Getting Started with Filamet™

Pure Metal 3D Printing

What's Needed to Get Printing

  • Filamet™, Choose from one of our 15+ stock materials, or contact us about creating something new and unique.
  • Any open-architecture FFF 3D printer (direct drive works best but isn’t required).
  • 0.6mm or 0.8mm hardened steel nozzle.
  • Powder Coated Spring Steel build plate, Glass build plate, or Blue Painter’s Tape for covering your build surface.
  • Filawarmer.

How to Print Filamet™

Filamet prints very similarly to regular PLA filaments. There are just a couple of changes that have to be made with how the filament is loaded and printed. A Filawarmer, which is not typically used with regualr PLA filaments, helps with printing.

We recommend starting with a 0.2mm layer height, 70 – 100% infill, and a 120 – 135% flow rate (sometimes referred to as extrusion multiplier, 1.20 – 1.35 when written as a decimal).

We recommend to start at 210°C (410°F) and tune in the range of 190 – 230°C (374 – 446°F). Going under 190°C (374°F) can cause jamming. Going over 230°C (446°F) can cause debinding in the nozzle, resulting in a jam. Optionally, set the build plate to 40 – 65°C (104 – 149°F). 65°C (149°F) is recommended for glass/G10 build plates.

More indepth instructions can be found here.

What's Needed to Debind and Sinter

  • A Kiln
  • Heat resistant gloves
  • Crucible
  • Al₂O₃ (for debinding Bronze and Copper)
  • Magnesium Silicate (for sintering Bronze and Copper)
  • Steel Blend (for debinding and sintering Stainless Steel 17-4, Stainless Steel 316L, and Inconel® 718)
  • Sintering Carbon

How to Debind and Sinter Filamet™

Filamet™ debinds with only heat so there is no extra debinding equipment needed. Sintering can be done in any kiln that can reach and hold the sintering temperature.

Exact debinding and sintering instructions for each tested material can be found here.

FAQ

Essentially any FFF/FDM 3D printer that accepts any filament brand will work.
Dual gear is better than single gear.
Direct drive is better than bowden tube.
Convenient nozzle changing is good, too.

Customers have had good, consistent results with the Prusa and Creality brands.

You will also want:
A hardened nozzle sized at 0.6mm or 0.8mm. Brass nozzles will work but they’ll wear down quickly.
A Filawarmer will help with the printing process. The filament gets a memory of its circular shape on the spool. A single strand of filament goes through the Filawarmer as it comes off the spool which helps ease that memory and make the filament more pliable and flexible.
blue painters tape for your print bed. Glue sticks also work on glass print beds. Filamet™ really sticks to the bed so putting a release layer between the print bed and the print is key. This is not required for powder coated spring steel plates.

It’s important not to bake the whole spool at once. That does the same thing as the Filawarmer but the effect lasts only about 24 hours and then the whole spool will be brittle and unusable after heating.

While Filamet™ isn’t as strong as standard PLA (because of the very high metal content), it is still sturdy. Reducing friction on the Filamet™ as it’s pulled into the printer is key.

Filamet™ materials are less hygroscopic than traditional PLA.

While it won’t hurt them to be wrapped with a desiccant packet inside, it shouldn’t be necessary. You will want to avoid any direct heat like from a heat vent or direct sunlight. You would also want to avoid high levels of humidity like in a room that’s not climate-controlled in the summer.

Other than that, the material should last a long time for you.

Hardened Steel nozzles are recommended.

Start with a 0.8mm with High Carbon Iron Filamet™ and a 0.6mm for all other filaments.

To start, just pick a generic PLA profile for your printer and set the nozzle temperature to 210°C (410°F) and tune in the range of 190-230°C (374/446°F) and the flow rate to 135% to start. Optionally, set the print bed to 40-65°C (104-149°F).

There are a few reasons this may happen.

  • Your feeder has too much tension on it. Loosening the grip of the feeder may solve this issue.
  • If it only happens during travel, try a lower travel speed. Fast movements can result in broken filament.
  • If it’s happening during regular printing, try lowering your speed. You may have been going too fast or too slow.
  • Try moving the Filawarmer and spool closer to the feeder. For direct drive printers, be careful not to get too close or sharp angles as the hot end moves across the print will result in broken filament.

If your nozzle jams at the beginning of a print, your nozzle may be too close to the build plate. Try moving the nozzle away.
If your nozzle jams after a couple of layers, your flow rate maybe too high. Try lowering the flow rate a little until it stops.

On Ultimaker S5 printers, you can download our Copper Filamet™ profile.

We do not recommend using official Ultimaker Print Cores with our materials. The AA cores use brass nozzles, which will wear away after a couple of prints. CC cores have ruby tips. They are very hard, but they jam up easily. Instead, we recommend 3D Solex Print Cores. They have hardened nozzles and they are easily replaced and switched out for a different size.

To use 3D Solex Print Cores, you can either select AA 0.4mm as the print core and change the “Line Width” to the nozzle size, or change it to the Print Core that matches the nozzle size that you are using. The second option requires you to dismiss an error on the printer when you print because the print core installed in the printer will not match what you chose in Cura. 3D Solex Print Cores are set to 0.4mm in software.

If you end up with a jam, the best way to clear it is to do cold pulls with PLA. After a few, when it starts to look like it is clearing, push a nozzle cleaning needle into the nozzle. Continue cold pulls until you see the jammed filament is not on the PLA you are using to clean. Reload the filament and start printing again.

Bury your part in the refractory ballast in a crucible. Then, add Sintering Carbon to the top. Place the crucible in your kiln, set the time and temperature program, press go and you’re all set.

Full instructions are on our website and that includes a webinar with a demonstration.

You can use any kiln though that is programmable and can hold the sinter temperature of your desired material. For a quick look at sintering temperatures, check out the Products page.

The same kiln you use for sintering will be used for debinding. Filamet™ debinds using only heat so that process happens on the front end of the heat cycle at lower temperatures. No special equipment or chemicals are required for debinding.

We sell kilns too.

You have some control here. You can shrink the parts 7% and get about 80-85% density. If you add enough heat and time for the parts to shrink by 20%, your density will be in the low 90’s. The less they shrink, the less the shape will change. The X and Y axes shrink fairly uniformly. The Z axis will have slightly more shrink due to gravity. Circles and holes keep their shape well.

A good rule of thumb when starting is out is 5% isostatic shrink for Copper and Bronze, 10% isostatic shrink for the steels. 

A rotary tumbler works well to do initial cleaning and polishing of parts. A wire brush also works well.

The companies listed on our Services page can print and sinter parts for you for a fee.

All of our filaments have their metal content listed on this page.

The exact percentage of the filament is going to be on the label on the spool.

Density is weight divided by volume.

While in its printable spool form, Filamet™ has a PLA binder and it is not conductive. Through sintering, the PLA binder is burned off and the remaining object has the same conductive properties of whatever metal it is.

The Virtual Foundry is consistently working on expanding available products. Keep watching this website, our Facebook page and our LinkedIn page for new material announcements. Looking for custom development? Please contact us!

Filamet™ makes metal printing available to anyone with a Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D printer – no need to purchase a costly printer to print with metal.

All orders ship from our facility in southern Wisconsin, USA. We ship worldwide!

The countries we are unable to ship to include Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sierra Leone, Palestinian Territories, Russia, South Sudan, Myanmar, and Crimea Ukraine.

Metal Filament Learn and check us out on youtube.
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