How to 3D Print Carbon Fiber on an Ender 3 (Pro, V2, S1)
Carbon Fiber is a higher level material that can be 3D printed, but people wonder whether they can 3D print it on an Ender 3. This article will provide details behind how to 3D print Carbon Fiber on an Ender 3 properly.
Keep on reading for more information about 3D printing Carbon Fiber on an Ender 3.
Can an Ender 3 Print Carbon Fiber?
Yes, an Ender 3 can 3D print Carbon Fiber (CF) filled filaments such as PLA-CF, ABS-CF, PETG-CF, Polycarbonate-CF and ePA-CF (Nylon). For the higher temperature filaments, the Ender 3 will require upgrades to reach those higher temperatures. A stock Ender 3 can handle the PLA, ABS and PETG variations of Carbon Fiber.
I’ll talk about what upgrades you’ll need in the next section.
Check out this lovely spool holder that this user 3D printed on their Ender 3 with SUNLU Carbon Fiber PLA from Amazon. He used a standard 0.4mm nozzle and 0.2mm layer height at a 215°C printing temperature.
Carbon Fiber filaments basically utilize a percentage of small fibers merged in the base material to alter the natural properties of each material. It can result in parts being more stable since the fibers are said to reduce shrinking and warping while the part cools.
One user said you should print with Carbon Fiber for the print quality rather than the strength. If you just want strength, it’s better to 3D print Nylon by itself since actual Carbon Fiber is strong by weight, but not 3D printed Carbon Fiber.
Check out this 3D print on an Ender 3 using eSUN Carbon Fiber Nylon Filament. He got a lot of praise for the texture that he achieved.
Some users have said that Carbon Fiber doesn’t really add much strength to parts. It adds stiffness and decreases the chances of warping, so with some filaments, you can get great results. They don’t recommend going for something like PLA + CF since PLA is already pretty stiff.
Nylon + CF is a better combination since Nylon is stronger but more flexible. When you combine the two, it becomes much stiffer and is great for various engineering purposes. Same with ABS + CF.
Another benefit for Carbon Fiber filaments is it can increase the deformation temperature, so it can resist more heat.
This user here 3D printed Carbon Fiber PETG on his Ender 3 and achieved beautiful results that impressed the entire community.
How to 3D Print Carbon Fiber on an Ender 3 (Pro, V2, S1)
There are a few steps you need to do in order to properly 3D print Carbon Fiber on your Ender 3 printer.
Here’s how to 3D print Carbon Fiber filaments on an Ender 3:
- Choose a Carbon Fiber Filled Filament
- Use an All Metal Hotend
- Use a Hardened Steel Nozzle
- Get Rid of Moisture
- Find the Correct Printing Temperature
- Find the Correct Bed Temperature
- Cooling Fan Speed
- First Layer Settings
1. Choose a Carbon Fiber Filled Filament
In today’s market there are a few different options of Carbon Fiber filled filaments one can choose to print on their Ender 3. It’s important to know what you are going to do with the 3D printed object in order to choose the best Carbon Fiber filled filament.
Some choices for Carbon Fiber filaments are:
- Carbon Fiber PLA
- Carbon Fiber ABS
- Carbon Fiber Filled Nylon
- Carbon Fiber PETG
- Carbon Fiber ASA
- Carbon Fiber Polycarbonate
Carbon Fiber PLA
Carbon Fiber PLA is a very rigid filament, while it may lack flexibility it has increased rigidity because of the Carbon Fiber generating more structural support and serving as a great material for supports, frames, tools, etc.
If you want to 3D print something that you don’t want to bend, Carbon Fiber PLA will work great. The filament has found a lot of love among the drone builders and RC hobbyists.
I’d recommend going for something like the IEMAI Carbon Fiber PLA from Amazon.
Carbon Fiber PETG
Carbon Fiber PETG filament is a great filament for a warp free printing, easy support removal and great layer adhesion. It is one of the most dimensionally stable of the Carbon Fiber filled filaments.
Check out the PRILINE Carbon Fiber PETG Filament from Amazon.
Carbon Fiber Filled Nylon
Carbon Fiber filled nylon is another great option for Carbon Fiber filaments. When compared to normal nylon it has a lower compression but a higher abrasion resistance. It is commonly used to 3D print medical applications as it is one of the most sturdy filaments available.
It is also one of the most recommended Carbon Fiber filled filaments because of the great results it can achieve in texture, layer adhesion and price.
This filament can also withstand high temperatures so it can be used to 3D print motor engine parts or other parts that need to endure a lot of heat without melting.
Especially the SainSmart ePA-CF Carbon Fiber Filled Nylon Filament as you can check the reviews on the Amazon listing
Making for Motorsport on YouTube did a fantastic video about 3D Printing Carbon Fiber Nylon on an Ender 3 Pro as you can check below.
Carbon Fiber Polycarbonate
Carbon fiber Polycarbonate has relatively little warping compared to normal Polycarbonate and produces a great textured look that is both heat-resistant and tough enough to withstand a hot car on a summer day.
Carbon fiber Polycarbonate filament is very rigid and provides a good strength to weight ratio making it a very reliable filament to work with.
It is a perfect filament to 3D print functional parts with as recommended in the reviews of the listing for PRILINE Carbon Fiber Polycarbonate 3D Printer Filament on Amazon.
2. Use an All-Metal Hotend
Upgrading to an all-metal hotend is a good idea if you are going to be working with higher temperature Carbon Fiber filaments like the Nylon and Polycarbonate variations. If not, you can stick with your stock Ender 3 hotend.
One user had great success using the Micro Swiss All-Metal Hotend (Amazon) to 3D print Carbon Fiber Nylon after dialing in the settings. There are cheaper alternatives, but it’s one of the choices you can go with.
Even with Carbon Fiber PETG, that is a fairly high temperature filament and the PTFE tube in the Ender 3 can start to degrade at these higher temperatures. Having an all-metal hotend means that there is more of a gap between the PTFE tube and the hotend through the heat break.
Check out the video below by Chris Riley about upgrading to an all-metal hotend on an Ender 3.
3. Use a Hardened Steel Nozzle
Since Carbon Fiber filament is more abrasive than standard filament, it’s recommended to use a hardened steel nozzle rather than brass or stainless steel.
One thing to keep in mind is that hardened steel nozzles don’t conduct heat as well as brass, so you’ll want to increase the printing temperature by around 5-10°C. I’d recommend going with a good quality nozzle like this High Temperature Hardened Steel Nozzle from Amazon.
One user also recommended going with the MicroSwiss Hardened Steel Nozzle on the Ender 3 to get better results when 3D printing abrasives such as Carbon Fiber filaments.
A reviewer said he was debating on whether to go with a Ruby Olsson or Diamond back nozzle, then came across this one which was a great value for money. He has printed with PLA, Carbon Fiber PLA, PLA+ and PETG without issue.
Another user said they printed with Carbon Fiber PETG at 260°C and is pleased with how well it 3D prints the material.
If you are still not convinced about using a hardened steel nozzle, another user shared a great image comparison for what 80 grams of Carbon Fiber PETG did to his brass nozzle. You can think of Carbon Fiber filament like sandpaper in filament form, when used with softer metals like brass.
ModBot has an amazing video about 3D printing Carbon Fiber Nylon on your Ender 3 which has an entire section towards changing your nozzle and installing a Micro Swiss hardened steel nozzle on your Ender 3.
4. Get Rid of Moisture
An important step in order to successfully 3D print Carbon Fiber filaments such as Carbon Fiber filled Nylon is getting rid of the moisture.
That happens because filaments such as Carbon Fiber filled Nylon or Carbon Fiber PLA are what we call hygroscopic which just means they tend to absorb water from the air so you will need to keep them in a dry box to control the humidity levels.
Even after just hours of exposure, your filament can start to be affected by the moisture.
One symptom of this is getting bubbles or a popping sound during extrusion, or you can get more stringing.
A user who 3D printed with Carbon Fiber PETG experienced this as shown below.
I’m trying out this new carbon fibre petg filament, but I have been getting awful stringing. Especially for this print, it makes the pulley teeth unusable. I do sand prints afterwards, but any advice on reducing this during printing would be appreciated. from prusa3d
A great option for helping you get rid of moisture is the SUNLU Filament Dryer, which allows you to place your filament in there and apply temperature to dry the filament. It even has holes where you can feed the filament through so you can still 3D print with it while drying.
5. Find the Correct Printing Temperature
Every Carbon Fiber filament has a different temperature so it is very important to search for the manufacturer’s specification of each filament to find out the right temperature to set.
Here are some printing temperatures for Carbon Fiber filled filaments:
- Carbon Fiber PLA – 190-220°C
- Carbon Fiber PETG – 240-260°C
- Carbon Fiber Nylon – 260-280°C
- Carbon Fiber Polycarbonate – 240-260°C
The temperature does also depend on the brand and the manufacturing of the filament itself, but these are some general temperatures.
6. Find the Correct Bed Temperature
Finding the correct bed temperature is something really important in order to 3D print Carbon Fiber filaments on your Ender 3.
Depending on the Carbon Fiber filament you decide to work with you may experience problems if you try 3D printing without finding the correct bed temperature as one user experienced below.
Is this an indication that 70C bed temp is too cold? I’m using carbon fiber PLA on a glass bed. from 3Dprinting
Here are some bed temperatures for Carbon Filled filaments:
- Carbon Fiber PLA – 50-60°C
- Carbon Fiber PETG – 100°C
- Carbon Fiber Nylon – 80-90°C
- Carbon Fiber Polycarbonate – 80-100°C
These are also general values and the optimal temperatures will depend on brand and your environment.
7. Cooling Fan Speed
In terms of the cooling fan speed for 3D printing Carbon Fiber filaments on an Ender 3, these will depend on what type of filament it is. They generally follow the cooling fan speeds of the main filament base like PLA or Nylon.
For PLA-CF, cooling fans should be at 100%, while with Nylon-CF, the cooling fans should be off since it is more prone to warping due to the shrinkage. One user who 3D printed some Nylon-CF did say he managed to use a 20% cooling fan successfully.
Having the cooling fan on slightly can help with overhangs and bridging.
For Carbon Fiber Polycarbonate, having the fans off is ideal. You can set the fans to only activate during bridging, which is the bridging fan setting in your slicer, though you mostly want to avoid using the fans if you can.
In the video below by Making for Motorsport, he 3D printed with Carbon Fiber Filled Nylon with the fan off since having it on caused issues.
8. First Layer Settings
I’d recommend dialing in your first layer settings such as Initial Layer Speed and Initial Layer Height to get your Carbon Fiber filaments to adhere to the bed properly. The default Initial Layer Speed in Cura is 20mm/s which should work well.
The Initial Layer Height can be increased by around 20-50% to increase the amount of material on the bed so it has more room to stick to the bed surface. For a 0.2mm Layer Height, you can use an Initial Layer Height of 0.28mm for example.
There’s also another setting called Initial Layer Flow which is a percentage. It defaults at 100% but you can try increasing this to around 105% to see if it helps.