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The Best 3D Printer Metal Filaments of 2022

Written by Abigail    2022-05-20

Printing metal parts with high density, high strength and good mechanical properties that can be used directly is not something new in 3D Printing industry. There are options to print metal parts, buying a metal 3D Printer or consulting Metal 3D Printing Services online. Some would say, these are not the options for them because they want to print metal parts on their own and the enjoy the whole process of creation. Fortunately, there is another option, metal filaments.

Part 1. Metal Filaments

You may be wondering what is metal filament and what are the using scenarios. Metal 3D printing filament is filament that combine with some amount of metal added in the printing material, which means the metal filaments can be printed via FDM 3D Printer. However, as the melting points of metal filaments can be diverse, it would use a special hot nozzle to melt and squeeze the filament out. Distinguished from basic filaments that FDM uses, utilizing metal filaments can print solid and firm parts which is similar to cast metal. Besides, the final parts can have different effects via post-processing, polishing, for instance.

metal filaments

Image Source: Fabbaloo

Part 2. Metal Filaments Cost

Metal filaments can cost at least twice as much as standard filaments such PLA and ABS, but depending on the amount and metal types of fills. Of course, it's still in the realm of consumer printing, but the pricing can be deceptive, so be sure to pay attention to the quantity you get before ordering.

For example, standard filaments like PLA and ABS filaments are typically 1kg spools, whereas metal filaments look like a good deal given the corresponding price sometimes, but it's usually only 500 grams or less. If you want to try different materials, you can look for low cost "samples" (like 100g coils). That way, you can try a few things before committing to a full roll. More importantly, please always check length specifications of metal filaments when purchasing.

metal filaments cost

Image Source: 3DPBlock

Part 3. Printing Tips

When you are ready to print with metal filaments, it is significant to follow below tips for successful printing.

1. Upgrade the nozzle. For better heat transfer and making the nozzle more durable, please replace to nozzle into a stainless steel, nickel-plated brass one.

2. Pay attentions to storage the metal filaments in a dry and cool place.

3. Check carefully the ratio of metal fill.

4. Make sure the temperature is right.

5. Pay attentions to the first layer as always!

metal filaments printing tips

Image Source: MatterHackers

Part 4. The Best 3D Printer Metal Filaments

1. The Virtual Foundry (~100%)

To find the best metal filament is not an easy task, but you can choose the one can optimize the printing solution. You can find the metal filament in The Virtual Foundry which is similar to BASF’s Ultrafuse. The 1kg price for the metal filaments of the company are basically from $140 to $500, so pay attentions to the materials you want to buy and the amount. However, you can choose the spool size as 250g/ 500g/ 1kg, it is user friendly as you can choose a small volume if you want to try different material at a time. Because of different melting point of metal filaments, make sure the nozzle and bed temperature are right for the material, and basically nozzle temperature is 205-235 °C, while bed temperature is 40-50 °C.

the virtual foundry

Image Source: The Virtual Foundry

2. BASF Ultrafuse 316L (100%)

BASF metal filaments are one of the best in the industry, and the one we recommend is the 316L metal filament. Ultrafuse 316L filament is a metal polymer composite with a high percentage of 316L stainless steel, and the final product is nearly 100% metal. The price is $155 for 1kg, and please take a note that the spool size is 3kg before purchasing. And make sure the nozzle temperature is at 230-250 °C for successful printing. Besides, the bed temperature is 100-120 °C.

basf ultrafuse 316l

Image Source: MatterHackers

3. Formfutura (~30%)

The Netherlands-based Formfutura manufactures and retails metal 3D filaments, available in "Classic Copper" and "Ancient Bronze," and is said to be about three times the weight of PLA. The price of metal filament is $72 for 1kg, while the spool sizes are 50g, 750g, and 1.5kg which is much different with those two companies we’ve mentioned above. And, the requirement of nozzle temperature is 215-235 °C. Make sure the print bed temperature is up to 60 °C.

formfutura

Image Source: Formfutura

4. ColorFabb (30-35%)

You don’t want to miss the Colorfabb metal filaments, which is also made in Netherlands. ColorFabb has a portfolio of metal-infused PLA filaments blended with metal powders, including BronzeFill, CopperFill and SteelFill. These filaments contain 30% to 35% metal by volume, depending on the base material and density provided by the company. More importantly, all of these filaments can be used with almost any desktop 3D printer, and the printed models looks similar as real metal 3d printed parts. Besides, the printed parts can apply post-processing. The price is $75 for 1kg, and the spool sizes are 750g and 1.5kg. the nozzle temperature is from 190-220 °C, while the print bed temperature is 55 °C.

colorfabb

Image Source: ColorFabb

5. Protopasta (10-15%)

As one of the earliest companies offering 3D metal filaments, Protoplant has five metal filaments, copper-, brass-, bronze-filled HTPLA (heat-treatable PLA), steel- and iron-filled composite PLA. Given that all five materials are primarily composed of PLA, with densities ranging from 1.85 to 2.3 g/cm3, the volume percentage of metal is closer to 10 to 15%. The price of these metal filaments is from $70-$100/kg, and the spool sizes is from 50g/ 125g/ 500g/ 2kg, which provides a wide range of options for printing. Besides, it necessary to make sure the nozzle temperature at 185-230 °C and the print bed temperature is up to 60 °C.

protopasta

Image Source: Protopasta

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