If you are trying your hands at TPU 3D printing, then you have landed in the right place. As we bring you the best guide for TPU printing. Now unleash your creative side and explore the world of TPU printing by acquiring knowledge about TPU, its specifications, properties, some of the best TPU Print Settings, printing mechanism, and many such insightful characteristics of TPU printing.
What is TPU?
Thermoplastic polyurethane is a melt-processable thermoplastic elastomer known for its flexibility and elasticity. It is abrasion-resistant and assigned to flexible filaments owing to which it is suitable for various printing projects. It is available in different versions but is usually divided into polyether polyurethanes and polyester polyurethanes. The best TPU prints, especially the 3D TPU prints are extremely durable that can also withstand room temperature. So this printing tpu is widely used in 3D printing.
Specifications for TPU
- Versatile Flexible material
- Excellent tensile strength
- Extreme abrasion resistance
- Average water resistance
- Excellent vibration damping
- Nozzle temperature – 200 to 250 degrees Celcius
- Printing bed temperature up to 60 degrees Celcius
Properties of TPU
- Resistance to oil and grease
- Shows very low wear
- Easier to print
- Retains elastic properties even at low temperature
- Excellent interlayer adhesion
- Good load-bearing capacity
- Highly breathable TPU ensures optimum comfort
- Environmental Protection
Preparation for TPU Printing
1. Adhesive layer
Adhesive layering is an important step as without the adhesive, the printed 3D object is difficult to remove from the surface. Owing to the good adhesion properties of TPU, carefully spread a thin layer of adhesive on the printing surface. You can use a conventional paper glue stick for this. Alternatively, you can also print your TPU object on blue tape.
2. Reduce Printing Speed
You should always print your objects slowly as TPU is processed the best at a slow printing speed. This is because the nozzle tends to clog up if the TPU print speed is very high. The 3D print fans report that a 20 millimeters per second printing speed have proven to be a good choice. TPU manufacturers usually advise against printing this flexible filament at a printing speed of 30 millimeters per second. However, you can set the ideal speed by setting the maximum volume speed.
3. Storage and Requirements to the Extruder System
TPU is a flexible filament that binds a lot of water. If you store this filament unpacked, water molecules are bound to get trapped. To prevent your TPU filament from getting wet, you can use vacuum bags or choose a container with a lid. For 3D prints with TPU filament, the extruder system is designed for printing with TPU. Note that your extruder can maintain a constant temperature of 250 degrees.
Best TPU Print Settings
In this part of the article, we shall look at some of the best TPU settings which you must do to get the most of the TPU 3D printing. Stick to these rules to get improved and better 3D TPU Prints!
1. Setting the Extrusion temperature
These tpu filament settings are important. The temperature at which TPU filament will extrude is 220–250 degrees. A heated build platform is not required, but the TPU print temperature should not be higher than 60 degrees if you are using one. For the ideal setting of the extruder printing temperature, you have to experiment and make test prints. However, this guide value between 220 and 250 is a good starting point.
2. Setting the Printing Bed Temperature
For 3D printing with TPU, make sure that the TPU bed temperature is not higher than 60 degrees Celcius.
When it comes to flexibility, TPU is the best material to rely on. However, you must make the appropriate settings in your 3D printer software as the degree of flexibility also depends on the respective settings. If you choose a low infill level, your 3D printed design becomes more flexible. This allows you to print particularly elastic objects.
How Can I Achieve Better Looking 3D Prints?
3D printed parts have two distinct zones, the shell and the fill (infill). Correct parameterization of these two values is very important. If you want the objects to have high flexibility, you need to specify a less dense infill and add more upper solid infill layers. So it is crucial to check the TPU density.
These TPU retraction settings are another important thing to consider. If you set the retraction very high, there is a risk of clogging the nozzle, and the filament can get caught in the extruder. So choose lower values for retraction, and if you cannot find the ideal value, switch it off and then set it to higher values. You can also make use of the Simplify3D software; if you work with the Slic3r PE profile, you can benefit from the optimized and tested VA.
Printing of Carriers
If you wish to print beams, then make sure to optimize the distance between the layers to at least 0.3 millimeters. If the distance is more than 0.3 millimeters, it can cause difficulty. As the adhesion between the individual layers would be too high. You can also work with the Slic3r PE for better performance.
Direct Drive Extruder
A direct drive extruder can help you gain the best prints if used properly. The printing of TPU is easier with a direct drive extruder. Make sure that the distance between the melting zone and the drive wheel should be as short as possible.
Optimization of the feed rate
TPU is an elastic material that becomes uncontrollable when the speed is very high and can result in filament jam. It is necessary to adjust the speed evenly. A speed of 20 to 35 millimeters per second is a good starting value. Initially, after several attempts, you can get a fair idea of the ideal speed.
Set the layer height value lower, as less plastic is required for a low layer height. Only if this is in the range between 0.1 and 0.2 millimeters can you reduce the load on the TPU filament.
Negative tolerance is also one of the reasons to gain the best results. If a part of the design extends over another flexible object. Then it would help if you used a negative tolerance between those parts. As it will help the printed part to extend comfortably over the bottom object.
Rafts have a higher extrusion rate on the base layer, which can be problematic. So strictly avoid using Rafts.
Placement of the Spool
The proper placement of the Spool can create a huge impact on the final prints. Mount the filament spool over your 3D printer so that the resistance is reduced. Mount the filament spool hub on a bearing as it allows the material spool to rotate freely.
Optimization of the Travel Movement
Retractions can cause some major issues, so it is best to eliminate them or reduce them. You can use the slicer software Simplify3D that comes with many features, developed especially for such situations. The 3D print retraction speed must be slow.
Cura Settings for TPU from Different Manufacturers
To gain better knowledge and be crystal clear about the working, functions, and settings, here we have provided you with recommended Cura TPU settings from different manufacturers that will surely help you get some satisfying results.
|Manufacturers||Print Temperature||Bed Temperature||Print Speed|
|MatterHacker’s Pro TPU||220 – 240o C||Room Temp to 40o C||15 – 30 mm/s|
|NinjaFlex||225 – 235O C||Room Temp to 40o C||10 – 20 mm/s|
|Cheetah||230 – 240o C||Room Temp to 40o C||30 – 45 mm/s|
|Armadillo||220 – 230o C||Room Temp to 40o C||15 – 20 mm/s|
|PolyFlex||210 – 230o C||20 – 60o C||20 – 40 mm/s|
|SainSmart||195 – 230o C||40 – 60o C||15 – 30 mm/s|
So these are the best Cura settings that can be used by different manufacturers.
TPU 3D printing creates new opportunities for its users to enhance their work and upskill in various ways. It helps them turn almost all their ideas into creations that are too beautiful. Flexible filaments like TPU can make any 3D print of most materials possible due to their versatile nature.
All that you need to keep in mind is to read the instructions properly, set up the machine cautiously, and you are all set to enjoy all the features and create breathtaking designs!