A while ago I got contacted by ColorFabb and they asked me if I would like to test one of their new materials. I get contacted by many filament manufacturers with that proposal but ColorFabb always has something special in the arsenal so I was excited to hear what it was. After a long stable time period of having just a couple 3d printing materials available like regular PLA and ABS, there are being more and more different types of cool and useful filaments produced for FDM based 3d printers. ColorFabb came up with something really special and in my opinion a real game changer. The research team of ColorFabb came up with a material that can expand to three times its volume by applying more heat to the nozzle.
Let me explain. I did an experiment by printing a pyramid that I’ve downloaded from Thingiverse and sliced both models with the exact same settings. They both had two perimeters, four floor- and five top layers and 10% infill and both were sliced in Slic3r Prusa Edition and printed on the Original Prusa i3 MK3 with 0,4 mm nozzle. One was sliced using normal PLA settings so it printed at normal speed and about 210 degrees Celcius print temperature. I also used the part cooling fan for this one. The other one was printed in a bit different settings using the same material. To get the most expanding properties out of the filament I had set the print temperature to 270 degrees Celcius, NO part cooling and I had set all print speeds to the same values as I do with most flexible materials. So perimeter, Infill, support, and even retraction speeds were set to 30mm/s to let the material do its job without too many sudden changes in speed.
Another great way to gain the full potential of this material is by using a setup with for example the E3D Volcano or Super Volcano hotends. These hotends can handle much more heat and the nozzle and heater block are longer than the standard size so this gives you the capabilities to print the LW-PLA much faster. I still need to do some more testing with my Volcano setup but I’m waiting for a double heater system for my E3D Volcano. This new feature can bring even more heat to the hotend and distribute it more evenly. At the moment my Volcano setup can print up to 260 degrees Celcius and that is a bit on the low side to print faster and let the filament expand to its full size. For the Volcano hotend, I recommend temperatures of 290 degrees Celcius and more.
There are many different ways to use this new material by ColorFabb so I can’t wait to see what users of the material come up with in the coming weeks. ColorFabb LW-PLA is already available in the ColorFabb webshop in colors Black and Naturel.