Of the many 3D printer filament types available on the market today, few are as versatile and durable as nylon filament. When paired with a high-quality 3D printer, this flexible material can be used to create amazing prints that stand the test of time. Here's what you need to know about nylon's properties and the many applications to which it can be put in 3D printing.
Properties of Nylon Filament
Nylon 3D filament offers a combination of properties that make it extremely useful for creating a wide range of 3D-printed parts. The most notable of these characteristics is the filament's elasticity, which allows it to bend under stress without cracking. This property places it in sharp contrast to PLA and ABS filament, both of which are rigid thermoplastics. Despite its elasticity, nylon filament is also strong, durable and impact resistant. As a result, nylon is often favored for functional prints that need to be tough and long-lasting.
The trade off for these advantages is that nylon filament can be somewhat difficult to print with and requires specialized storage conditions. Like ABS, a 3D printer with a heated print bed and an enclosure is necessary to create high-fidelity nylon prints, as the material is prone to warping during the printing process. Nylon is also somewhat akin to PETG in that it tends to absorb moisture from the air around it over time. If the filament you print with isn't kept dry, your prints are very likely to turn out defective. To keep this from happening, it's always a good idea to store your nylon filament in an airtight container until you're ready to print with it.
A final interesting note about the properties of nylon 3D filament is that it can be dyed after printing. In the same way that it can easily absorb moisture, nylon will absorb liquid dyes and take on their color. Conveniently enough, nylon is also used as a synthetic clothing fabric, and there are several widely available dyes that are specially formulated for this material. Dying your prints can be a good way to add a personal touch to them and achieve visual effects that may not be possible using only the stock colors of the filament.
What Can Nylon Be Used For?
Owing to its durability, nylon can be used for many different types of prints. 3D-printed screws, bolts and other connectors that may experience high levels of mechanical stress are frequently printed in nylon. Likewise, small businesses can use nylon in the product development process to create functional prototypes. The material is even strong enough to print moving parts, such as gears and hinges.
Beyond such mechanical applications, nylon is also widely used to create objects that need to be strong but flexible. For example, a consumer-level 3D printing enthusiast might select nylon when printing a custom phone case, as its combination of flexibility and impact resistance would provide good protection while still making it easy to fit snugly onto a phone. This ability to work well in both day-to-day and industrial applications is part of what makes nylon so popular as a filament.
If you're getting ready to buy a 3D printer, nylon is one of the filaments you should make a point of learning how to use in order to get the most out of your machine. For printing this material, the Dremel DigiLab 3D45 is an excellent option. With its heated print bed and enclosure, the 3D45 helps to prevent warping while delivering high-quality prints. Dremel also conveniently offers nylon and other filaments for the DigiLab printer series, allowing you to get your machine and material all in one place. To turn the projects in your head into durable, long-lasting prints, consider using the DigiLab 3D45 and its accompanying nylon filament.