Can You 3D Print With Trimmer Line or Fishing Line?


Some people wonder whether you can 3D print with a trimmer line since it uses similar materials to 3D printer filament, so I decided to write an article answering this question.

Yes, you can 3D print with either a trimmer line or a fishing line. It used to be a common form of 3D printing material when filament wasn’t so popular. You can still create great 3D prints using nylon string trimmer line or fishing line. It’s a strong material to print with and has excellent flexibility.

A trimmer line and a fishing line have many things in common. The only difference between a trimmer line and a fishing line is that a fishing line is designed to be reeled up on a reel and not to remain in coils.

So the fishing line is flexible, easily bent, or molded. The Trimmer line on the other hand is stiff and generally doesn’t favor being bent easily.

Keep on reading through this article for some more detail about 3D printing with trimmer lines.

Can You 3D Print With Trimmer Line?

As earlier mentioned, you can. Not everyone has a roll of Nylon at home; even if you do have, they are not easy to 3D print with and they can be pretty pricey.

Since trimmer lines provide a cheaper alternative to real 3D printing filament, it is an alternative that some people have thought about using.

Trimmer line is made from a Nylon co-polymer that has been fortified with additives that can last longer and don’t break easily. 3D model parts that are printed with trimmer lines as 3D printing filaments have consistent extrusions.

The surfaces are smooth, they have minimal stringing and their appearance is generally nice.

Trimmer lines or wires can even better than other makeshift commercial filaments in some cases. Trimmer lines are usable for mechanically stressed 3D model parts.

The tensile strength of printed models when trimmer lines are used is not far off from what is expected of real 3D filaments.

They are known to hold well, mostly without any rafts. The layer adhesion is top-notch, as some users mentioned that the printed models do not break on handling.

To get a better printing results, dry the material at night and watch it transform into a better quality, regardless of the temperature of the environment. Nylon is very hygroscopic, meaning it quickly absorbs moisture from the environment.

The material strength is almost identical to what you’ll ever get to see with other Nylons that have decent layer adhesion and impressive impact resistance.

Another advantage of using a trimmer line in place of real 3D printing filament is that, in addition to it being cheaper, you don’t have to buy the full roll to start with. So, if you only need the trimmer line for a small part, you can buy just what you need.

Things to Keep in Mind When 3D Printing with Trimmer Line

It is important to always be sure you are 3D printing with a trimmer line in a well-ventilated space, and in a place where you won’t be spending too much time.

The reason? Some who have used trimmer lines in the past have pointed out that the printing could release toxic fumes into the air when heated.

It is better to 3D print parts of a model with trimmer lines and not the entire model. If the entire model is done with trimmer lines, the model may not last as it should.

Many who have been successful with trimmer lines have advised against using it for an entire 3D printing project.

For the models to come out nicely, they need to be dried well because they always come out moist. A user suggested drying it in an oven and up your extrusion multiplier. Some people have said it shouldn’t be over dried because a little moisture helps with bed adhesion.

Keep the diameter of the trimming string very close to 1.75mm, and be consistent with that range. It is important if your 3D printed model is to come out as expected.

One user actually managed to get their Nylon string trimmer line 3D printing at a 1.6mm diameter, and it still came out pretty good. Their filament diameter was still set at 1.75mm – check the video of that below.

Can You 3D Print With Fishing Line?

You can 3D print with fishing line with the right parts and settings adjustments, but a good amount of testing may be needed. You’ll need to change the filament diameter in your slicer to the diameter of the fishing line. Test different temperatures and dry your filament before use.

One user tried this out with just 1.2mm diameter fishing line and got great results by taking a 3mm PEEK JHead hotend that he modified to print 1.75mm filament.

He just changed the 3mm PTFE tube to a 1.75mm tube, inserted the trimmer line, changed the filament diameter in his slicer, and got to printing.

Depending on the quality and properties of the fishing line you buy, as well as temperatures and the ability of your 3D printer,  you may get different results.

Simply using your 1.75mm 3D printer and hotend could work well. I’d recommend using a Capricorn PTFE tube since it has a tighter filament tolerance and smoother inner surface.

Some people have mentioned that there may be a limitation to 3D printing fishing line in some cases, where it would work better with a model that didn’t require many supports.

If your model does not need support, and it is something fairly solid or simple, a fishing line is a cheaper option that could work well.

It’s even possible to dye your Nylon material because it is very absorbent to colors. Someone even managed to dye the fishing line with vinegar and food colorant before printing, resulting in some pretty great 3D prints.

Whether you do this or not, and the color of Nylon dye you use, is entirely your decision to make.

Things to Keep in Mind When 3D Printing with Fishing Line

To get the best result, keep the printing temperature between 180-220°C. Keep the heat bed too at 50°C. If the heat bed is colder than that, the mold will get sticky.

The print may come out moist; it is your responsibility to dry it since it is very sensitive to humidity.

No matter what sound you hear, either click or cracks, do not put your nose or eyes directly in the nozzle. This is because the printer will release toxic fumes during printing, though some people said it can be extracted just fine.

Conclusion

While trimmer lines and fishing lines are cheaper alternatives to a real 3D printer filament, it is still best to go for a proper 3D filament because the difference in pricing is not that much.

There seems to be more effort to put in with finding good quality lines that would work, as well as the temperature settings/bed adhesion.

They are not manufactured with 3D printing in mind, so you are more likely to get printing failures with them compared to Nylon that is manufactured by a reliable 3D printing brand.

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