Nowadays, 3D printer users have many filament materials to select from. Numerous filament manufacturing companies provide various filament materials with different properties to satisfy their customers.
In this article, we will discuss the best filament categories and brands for creating reliable bushings. And in the end, you will find valuable information on bushing designing.
Best Filament for Bushings
Plastic bushings made with traditional manufacturing methods are mostly made out of Nylon. Fortunately, average desktop 3d printers can print Nylon filaments. Thus, Nylon family polymers are the best ones for bushings. Some Nylon filaments are designed to resist wear and heat. NinjaTex’s Armadillo and PA-CF are some of the best brands you can choose from.
The first thing you need to know is that Nylon isn’t a specific material or chemistry formula. It’s a family of polymers composed of polyamides. Filaments made from Nylon are stronger and more durable than typical ABS or PLA. 3d printing nylon can be enjoyable if it’s done right. Nylon’s unique properties make it an ideal option for bushings.
If you have used PLA filaments, then you know that it’s sensitive to high temperatures.
Objects like bushings or gears are constantly rubbing against other pieces, and this constant rubbing and friction generates heat. In this situation, it’s a given that the PLA bushings melt and deform shortly. You can verify this situation in the video below:
If you’ve printed ABS, you should know that ABS is more heat resistant than PLA, but it’s much harder to print.
On the other hand, Nylon is an amazingly durable, strong, and heat-resistant filament material. Properties like low friction coefficient, high interlayer adhesion, and superior wear resistance make this material the best choice for functional parts.
Now that we took care of that part, let us check out some of the best Nylon filament brands.
Armadillo is a polyurethane-based filament from the famous and well-known manufacturer, Ninjatek. The company has done its best to create something strong and durable. Polyurethane is mainly used whenever functionality is required. You can find this material in tires, insulation panels, synthetic fibers, and even parachute cords.
Regarding technical aspects, the Armadillo filament has 90% higher abrasion resistance than general-purpose Nylon filaments, 84% better than PLA, and 60% greater than ABS. It’s also chemical resistant to most oils and materials, such as ASTM Oils #1-3 and petroleum.
Printing with Armadillo is relatively easy. All you need is a desktop 3d printer with a nozzle temperature of around 220-230° C. It’s also suggested to use painter’s blue tape or glue stick if you’re not using a heated bed. You can find Ninjatek’s recommended profile for its products on their website.
A 0.5 kg spool of Armadillo filament is around $45, and it’s available in 1.7 and 3-millimeter diameters. Every specialty comes with a price, and this one isn’t an exception. Ninjatek’s Armadillo is more expensive than typical filaments. (You can buy a 1 kg spool of PLA as cheap as $20)
Although the bushings’ color isn’t much of an issue, it’s good to know that Armadillo is available in different colors like black, white, green, red, orange, and blue.
You can find excellent pieces of information about Armadillo filaments in the tables below:
|Physical Properties of Ninjatek’s Armadillo Filament|
|Tensile Ultimate Strength||48 Mpa|
|Tensile Yield Strength||27 Mpa|
|Elongation at Break||295%|
|Elongation at Yield||18%|
|Young’s Modulus||396 Mpa|
|Hardness||75 Shore D|
|Abrasion Resistance||0.03 g|
|Melting Point||212o C|
|Glass Transition Temperature||-10o C|
ColorFabb’s PA-CF Low Warp
PA-CF Low Warp is another great Filament brand from a dutch company, ColorFabb.
As the name implies, this filament is designed to achieve perfect, warp-free prints. Thus its ease of printing is its main advantage over Armadillo.
PA-CF Low Warp also benefits from carbon fibers. This feature improves the strength and stiffness of the filament.
On the other hand, printing PA-CF Low Warp needs 260-280° C nozzle temperature. So, some desktop 3d printers like Ender 3 can’t work with it.
You can find detailed mechanical properties of this filament in the table below:
|Mechanical properties of PA-CF Low Warp|
|Tensile Yield Strength||107 Mpa|
|Elongation at Break||2%|
|Charpy Impact Strength, unnotched||37 kJ/m2|
|Continuous Service Temperature||120o C|
Nylon is a hygroscopic material, which means it quickly absorbs water from the air.
This material can absorb more than ten percent of its weight in 24 hours. Thus, it’s best to put nylon filaments in a sealed box and avoid placing them out in the open.
It’s also good to add some desiccants to keep the filament dry. It’s necessary to dry the Nylon filament before printing it.
You can dry your filaments either with an oven, filament drier, or a food dehydrator. The easiest way is to use the stove.
All you need is to put the filaments in an ordinary oven, set its temperature around 70-80° C for more than 7 hours.
The drying process is necessary, especially if you want to print functional parts like bushings.
3d printing with wet filament causes the water contained in it to evaporate and turn into steam. This phenomenon develops bubbles that weaken the print and drastically decrease layer adhesion. Hence, it’s a given that Nylon filament should be dried before printing, even if you use the best filaments available
It is also recommended to set a safe range for the oven’s temperature; because some ovens exceed the given temperature, creating the probability of the filament melting inside the oven.
The ovens may also provide uneven temperature profiles around your filament, so the best option here is to use an electrical (and not gas) heat source.
On the other hand, using a filament dryer or food dehydrator can eliminate the chances of filament melting in your oven. This way, you’ll have better control over the whole process.
There isn’t a meaningful difference between small food dehydrators and filament dryers. Both dry the filament by heating it in a temperature-controlled chamber.
However, filament dryers are specifically designed to do the job, so they’re more accurate. Another advantage of filament driers is that you can connect the filament to the extruder while it’s in the drier’s box. On the other hand, getting a small food dehydrator can save you some money; They are as cheap as $15.
High temperatures can destroy plastic extruders.
Stock 3d printers mainly come with a default standard hot end with some Plastic pieces made out of PEEK. This material can withstand temperatures as high as 230° C. Although this heat resistance is more than enough for printing PLA or ABS, you are working with higher temperatures while printing Nylon.
Fortunately, most standard 3d printers can be upgraded with a metal hot end. Using all-metal hot end has numerous benefits, and one of them is the ability to print Nylon filaments. SUNLO 3D Filament Dryer Box is one of the best products available in the market
Bed surface and adhesion are other factors that affect the print quality. You can use a clean glass plate to print Nylon. It would be best to use PVA glue sticks or hairsprays for the first try. However, don’t be disappointed if the print didn’t come out perfect on the first try; there is always room for improvement!
Many manufacturers promise Nylon warp-free printing without using heated beds. Even though it is possible to print Nylon without a heated bed, using one can increase the printing quality and first layer adhesion.
So, having a heated bed is always recommended.
Nylon 3d printing settings
While each manufacturer provides its own recommended printing settings, the printing parameters variation between different Nylon based filaments and brands can be disregarded.
The best bed temperature for printing Nylon is around 60° C. Changing this value won’t usually affect the results that much. You can set it once and use it for the rest of your testings.
Optimum nozzle temperature varies from brand to brand though it’s commonly in the 230-260° C range. The best way to find it is to start with a value in the mid-range and adjusting in the range of 5° C until the output becomes satisfactory.
You can achieve smoother surface finishes by slowing down the print speed. You can set this parameter as low as 30 mm/s. In such cases, the printing process takes more time, but the result will become more precise.
Use cooling fans is a trade-off between surface finish (stringing) and layer adhesion. The more you use cooling fans, the fewer strings will appear.
Now you have a solid understanding of the best filament for bushings and how to use it. Cheers!