Nanodax Co. Ltd is a startup filament company from Japan that is testing a new type of filament material.
There prototype Polypropylene filament is glass wool polypropylene (GWPP). When I first read the email from Nanodax about this, I was doubtful that a filament could be made from polypropylene. I associated polypropylene with fleece sweaters and winter clothing, not as a 3D printable material.
The information provided by Nanodax seemed to initially confirm my suspicions. According to them,
“PP has big CTE (coefficient of thermal expansion/shrinkage), 10-12x 10(-5)/K. Therefore normal PP tends to bend/deform during modeling and considered to be not suitable for 3D printing application. But we solved this problem by filling glass wool which has 4-7 micro meter dia[meter] whereas the glass fiber has 10-16 micro meter.Glass wool filled PP filament’s CTE is only 3×10(-5)/K.”
Polypropylene is a relatively soft plastic that is used for cooking and industrial applications, so I was intrigued by the possibilities of printing with Polypropylene filament.
When I felt the filament off the spool, I was amazed by how soft it felt compared to other rigid plastics like PLA. Off the bat it was bendable like a copper wire, with no spring like other filaments.
I did not read the full email with instructions from Nanodax when I first started to print.
Polypropylene filament prints at 230 – 235 C, which is a good temperature range for most desktop printers.
However, I found out the hard way that GWPP will not print on blue painters tape or the bare PIE build plate of my LulzBot Taz 5.
I wanted to print a sample chip for my growing collection of filaments. As I printed them on blue painters tape, they warped and curled like no other filament I have printed with before.
I was ready to trash Polypropylene filament before I read the full email from Nanodax. They recommended printing this filament on plastic packing tape, not blue painters tape. When I replaced the blue tape with clear packing tape on my build plate, I was about to give up on Polypropylene filament. I did not think that the slick surface of the packing tape would grab the filament and hold the print.
Fortunately I was proven wrong. The Polypropylene filament stuck perfectly to the packing tape, finally producing the warp-free sample chips that I wanted.
The resulting sample chips came clean off the build plate. The flexibility that I noted earlier carried through to the print. Polypropylene filament is unique in that is can be used a semi ridged material, with a flexibility of about half of SemiFlex, which may give you possible medical applications as well as industrial uses.
When I trimmed the raft from the print, I was surprised by how soft the plastic was compared to all others.
Polypropylene filament is a prototype filament from Nanodax, but I can see some industrial and medical applications for this filament. Cosplayers may also benefit from the semi rigid properties of this filament in armor pieces for their costumes, but it remains to be seen how well this material will take paint.
I can’t recommend this as a primary material for entry level 3D printers. The flexibility and different build surfaces preparation lends GWPP to more advanced 3D printers with well calibrated printers.
Using the filament rating system from a previous blog, I’ll rate Nanodax Polypropylene filament the following.
Flexibility: Soft and bendable to 180 degrees. 12 pts
Color: Flat eggshell white, the company does not have colors currently available. 3 pts
Starting Quality: Can have problems starting even on packing tape.1 pt
Warping: Slight warping even on packing tape, brim recommended. 1 pt
End of Print: It does come clean of packing tape. 3 pts
Environmental: No smells. 2 pts
Special consideration: Changing to packing tape may not work on all build surfaces, and it is difficult to apply tape without bubbles that can affect the base of the print. 0 pt
Processing: Polypropylene is chemically resistant to many solvents, which limit processing to mechanical methods. GWPP is easy to tool and carve, which may lend itself to modeling and industrial uses. 1 pt
Final Score: 23 / 28
If you have a new filament you would like 3D-PT to test, please contact him in the comments or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DISCLAIMER: Nanodax sent the samples at the own expense, with no expectations given for this review.