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Flexible 3D Printing Filament
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Flexible 3D print filament opaque and clear
Materials have been the weak point of 3D printing in the industrial space since the year dot, and for makers the same lack of choice is becoming a limiting factor (to some extent) on what can be achieved. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of room for improvement in most of the tools currently at our disposal, but there's no harm in a little concurrent innovation, right?
With that in mind sights are being turned to flexible printing materials for extrusion-based 3D printers. Fraught with problems including inconsistent filament diameter (they're stretchy after all), inconsistent feed (related in part to the diameter issue) and more, these experiments are for the more experienced or brave of the community. The results could certainly be worth the effort though.
Take for example the Nokia Lumia 820 case story from last week. One of the weak points in this grand plan was the fact that the OEM phone cases used both rigid and flexible materials, something that wouldn't be possible with a majority of 3D printers. Maybe you have Connex system in your basement, in which case you're fine. But probably not.
However, a dual extrusion machine with a flexible and rigid filament loaded? That is within reach and could (I say could as I haven't seen it) make the case with squishy buttons in the hard protective case. Even if the parts were made on a machine with a single extruder as multiple builds you would still end up with a more tactile and usable product.
We recently featured the Taulmann3D nylon material, and have just seen another couple of flexible materials (in clear and opaque) from New Zealand-based www.3dprintingfilaments.com. Nice.
What have you made with flexible materials, huh? Really?! We want proof — pics to email@example.com please.