Among the exotic blends of filaments, the luminous glow in the dark filament is a specialty of 3D printing.
Long heralded as a kitsch material for kids toys and spooky special effects, glow in the dark plastics can be used for household purposes as well.
This glow in the dark material is GlowFill from ColorFabb. As a PLA/PHA blend, it prints well at 220 C.
In feeling the filament, it does feel slightly abrasive compared to normal smooth PLA/PHA. While the factory does not have a recommendation, I have heard from others that you may want to invest in a hardened nozzle if you plan to print long-term with this filament.
The glow in the dark pigment is strontium aluminate (SrAl2O4) which glows a brilliant green after it is charged by an outside light source. In field testing this, the material has a visible glow that last 30 min to a couple hours depending on the amount of time it has charged.
Use In the House
When I started 3D printing I considered GlowFill more of a novelty filament than something practical for printing. Due to the special pigment, it also cost more than standard filaments, which also deterred me from printing with it.
But I finally broke down a few months ago and started with a sample of GlowFill.
When I got the sample I knew what I wanted to reprint.
“How cool would it be if that sci-fi light switch glowed in the dark”?
So into the Lulzbot went the sample. After printing, it came clean off the raft and worked great as replacement for the original switch.
After printing that, my mind started turning with what else would be useful printed with GlowFill. When I shared this with my father, he gave me a great idea.
“You know the lamp in the living room? I need a knob that’s easy to grab, and if I can find it at night, all the better”!
A quick search latter, I found the files for these lamp knobs (link).
After 3D printing them, I super glued them to the switch post on the lamp. Now when my father comes home he can easily find and turn the lights on.
It was in helping my father with a small thing at home that my mind changed on GlowFill. Apart from toys for kids, GlowFill can have some real practical applications in the home.
A big application is marking items that senior citizens may need access to at night. While I printed a novelty light switch for effect, there is nothing saying you cannot print a standard switch plate in this material for your kitchen. Imagine being able to easily find the light switch when you raid the fridge late at night.
More importantly, make the same switch plates for the bathroom. That will help kids and adults in the house.
In a previous blog I established a scoring system for all filaments. Here is how GlowFill scored.
1. Flexibility: Snapped at 150 o, 11pts
2. Color: Prints in a dull cream color, and glows bright green. 3 pts
3. Starting Quality: Started well. 2 pts
4. Warping: No warping. 3 pts
5. End of Print: Came clean off build plate. 3 pts
6. Environmental: 2 pt
7. Special consideration: For long term printing you may need a hardened nozzle. 0 pt.
8. Processing / finishing the print: PLA/PHA can be chemically or mechanically treated, but I think the unique glow in the dark properties of this filament will not justify it. 2 pts
FINAL SCORE: 26 / 28