TPU is an abbreviation of Thermoplastic Polyurethane. It belongs to the family of thermoplastic elastomers.
What does this mean? It means TPU is one of the flexible filaments available in the 3D printing market.
- TPU Printing Temperature
- What is TPU Filament (Thermoplastic Polyurethane)?
- TPU Printing Temperature. What Is the Best Bed Temperature for TPU?
- Does TPU Need Cooling?
- TPU Flexible Material Print Settings. What Settings Should You Use for TPU?
- How Fast Can You Print TPU?
- Can You Print TPU Without a Heated Bed?
- Does TPU Flexible Filament Need to Be Dried?
- Does TPU Filament Absorb Moisture?
Also, TPU filaments combine properties of rubber and plastic as such providing unique possibilities in the 3D printing industry applications. These properties enable TPU to be a flexible filament that easily bends or compresses.
You can print TPU filament on an unheated print bed. However, it would be helpful to 3D print TPU on a heated print bed for excellent print quality.
TPU Printing Temperature
More importantly, TPU filaments extrude at a high temperature of between 220 to 250 degrees Celsius. You shouldn’t use TPU material on heated glass bed temperatures of more than 60 degrees Celsius.
The article provides well-researched information on the TPU material, its pros and cons, and features like print bed temperature.
What is TPU Filament (Thermoplastic Polyurethane)?
TPU, Thermoplastic Polyurethane, is 3D printing flexible filaments with a rubber-like elasticity.
The rubber-like elasticity properties make TPU material durable, resilient, and perfect for impact absorption. Also, it provides TPU prints with soft-touch surfaces.
Features of TPU Filaments
- Abrasion resistance
- Resistance to grease and oil
- Elastic in nature
Advantages of TPU Filaments
- Performs under low temperature
- Flexible filament
- Structurally stable thermoplastic elastomer
- Retains effective porosity under mechanical stress
- Enjoys chemical resistant properties
- Good impact resistance
- Enjoys elasticity properties
- No curling during 3D printing
- Perfect interlayer adhesion
Disadvantages of TPU Filaments
- Printed only at low temperatures
- Post-processing prints remain difficult.
Applications of TPU Plastic Filaments
- Producing seals
- Producing tubes
- Manufacturing protective cases
- Production of end-use parts
TPU Printing Temperature. What Is the Best Bed Temperature for TPU?
The 3D printer build plate provides a perfectly flat surface for the bottom layer of your 3D print. Additionally, a heated bed or build plate is where the 3D printer’s direct-drive extruder prints the object layer by layer until complete.
The 3D print needs to settle on the build plate for perfect and quality prints. One way of achieving this is to use a PVA glue stick , blue tape, (check at Amazon), or a blue painter’s tape to provide layer adhesion for the print object.
Significantly, a heated bed helps you avoid 3D print warpings, stringings, and blobs. Heated beds evenly distribute heat, enabling an even cooling process for the 3D printed object.
Various manufacturers create different types of 3D printer print beds. Thus, it would be best if you understand your 3D printer print bed settings as different plastic filaments extrude at different levels of temperatures.
Equally, the build plate settings depend on the type of plastic filament used.
As such, you’ll need to use a low medium, or high setting depending on the 3D printer build plate and the filament of choice.
If you’re using TPU material, the optimal print bed temperatures will range between 45 to 60 degrees Celsius.
Related: ABS Print Settings
Note that increasing or decreasing the temperatures below or above these stipulated values for TPU material 3D printing will cause print imperfections.
Furthermore, TPU material has a high extruder temperature of 225- 245 degrees. So, it needs a heated print bed for quality 3D prints.
The imperfections come in plastic curlings, warpings, stringings, and blobs which lowers the 3D print quality.
Does TPU Need Cooling?
TPU material does not necessarily need cooling during 3D printing. More so, if you set your TPU at lower printing temperatures and speed, you’ll not need to use a cooling fan.
Also, pressure from the fan can negatively affect TPU 3D printed object’s shape.
Still, TPU filament needs more time to acquire a perfect layer adhesion, and fans can prove to be agents of disruption to that.
However, if you 3D print TPU material at a higher temperature and speed, you’ll need a cooling system. Check your cooling settings as it controls your fan’s speed. Do that because slicer settings have an impact on 3D final products.
If you print at a higher speed and temperature, set your cooling fan at 40% speed, and you’ll be assured of better 3D printing results.
A cooling fan will help harden the 3D print, especially when you’re printing at a high temperature. When the cooling system hardens the first layer, the layer promptly acts as a good foundation for subsequent layers to build on.
Similarly, if you’re printing at a higher speed, the TPU filament will not have sufficient time to cool, providing a weak foundation. It results in severe print imperfection such as warping, stringings, and blobs.
TPU Flexible Material Print Settings. What Settings Should You Use for TPU?
As a 3D printing hobbyist, it is best to always get your 3D printer settings right before starting any printing session. It is because the success of your project depends on the 3D printer, filaments, and firmware.
Flexible TPU filament needs the correct printer and firmware settings to produce the best results, just like other filaments do. For excellent results with TPU 3D printing work on the following settings:
Extruder Print Temperature
A 3D printer extruder (check at Amazon) is a vital component in the printing process. Therefore, you need to constantly check that your print head works at the right printing speed.
To achieve great TPU 3D printing results, print at a temperature of 220-250 degrees Celsius. You’re advised to experiment with your 3D printer by varying the extruder print temperature along with the stipulated range as you test-print.
Experimenting will ensure you finally reach the best extruder print temperature for your unique 3D printer.
Print Bed Temperature
The build plate, also known as the build platform or the print bed, is another critical component of a 3D printer. The print bed is where the 3D print object lays as printing takes place layer by layer.
Setting the temperature of the print bed helps the 3D print to harden evenly. As such guarantees excellent 3D prints that are not warped.
You need to set the 3D print bed temperature at less than 60 degrees Celsius when using TPU material.
TPU filament is a flexible filament. As such, you need to make correct settings in your printer software to actualize the level of flexibility of your 3D printed object.
Importantly, if you want a more flexible design, you need to lower your TPU filament infill level. Conversely, for stiffer or harder prints, raise your infill setting levels.
Keep Retraction Lower
For TPU material, always keep your retraction lower to achieve better printing outcomes. Moreover, higher retraction settings cause printer nozzle clogging.
Significantly, it would help if you were extremely cautious as combing flexible filaments like TPU with slight retraction cause severe challenges.
Notably, use Simplify3D software to ensure TPU doesn’t leak from the hot. Adjust your retraction level correctly by lowering your nozzle retraction settings.
Set Hot End Temperature Higher
3D printer extrusion nozzles tend to offer resistance when extruding; as a result, objects may face under-extrusion challenges.
To increase the Hot end temperature while TPU 3D printing, set your temperature higher than the manufacturers’ by 5 degrees Celsius.
Also, avoid using a cooling device like a fan as it will have the opposite effect from what you seek to achieve by increasing the hot end temperatures.
Use a Direct Drive Extruder
Notably, not all Bowden extruders extrude flexible filaments. Importantly, a direct drive extruder is the best for TPU 3D printing.
When using the Direct-drive extruder, shorten the distance between the drive wheel and the melting zone. The shortened distance between the two ensures that the material stays in the melting zone for the shortest time possible.
For this reason, the filament never warps or blobs.
Use Required The Feed Rate
If you’re using TPU material for 3D printing, adjust the feed speed evenly to optimize it. Additionally, it will be best to use a slow feed speed to print TPU or any other flexible filament.
Furthermore, as an elastic material, TPU compresses when subjected to high-speed printing. Thus, it may cause jams. You’re advised to use a starting speed of between 20-35mm/s for optimal TPU printing.
How Fast Can You Print TPU?
TPU is elastic. Therefore, if you attempt to print it at a higher speed, it will face challenges. It remains a flexible material that you should print at a lower speed than ABS or PLA filaments.
The ideal TPU material printing speed ranges between 15 to 30mm/s. However, if you’re using a direct drive extruder, you can go as high as 40mm/s.
To get the ideal TPU printing speed for your specific 3D printer, you can conduct trial and error tests along with the recommended printing speed until you get the value that best suits your 3D printer.
Alternatively, you may decide to split or get an average between the lowest recommended value and the highest.
Can You Print TPU Without a Heated Bed?
Yes! You can practically print TPU material without using a heated bed!
A 3D heated print bed gives you excellent print quality and layer adhesion. How does it work? It keeps extruded TPU material at their optimum temperatures. It enables you to avoid common challenges experienced by many 3D printing enthusiasts. The problems include 3D print warping or plastic curling, and stringings.
The polymer blends used in TPU filaments determine how stiff or rigid they become. As such, TPU extrudes at a 220-250 degrees Celsius temperature.
So, you can print TPU plastic material without using a heated bed. However, a heated bed gives the final print superior quality.
If you opt to use a heated bed when 3D printing TPU, ensure you don’t exceed the recommended print bed temperature of 60 degrees Celsius.
Does TPU Flexible Filament Need to Be Dried?
Yes! TPU flexible filament needs drying as it absorbs moisture very fast. It’s the type of filament that absorbs moisture even when the room climate is relatively dry. If not correctly stored, it may take between one to two days for the TPU filament to absorb water at room temperature.
Does TPU Get Soft?
Also, TPU gets soft when heated, although it enjoys excellent layer bonding. Still, it’s revered for minimal warpings in print products.
Furthermore, TPU is a type of rubber, but it does not absorb moisture from the environment. If you want quality 3D prints from TPU material, it will be helpful to know how to dry it up.
Most manufacturers recommend dry TPU at 65 degrees Celsius for between 8 and 24 hours. You can also use your oven to dry TPU filament.
Drying TPU using an Oven
You may decide to dry your moist TPU filaments using your oven at home. An oven is an available option, and all you need is to set it at a temperature of 60 degrees Celsius.
Set the plastic on a flat surface with weights such as a book or a stone. Do that after wiping the excess water using a piece of cloth.
Set the oven on and dry the filament for 5 hours.
Does TPU Filament Absorb Moisture?
TPU filament is a hygroscopic material that absorbs moisture from the surrounding environment. Hygroscopicity remains an arch-enemy of all thermoplastic materials, TPU material being one.
The TPU mechanical properties make it a filament that absorbs moisture from the atmosphere quickly. To avoid your TPU filament getting moist, you are advised to store it in airtight containers that contain silica gels.
Silica gels (check at Amazon) absorb the moisture in the airtight container, making the container most effective for storing TPU filament dry. Keeping the filament dry and away from moisture and water is perfect for acquiring optimum prints.
TPU plastic filament is one of the most used plastic filaments in 3D printing. It belongs to the family of flexible filaments with a wide range of applications. The article is a comprehensive guide on matters of TPU material.
TPU’s features, pros and cons, and the printing temperature setting are clearly explained. TPU has an extruder temperature of between 220 -250 degrees Celsius and a printer bed temperature that shouldn’t exceed 60 degrees Celsius.
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