Can You Use Any Filament in a 3D Printer?
Being able to use any filament in a 3D printer is a question that people want to know, so I decided to write an article answering that, along with related questions.
If that’s something you want to learn, keep reading through to learn the answers.
Can You Use Any Filament in a 3D Printer?
No, you cannot use any filament in a 3D printer. You need to specifically have a filament 3D printer to use filament since resin 3D printers don’t use filament. The filament also needs to be the correct size for your 3D printer. The standard filament size is 1.75mm, but there are also 3mm filaments as well.
You should know that exposure to sunlight or a humid environment can degrade any filament. Avoid using expired or older filaments because they can make the 3D prints brittle.
Here are some other factors that you need to consider for using filament in a 3D printer:
- Type of 3D printer
- Presence a heated bed or heat chamber
- Type of nozzle material
- Diameter of the filament
- Melting point of the filament
Type of 3D Printer
Most 3D printers can use PLA, PETG and ABS as they are popular amongst users in 3D printing. A standard Ender 3 printer can use most standard filaments, but not some high-level ones.
The Creality Ender 3, along with most other Creality 3D printers use a 1.75mm diameter filament.
The diameter size of the filament to be used with your 3D printer should be included in its manual or specifications.
You should note that not all 3D printers use filaments. Some 3D printers use only resins. An example of resin-based printer is the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro printer which wouldn’t be able to use filament.
Many users prefer filament-based 3D printers over resin-based ones, but it depends on what types of 3D prints you want to create. Filament 3D printers are better for functional, stronger models, while resin printers are best for high quality, decorative models.
Check out the video below for a comparison between resin and filament printers.
Presence of Heated Bed or Heat Chamber
Some popular filaments like PLA, PETG and ABS can be printed by most 3D printers because these filaments have low melting point. A standard Ender 3 or filament 3D printer would be capable of 3D printing these materials, as long as it had a heated bed and decent hotend.
PLA is the most commonly used filament because it doesn’t require a heated bed or a high printing temperature. It’s also the easiest filament to print with successfully.
For advanced filaments such as Nylon and PEEK with higher melting points, a high bed temperature and sometimes a heat chamber is required to maintain high temperature while printing the filament.
PEEK has a melting point of about 370 – 450°C and therefore requires a high-end 3D printer to be used. PEEK requires a minimum of 120°C bed temperature. It commonly used in aerospace and automotive engineering.
Most users like PEEK because it is incredibly strong but claim it is impractical for an average user because of its very high cost.
The video below shows an example of the Instasys Funmat HT printing PEEK.
Type of Nozzle of the 3D Printer
If you have a brass nozzle and you wish to use your 3D printer with tougher filaments like Nylon, Carbon fiber PLA or any abrasive filament, you should replace the brass nozzle with a stronger nozzle. Most people recommend a hardened steel nozzle or even the special Diamondback Nozzles.
It allows you to 3D print standard filament and abrasive filament without having to change out the nozzle.
Diameter of the Filament
Filaments are available in the two standard diameters of 1.75mm and 3mm. Most Creality 3D printers and the Ender 3 series of printers use a 1.75mm diameter filaments while Ultimaker printers such as the Ultimaker S3 use 3mm diameter filaments (also known as 2.85mm).
Most users people prefer 1.75mm diameter filament to 3mm diameter filament because it has more extrusion accuracy. It is also cheaper, less prone to snapping and more common than 3mm diameter filaments
Most users don’t advise using filament diameter size different from the 3D printer manufacturer’s recommendation as it involves replacement of some printer’s parts such as its hotends and extruder.
You can watch the video below for a comparison between 1.75mm and 3mm diameter filaments.
Printing Temperature of the Filament
Each type of filament has its own melting point. All standard filament 3D printers can print PLA because of its low melting point, as well as ABS and PETG for machines with a heated bed.
For a tougher filament like Nylon with a printing temperature of around 220-250°C or PEEK at about 370-450°C, an Ender 3 printer wouldn’t work as they can only reach around 260°C with adjustments.
To effectively print PEEK, you need professional 3D printers like the Intamsys Funmat HT or Apium P220, which are expensive.
Most users suggest buying a more powerful printer rather than upgrading parts if you plan to use High Temperature filaments.
A user replaced the extruder housing with Carbon-PC material, hotend, heater and thermistor of his Prusa MK3S 3D printer just to print PEEK.
Check out this CNC Kitchen video for a comparison between PLA, PETG and ASA filaments.
Can You Use 3D Printer Filament in a 3D Pen?
Yes, you can use 3D printer filament in a 3D pen. They both use the standard 1.75mm filament, while some older 3D pen models use 3mm filament. Most people recommend to use PLA filament for 3D pens since they have a lower melting point. You can also use ABS which is a stronger filament, but it has a strong odor.
A great 3D Pen to use is the MYNT3D Super 3D Pen from Amazon. It comes with PLA filament refills with multiple colors and a mat kit to create objects on. There are speed controls for better flow regulation, as well as a temperature adjustability for PLA and ABS.
Can You Make Your Own 3D Printer Filament?
Yes, you can make your own 3D printer using a specialized filament extruder like the 3DEvo Composer and Precision Filament Makers, along with plastic pellets that get melted down and extruded through the machine to create filament.
So, you’ll need:
- Filament Extruder
- Plastic Pellets
Each item is explained below:
This is the machine that processes the pellets into filament.
The Filament Extruder heats the plastic pellets until it becomes molten. The molten pellets then come out of the nozzle of the machine and is the pulled to the user’s selected diameter (either 1.75mm or 3mm). The machine has a holder unto which a roll can be attached for spooling the filament.
Creating your own filament isn’t really a beginner-friendly option since it requires consistency and a large scale to make it worth your while. If you have been 3D printing for a while and you know you need a lot of filament, this could be a worthy investment.
One user mentioned that you’d be spending a lot of money and hours tinkering with things to get it to work up to standard. You might be able to save around $10 per KG of filament, which doesn’t save you much unless you’re printing a lot.
Check out this really cool video from CNC Kitchen on making your own filament from home.
This is the raw material fed to the filament extruder to be processed.
Each filament type has its corresponding plastic pellets. The most common types of pellets used to made filaments are PLA and ABS plastic pellets.
Plastic pellets are cheaper when compared to filaments, but it could be a hassle to get it processed to an ideal filament for 3D printing. It may also be difficult to acquire some types of pellets. An example of difficult pellets to acquire is Masterbatch pellets.
To get colored filament, you have to mix the plastic pellets with a small percentage of Masterbatch pellets before filling it into the hopper of the filament extruder.
Some users recommended Alibaba to order the uncommon plastic.
How to Take Filament Out of a 3D Pen
To take filament out of a 3D pen, follow the following instructions in order:
- Make sure the 3D pen is powered on
- Make sure the 3D pen’s extruder is at the appropriate temperature. The temperature is indicated on a digital screen on the pen, accompanied by two buttons to adjust the temperature. Press and hold extrude button to preheat the 3D pen to the selected temperature. Most 3D pens use indicators to show the user that the 3D pen has reached the selected temperature. For most 3D pen this indicator is a green light.
- Press and hold the extrude button. The extrude button is the button that releases molten filament from the nozzle of the 3D pen.
- Pull on the filament slowly until it freely moves out of its hole.
- Release the extrude button
You can watch the video below to learn the basics of a 3D pen.