PRINTING WITH NYLON
Nylon is a stronger and more durable alternative to PLA and ABS.
Everyone with a 3D printer is familiar with PLA and ABS.
If you’ve printed with PLA, you probably know that while it’s fairly strong, it’s also very brittle. You can’t leave parts out in the sun or anywhere that the temperature gets above 100F.
If you’ve printed with ABS, you know it’s much more durable than PLA, but 3D printed ABS parts don’t have the strength of injection molded parts, and often aren’t strong enough for functional parts.
Nylon is an incredibly strong, durable, and versatile 3D printing material. Flexible when thin, but with very high inter-layer adhesion, nylon lends itself well to things like living hinges and other functional parts. Its low friction coefficient and high melting temperature make it an excellent choice for things like printed gears.
Here’s what you need to know to start printing with nylon:
1) Not all hot ends are created equal.
Nylon requires temperatures above 240C to extrude. Most printers come standard with hot ends that use PEEK and PTFE. Both PEEK and PTFE begin to breakdown above 240C and will burn and emit noxious fumes. If you aren’t sure if your hot end can print with nylon, send us an email or check with your printer manufacturer. Most printers can easily be upgraded with an all-metal hot end in order to print at temperatures above 240C. We use the E3D all metal hot end on our machines. They’re excellent hot ends and we highly recommend them. You can purchase an E3D hot end here.
2) Nylon must be dried.
Nylon is very hygroscopic. That means it readily absorbs water from the air. Nylon can absorb more than 10% of its weight in water in less than 24 hours. Successful printing with nylon requires dry filament. When you print with nylon that isn’t dry, the water in the filament explodes causing air bubbles during printing that prevents good layer adhesion and greatly weakens the part. It also ruins the surface finish.
Dry nylon prints buttery smooth and has a glossy finish.
To dry nylon, place it in an oven at 180-200F for 6-8 hours. After drying, store in an airtight container, preferably with desiccant.
Dry nylon on the left, wet nylon on the right
3) Nylon can warp.
We’ve found it to warp about as much as ABS.
When printing on glass, a heated bed is required with nylon. A PVA based glue stick applied to the bed is the best method of bed adhesion. Elmer’s or Scotch permanent glue sticks are inexpensive and easily found.
We’ve found that a bed heated to 75C, with thin layer of glue applied in a cross-hatch pattern works best.
Do not use layer cooling fans.
Avoid drafty or cool rooms for best results.
Recommend print settings:
240-260C Extrusion Temperature (each type of filament is slightly different. Follow manufacturer's recommendations)
70-80C Bed Temperature with PVA based glue
.20mm-.4mm layer heights