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3D Printing Filament Guide: Polypropylene Filament

Through this 3D printing filament guide, we aim to explain how to succeed while 3D printing with Polypropylene (PP) Filament. This will help users to print by taking the necessary precautions and will help in achieving higher 3D printing success.

As the manufacturing industry is being democratized by 3D printing, the technology is also being studied, researched, tested, and used by people from across sectors. The technology is not restricted to engineers but even designers, hobbyists, and enthusiasts are using technology and building products.

Since this technology is also used by numerous non-technical users, we observe a high failure rate and this creates a wrong impression of the 3D printing technology. This 3D printing filament guide will help  avoid such failures.

What is Polypropylene?

Polypropylene Material
Above: Polypropylene Fliptop Bottle/Image Source: Tupperware

Polypropylene, a thermoplastic polymer, is a commonly used material in the polymer industry to manufacture various everyday used products like water bottles, tiffin boxes, containers, etc. It can be said that it is a primary choice of material in packaging and storage applications. Mostly injection moulded, the material is quite cheap and widely available across the globe at reasonable prices.

3D Printing Filament Guide: Understanding Polypropylene Filament

3D Printing Filament Guide
Above: Samples from Polypropylene filament/Image Source: Simplify3D

For 3D printing, polypropylene, though desirable is not often used due to its inherent issues. Polypropylene filament can be used for applications like case hinges, watch straps, outdoor applications, etc.

However, PP is prone to heavy warping issues when it cools while 3D printing thus making it a challenging material to work with. Filament manufacturers generally tend to create blends to not only make it easier to print with but also to improve its toughness.

3D Printing Filament Guide: Properties of Polypropylene Filament

In this 3D printing filament guide, we now will list down the properties of the Polypropylene filament:

Excellent Chemical and Heat resistance

Polypropylene prints at higher temperatures which means that PP can be used for fairly high-temperature applications. It shows good heat resistance. Similarly, it also exhibits good chemical resistance. It is chemically stable and is a food-safe material.

Water Resistance

Polypropylene doesn’t easily absorb moisture and so comparatively it has better water resistance than most 3D printing filaments.

High Strength

Owing to its mostly straight-chain carbon-based chemical structure and saturated bonds, Polypropylene has great impact resistance. It does not easily break and its mechanical strength is superior to most filaments.

3D Printing with Polypropylene Filament

Polypropylene Filament
Above: Gizmo Dorks Polypropylene Filament/Image Source: Gizmo Dorks

We first take a look at the general print settings for Polypropylene filament and then look at the tips to print with Polypropylene filament.

General Printing Settings

  • Printing Temperature: 220oC to 250oC
  • Bed Temperature: 85oC to 105oC
  • Print Speed: 20-30mm/sec
  • Enclosure: Recommended

Polypropylene Filament 3D Printing Tips

In this 3D printing filament guide, we take a look at some 3D printing tips for users planning to use the material.

Enclosure

As mentioned earlier, Polypropylene is prone to warping and cracking, it is recommended to use an enclosure while 3D printing with this material.

Use Bed Adhesion Tools

For materials that do not easily stick to the build surface, bed adhesion tools in a slicer software form the default tools to be used. Using raft is found to be a good solution to reduce warping issues.

Build Surface

For Polypropylene 3D printing, a good build surface will go a long way in ensuring a successful print. However, it is easier said than done. Bed adhesion is a big problem for Polypropylene. According to experts, PP sticks well to itself and so it is recommended to use a polypropylene-based build surface.

Pros of Polypropylene Filament

  • Perfect for lightweight applications
  • Showcases excellent chemical resistance
  • PP also exhibits good water and heat resistance
  • PP is a fully recyclable material
  • PP products are dishwasher safe 

Cons of Polypropylene Filament

  • Comparatively, it has low strength
  • It has heavy warping and cracking issues
  • Severe bed adhesion problems
  • A successful print is not guaranteed each time
  • A special build surface is needed as it does not stick well to regular build surfaces
  • It is expensive than other filament

 

3D printing filament guide on polypropylene will serve as a handbook for using and working with the filament. Though polypropylene is a difficult material to print with, it can be used for highly specific applications that demand its superior properties over others.

More 3D Printing Filament Guides:

ABS Filament

ASA Filament


About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D printing. which publishes the latest 3D printing news, insights and analysis from all around the world. Visit our 3D Printing Education page to read more such informative articles. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn.