Before getting started! (I am not affiliated with SainSmart in any way, shape or form! These opinions are that of my own, I went out and purchased this filament for myself.)
With the amount of 3d printing I have done and hours I have spent modding and upgrading various settings and hardware on my printer it is quite amazing that I have not tried out more filaments. I for 95% of my 3d printing have used PLA and ABS. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with just using these to plastics as they for most of us are more than enough to fulfill out 3d printing needs. However, with as much as I like tinkering with things and trying out every option, it is shocking I have not at least gone out and gotten some “exotic” style filaments to sample.
Really prior to this, I have only use a nylon and a PLA+ material. The reason I finally decided to commit and broaden my horizon if you will is because I actually had a need for flexible filament. Now naturally for those of you that stay up to date and follow 3d printing news you have heard of the NinjaFlex filament. It is really almost the standard at least it feels like to me that most people use for flexible filament. That is the filament I would have gone with as well… had it not been for the price tag. Compared to my usual materials it would cost me roughly 3-4 times the amount for a kg of that filament.
That is when I began to look at alternatives and came across SainSmart. I went ahead and did some research on top flexible filaments out there and SainSmart was spoken of very highly for its quality, ease of print, and of course its price. So I was sold, and I ordered a kg of black TPU Flexible Filament from SainSmart for roughly $30 or so. I primarily wanted flexible filament so that I could make some buttons for a few PiGrrl Raspberry Pi handheld game consoles as well as to make a sort of rubbery/soft feet for my EmuPi RetroPie console I have been working on in some of my spare time.
It arrived yesterday and I wasted little time, I threw the spool on my rack and reeled it down into my main machine (prusa i3). Unlike with PLA or ABS I could not push it through to the extruder due to it flexing. I had to clamp the filament in the extruder gear and use repetier to extrude the filament for me, which was no problem at all. Next was to find my temps, and after looking at SainSmart’s website I decided to give it a shot with a low 40C bed temp and a 205C extruder temp (exact profile I use for PLA). Loaded up some files slice, and PRINT!
I wish the first time it went perfectly but, I noticed that the filament was not coming out. I went ahead and put a little pressure on the build platform and there it was flowing perfectly. All that was needed was for me to raise my extruder up by just a hair to allow for the filament to flow easier and everything else was perfect. I must say it was quite a relief, I have seen many people struggle with printing flexible filament in forum posts as well as over on Reddit.
So far I have printed out about 12 small items and they have all printed perfectly with just enough “squish” to the end result. If you are looking to try out flexible filament for the first time I can not speak highly enough about the TPU from SainSmart.
What is your preferred flexible filament? and how was your first experience using it?