Filament, HIPS Filament – the PETG filament will standout as they are growing very popular with 3D printing business.

We'd been walking while we were chatting and right around this point, we wandered up to another of their Stratasys machines. Bob said he's been noticing a trend where more and more industrial machines like the Stratasys in front of us were starting to show up on 3d Hubs - and I might be fuzzing on the details here, (drinking from a firehose, remember!) but what basically happens is the lease on the machine expires, and the leasing company then sells the machine, where naturally the employees get first dibs. I thought to myself, hmm, might it be neat to own a Stratasys machine? I wonder how much they cost in that scenario... but before I had a chance to ask, Bob shows me a spool of Stratasys filament. It looked like a half kg maybe, and it's then I learn that the cartridge costs A HUNDRED AND EIGHTY DOLLARS! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?! And I know those machines aren't cheap to begin with either, but then they get you on the filament too?! I swear, if those guys at Stratasys aren't swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck and lighting their cigars with hundred dollar bills like in the movies, they are doing something seriously wrong.

So I don't think I'm interested in owning a Stratasys machine anymore. Then again, MakeShaper IS working on coming up with their own compatible filament, so maybe it wouldn't be that bad after all...

Afterward, we headed down to the shipping area. It was neat-looking to me, someone who doesn't get to see that kind of thing every day, but I would imagine it looks like your typical warehouse operation (although probably a lot cleaner). Lots of boxes stacked on lots of forklift shelving units. Bob told us that the forklifts were semi-automated - I didn't fully understand, but he said there us manufacturing, usa filament, american made filamentwere wires run through the floor and somehow the forklift operator has to only do half the work. I think he said that they just drive it to the right aisle and then the system automatically gets the right box from the right shelf location? And I think each space on each shelf was labeled with a barcode so the machine could make sure it was picking from the correct spot. That was definitely something that scratched my high-tech itch, so that's a gold star in my book!

That just about wrapped up the tour. We walked past a photo studio where they had a bunch of professional-looking lighting and equipment and a green screen, but I know nothing about photography at all so it was all lost on me. But I sure did notice the filament sitting in the middle of the room! (They had just taken some pictures of it in preparation for their web store). Bob told us that they do all their own product photos, instructional materials and video editing in-house. It seemed like a small detail, but I think having such a nice studio is one more thing that goes to show these guys are really invested in their work.

After that, we sat down in a conference room where we chit-chatted for a bit and I finally bought the spools I had came for! What really struck me though was the labeling on the filament boxes. I us manufacturing, usa filament, american made filamentimmediately noticed that A.) the label sealed the box, so it would be tamper-evident, and B.) there's a field for Pantone color. Maybe I just haven't bought filament from the right places yet, but I hadn't yet seen anything similar until then. Even before you open the box, the filament feels like a premium product. And then on the backside of the package, the MakeShaper logo is watermarked (maybe that's not the right term... inlaid maybe?) into the cardboard - a nice touch.

Afterward, we said our goodbyes, and my wife and I thanked Bob and Erica for taking time out of their day to show us around. I realized after we left and got into the car that we'd spent an hour and a half walking around their facilities, and that was without even seeing the actual extrusion machines! Time flies when you're having fun I guess! Before we arrived, I was expecting the tour to take 30 minutes, tops. After all, how much can you possibly expect to see from 10 guys in the corner of a dirty old warehouse...

My closing thoughts are that I was completely blown away by the experience (at least that much should be obvious by now). Even my wife, whose involvement with 3d printing extends only to tolerating my addiction to it, really enjoyed seeing all the equipment and learning about the business! My only criticism is that for now, MakeShaper's color selection is very basic - red, green, blue, white, black, and natural are the only colors on offer at the moment. (Although if you've got deep pockets and want to order 18kg of filament, they'll make any color you want!) Otherwise, their filament prints extremely well and is reasonably priced, and I've seen first-hand how dedicated and enthusiastic they are about their product. It's one thing to put a blurb on a website about quality, it's another thing entirely to invite your customers in and bathe them in it.

I know I've probably come across as a cheerleader in this review but I swear I'm not affiliated with them and they didn't pay me to write this. I just had a really fantastic experience, and from now on I'm going to satisfy my filament needs with MakeShaper plastic whenever possible. I think everyone should try at least one of their spools, you won't be disappointed.