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3D Printing Carbon Fibre PLA

3D Printing Carbon Fibre PLA

Printing Carbon Fibre

Want to improve the structural strength of your prints and increase rigidity, without the difficulties of warping from PETG?

Carbon Fibre encased in a PLA base, is one of the best ways that you can improve the strength of your prints without needing to change much at all.

Most Carbon Fibre PLA Filaments contain somewhere in the region of 10%-15% Carbon Fibres with PLA the remaining.

Common Misconceptions

Myth 1: "Carbon Fibre PLA makes prints stronger." This isn't explicitly true, it increases the structural rigidity of the print. What this means, is that it removes flex from prints. This is ideal for structural frames, drones/RC vehicles, or anything you don't want to bend at all.

Myth 2: "Carbon Fibre prints exactly like PLA". Whilst a lot of the settings remain the same, there are 2 tweaks you need to make.

  • Retraction should be completely disabled (Bowden), or reduced significantly (Direct Drive). For more info on direct drive vs Bowden, see our getting started guides.
  • Speed needs to be slowed to 25%-50% of the normal speed, carbon fibres don't work so well under stress, so avoiding sharp corners, and slowing down helps plenty.

Myth 3: "Any printer can print Carbon Fibre PLA", whilst this isn't exactly wrong, there are a few changes to your printer that'll make it much easier and cheaper to print.

  1. Hardened Nozzle must be fitted, because the Carbon Fibres are extremely abrasive, you'd find that without one, it'd wear your normal nozzle out quickly, leading to bad print quality shortly afterwards. A cheap, must have, to get started.
  2. Ability to heat your nozzle to 245 °C, this can significantly help reduce the chance of clogs, some printers have a PTFE lining (plastic like inner in your hotend), a quick google will tell you, most printers that aren't specially certified as high temperature or Carbon Fibre capable, will have PTFE lining.
    You can print at 240 °C with PTFE lining, however it softens it, so ensure you have good cooling on your hotend.

So, how do I get printing?

  1. Install a hardened nozzle. We advise hardened steel nozzle, or ruby coated. Check out our selection for ideas, if you want several nozzles, check out TriangleLabs for bulk deals. You'll need to know if your nozzle is M5, M6 or a bespoke nozzle.
    All stock Ender 3s or similar clones are usually M6, and V6 hotends are usually M8s.
    If you can get a nozzle with a 0.5mm or larger hole, you'll find you have the best results, with minimal clogging.
  2.  Setup a new profile for your filament in your slicer, this can help with meaning you don't have to tune each time you want to print. 
  3. Reduce your print bed temperature to 50C, this can help because the fibres can heat up quicker, and tends to be a little more sticky than PLA.
  4. Increase your nozzle temperature to roughly 230 °C or slightly higher for best results.
  5. Set your retraction settings to 0 or as small as you can manage.
  6. Reduce your print speed to somewhere between 25%-50% of your original speed. Best results happen the slower you can go, below 25% you'll see negligible difference.
  7. Filament is brittle, so if you can guide it into your extruder using a PTFE lined tube, that would be best.
  8. Avoid sharp corners, or print them slowly.
    If you're designing a part, put at least 1mm radius' on all your corners.

With that, you're good to go!

Happy Printing!

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