Are you tired of your 3D prints being too rigid and inflexible? Look no further than TPU filament! This thermoplastic polyurethane filament is known for its flexibility and elasticity, making it perfect for creative 3D printing applications. In this guide, we’ll show you how to choose and use TPU filament to achieve your desired results, including considerations of shore hardness.
What is TPU Filament?
TPU filament is a type of flexible 3D printing filament that is highly resistant to wear and tear, as well as chemicals. It’s a popular choice for applications that require flexibility and elasticity, such as phone cases, athletic equipment, and medical equipment. TPU filament is also known for its shore hardness, which is a measure of the material’s resistance to indentation. Shore hardness is measured on a scale of 0 to 100, with higher numbers indicating a harder material.
What is Shore Hardness?
Shore hardness is a measure of a material’s resistance to indentation. It’s measured using a device called a durometer, which presses a small indentor into the material and measures the resulting resistance. The most commonly used scales for measuring shore hardness in 3D printing are the Shore A and Shore D scales.
The Shore A scale is used for measuring the shore hardness of flexible materials, such as TPU filament. The scale ranges from 0 to 100, with higher numbers indicating a harder material. The most commonly used shore hardness levels for 3D printing with TPU filament are between 60A and 95A.
The Shore D scale is used for measuring the shore hardness of rigid materials, such as PLA and ABS. The scale ranges from 0 to 100, with higher numbers indicating a harder material.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Shore Hardness Levels
The most commonly used shore hardness levels for 3D printing with TPU filament are 60A, 85A, and 95A. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each level:
- 60A: This is the softest TPU filament available and is ideal for applications that require maximum flexibility and elasticity. However, it may not be suitable for applications that require a higher level of durability or resistance to wear and tear.
- 85A: This is a good compromise between flexibility and durability and is suitable for a wide range of applications, including phone cases, shoe soles, and seals. It offers good resistance to wear and tear and chemicals, making it ideal for applications that require durability.
- 95A: This is the hardest TPU filament available and is ideal for applications that require maximum durability and resistance to wear and tear, such as structural parts. However, it may not be suitable for applications that require a high level of flexibility and elasticity.
Tips for Printing with TPU Filament
Printing with TPU filament can be tricky, but with the right settings and techniques, you can achieve great results. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Use a direct drive extruder or a Bowden setup with a high-quality Bowden tube to minimize filament retraction.
- Lower the print speed to minimize stringing and improve print quality.
- Use a print bed temperature of around 60°C and apply a coating of PVA glue or hair spray to ensure proper bed adhesion.
- Adjust your printer’s temperature settings to achieve the desired flexibility, elasticity, and shore hardness for your application.
Applications of TPU Filament
TPU filament is being used in a wide range of industries for various applications, from phone cases to medical equipment. Here are some of the most common applications of TPU filament:
- Phone Cases: TPU filament is a popular choice for making phone cases due to its flexibility, durability, and resistance to impact.
- Athletic Equipment: TPU filament is used to make a wide range of athletic equipment, such as shoe soles, gloves, and protective gear. It provides excellent shock absorption and flexibility, making it ideal for high-impact sports.
- Medical Equipment: TPU filament is also used in the medical industry to make a variety of equipment, including surgical instruments, prosthetics, and orthotics. Its flexibility, durability, and resistance to chemicals make it an ideal choice for these applications.
- Seals and Gaskets: TPU filament is often used to make seals and gaskets for industrial applications due to its resistance to chemicals, oils, and UV light.
- Toys: TPU filament is also used to make a variety of toys, including dolls, action figures, and puzzle pieces. Its flexibility and durability make it an ideal choice for these applications.
TPU filament is a versatile and flexible 3D printing filament that can be used to create a wide range of applications. By understanding shore hardness and selecting the right level for your application, you can achieve the desired level of flexibility and durability for your prints. With the right settings and techniques, printing with TPU filament can be easy and rewarding, allowing you to unleash your creativity and bring your ideas to life.