Material Monday: NylonX Carbon Fiber Filament

3D Printing & Imaging Digital Fabrication
Material Monday: NylonX Carbon Fiber Filament

Nylon is a fantastic material to make things from. It’s strong and durable, allowing you to make functional parts that won’t easily break. One factor of nylon’s durability is its flexibility. Nylon parts will bend much further than PLA parts before they will break. This flexibility can also be a problem, however. Nylon parts need to be over-designed to create the rigidity often needed for their function. So, how can you stiffen nylon parts? Why not add carbon fiber to it! NylonX from MatterHackers is a carbon fiber infused nylon that brings back some of the rigidity of your prints without taking away the advantages of using Nylon in the first place.

First off, let’s get one thing out of the way. This is not going to be a replacement for a carbon filament inlaid print like those produced by a MarkForged printer. Long strand carbon fiber takes full advantage of carbon fiber’s properties, but can’t be extruded out of a standard 3D printer. The fibers in NylonX are short strands that can still pass through your nozzle without jamming it. Like many other infused filaments, NylonX is highly abrasive to your nozzle. Brass nozzles are not recommended for printing with NylonX – consider hardened steel or a big upgrade to a ruby nozzle.

A part printed on a Markforged printer with carbon fiber inlaid inside.

Nylon is notoriously hard to print with. It’s highly moisture absorbent, hates to stick to anything, and will curl on even the smallest part. Setting yourself up to succeed is key. Dry your NylonX before printing with it. You can purchase a filament dehydrator from MatterHackers to go with your NylonX or you could use a normal food dehydrator or even your oven. Running any nylon without drying it first will result in poor quality prints or possible jamming caused by the water in the filament turning into vapor rapidly in your hotend and rupturing the filament as it extrudes. If you hear your filament snapping and crackling like a bowl of Rice Krispies, you have a moisture problem and need to dry your filament. This doesn’t just pertain to nylon, PLA, ABS, and many other filaments can absorb moisture and have the same problem.  Nylon is just especially susceptible.

To get NylonX to stick to your bed and not curl, you need to prepare your bed for it. Two options are either a heated glass bed with PVA glue stick or an unheated garolite bed.

NylonX prints come out great when you use an optimal setup. Overhangs are not a problem, and details come out crisp. If you are looking for an engineering grade plastic to build your projects out of, NylonX is a filament your designs deserve.

The Dapper Deity printed in NylonX.
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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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