3D printing with wood is something that many people want to try out, but it requires a special kind of wood filament mixed with PLA. Once you get the filament, you have to follow certain settings and guidelines to get the best results.
This article will set you on the right track to 3D print with wood filament, as well as give you some ideas on what to print, and the best filament to actually buy.
Stay tuned for the useful details for your wood 3D printing adventures.
How to 3D Print With Wood Filament
The first step to 3D printing with wood filament is making sure you pick a reliable roll of wood PLA, because they are not all made the same. It’s pretty simple to find a good roll, usually going off other reviews from online retailers.
I’ve got a section in this article that will go over the best wood filaments to get, but the one I’d recommend for you to get now is the HATCHBOX Wood PLA Filament 1KG from Amazon.
They have a great track record of high quality filament, and the resulting prints that you can see from pictures on Amazon are absolutely amazing! Below is a picture of Baby Groot printed with wood filament.
Set the Optimal Temperature
- Set the nozzle temperature somewhere between 175 – 220°C, just like you do with PLA. The exact temperature can differ depending on the filament brand, and some people have reported even going up to 245°C.
- It is a good idea to use a heated bed for wood filament, but it’s not essential. The usual temperature ranges from 50-70°C, some going up to 75°C and getting good adhesion results.
Some people have noticed that when they 3D print with wood filament, they find small black specks on the models. This can be due to the wood filament having prolonged contact with the heated nozzle, especially if the temperature is high and printing speed is low.
You want to minimize the amount of time the wood filament is touching the hot nozzle, so you can do this by either increasing your printing speed, so the filament moves faster, or by reducing your printing temperature.
A great thing you can do with wood filament is that you can create different shades in your model by printing at different temperatures.
This is because a higher temperature will bring darker color whereas a lower temperature can bring lighter shades, but it doesn’t work with all wood filaments.
Dial In Your Printer Settings
Once you have your temperatures dialed in, you also want to look for other important settings such as:
- Retraction settings
- Flow rate or extrusion multiplier
- Print speed
- Cooling fan speed
The right retraction settings can definitely help with printing wood filament to reduce the stringing and oozing that can arise. Having a retraction length of 1mm and a retraction speed of 45mm/s worked wonders for one user
It improved the look of the top layers, reduced stringing, and eliminated the presence of their nozzle clogging on the retraction. I always advise doing your own testing though, because another user had good results with 7mm retraction distance, and 80mm/s retraction speed.
Some have gotten better printing results by increasing their flow rates to 1.1 or 110% for wood filament.
For your printing speed, you can start with a regular print speed of 50-60mm/s, then adjust this base on your initial testing and results.
You usually don’t want to go too fast with printing wood, more so adjustments to the lower side.
Cooling can differ, where some people say to put it on full blast at 100%, then others use a range of 30-50%.
Since it’s PLA, I’d start off with 100% and make adjustments if you see the filament isn’t settings well while watching the print.
Use a Bigger Nozzle Diameter
One user noticed that he experienced nozzle clogs which led to the grinding of his extruder gears. Getting jams or clogs in your nozzle when 3D printing with wood filament isn’t uncommon, but a great fix is 3D printing it with a larger nozzle.
People tend to recommend a nozzle size of at least 0.6mm for wood filament. It’s still a good balance of a good quality 3D print (as long as it’s not a miniature) and printing speed.
You can still successfully 3D print wood PLA with a 0.4mm nozzle as many have, but you may have to increase your flow rate to compensate for the more abrasive material.
One user who usually 3D prints with a 0.95 extrusion multiplier or flow rate increased it to 1.0 to 3D print the wood filament. They used a 0.4mm nozzle at a 195°C printing temperature and 50°C heated bed, all with no clogs.
Use a Hardened Steel Nozzle Instead of Brass
Similar to filament like glow-in-the-dark filament or carbon fiber, wood filament has the characteristics of being somewhat abrasive on the nozzle. Brass may conduct heat a lot better, but it is a softer metal meaning it is more susceptible to wearing away.
This is why many people will use a hardened steel nozzle to 3D print their wood models. You’ll most likely have to increase your printing temperature around 5-10°C to make up for the reduction in thermal conductivity.
Dry Your Wood Filament & Store It Properly
Wood PLA tends to have a higher instance of absorbing moisture from the air pretty quickly, so it is advised to dry it before use and store it away from moisture.
You’ll know your filament is efffected by moisture if you get a popping or bubbling when the filament extrudes from the nozzle. That is when a lot of moisture have been absorbed, but it doesn’t mean filament doesn’t have moisture if it doesn’t pop or bubble up.
There are many storage options, but they usually tend to have an airtight aspect, as well as a desiccant to absorb the moisture from within the storage, similar to how your filaments come packaged.
You can also get a professional solution, the SUNLU Filament Dryer on Amazon which is definitely growing in popularity due to its effectiveness.
Apply Adhesives On Your Print Bed
Wood 3D prints are known to slip away from the build plate due to poor adhesion. Since it has those wooden properties, it doesn’t have the same level of adhesion as normal PLA, so it’s recommended to use some type of adheisve on your print bed.
The most common print adhesives that people use tend to be glue sticks, tape, hairspray, or a different type of surface like PEI sheets.
PEI sheets are very popular because they work well. You can get yourself the Gizmo Dorks PEI Sheet Self-Adhesive Build Surface from Amazon for a respectable price.
Post-Process Your Wood 3D Print
To get the best results out of your wood 3D prints, you’ll want to put it through some post-processing like sanding and polishing, just like real wood.
You can print a lower layer heights/resolutions if you are going to sand your wood 3D prints, because the visible lines can be sanded right out, saving you some valuable 3D printing time.
A popular set of sandpaper is the Miady 120 to 3,000 Assorted Grit Sandpaper for Wood from Amazon. You can sand your 3D prints wet or dry as you wish, allowing yourself to get some amazingly smooth and high quality wood-like models.
Some people will sand down their wood 3D prints, then use a lacquer or polish to give it that real wooden look and even smell. Luckily, 3D prints from wood filament sands really easily.
For a good clear coat for your wood, I’d recommend going with the Rust-Oleum Lacquer Spray (Gloss, Clear) from Amazon.
As usual, with the sanding process you want to start with a low, rough grit, then gradually work your way up to finer grit to really smooth out your wood 3D prints.
You can trial some oil wood stains to get your desired effect on your objects. Users say it can take quite a few coats to get the right color, though there are products which aren’t oil-based that can work better.
For an amazing odorless wood stain for your 3D printed object, you can go with the SamaN Interior Water-Based Stain for Fine Wood from Amazon. There are plenty of different wood finishes to choose from, and it just needs one good coat.
Many people will find it hard to tell the difference between your post-processed wood 3D print, and a real wooden piece when done correctly.
The print may not be as smooth as you print with PLA. Therefore, sanding and painting are necessary to get an efficient and perfect wood-like finish.
Once you’ve learned how to properly prepare your 3D printer for wood filament, you can create amazing wood prints like the Baby Groot pictured below.
So to recap, you’ll want a:
- Printing temperature of 175 – 220°C
- Heated bed temperature of 50 – 70°C
- Printing speed of 40 – 60mm/s
- Flow Rate of 100 – 110%
- Retraction distance of 1-7mm
- Retraction speed of around 45-60mm/s
- Product for adhesion like glue stick, hairspray or tape
Best Things to 3D Print with Wood Filament
The best things to print with wood filament and some of the best facts about printing with wood filament are mentioned below:
- Baby Groot
- Brackets or Shelves
- Elder Wand
- Chess Set
- Frankenstein Light Switch Plate
- Small Toys
- Tree Stump Pencil Holder
- Decorative Accessories
Check out this large list of Thingiverse Objects Tagged with “Wood” for plenty of ideas for you to 3D print.
Being able to 3D print using this wood PLA filament really opens up the possibilities of creating unique, complex, or just simple objects and giving it a real wooden-like look to it.
Wood filament is efficient in hiding the layer lines that usually can be seen in 3D printed models.
Craved models that require a high level of skills and time, can be easily printed using 3D wood filament.
For simple and easier models, you have the option to print with a larger layer height as there are usually less visible layer lines.
Models printed with wood filament can be sanded, sawed, stained and painted according to your desires.
Best Wood Filament to Buy for 3D Printing
This filament composed of Poly Lactic Acid and plant-based material is considered one of the best wood filaments for thermoplastic 3D printing. It is a favorite as it is non-toxic, low odor, and doesn’t require any heated bed while printing.
HATCHBOX PLA Wood Filament (Amazon) is one of the most popular wood filament that is 3D printed out there. It has over 1,000 reviews, a majority of watch are very positive.
At time of writing, it has an Amazon rating of 4.6/5.0 which is very respectable.
- +/- 0.3mm dimensional accuracy
- Easy to use
- Versatile in terms of usage
- Low or no odor
- Minimum warping
- Does not require a heated print bed
- Can be printed nicely with a 0.4mm nozzle.
- Vibrant and bold colors
- Smooth finish
- May not stick to the bed efficiently – use adhesives
- Due to the addition of soft wood particles, it is more brittle as compared to PLA.
- HatchBox customer support is reportedly not the best, but it may be a few isolated cases.
One of the users shared his experience stating that if you work properly on the post-processing, you can get a model with a smooth and glossy finish.
He printed a chess set and after proper sanding, staining, and painting, it is extremely difficult for a third person to identify the difference between carved wood chess and a 3D printed chess with HATCHBOX PLA Wood Filament.
Check out the HATCHBOX PLA Wood Filament on Amazon for additional information.
The SUNLU Wood Filament from Amazon is made with 20% wood fibers from recycled wood, along with the main material being PLA.
With this filament you can adjust your printing temperature to alter the final color of the printed object which is pretty cool. It has guarantees to be clog-free and bubble-free, ensuring a smooth extrusion from your 3D printer.
Each spool of SUNLU Wood Filament is dried for 24 hours before being carefully packaged into the re-sealable aluminum foil bag, a perfect storage option to keep your filament in optimal condition when stored.
You’re getting a dimensional accuracy and tolerance of just +/- 0.02mm, and a 90 days money back guarantee if you aren’t happy with their quality.
- 20% wood fiber – giving a woody surface and incense
- Great filament tolerance
- Ultra smooth extrusion experience
- +/- 0.2mm dimensional accuracy
- No bubbles
- No clogging
- Comes vacuum sealed in a re-sealable bag
- Minimal warping
- Great adhesion
- Some people have had trouble printing with a 0.4mm nozzle, but many get good results
- A few users have mentioned color differences with an order compared to previous orders
You can’t go wrong with some SUNLU Wood Filament from Amazon for your wood 3D printing needs, so get a spool today!