RepRap-style fused deposition molding 3D-printers commonly use long rolled filaments of ABS or PLA as a starting material. ABS, recall, is Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, and is the same petroleum-derived polymer that Lego bricks are made from; PLA is PolyLactic Acid, a more recent material made from natural starches which can biodegrade under favorable conditions.

Rich was curious about printing with polycarbonate (PC), but couldn’t find any definitive answers to his questions online. So he bought a roll of 1.6mm PC filament and started experimenting, and his reports are fairly glowing. PC melts hotter than ABS or PLA, is more rigid, and comes out of the printer cloudy, which some have suggested may be caused by absorbed atmospheric moisture. [via Hack a Day]

Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


  • http://www.facebook.com/fiskbil Anders Haglund

    Polycarbonate is hygroscopic so moisture is very likely the cause of the cloudiness. It’s the reason why polycarbonate sheets are baked at low temperature before using for vacuum forming.

    • Anonymous

      Do you think it might be a good idea to flood the area with nitrogen, CO2, or some other gas to prevent water from poisoning the polycarbonate?

      • http://www.facebook.com/fiskbil Anders Haglund

        The water is already in the pc, picked up from the atmosphere. When the plastic melts the water in it evaporates creating bubbles.

      • http://www.facebook.com/fiskbil Anders Haglund

        The water is already in the pc, picked up from the atmosphere. When the plastic melts the water in it evaporates creating bubbles.