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Material Guide

Here you can find useful information on the pros and cons of materials, usage, and basic print settings.

 

 
 

Table of Contents

Click on the images to view full descriptions

 
 

 

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Example Vase PLA Starlight.png

PLA (polylactic acid)

PLA is the most common FFF 3D printing material; it is easy to print, rigid, and does not warp easily. However, it lacks the temperature resistance and strength that many other materials offer. It is an excellent choice for prototypes, concept models, and low-wear toys.

Best used for: Prototypes, concept models, low-wear toys, etc.

—————

Nautilus Tool Cartridge Compatibility

B 250 // X 400 // X 800

*Vase designed by Thingiverse user eggnot | PLA Extrafill Vertigo Starlight

 
PROS
CONS
  • Easy to print
  • Good for small and large parts
  • Rigid and tough
  • Low warping
  • Low-temperature resistance
  • Brittle
  • Challenging Post-processing
 
 

 
  • Nozzle temperature: 190 - 225 °C

  • Bed Temperature: 40 - 60 °C

  • Print Surface: PEI or BuildTak Original, make sure to wipe the Print Surface with IPA before each print

PLA (Polylactic Acid) is the most commonly used material. It is easy to print, quite strong and biodegradable. It is a good choice for large parts due to its low thermal expansion properties, meaning large parts are less likely to warp. Tiny parts also work well with PLA thanks to its low melting temperature.

PLA is a very hard material which makes parts quite brittle. When PLA parts break they tend to shatter. PLA will also become very brittle if left in the PTFE feeder tubes commonly used on 3D printers including the Nautilus. For this reason, it is strongly recommended to completely unload PLA material from the printer as soon as the print is finished so that the material does not become brittle and break inside the feeder tube next time you go to load/unload or start a print.

PLA is not suitable for all use cases, its low melting temperature means a relatively low-temperature resistance resulting in parts beginning to lose mechanical strength around 60°C (140°F). This, in combination with it being biodegradable, makes PLA not an ideal choice for use outdoors

PLA is not suited for chemical welding, it is best to use glue when connecting PLA parts.

Despite PLA itself being food safe, we do NOT recommend repeatedly drinking or eating from PLA parts. Bacteria can build up in the small creases between layers. This applies to all FFF 3D printed parts unless post-processed with a food-safe coating.

PLA can be sanded for post-processing; due to the low melting temperature it will get soft rather quickly from the friction so you will have to sand slowly or use wet sanding.

For drying PLA in an oven, preheat the oven to 40-45°C (~100-110°F) before placing your spool inside for 4-6 hours. If your oven does not go that low, you can try to preheat it to the lowest temperature, shut the oven off, and then place the spool inside. Check the temperature inside with a thermometer so you don’t melt your filament!


 

 
 
Example Z-Gantry CPE.png

Co-polyester

Co-polyesters are group of plastics that includes PET, PETG, etc. Co-polyesters are quite tough and offer better temperature resistance than PLA. Co-polyesters also exhibits relatively low warping and are an excellent choice for end use parts.

Best used for: Prototypes, usable parts, end-use parts, etc.

—————

Nautilus Tool Cartridge Compatibility

X 400 // X 800

*Nautilus Z-Carriage designed by Hydra Research | CPE HG100 Black Soul

 
PROS
CONS
  • Easy to print
  • Durable and very tough
  • Temperature resistant
  • Low warping
  • Strong layer adhesion
  • Chemically resistant
  • Tends to exhibit more stringing
  • Brittle
  • Scratch prone
  • Not suitable for acetone post-processing
 
 

 
  • Nozzle temperature: 230 - 280 °C

  • Bed Temperature: 70 - 110 °C

  • Print Surface: PEI, do NOT use IPA to clean the Print Surface as this may result in too much bed adhesion. Windex or other window cleaners are a good option for preparing the Print Surface for Co-polyesters.

Co-polyesters are any thermoplastic made from modified polyester and include PET, PETG, CPE, and more. Co-polyesters are generally quite tough with good to excellent temperature resistance typically ranging from 80 - 110°C depending on the material blend. Co-polyesters also exhibit very low warping and are an excellent choice for large parts. The majority of the parts on your Nautilus are printed with Co-polyesters.

Co-polyesters can be almost as easy to print as PLA but offer superior mechanical properties. Co-polyesters tend to be more ductile, meaning they have a good amount of flex, which helps prevent parts from breaking under load. Co-polyesters also have good chemical resistance and are suitable for indoor and outdoor use. It is best to consult the material manufacturer's data sheet for exact specifications on a particular Co-polyester’s chemical resistance.

Co-polyesters do tend to ooze more than PLA and ABS resulting in the tendency to leave strings of plastic on the part. Blasting a Co-polyester part with a heat gun after printing is an excellent way to quickly remove any strings left by the printing process. Due to Co-polyesters’ chemical resistance, post-processing techniques like acetone smoothing will not work. However, sanding works just fine.

For drying co-polyesters in an oven, preheat the oven to 60°C (~140°F) before placing your spool inside for 4-6 hours. If your oven does not go that low, you can try to preheat it to the lowest temperature, shut the oven off, and then place the spool inside. Check the temperature inside with a thermometer so you don’t melt your filament!


 

 
 
Example Dryer Vent ASAafphoto.png

ABS/ASA

ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and ASA (acrylic styrene acrylonitrile) are great for strong, usable parts and exhibit good temperature resistance. ABS is very similar to ASA; the primary difference is ABS does not have the UV light resistance of ASA.

Best used for: Prototypes, usable parts, end-use parts, parts that require UV resistance (ASA only), etc.

—————

Nautilus Tool Cartridge Compatibility

B 250 // X 400 // X 800

*Outdoor dryer vent designed by Thingiverse user JF_213 | ASA Metallic Grey

 
PROS
CONS
  • Impact resistant
  • Temperature resistant
  • Can be post-processed with vapor smoothing
  • UV resistance (ASA ONLY)
  • Unpleasant odor during printing
  • Less feature detail
  • More susceptible to warping
 
 

 

Nozzle temperature: 230 - 260 °C

Bed Temperature: 90 - 110 °C

Print Surface: PEI, make sure to wipe the Print Surface with IPA before each print

ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and ASA (acrylic styrene acrylonitrile) are extremely common plastics outside of 3D printing. While they can be trickier than other plastics to print, you have chosen the Nautilus which is specifically designed to handle plastics like this. So good job :) Even so, you may encounter challenges printing large parts due to warping, in which case a co-polyester might be a good alternative. ABS/ASA has great temperature resistance up to 100°C and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications

The primary difference between ABS and ASA is the rubber monomer; polybutadiene is replaced with acrylate rubber. Butadiene in ABS is UV-reactive causing ABS to become brittle when exposed to UV light (sunlight) for long periods of time, this change yields much better UV resistance for ASA. ASA is commonly used for vehicle bumpers and ski bindings among many other things.

ABS and ASA are highly wear-resistant, synthetic rubbers which result in a strong and impact resistant part when printed. ABS/ASA is also soluble in acetone, meaning it can be vapor smoothed after printing, which can remove or greatly reduce surface imperfections caused by printing.

ABS/ASA does have an unpleasant odor and you may want to consider setting up ventilation for your Nautilus using the fume ventilation port located on the back of your Nautilus.

For drying ABS or ASA in an oven, preheat the oven to 80°C (~175°F) before placing your spool inside for 4-6 hours. If your oven does not go that low, you can try to preheat it to the lowest temperature, shut the oven off, and then place the spool inside. Check the temperature inside with a thermometer so you don’t melt your filament!


 

 
 
Example Bracket Nylon CF15afphoto.png

Nylon

Nylon is a very durable, low-friction material with a high melting point. These properties make it a great material for functional and end-use parts.

Best used for: Prototypes, usable parts, end-use parts, etc.

—————

Nautilus Tool Cartridge Compatibility

B 250 // X 400 // X 800

*Bracket designed by Thingiverse user mmendoza21 | Nylon CF15 Carbon

 
PROS
CONS
  • Impact resistant
  • Durable
  • Flexible and strong
  • Chemically resistant
  • Temperature resistant
  • Hygroscopic (needs to be stored in a dry box)
  • More susceptible to warping
 
 

 
  • Nozzle temperature: 240 - 280 °C

  • Bed Temperature: 40 - 80 °C

  • Print Surface: PEI or BuildTak with bed adhesive.

Nylon can be a difficult material to print with, but the durability and chemical resistance of the resulting parts is worth it. We recommend using nylons specifically supported on the Nautilus for easily repeatable results.

Due to the hygroscopic nature of Nylon, it must be stored in a sealed bag or filament dry box whenever possible! If nylon is exposed to moisture in the air, even for an hour, its ability to be printed and the mechanical strength of the printed part may be greatly reduced. This is because the water absorbed by the filament will boil in the hot zone of the printer. The resulting steam will create bubbles and air pockets in the print greatly reducing interlayer adhesion and surface quality

The best way to check if your nylon has absorbed moisture is to extrude material through a heated nozzle and look for bubbles in the extrusion or listen for hissing as the material is extruded. You can usually save water-damaged nylon by placing it in an oven or a food dehydrator.

For drying Nylon in an oven, preheat the oven to 80°C (~175°F) before placing your spool inside for 4-6 hours. If your oven does not go that low, you can try to preheat it to the lowest temperature, shut the oven off, and then place the spool inside. Check the temperature inside with a thermometer so you don’t melt your filament!

 

 
 
Example Shoe Sole Flex A1.png

Flexible

Flexible materials are wear and abrasion resistant and have exceptional inter-layer adhesion. Common applications include grips, anti-slip parts, vibration dampening, wheels, and much more. Flexible filaments are rated on the Shore A-type Hardness scale; the higher the rating, the stiffer the filament.

Best used for: Prototypes, usable parts, end-use parts, parts that require flexibility or vibration dampening, etc.

—————

Nautilus Tool Cartridge Compatibility

X 400 // X 800

*Flexible and Breathable Insole by Thingiverse user Gyrobot | Flexfill 98A Vertigo Grey

 
PROS
CONS
  • Elastic and flexible
  • Little to no warping/shrinkage
  • Excellent layer adhesion
  • Resistant to many solvents
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Must be printed slowly
  • Prints can be stringy
  • Not good for parts with very small details
 
 

 
  • Nozzle temperature: 240 - 250 °C

  • Bed Temperature: 40 - 50 °C

  • Print Surface: PEI or BuildTak with bed adhesive. Bed adhesive is essential as an interface layer for PEI and BuildTak.

Flexible materials are very strong and there are many applications where hard plastic is not ideal and potentially unusable. Flexible materials are great for anti-slip or vibration dampening feet, phone cases, wheels, and much more. Flexible materials have excellent abrasion resistance and maintain flexibility in cold environments

Due to the low shrinkage of flexible materials, warping is not a concern meaning dimensional accuracy is quite good.

Most flexible materials form an extremely strong bond with PEI and BuildTak print surfaces, which can result in prints fusing to the print surface such that they cannot be removed without damaging the print surface. This is why it is crucial to have an adhesive interface layer like a glue stick, Magigoo or something similar.

For drying flexible materials in an oven, preheat the oven to 60°C (~140°F) before placing your spool inside for 4-6 hours. If your oven does not go that low, you can try to preheat it to the lowest temperature, shut the oven off, and then place the spool inside. Check the temperature inside with a thermometer so you don’t melt your filament!

 

 
 
Example R Pi Case Vynil.png

Vinyl/PVC

Vinyl, also know as PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is flame retardant, chemically resistant, rigid, and durable. It is a great material for prototyping and end use parts, especially for use in electrical equipment and caustic environments.

WARNING! During printing this filament emits toxic fumes.

Best used for: Parts that require flame resistance, prototypes, usable parts, end-use parts, etc.

—————

Nautilus Tool Cartridge Compatibility

X 400 // X 800

*Raspberry Pi Case by Thingiverse user 0110-M-P | Vinyl 303 Natural

 
PROS
CONS
  • Flame retardant
  • Chemically resistant
  • Tough and rigid
  • High impact strength
  • Low moisture absorption
  • Toxic fumes emitted during printing
  • Proper filtration and ventilation required
  • Nozzle jams are more common
 
 

 
  • Nozzle temperature: 215 - 230 °C

  • Bed Temperature: 80 °C

  • Print Surface: PEI or BuildTak with bed adhesive. Bed adhesive is essential as an interface layer for PEI and BuildTak

Vinyl/PVC is a relatively new material to the desktop 3D printing industry. It has some excellent properties, most notably flame and chemical resistance as well as being a tough and rigid material making it an excellent choice for usable parts especially one that will be around electronics.

⚠ IMPORTANT Vinyl/PVC emits much more toxic fumes than the likes of PLA and many other commonly used 3D printing materials. It is very important that you take the necessary precautions when using this material.

Safety Recommendations

  • Ventilate the room during printing

  • Use a filter system on the Nautilus (discussed more in section 1.4.4 of the user manual)

  • Pregnant women should not spend extended periods of time near machines processing Vinyl/PVC

  • DO NOT exceed 230°C for the nozzle temperature

 

 
 
hips_1_75_natural.jpg

HIPS

HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) is strong, impact resistant and tough. HIPS is commonly used for toys, packaging, indoor signs, kick plates, and consumer electronics housings. It can also be used as a dedicated support material, as it can be dissolved in Limonene.

Best used for: Prototypes, mechanical parts, dissolvable supports etc.

—————

Nautilus Tool Cartridge Compatibility

X 400 // X 800

 
PROS
CONS
  • Impact resistant
  • Temperature resistant
  • Can be dissolved in Limonene
  • Unpleasant odor during printing
  • Less feature detail
  • Somewhat susceptible to warping
 
 

 
  • Nozzle temperature: 230 - 260 °C

  • Bed Temperature: 90 - 100 °C

  • Print Surface: PEI, make sure to wipe the Print Surface with IPA before each print

HIPS (high impact polystyrene) has similar properties to ABS/ASA but is lighter, more impact resistant, and slightly malleable. HIPS is also an easier material to print than ABS/ASA which makes it a great alternative. While less of an issue than with ABS/ASA, you may encounter challenges printing large parts due to warping, in which case a co-polyester might be a good alternative. 

HIPS is commonly used for for home applicances, toys, and packaging to name a few applications. It is a highly wear-resistant, synthetic rubber which results in a strong and impact resistant part when printed. HIPS is easily post-processed; it can be machined, painted, and works with many adhesives. HIPS is also soluble in limonene, which makes it a good dissolvable support for ABS/ASA parts. Smoothing HIPS with limonene is challenging and not generally recommended. 

HIPS can produce an unpleasant odor and you may want to consider setting up ventilation for your Nautilus using the fume ventilation port located on the back of your Nautilus.


For drying HIPS in an oven, preheat the oven to 80°C (~175°F) before placing your spool inside for 4-6 hours. If your oven does not go that low, you can try to preheat it to the lowest temperature, shut the oven off, and then place the spool inside. Check the temperature inside with a thermometer so you don’t melt your filament!

 

 
 
dr_racer_timberfill_2.jpg

Composites

Composites are a combination of two or more materials with results that typically exhibit unique properties both physical and aesthetic. This category encompasses many materials such as carbon and glass fiber fill, wood fiber fills, as well as materials like PCABS, etc.

—————

Nautilus Tool Cartridge Compatibility

X 400 // X 800

*Model car designed by David drracer Řehoř | Tmiberfill Cinnamon

 
PROS
CONS
  • Can provide unique visual properties
  • Can provide unique mechanical properties
  • Some composites contain abrasive fibers, requiering abrasion resistant 3D printer hardware
  • Layer heights and nozzle diameter options are sometimes limited
 
 

 

For organization purposes in Cura, composites that have fiber/particles added will be listed with their base material. For example, NylonG (glass fiber reinforced nylon) will be in the nylon category. Composites that are a combination of two plastics will be listed in the composites category, for example, PCABS (a blend of PC and ABS plastics).


Composites are usually used for two reasons. 

One, to change mechanical properties. For example, adding fiber reinforcement like carbon and glass fiber can add rigidity to printed parts. 

Two, to change the aesthetic quality of the part. For example, adding wood fiber or glitter can reduce the visibility of layers or produce a wood-like appearance.  

Composites encompass too many drastically different materials for us to go into detail on each one. The primary thing to understand about composites is that they tend to use similar print settings to their base material. For example, a nylon carbon fiber composite will likely print with similar settings to normal nylon. However, there are a few general notes about composites.

Composites often contain particles like carbon fiber, glass fiber, wood fiber, etc. The size of the fibers will limit the layer heights and nozzle sizes you will be able to successfully print with. For example, the carbon fibers in a filament are ~100μm so it is not recommended to print with a layer height below 150μm, and while you may be able to get some successful prints, we recommend not using particle filled composites with the B250 Tool Cartridge. That said, composites like PCABS, which are just a combination of two plastics, can be printed just fine with the B250 Tool Cartridge and low layer heights.

 

 

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