Beyond ABS and PLA, exotic filaments can bring new properties to your projects. And they’re not just for aesthetics. When testing out various types of exotic materials, we try to come up with projects that add functionality.
Here’s our top 5 projects that take advantage of properties from exotic filaments.
This TPE type filament is a rubber elastomer that is virtually indestructible making it ideal for phone case, bumpers, and gaskets, just to name a few. Although it’s one of the most difficult type of filament to extrude, due to its elastic properties, we’ve found it to be one of the most useful type of material. Ideally, a direct-drive system and slow speeds are needed for printing this type of filament. It’s also great for cosplay elements and diffusing LED’s.
- iPhone Case / Apple TV remove bumper
- Lipo Battery Pockets
- Fire Horns
- Bandolier of Light
- Brain Cap
- Cyberpunk Spikes
- Custom Hat Graphics
Of all the different types of wood filament, we’ve found bamboFill to be the most forgiving in terms of ease of use. It prints just like PLA filament and actually feels and smells like real wood. Although it’s not exactly as strong as real wood, it’s not as brittle as PLA. In addition to the smell and feel, it can actually be stained like real wood. Since it handles well with overhangs, this can be used for enclosures, cosplay props and other uses we have yet think of. It makes a very aesthetically pleasing enclosure and we’ve made a pretty cool wooden sword from Zelda.
bronzeFill & copperFill ColorFabb
Actual metal particles are mixed with PLA to make this exotic filament that feels and weighs like real metal. Parts that are printed in material require finishing techniques to make them look as if they we cast from real metal. Although they are not conductive, they’re ideal for trophies, busts, and cosplay props. They handle pretty well with most printers but are abrasive to nozzle, so use it with caution. We made an entire Adafruit chess set with both materials and have a great tutorial on finishing techniques. Also, steampunk anyone?
Unlike the other metal filaments listed, this one is actually “ferromagnetic”, which means magnets will stick to items printed with this filament. In addition to polishing techniques, it can actually be weathered to create a unique rustic look. It can even be used to create a 3D printed power transformer.
This is quite possibly the most exciting of the bunch in our list. With conductive properties, this material can be used to make low powered, embed circuits. Slightly more flexible than PLA, it makes an interesting combination with other materials to make dual extruded projects with conductive traces. We’ve made a simple coin cell battery tester and a flexible wearable with LEDs to show how this material can be used to make projects that quite literally electrify your imagination.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!