Is anyone aware of a USA based supplier of non-PLA based metal filled filament? I need a filament with good thermal conductivity that wont soften at ~60 C. I may have to end up using carbon fiber PETG or nylon but I would prefer something with metal particulate. Thanks in advance.
At MRRF2018 I saw https://www.thevirtualfoundry.com/. If I recall correctly they ratio of metal to plastic is somewhere in the 90/10 range. It’s expensive but the results were impressive. You can sinter it after printing if you desire. I got a small sample for our High School but I’ve not yet used it.
@Kyle_Taylor thanks but their filaments are PLA based and will soften at the temperature I specified in my post. You would need to sinter the part to remove the plastic in order for this to be usable which doesn’t work for me.
@Kyle_Taylor Yes, post printing. Unless you sinter the print the metal particles are held together by the PLA which defines the structure of the part.
You can think of it like plastic pellets in water. The pellets themselves provide no structure to the water but if you heat everything to the melting point of the plastic, the plastic pellets will melt and bond together and the water will evaporate due to the relatively extreme temperature.
If you take an un-sintered part and put it in a 60 C environment the plastic binder will soften and the part will lose its shape rapidly under a load since the metal powder has no effect on the structural integrity for an un-sintered part. The process of sintering in a kiln binds the metal together creating a rigid structure but you lose dimensional accuracy somewhat depending on the geometry and how well you support it with the powder inside the kiln.
There is the GMASS materials which are ABS based. They make a few different versions of it. You can but it at Matterhackers otherwise I think Turner Med Tech makes it.
wonder what happens if you make a filament from tin powder and plastic… when extruded the tin would melt (232°C) and maybe create a matrix within…
@Ben_Malcheski I was looking at the tungsten based filament from them on MatterHackers which is out of stock. I went to the manufacturer’s site and it appears they no longer make the tungsten filled filament and they’ve replaced it with bismuth filled fillament and bismuth has a radically lower thermal conductivity, but still higher than plain ABS and slightly higher than carbon. So I guess that might be an option.
You may also check graphene infill filaments a graphene got outstanding thermal conductivity
It’s worth emailing the brands that make them. It seems people in the hobby stick to PLA, I don’t get it. PLA’s heat tolerance is so terrible.