Many of these infuse common PLA or ABS with additives, and print with normal settings. Others require much higher temperatures and slower speeds. Some may even wear out your nozzle. Still, the right material can take your next project from neat to remarkable. Here are our favorite other materials this year, and a little bit about what makes them great.
Essentially PLA blended with powdered bronze, bronzeFill comes out looking more metal than plastic. It has noticeable added heft; it can even be polished, tarnished, or weathered to look like pure bronze. BronzeFill makes what might look like a plastic toy seem like a venerable bronzed bust.
Proto-Pasta Magnetic Iron PLA
Like bronzeFill, this PLA infused with powdered iron produces a metallic result, but the grainy gunmetal finish has its own somber flair. Instead of tarnish, a real rusted look is possible. Plus, you can get this PLA to stick to magnets — a mechanical property that might be useful to inventive Makers. Be careful though, it’s quite abrasive and can accelerate the wear of your nozzle.
Proto-Pasta Conductive PLA
Adding carbon black to PLA creates a conductive plastic that is slightly more flexible than normal. Although it has reduced layer adhesion, that’s a small price to pay for charge mobility! While not quite conductive enough to be a media for making functional circuit boards, this material sticks well to PLA and is suitable for making dual extrusion structures with electrical properties.
Various Wood Filaments
There are an increasing number of wood-fiber based PLAs springing up. They offer a very convincing wood finish of various hues. However, already saturated with plastic they are not particularly thirsty for stains, varnishes, or other sink-in wood treatments. The enhanced pulchritude comes at the cost of reduced flexibility and tensile strength.
Made from thermoplastic elastomers, NinjaFlex filament creates prints that are super stretchable, surviving punishment no ABS or PLA could tolerate. Be warned, though, this stuff has a devilish tendency to squeeze out of your extruder in directions other than though the nozzle.
Nylons can be vexing, not sticking to anything else, causing stubborn rubbery extruder jams, and requiring very high extruder temperatures. But Taulman concocted Bridge to cross the printable-nylon gap from challenging to eminently printable. It melts at lower temperatures, extrudes more stiffly, and with a bit of glue stick on your platform, lets you print a space-age material. Super tough, mildly flexible, and impervious to glue, nylon parts can be a superior addition to any mechanical design. Bridge filament is highly susceptible to moisture, however, so keep it dry.