- ✓ Extremely fatigue resistant
- ✓ Very flexible
- ✓ Good resistances
TPE material (Thermoplastic Elastomer) is a flexible material. In order to achieve the best possible outcome when 3D printing with TPE material you have to optimize the feed rate. It is recommended to print at a reduced layer height of around 0.1mm to 0.2mm range. As the height is lower, a reduced amount of plastic is required. This enables the extruder to use a reduced feed rate, easing the pressure on the filament.
The best results when printing with TPE will be seen when printing with a slow and consistent speed. As TPE has a high level of elasticity, it can mean that any sudden changes can cause a loss of control in the print speed. Fast print speeds can result in the filament compressing and will lead to a jam. Conluding: slow and steady is the best approach to take when printing TPE.
|Chemical resistance||Medium high|
|Fatigue resistance||Extremely high|
|Nozzle temperature||220 - 250 °C|
|Heated bed||up to 60 °C|
Thermoplastic Elastomer has a wide range of features, making it a suitable choice for various applications when it comes to 3D printing.
It is extremely fatigue resistant when it comes to flexing which makes it perfect for those applications where it will be required to flex. Due to its superb electrical properties, it is often found in applications where it is required to prevent electricity conduction such as wiring.
Capable of heavy use, it is resistant to tear, abrasions and high impact. TPE material is also capable of withstanding temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius and as high as 140 degrees Celsius.
For businesses that are looking to enhance the way in which they work and improve the impact on the environment, Thermoplastic Elastomer is a specifically good material as it is recyclable.
TPE is more difficult to print compared to other filament materials, mainly due to its flexibility.
Using TPE as a 3D printing material offers a wide range of benefits but there are some issues worth considering before printing with the material. Too much filament can cause a wide range of problems. For example it can result in an increase in pressure on the drive gear, which then causes more filament to feed through. Excessive friction before and after the drive gear can cause problems. So when printing with Thermoplastic Elastomer, it is important to remember that there are some requirements that have to be met in order to obtain a successful outcome.
As mentioned, the slower the print speed, the better the result. So, printing at 35 mm/sec or less will deliver better results. It is not required to use a heated build platform. When using a heated build plate, do not set the temperature higher than 60 degrees Celsius because this will negatively influence the adhesion.
When 3D printing with TPE material, it is important to avoid the use of rafts. Because the base layers of the raft often have an increased extrusion rate and that could lead to potential problems. With regard to 3D prints where the finished product will need to fit on top of another object, a negative tolerance should be used between the parts. This will ensure that the flexible part will have the ability to stretch over the other object in order to fit tightly.
If there is a gap between the extruder drive gear and the entry hole of the hot end, then the filament could buckle. If this occurs then the filament will seek another way out. If left unattended, it can cause a so-called bird’s nest or spaghetti, resulting in a jam. To experience the best results the distance between the drive gear and the melt zone of the hot end should not be too long. This ensures that the filament can be fed into the nozzle efficiently. Even more important is that there should also be tight tolerances along the pathway that the filament will travel, in order to prevent kinking and coiling.
When using TPE it is possible to obtain good results by using both Bowden type extruders and direct drive extruders. When switching between materials, it is crucial to purge thoroughly before 3D printing.
Tweaking the material spool can make a huge difference. Naturally, the extruder will pull the filament into the nozzle, resulting in the filament spool that is mounted on your 3D printer to unwind a small amount of plastic. However, the elasticity of TPE filament will mean that the filament will be stretched out when it is pulled in by the extruder leading to under-extrusion. So, try mounting the spool above the printer so that the filament unwinds downwards which can lead to a reduced level of resistance.
TPE filament is flexible. As a result it can be stretched to twice their length when they are at room temperature. Once the material has been stretched, it will return to its original size. For that reason it’s now being used more frequently in the 3D printing process. In fact, it is now a material that is beginning to replace traditional rubbers due to its wide range of benefits and uses. There are many different industries that use Thermoplastic Elastomer because its features offer them a number of advantages.
The filament has been food-contact approved. Therefor it will often be found in baby spoons and toddler cup spouts. This is because it is free from concern-causing chemicals.
As a result of the high regulations regarding safety in this industry, TPE material is the perfect choice. Due to the fact it can be sterilized by using autoclaves and even gamma radiation. They can also be designed so that they can be biocompatible with high levels of purity and low levels of leachable substances. In some instances, they can be used in place of latex and even silicone.
There are many industries that use seals such as the marine and automotive industry. Traditionally, sealing rings have been developed using thermoset rubbers. Now TPE makes it possible to create two-component sealings that are colored and co-moulded . There is an increased level of efficiency when using TPE material, which means that seals can be produced quicker than thermoset rubbers.
TPE material is used in industries that use wire and cable, fibre optic and electrical applications. TPE offers a wide range of functionalities, it can be customized and it is perfect for engineering and prototyping.