Metal-filled filaments are produced by mixing a fine metal powder into a base material. This results in a unique metallic finish for prints and adds weight. The metals used in metal-filled filaments vary; copper, bronze, brass, and stainless steel are all relatively common. The percentage of metal powder in the filament varies between manufacturers.
Metal-filled filaments typically use PLA as a base material; this can vary, however, so check the manufacturer’s printing recommendations for your filament. The addition of metal powder makes the extrusion process abrasive on the nozzle, it is important to use a wear-resistant nozzle.
- Bed Temperature: 45-60 °C
- Heated Bed: Optional
- Build Surface: PEI, Glue stick, painters tape
- Extruder: Temperature 190-220 °C,
- Wear Resistant Nozzle: Required
- Part Cooling Fan: Required
Best practices and tips
The brass nozzles that are typically used on 3D printers are relatively soft and metal-filled filaments are abrasive. This combination tends to wear down the nozzle quickly so you will require a wear-resistant nozzle. It’s also a good idea to use slightly wider nozzles as these filaments tend to clog more easily.
The weight of the metal in the filament significantly decreases the filaments bridging and overhang capabilities. Support structures are basically a necessity for bridges or overhangs, for which dissolvable PVA is generally recommended. This is because PVA has similar printing requirements to PLA filaments and because it will leave the surface of the print looking smooth. You can also try to counter bridging issues by reducing the layer height.
Metal-filled filaments are particularly brittle so it’s important to ensure that there aren’t any sharp angles between the spool and the extruder. A strong filament guide tube is particularly useful in preventing the filament from breaking mid-print.
Retraction tends to be difficult with metal-filled filaments and frequently causes blobs at both the end of one segment and the beginning of the next. Using a coasting or extra restart distance feature can help to address the blobbing issue if offered by your slicing software.
You can reduce the chance of clogging by reducing the instances in which the filament is retracted.
- Unique metallic finish
- Doesn’t need a high printing temperature
- Produces weighty prints
- Very poor at bridging and overhangs
- Prints end up brittle
This information should give you a great starting point for printing with metal-filled filaments. Have you got any specific projects you’re planning to use this type of filament for? Let us know down below.