Material Monday: Filablend Filament

3D Printing & Imaging Digital Fabrication
Material Monday: Filablend Filament

When I started doing Filament Fridays and Material Mondays, I decided I wasn’t going to cover plain old ordinary PLA, it had to have something special about it to be included. I’ve covered a few with different textures or other special properties but today’s material Filablend is just plain old PLA, the only thing special is the color, or should I say colors, and man, it’s really special.

For the past 4 years in March I’ve attended MRRF (pronounced murf like Smurf), the Mid-west RepRap Fest. This ever growing gathering never disappoints in having one or two things brought to it that knock your socks off. This year, a group of guys brought some filament they had been creating in their buddy’s basement to the show and it became the talk of the show. Most Filaments are a single homogeneous color throughout the entire spool. Filablend is multiple colors; in the case of the sample spools I purchased: red, green, and blue. Rather than being sections of filament in different colors though, this is striped evenly along the entire length of the filament, think the stripes in toothpaste. Printing the right type of model with the correct settings and setup, you end up with a part that leaves even seasoned 3D printing experts scratching their heads until they see the filament for themselves.

A print completed in Vase mode (single wall, spiral print with no infill) with the filament loaded in such a way that prevents it from twisting in place while printing will present a finished model that has different colors on different faces of the print. These colors align with the stripes in the filament. If the filament twists during the print, these colors can be made to shift up the print.

I printed the popular Twisted Gear Vase rather than my standard test model because its facets perfectly show the unique attribute of this filament. Since this is just PLA, I had no problem printing it with standard PLA settings and everything came out clean. On the Prusa I3 Mk2, I didn’t need to do anything special to prevent the filament from twisting as it printed, I simply mounted it above the printer on the normal spool holder and made sure the small hank of filament wasn’t crossed or twisted to begin with.

This isn’t going to be a perfect filament for all jobs and the small company isn’t producing large spools yet, but picking up a sample 3 pack will let you make a few prints you can use to stump your 3D printing friends when they see them.

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Matt is a community organizer and founder of 3DPPVD, Ocean State Maker Mill, and HackPittsburgh. He is Make's digital fabrication and reviews editor.

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