An Australian chemical company has developed the world's first PVC filament that's able to be used with FDM 3D printers, opening up yet more possibilities for the world of 3D printers. While most 3D printers are already compatible with a number of different types of plastic filament, this new PVC filament has a number of desirable characteristics for different applications.
3D Printing image via Shutterstock
The most common types of 3D printer filament today are ABS and PLA, each having their own strengths and weaknesses. ABS is quite durable and strong, but can be brittle in certain applications and needs to be printed at higher temperatures, requiring a printer with a heated bed. PLA is a plastic derived from organic materials, and is both environmentally friendly and the safest filaments as far as your health is concerned. However it can decompose over time, and can go soft in temperatures as low as 50 degrees Celsius.
The new filament is known as 3D Vinyl PVC, and it has a set of characteristics all of its own — without requiring professional technology like selective laser sintering (SLS). From the manufacturer, Chemson Pacific P/L:
Key attributes of 3D Vinyl: • UV resistant • Weatherproof • Solvent resistant • "Group 1" Fire retardant (capable of AS3837 compliance) • Low embodied energy content when compared to incumbent polymer-based filaments • Sustainable footprint – requiring 50 per cent fewer fossil fuel inputs (3DVinyl™ uses abundant natural gas while some incumbents are derived from crude oil.) • Improved rigidity • Elimination of bottom layer warping and poor bed adhesion • Excellent for generating support structures, which are easily removed Benefits of 3D Vinyl for industrial 3D printing: • Low melt viscosity • Excellent flow properties • Heat stability • Excellent layer adhesion • Enhanced durability
The company believes that the new material will take 3D printing from being mostly used for rapid prototyping to actually producing end-use parts that can be relied upon for strength and durability. While the results are similar to ABS, the PVC filament can also be suitable for a number of PLA-only printers, providing an ABS alternative for that market.
Along with partner Functionalize, the company will also be co-developing a number of specialised formulations of the materials, such as conductive or electrostatic dissipative varieties of 3D Vinyl PVC.
The filament was tested before release on an AIO Robotics Zeus machine, a standard consumer 3D printer.