Definitely 3D printing of plastic objects and parts has had a huge impact in revealing to the world the potential that the technology has in completely transforming traditional manufacturing.
Still most of the plastic objects printed have not exactly been mass products that can help 3D printing go mainstream.
For quite a long time, New York-based Graphene 3D Labs has been looking for ways to change the game by making many advances in the functional 3D printing area. The company caught worldwide attention last year through the commercial sale of its proprietary graphene magnetically conductive filaments. These filaments incorporated highly conductive nano-carbon materials that not only enhanced PLA properties but also paved way for the making of electronic 3D printed components using 3D printers.
This year, Graphene 3D Labs has made another significant improvement of functional 3D printing by introducing a unique magnetic 3D printing filament line best known as the ‘Ferro-Magnetic PLA Filament’, which the company has made available for purchase online through Amazon and their e-commerce store going by the nam ‘Black Magic 3D’.
Ferro-Magnetic PLA Filament
This new filament from Graphene 3D is made of ferro-magnetic PLA material and is iron based. It allows makers to 3D print a wide range of objects that are highly attracted to magnetic fields. If you wish for the best results, the company recommends using this filament with some of the most popular magnets like Neodymium Iron Boron (NdFeB) and Samarium Cobalt (SmCo).
Graphene’s 3D magnetic filament creates new possibilities in 3D printing making it practical to now 3D print things like mechanical actuators, magnetic sensors and magnetic stirrers. The color of the filament is flat black so you can expect the objects printed from it to have a cast iron appearance.
Take note that the filament will be a little more abrasive and brittle than any standard PLA filament simply because of its iron content. For this reason, you may want to expect some more wear on your nozzle. However, you can counteract this effect by a wear-resistant nozzle or simply using a larger nozzle when doing very long prints. On the upside, the company claimed that the iron is not going to rust.
The ferro-magnetic filament can be 3D printed at temperatures ranging from 215° to 225° Celsius with speeds of 60 to 80 mm/s. In order to acquire this magnetically conductive 3D printing material, you’ll have to part with $39.99 for a 350g Spool Available in 1.75mm Gauge on Amazon.
Among the many different industry applications that this filament will open up, there is much anticipation of the Education Sector improving quite a bit thanks to the uniqueness of the ferro-magnetic PLA filament. For instance, 3D printing can now be incorporated in science classes and one way to do this is by asking kids to 3D print magnets of their own and see what their young minds come up with.
Challenging Traditional Manufacturers
Elena Polyakova, the co-CEO of Graphene 3D, explains that the main objective of the company has always been to take part in the creation of new 3D printing opportunities. And their way of achieving this is by bringing to the market new functional filaments that expand the scope of 3D projects that can be successfully 3D printed.
Speaking about the ferro-magnetic 3D filament; Elena said that since it’s suitable for producing actuators, switches and sensors – Graphene 3D expects that this will challenge traditional manufacturers to consider incorporating more of 3D printing technology into their current manufacturing processes.
Graphene 3D clearly is playing an important role in the present market trend in the 3D industry of developing more functional and multi-functional printing materials that offer more usable printing options than just printing of inexpensive disposable plastic items. With the current wave, people are becoming more and more interested in 3D printing items that are both long lasting and are serving a particular purpose.
Of course this does not mean that plastic 3D printing filaments have not had their equal share of merits. It’s evident that the printing of plastic objects has brought forth quite a number of benefits such as is demonstrated by the 3D Printing of Prosthetics. Even then, 3D printing should not only be limited to the use of plastic filaments. Introducing other 3D printing materials such as wood, iron and cement to mention a few; boosts the value of the additive manufacturing technology placing more ‘resources’ in the hands of makers to unlock their creative imagination.
Conductive 3D printing filaments have for example made it easy to assemble and create working and Usable Electronics from functioning smartphones to 3D printed missiles. Printing of cheaper, thinner and better responsive Touch Screens for Smartphones has in addition been possible due to the use of conductive filaments made from gold and silver.
More Functional Filaments Coming Up
Is the ferro-magnetic filament going to be all that will be coming from Graphene 3D in 2016; absolutely not! Elena announced that 2016 will be a significant year for the company for they intend to introduce several new functional filaments.
She went ahead to announce that Graphene 3D already has a few functional filaments in the development pipeline. With just the first quarter over, there still seems to be more time for Graphene 3D to surprise the 3D printing community with advanced functional filaments.
The company has already filed a patent for a rather cheap process of producing High-Grade Conductive Graphene. Lately, Graphene 3D filed another patent for a multifunctional 3D printer that’s capable of 3D printing an organic working LED light source called the Romulus III.
Currently, the company has made at least six US patent applications all focused on its 3D printer and 3D printing materials technology. Clearly, this innovative company is on fire and the rest of us just can’t wait to see what it pulls out of its closet next time around.
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