3D printing, is also known as additive manufacturing, is a process whereby 3D objects are assembled from a digital file.
3D printers have become more popular for enthusiasts and hobbyists who have recognized their massive potential. Today, 3D printers are not only used in laboratories and factories but also used in making jewelry and toys and are also used by teachers for projects and classroom activities.
Choosing the best 3D printer for TPU material may be a daunting task. There are tons of options out there, which can be overwhelming if you don’t know what features to pay attention to.
This guide will help you get the best 3D printer that suits your needs. Additionally, we’ll also highlight some few need-to-knows concerning 3D printers if you’re new to them.
What are Flexible Filaments?
Flexible filaments, also known as TPU and TPE, are a combination of rubber and plastic. They are called flexible filaments because they can easily stretch and are flexible. It’s crucial to understand the types of flexible filament available. Although they are many, here’s a snapshot of some common types.
Types of Flexible Filaments
This TPE is very strong and soft. Its low-friction exterior speeds up printing without causing a lot of buckling. NinjaFlex has good online reviews, but there are problems in feeding. To get the best out of this filament, use a low heat bed.
NinjaFlex manufacturers also make semiFlex, which is not as soft as the NinjaFlex and is semi-flexible.
FlexiFil is soft and strong, but not as NinjaFlex. It’s a TPC material, so it is super-flexible and resistant to high temperature and is eco-friendly. It’s made from renewable carbon substances making it a greatly responsible filament.
MadeSolid makes FlexSolid; it’s very strong and has good elasticity. If you need a highly durable product, this is a good bet. It blends well with sporting and mechanical items. If you like simple designs, this filament is easy to print when compared to others.
Makerbot is a polyester filament that’s more than NinjaFlex and FlexiFil. It has a low melting point and is easier to extrude. The best thing about it is that you can use hot water to reshape it. It comes with an iridescent and glossy finish; however, you may have trouble tangling while feeding.
The Fila Flex shares the same material as NinjaFlex, so it exhibits similar properties, but it’s not as strong. This filament is more elastic than NinjaFlex and works well with products that need a lot of stretches. However, due to its softness, it’s tough to print with and can clog the nozzle.
Flexible resin works well with SLA 3D printers, which doesn’t use a feeding system. If you use an SLA 3D printer, this material is excellent for tactile designs. This flexible filament is used to make stamps, watch bands, grips, and other devices you use regularly.
Tips for Successful Printing
If you’re using a flexible filament, here are some crucial tips that will lead to successful printing.
Every manufacturer has different recommendations. However, it’s recommended that you print with flexible filament between 30mm and 40mm per second. If you’re looking for more precision, set your printer speed at 5 mm per second. Although it’s slow, you’re likely to get a perfect final product since there is no pressure build-up in the extruder.
Use Direct Drive Extruders
If you don’t want a jamming extruder, the best thing to avoid this is to give your filament a direct path from the cold-end to the hot-end.
Set the Right Temperature
If you want your filament to flow smoothly through the nozzle without jamming, buckling, or producing a messy print, set an ideal temperature. Overheating your extruder leads to oozing, stringing, or rough prints.
Although every printer requires different adjustments, always check the recommended temperature for every material.
Adjust Your Retraction Settings
Retraction eases the pressure from the extruder’s hot-end and keeps the filament from oozing through the nozzle when not printing. Always adjust the settings depending on your specific needs. A low retraction setting helps you avoid clogging.
Adjust Bed Temperature and Use Tape
Although hairspray can be used on the print bed to avoid slipping, using painter’s tape and adjusting the bed temperature works better. Temperature settings are dependent on the type of filament you’re using. However, the recommended temperatures range from 113 to 140 degrees.
Best 3D Printer for TPU Buying Guide
There are several 3D printers out there with different features. Therefore, selecting the best 3D printers for TPU can be challenging. In this guide, we have some tips that will help you to choose the best TPU 3D printer. Let’s dive in.
TPU Melting Point and Print Settings
The general recommended printing temperature for TPU is around 230-degrees, with a wide range of between 200- 250 degrees Celsius. Although you don’t have to use a heated bed, it should be around 50°C. Additionally, always use a cooling fan when dealing with TPU.
TPU 3D Printing Speed
If you want a high-quality product when using a 3D printer, always reduce the printing speed. This may be a bit frustrating, but it will be worse, unclogging your 3D printer’s nozzle continuously if you print at high speed. When printing with TPU, use around 20-30mm/s.
Bowden vs. Direct Drive Extruder for TPU
Direct drive extruders work better than Bowden extruders. This is because they are directly connected to the hot-end, which lowers the extruder’s distance, which may lead to clogging or any other kind of error.
Best 3D Printer for TPU Reviews
If you’re looking for the best printers for beginners at a moderate price tag, the FlashForge 3D Printer Creator Pro is a good bet. It comes complete with a metal frame, dual extruder, acrylic covers, and an enhanced build platform. It also works with PLA and ABS and delivers quality products for the price.
The FlashForge is built on an open-source stage, making it easy to customize and adjust. This makes it easy to blend well with flexible filaments. It is a durable and reliable 3D printer. What’s more, you can adjust the settings to create the best printing environment.
However, the FlashForge printer comes with a closed unit, which minimizes the print volume. But this helps maintain constant temperatures that are safe for beginners, young printers, or in a class.
- 0.4mm nozzle
- Wi-Fi enabled
- Heated bed
- 100mm/s maximum print speed
- 1.75mm filament
- UI button controls
- Accurate and fast
- Easily customizable
- Stunning quality
- A bit noisy
- Lacks a touch display
- Small build volume
The ANYCUBIC Mega S Upgrade FDM 3D Printer is among the easiest printers to set-up. All you need is 8 screw bolts and 3 plug connectors, and you’re good to go. This makes it ideal for beginners. This printer comes with user-friendly 3D printing software that is easy to understand. It also has a metallic frame that makes it durable and reliable. What’s more, its 3D quality is excellent.
- 20-100mm/s net weight
- 100mm/s travel speed
- Cura Slicer software
- 8.27×8.27×8.07 inch build size
- Fast assembly
- TFT touch screen
- Top-notch extruder
- Excellent adhesion
- Outstanding 3D printing
- A bit loud
- The bed leveling takes time to figure out
The Dremel Digilab 3D20 3D Printer is a top-class device that helps you build something functional or for fun. It has a pre-installed extruder, which means you can start printing immediately after purchase. It has easy-to-use software that allows you to customize 3D models. Additionally, with the onboard software, you can use it as a standalone printer by inserting the SD card and using the touch screen panel to choose the model file and start the build.
- Full-color LCD touch screen
- 10×6.0x6.7 inches build volume
- 0.1mm-0.4 resolution
- Easy-to-use software
- Best-in-class reliability
- Quick and easy to begin printing
- 1-year warranty
- World-class support
- Does not blend well with other brands’ filaments
The SainSmart x Creality Ender-3 PRO 3D Printer comes with a simple model with excellent performance suitable for hobbies and creativity. It comes with auto-pause features that pause and resume when power is back. It also has an MK10 extruder that eliminates the risk of nozzle clogging. Additionally, it has a flexible and removable magnetic printing heat bed.
- 8.7×8.7×9.8” build area
- 0.4mm nozzle diameter
- 180mm/s nozzle speed
- FDM printing technology
- SD Flash and USB 2.0 connectivity options
- Large build volume
- Provides rapid heating
- Superior printing surface
- Minimal risks of a clogged nozzle
- Inconsistent basic screen
- Poor customer support
The QIDI TECH 3D Printer is among the leading devices used widely in architecture, design, education, and household decorations. This printer comes with a 4.3” touch screen and a user-friendly interface that offers outstanding printing status. It has slicing software that is easy to use and comes with the latest dual-extrusion technology.
The QIDI TECH has a print precision of 0.05-0.4mm and a speed of 60mm-150mm. Additionally, it comes with a removable plate that’s convenient to use.
- 4.3” touch display
- QIDI Print Slicing software
- Aviation-grade aluminum plate
- Removable plate
- High-quality prints
- Power breaking point function
- Easy to use software
- Great customer service
- The printer is noisy
- Doesn’t support 3rd party filaments
If you want to invest in the best 3D printer for TPU, the devices reviewed above will offer your outstanding printing experience.
Apparently, not every user needs an expensive model, so we have included printers that suit all needs and prices.
However, the most crucial thing is to establish what you need to accomplish with a printer and the one that will suit all your TPU 3D printing needs.