It’s a tough world out there for 3D printed models... especially for prints done in PLA, the most common filament type out there. Even with thicker walls and lots of infill, PLA prints are still rather brittle and subject to easy breaking, just due to the properties of the material itself. While we have no doubts PLA will remain a dominant player in 3D printing due to is low-cost pricing and easy printing attributes, know that there are other filament types out there, and for good reason.
If you want to stop holding your breath every time your clumsy friend (or kid!) picks up one of your prints, then keep reading.
Alright, so what are other alternatives, you ask? Well, in going from one extreme to another, the solution is flexible filament. And when we say ‘flexible,’ yes, it can bend and twist and withstand pressure. M3D’s solution is something called Tough 3D Ink®. There are two lines, Tough and Tough 115A. Tough is the ultimate flexible filament. It bends and flexes under minimal pressure, retains its strength against any drop or throw, and then bounces right back into shape. Check out this video showing PLA vs. Tough in various tests.
Tough 115A can also bend, flex and bounce back, but under much stronger pressure. Think of it as flexible meets PLA (aka, is more rigid), whereas our original Tough is more of a straight-up flexible filament.
For more information on our Tough filaments:
Read Make Magazine’s review of Tough: https://makezine.com/2017/06/02/filament-friday-tough-ink/
- See the video comparing Tough and Tough 115A: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLraDke1g2o
Now that there are two flexible options, you may be wondering when you would need one over the other. To answer that question, let’s talk about why we created the second version of Tough. With our original Tough filament line, we had heard people were printing really thick walls in order to give their prints added strength. While that worked fine, it meant using more filament. Now, with the new Tough 115A that came out this year, they can print with thinner walls and less infill to get the same strong print, yet with some give and elasticity. Since both go for the same price at our online store, our users can save when going with Tough 115A, when that extra strength is needed.
If you’re looking for something that’s even closer to PLA in terms of strength and rigidity but with a touch of give, check out our ABS-R3 3D Ink®. It’s the newest offering in our ABS replacement (hence the -R) line of 3D ink that is able to withstand a small degree of pressure or force. To note, ABS-R3 prints’ brittleness will remain, but to a lesser degree than PLA.
One closing note on Tough and Tough 115A. Because of just how ‘soft’ Tough is, it is best to print models without major overhangs. Tough 115A will fare better with overhangs (and can be used on Bowden-style printers no problem!) but we do recommend using supports in either case.