28-03-2020 3D-Fuel Pro PLA

3D-Fuel, a company that produces filament in the U.S. and Ireland, was so kind to provide me with some different filament types to review. I did a review for them before about “Buzzed Beer and Natural Coffee” and in that test, I was pretty amazed with the results. You can find the review back here: https://www.leliaert.eu/en/15-08-2019-3d-fuel-dual-review-beer-and-coffee-en/ . Now I hope to get similar results with the one I will be reviewing in this article: “Pro PLA Ocean Blue”.

Their website tells a couple of interesting things to know about this material:

  • The filament is produced from …… corn.
  • Recommended printing temperature: 210 -240°C.
  • Recommended bed temperature: 0 – 60°C.
  • Recommended print speed: 40 – 100 mm/sec.
  • You can order the filament in 1.75 mm diameter, but also in 2.85 mm.
  • Every spool has been checked for diameter ovality and the results are listed on the box. This tracking also makes it possible for the company to track back the spool during the process of fabrication.
  • Spools are provided with 1 kg of filament.
  • Anneal your design after 3D printing for even better heat resistance: Pro PLA is engineered and designed specifically with 3D printing in mind. Pro PLA was designed with the high impact strength needed in industrial applications to meet the growing demand by companies for a material with the properties of ABS, but the printability of PLA. Without any annealing/heat treating, Pro PLA displays impact strength levels at 8 times that of standard PLA and 1.5 times that of ABS. Annealing Pro PLA gives it over 12x the impact strength of standard PLA and over twice that of ABS. Even before post-processing, Pro PLA exhibits significantly higher impact strength than ABS.

The box: Colorfull, I love that. Important? No, but be honest, sometimes the eye wants to see something nice. More interesting is that info about the ovality can be found on the box. (On the reel itself, there’s a sticker with the batch-number to find that specific spool back in the production process when necessary).

The reel is very cleanly packed in a vacuum sealed plastic bag, which has a bag of silicate inside to keep moisture away from the filament. The windings do look nice.

Next up, the first print. When using filament I’ve never used before, I always start by searching for the best temperature to use. I was doubting between 205 and 210°C. I kept that in mind, and the more I tested, the more I switched to 207°C in this case on my Prusa MK3s testmachine. However, 3D-Fuel claims a window between 210 and 240°C, I see on everything above 220°C enormous stringing. (I didn’t have a version of my temp tower that corresponded with the windows they claimed and so I’m glad I printed thisone, before I redesigned a complete temperature tower).

* footnote: after more testing , I didn’t want to drop my tempereature lower then 205°C to print with. Even my direct driven full metal E3D extruder on the Prusa, started skipping a step by times. The little raise to 207°C did the trick and I never had skipping again. It sure looks that 3D-Fuel was right about the 210°C to start as lowest temperature.

Test 2: a calibration cube. 0.2 mm layers, NO supports and 5% infill. As mentioned before, I printed on 207°C now. I’ve got a decent result, with almost no stringing. The lines where tight, even the detail text on the top is very well readable (what usually is not), sharp edges on the borders between the holes, and a good bottom side where was printed as good as horizontal (in the middle of the print) without any supports. No warping at all (in case a filament is sensitive to warping, this usually shows in this test). This was printed on PEI and a steel sheet of the Prusa. This material sticks very well, as a matter of fact, a little to well, which made it difficult to remove the prints when ready. I’ve solved this by spraying a layer of 3D-Lac before starting the print.

Top
Side
Bottom

The next test is as usual an owl: 0.15 mm layers, no supports. Pic 2 shows clearly the layers. So keep in mind this was 0.15 (small object, strongly enhanced by zooming). I only can say, this loos real nice. Only disappointment, the stringing, even on 207°C. This is not a huge problem. You can solve this easaly with a quick pass of a hairdryer or a little gas burner. The fine “wires” just disappear magicly.

Standard testing was done, time to go more exotic….

Testing of overhangs and no supports, 0.15 mm layers. I’ve noticed that the flow in the slicer was just a little on the low side (this was creating a little underextruding as result), wich I’ve corrected in later prints. The sarcophagus dimensions are 59 (l) x 43 (w) x 35 (h) mm. Shame on me, I forgot to take note where I had found this stl!

No supports, not even on the sides.

How about something totally different? 0.2 mm, 207/55°C, a ton of supports and a special design. Link to the file: https://www.myminifactory.com/object/3d-print-steampunk-gun-106880.

When debating with someone in a Facebook group I’m active in about the previous print (steampunk gun), he suggested to me to print the next file for him. He couldn’t get it right without supports. When he showed me the file, I immediatly said to him this shouldn’t be a problem. Since this was a big print, I did thisone on 0.2 mm layers.

Everything was about to be finetuned now. I still had some leftover on the spool, so I went for this pretty girl. 0.15 mm layers, 207/55°C, no supports. But I need to confess. I’ve printed this on another machine: A Prusa MK3, converted with a BMG extruder, 0.3 mm Nozzle X and a BEAR frame. Link to the file: https://cults3d.com/en/3d-model/art/the-cheerful-pilot.

Conclusion:

  • Packaging is simply good: a colorfull box wich contains a well packed reel and silicate.
  • What do I miss? Some markings on the spool to estimate the leftover of filament on the reel. This is more and more common now, so 3D-Fuel, read this and try to adjust this is the future.
  • Temperature: After some testing I dropped the nozzle temperature to 207°C to avoid as much stringing as possible. This was even just a bit lower then the suggestes 210°C.
  • Stringing: When printing at minimum temps, there is a little stringing. This can easaly being removed.
  • Bridging and supports: I was impressed with the results, this without the need to go crazy for settings. A big thumbs up here.
  • Warping: None.
  • Adhesion to the bed: I print on PEI and here it sticks way to good. When not being carefull removing the object after printing, you could easaly damage that sheet of PEI. My solution? Use some kind of film-layer between bed and print. I use 3D-Lac. This has 2 advantages in general (not only this print): 1/ in case of bad adhesion, this helps stick the print to the bed. 2/ In case adhesion is to good (duh….), when cooled down, it is more easy to remove the print from the bed.

I can only say……….. This material rocks. it is a bit more expensive then regular PLA, but the results are more consequent. What I didn’t test was the “annealing” to see strength.

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