Learning how to 3D print with Nylon can pay off heavily when you want to make mechanically strong parts with diverse applications. However, Nylon is no easy filament to print with, and you’re definitely going to need to know what kind of settings and improvements you need to make for printing top-quality Nylon parts.
To 3D print Nylon, you should use a printing temperature between 225-270°C and a bed temperature between 70-90°C for the best results. Do not use cooling fans with Nylon and use a print speed that is between 25-50mm/s. Nylon is prone to absorbing moisture in the air, so store in an airtight container when not in use.
This article is going to be a simple, yet in-depth guide on how to 3D print Nylon filament just like the pros do, so stick around to see how it’s done and get your questions answered.
What is Nylon Filament for 3D Printing & What is it Made of?
Nylon filament or Polyamide in 3D printing is an exceptionally strong and durable thermoplastic filament that boasts high flexibility, great heat resistance, and even better toughness than ABS. It’s great for functional and mechanical parts that go through a lot of movement, like hinges and joints.
When we talk about what Nylon is made of, it is generally a synthetic polymer belonging to a family of polyamides. In a polyamide, many amides join with each other using a peptide bond. When several polyamides connect, Nylon is formed.
Nylon is an ideal choice for printing tools, RC cars, and everything of the like. It has a low coefficient of friction that makes it much more resistant to wear and tear than ABS, which is quite famous as well for such properties.
What Temperature Should You 3D Print Nylon?
The best nozzle temperature for printing Nylon is anywhere between 225-270°C depending on your 3D printer set up. Filament brands that manufacture Nylon also contain recommended temperature ranges. The eSUN ePA Nylon filament’s is 230-260°C while the OVERTURE Nylon’s is 250-270°C.
The best heat bed temperature for Nylon usually falls in the range of 70-90°C. You can try experimenting with different heat bed temperatures to figure out the perfect value that suits your Nylon filament and your 3D printer. Manufacturers will also send in their recommended bed temperature range for you to try out.
A bed temperature of 60°C brought great results for one user who bought the taulman3D Nylon filament. Similarly, one customer remarked that a bed temperature of 110°C worked best for his Dremel Nylon filament.
Let’s now look at some top-rated Nylon filaments and their recommended nozzle and bed temperature ranges.
Nozzle Temperature: 230-260°C
Bed Temperature: 70-90°C
Nozzle Temperature: 230-250°C
Bed Temperature: 80-110°C
Nozzle Temperature: 250-270°C
Bed Temperature: 25-50°C (though people report higher bed temperatures, around 80° C work better)
Nozzle Temperature: 250-255°C
Bed Temperature: 55-70°C
What Printing Speed Should I Use for Nylon?
The recommended printing speed for Nylon is between 30-60mm/s. You can go beyond that, as long as your 3D printer is tuned up well and can handle faster speeds. Print quality usually declines when you go past 70mm/s for Nylon as it requires time to heat up and extrude evenly. Increasing printing temperature can help.
Nylon isn’t like PLA that flows easily out of the nozzle and can be printed at higher speeds. You’ll have to go slow with Nylon if you intend to prioritize part quality.
That said, Delta 3D printers are capable of printing at more than 100mm/s as they are generally more speedy and stable when it comes to 3D printing.
When you have large 3D prints that don’t require the highest of detail, using faster print speeds should work out just fine with an increase in your printing temperature by 5-10°C. Smaller 3D prints with more detail should ideally use a print speed of around 40mm/s.
Does Nylon Need a Cooling Fan?
Nylon does not need a cooling fan to make successful 3D prints, though some people use low cooling fan settings with good results. It’s not usually recommended to use a cooling fan with Nylon since it is prone to warping due to being a high temperature filament. An enclosed print chamber is ideal when using cooling.
Turning your cooling fans off when 3D printing Nylon tends to result in stronger parts, while low cooling fans can lead to better surface quality and textures.
People usually set their fan speed at 50% or even lower when printing with Nylon. This is a filament that likes constant, ambient temperature that’s best achieved within an enclosure.
However, cooling fans can be quite useful when you need to print overhangs, and bridges in your prints. An easy way to do this is by implementing scripts that can be found in the Cura slicer, so the cooling fans turn on at specific intervals.
While warping is a key issue for 3D printed parts, the temperature of your environment also matters drastically when printing with Nylon. Avoid printing in a cold room, and try to use an enclosure.
What Are Advantages of 3D Printing Nylon?
- Can give sharper detail than ABS or PLA
- Creates mechanically durable, strong, and tough parts that are second to none
- Highly flexible when printed thin
- Top-notch impact resistance
- Resistant to wear and tear, and abrasion as well
- Easy post-processing with dyes and paints due to its hygroscopic nature
- More UV and chemical resistant than ABS or PLA
- Offers low friction for making high-quality moving parts
- Great for display and aesthetic models
What Are the Disadvantages of 3D Printing Nylon?
- Difficult to print with and not recommended for beginners
- Works best with an enclosure and a heated bed, unlike PLA
- Being hygroscopic also means that it accumulates moisture quickly when not stored somewhere dry
- For the best results, Nylon requires pre-drying, which can be bothering at times
- Prone to warping due to its high melting point
- Parts can shrink during printing if it’s cooled
- The majority of Nylon brands have a low shelf life
- An all-metal hot end is used to print Nylon and not all 3D printers come equipped with it
What Bed Surface Should I Use for Nylon Filament?
The best bed surface for printing Nylon filament is glass. A heated glass build plate with a layer of PVA glue or blue painter’s tape on it works great for adhesion. You can also use other advanced bed surfaces like garolite or PEI. These surfaces are known to work well for Nylon 3D prints.
Getting Nylon to properly adhere to the build plate can be tricky. However, you can certainly use different bed surfaces to see which one performs the best for you.
Generally, a glass bed is known to work wonders for Nylon. That is when you pair the bed with heating, and an adhesive like glue, or tape.
Some users have even used poplar wood and cardboard as a build plate for Nylon. However, that is not the most ideal option to go with.
I’d recommend getting yourself a good quality garolite or PEI bed surface. You can find a good garolite build surface on MatterHackers.
The LayerLock Garolite Bed Surface is a top-rated build plate that doesn’t require heating to print Nylon successfully. It is lamented with an epoxy resin for improved adhesion. You can also use 220 grit sandpaper on this bed to further improve the textured surface.
In terms of a good PEI surface, these are available directly from Amazon for a competitive price. I’d recommend going for the Gizmo Dorks PEI 3D Printer Build Surface from Amazon.
In the following YouTube video, a user demonstrated how garolite works for Nylon.
How Strong is 3D Printed Nylon?
Nylon is popular for its durability and toughness. It’s more durable than ABS and boasts a high tensile strength of 7,000 psi. It is also highly flexible when printed thin, due to amazing impact and abrasion resistance. Military equipment such as tents, ropes and parachutes are made with this material.
Nylon is known to be ten times more impact-resistant than ABS. It’s on a whole new level than PLA in terms of toughness. Nylon is also flexible. Premium-grade cable ties are made out of Nylon and are extremely flexible.
If you’re printing Nylon with appropriate settings, you can count on it to tolerate significant impacts and abrasion. For that, make sure you’re using the right amount of infill and wall thickness.
Best Nylon Filament to Buy for 3D Printing
Nylon has a reputation in the 3D printing space for its physical prowess and characteristics. Several manufacturers have this advanced filament up for grabs, but not all of them are worth the purchase.
Let’s have a look at some of the best Nylon filaments you can buy right now for 3D printing.
OVERTURE Nylon is a high-class filament that promises to take away some complications associated with printing this material. It tends to warp lesser than other Nylon brands, and still offers the same excellent strength.
With a 4.5/5.0 overall rating on Amazon at the time of writing, OVERTURE Nylon is well-admired within its user base. 71% of the people who bought it have left a 5-star review lauded with praise.
It’s also priced conveniently at $31, and that’s even cheaper than the sub $55 cost of MatterHackers PRO Series Nylon. If you’re on a budget, there’s no other Nylon filament I’d rather recommend than this one.
The manufacturer also includes a 200 × 200mm build surface for each spool of filament you buy from them. This surface is easily customizable to varying lengths to suit the size of your 3D printer.
One extremely satisfied customer was delighted to find out how easy it is to print with the OVERTURE Nylon. They even compared the ease-of-operation to PLA, minus the ventilation and temperature settings.
Buy OVERTURE Nylon directly from Amazon today.
SainSmart Carbon-Filled Nylon is an incredibly strong filament that has a formula built for rigidity and performance. It has a ratio of 75% Nylon to 25% Carbon Fiber, which is still easy to 3D print and provides an excellent surface finish.
For any projects that require some real resistance and strength, it would be a good idea to get yourself a spool of this filament.
It has a low shrinkage rate along with high strength and even less warping compared to normal Nylon filament. You can get some amazing dimensional accuracy, as well as solid functionality and stiffness for your 3D prints. Many people also enjoy how heat-resistant the filament is.
Some key examples of uses for this type of material would be things like prosthetics, cosplay, hinges, and even medical equipment. Do keep in mind that Carbon Fiber is an abrasive material, so it’s advised to use a hardened steel or stainless steel nozzle to handle it.
Using an enclosure is likely to give you the best results, since a constant ambient temperature is ideal.
Do be careful not to sand this material without using a respirator mask, as sanding it will create tiny dust particles that are irritating to breathe in. Additionally, it’s best to use spray paint and primer to paint SainSmart Nylon.
Buy SainSmart Nylon directly from Amazon today.
The MatterHackers Pro Series Nylon was one of the first filament brands to introduce a variety of colors for Nylon, which was previously known to be available in a few colors only.
This is a top-rated brand that has thousands of happy customers. You’re getting a cost-effective, insanely durable, and strong solution for all your functional and mechanical part requirements by purchasing this Nylon filament.
With an overwhelming majority of positive reviews, MatterHackers Pro Series Nylon is something that continues to deliver beyond expectations through accurate filament tolerance, and premium-grade build quality.
MatterHackers mentions that Kawasaki’s Supercross Racing Team Engineers also purchase the PRO Series materials from which this Nylon filament is made for their motorcycles.
If you require even tougher Nylon with extra resistance and durability, you have the MatterHackers PRO Series Carbon Fiber and glass-infused Nylon as well.
Check out the MatterHackers Pro Series of Nylon filaments on their official website store.
How Do You Dry Nylon Filaments?
Nylon filaments can be dried by heating them in an oven or leaving them to dry in any moisture-free container. You can also purchase a dedicated filament dryer to eliminate unwanted moisture from your Nylon filament. If you have a food dehydrator at home, you can use that too to keep Nylon dry.
One of Nylon’s most undesirable traits is its tendency to take up moisture from the air at an alarming rate if not stored in a dry place. This alone can make a day and night difference when printing with Nylon.
The following video is a brief explanation of printing with wet Nylon filament vs a dry one.
I recommend opting for something more professional if you want to make high-quality Nylon prints. The SUNLU Upgraded Filament Dryer is an excellent option that you can purchase right now from Amazon.
It allows you to get rid of all the built-up moisture in your filament in a few hours, offering better quality and consistent prints. As the dryer comes fully assembled, you don’t have to put any effort into setting it up.
One of the best features of this filament dryer is its ability to allow 3D printing when the filament is being dried. This attributes to a productive experience and top-notch Nylon prints.
How Do You Smooth Nylon 3D Prints?
To smooth Nylon 3D prints, you want to use a combination of sanding with low and high grit sandpaper, then polishing with an epoxy resin. You should start with a coarse sandpaper (50-100 grit), then work your way up to finer sandpaper (300-600 grit). Finish by applying epoxy resin for a shiny surface.
If there are any gaps or holes, the epoxy resin can also fill them in.
You cannot use methods like acetone smoothing with Nylon since it is extremely chemical resistant. Your best bet is to sand it for smoothing out Nylon 3D prints.
How to Dye, Paint, or Polish 3D Printed Nylon
The best way to dye or paint 3D printed Nylon is to use an RIT fabric dye. People usually submerge their Nylon print in a tank containing hot water and the fabric dye for about 5 minutes, and then cool the print down in another tank full of cold water. This locks in the dye on the print and brings amazing results.
You can also use a combination of primer and spray paint to paint 3D-printed Nylon.
Nylon is notorious for quickly absorbing moisture from the air and getting wet in a matter of minutes. This is obviously bad news for makers and enthusiasts, but Nylon’s hygroscopic nature also lends it a plus point.
You can easily post-process Nylon as primers, spray paints, and dyes tend to stick to it well. Where PLA and ABS would take many coats of paint for a great, shiny look, Nylon demands considerably fewer.
MatterHackers has created this highly useful video to illustrate how to dye Nylon 3D printed parts.
The following items are required to dye Nylon prints:
- A Nylon 3D printed part
- A container to hold water at a high temperature
- An RIT dye (works best for Nylon and is easy to get as well)
- Another container filled with cold water
- Pliers or anything similar to handle the dye
- Weight of some sort to keep the filament submerged inside the container
- A thermometer to measure the temperature of the water
- A stove or a hot plate
- Some tissues or paper towels
Before you dye your Nylon filament, the first thing to do after creating a Nylon 3D print is to clean it up, remove any support structures using an X-acto knife or Flush Cutters (Amazon), and smooth it for the best results.
Begin with coarse sandpaper that’s somewhere between 50-100 grits to eliminate large print artifacts and imperfections.
After you’ve plucked out the big ones, continue to finer sandpaper of 200-400 grits for smoothing the surfaces of your Nylon part. It’s recommended to use wet sandpaper for a more refined experience.
The Austor 102 Pcs Wet & Dry Sandpaper Assortment (60 to 3,000 Grit) from Amazon is a great choice to go with for your 3D prints.
In addition, be sure to clean out the bottom of the part for any residual glue, hairspray, or tape. Once done, take any cloth or toothbrush to take care of any visible dust. Now that your Nylon part is all ready, it’s time to dye the filament.
First, you’ll have to tie your model with the weight and set it down inside the container to measure how much water it’s going to take. Then, simply take out the model, fill in water at the specified level, and then add the dye.
You’ll now place this container on your hot plate or stove and start heating it. A temperature of 70°C is known to work best.
Side by side, you’ll take your second container and fill it with cold water. This will be later used to maximize the effects of the dye and lock them in.
It’s advised to first use test prints for dyeing to see how much time they take to catch the dye in the hot water container.
5 minutes is known to work for most people, but you can also use 3-5 test prints, and submerge them each with 30-second increments to evaluate the best time for your Nylon model.
After leaving your part submerged in your hot water and dye tank for the desired time, take it out using pliers, and sink it inside the cold water container.
Leave it there for about 5-7 minutes and after taking it out and drying for a couple of minutes, enjoy a beautifully colored Nylon 3D print.
Does Nylon Filament Emit Fumes? Is It Toxic?
Yes, Nylon emits fumes as it melts at a high temperature. It is known to emit a volatile organic compound called Caprolactam and Styrene, both of which are dangerous upon inhalation and can cause headaches and breathing problems. It’s highly advised to print Nylon with an enclosure and a proper ventilation system.
Nylon is one of the most toxic 3D printer filaments out there. It does not emit foul-smelling odors during printing, but can pose a health risk when printed without precautionary measures.
You can check out my article called 3D Printer Enclosures: Temperature & Ventilation Guide, which goes through some of the key information that you’ll want to know.
Is Nylon Hard to Print With?
Nylon is an advanced filament that is known to be hard to print with due to a number of reasons. It has a high melting point that most 3D printers cannot achieve without an all-metal hot end. It is also extremely hygroscopic and will absorb moisture from the air quickly if not stored somewhere dry.
Ideally you should have an enclosure and a heated bed to 3D print Nylon successfully.
It can take a fair amount of time to get the hang of printing Nylon without running into print failures.
You also want to have the right settings, a capable 3D printer with an all-metal hot end, a suitable printing environment, and a place to store your filament and prevent it from getting dry.
Following the settings and process in this article should make Nylon easier to 3D print with.
Once you get everything right, your chances of getting amazing Nylon prints will increase dramatically.
Does Nylon Need an Enclosure?
Yes, it’s highly recommended to print Nylon with an enclosure. Nylon has a high melting point that makes it vulnerable to warping. Using an enclosure minimizes the chances of warping and provides Nylon the constant, ambient temperature that it needs to thrive and make stunning prints.
An enclosed print chamber increases print quality and keeps the temperature generated from the nozzle and the bed regulated with minimal fluctuations. Therefore, using an enclosure when printing with Nylon can bring great results.