Printing with nylon can be quite a challenge when compared to printing with standard ABS or PLA filament. Finding a good temperature setting, setting up the printing platform properly, and understanding some of the characteristics of nylon and how it cools, will all contribute to a successful printing experience.
Nylon 3D Printing Filament Contraction
One of the factors that contributes most to the difficulty of printing with nylon is its overwhelming tendency to shrink as it cools, which causes the print to warp and pull away from the printing surface.
Even when a nylon print appears to be adhering well to the build plate, it can fail to finish printing correctly. This occurs because, as the first few layers are extruded the nylon remains warm, but once the print starts to cool, warping begins to set in.
Nylon Filament Tip #1: Object Suggestions
Because of the elastic properties of nylon, it makes a great material choice for printing something that requires a bit of flexibility. Phone cases that must be stretched to fit over a phone’s edges and then contract again to fit tightly against its sides are a good example.
Gears and bearing printed in nylon do not require lubrication, which makes for low maintenance parts.
Nylon Filament Tip #2: Extrusion Temperature
As with any filament, you will want to experiment with temperature until you find one that works well for you. To get started, try a temperature of 220° C (428° F) with the heated build platform set to 60° C (140° F).
If you’re working without a heated build platform, try a temperature of 245° C (473° F), and work from there.
Nylon Filament Tip #3: Printing Platform Set-Up
With a finicky filament like nylon, accomplishing a successful nylon print requires proper preparation of the build platform. Aside from the option of adding heat, there are a variety of other tactics you can try, to encourage adhesion between your build platform and filament.
Consider adding a layer of sandpaper to the platform. A sheet of peel and stick sandpaper with a grit of about 220-240 can greatly improve adhesion.
If sandpaper doesn’t get the job done, try using a thin sheet of poplar wood, a sheet of garolite with a thin coating of a 1% abs to acetone solution, or even a piece of cardboard (try an empty cereal box).
If you’re using an unheated bed, try a thin coating of purple Elmer’s glue stick. Just make sure that you get a very thin and even coating on your platform.
If you are still experiencing warping after trying these different tactics, consider printing your parts on a raft or ¼ inch nylon base.
Nylon Filament Tip #4: Drying Nylon Filament
If you’re seeing bubbles in your filament, try drying it out in the oven, on a sheet of wax paper, at a temperature of 150° C (302° F) for about 4 hours.
Nylon Filament Warning
Remember never to leave your filament unattended when baking, and to be very careful when interacting with any flammable products in the presence of heat.