HDPE filament for 3D printing: learning about plastic materials

Discover HDPE, one of the most used plastic materials, as well as some tips for printing and extruding it!

 

What is HDPE

HDPE is a thermoplastic polymer made from petroleum. It has high intermolecular forces and greater stiffness than low-density polyethylene, with the result that the tensile strength is greater; compared to the latter, moreover, it is also harder and more opaque and can withstand higher temperatures.

It is one of the most common materials in everyday life: in fact, HDPE accounts for 40% of the total volume of world production of plastic materials and is easily available in many commonly used articles such as detergent drums, bottle caps, containers of various types and folding chairs, as well as being also present in water pipes and telecommunications cables.

 

The characteristics of HDPE

The HDPE possesses particular characteristics that make it suitable for the uses listed in the previous paragraph: it does not absorb water or liquids, (it is affected, in fact, only by oxidizing acids such as nitric acid, sulfuric acid and halogens) and has excellent insulating properties and chemical stability, in addition to being non-toxic and therefore suitable for use in the food and medical sectors.

The physical properties are just as interesting: HDPE is a lightweight material, easily modeled and very resistant to impacts, it lasts a long time and is resistant to bad weather and abrasion. It is very difficult to stick: for this reason, when using a 3D printer with material of this type, first create a layer on the printer plate with melted HDPE or with ABS Juice on which the print can stick.

 

Printing with HDPE

HDPE is one of the most complex materials to print. It is often used instead of ABS, since similar prints are found to be lighter and more resistant; however, compared to the latter it requires higher temperatures for printing and can release unpleasant fumes if the temperature is too high. The natural tendency of HDPE to deform is likely to lead to deformed prints if the HDPE contracts slightly when it cools. Moreover, as said, it is necessary to realize a layer of HDPE / ABS Juice on the printer plate.

The HDPE is soluble in limolem: therefore, it can also be used to make supports for 3D prints made with other materials. Once printing is complete, these can be dissolved by immersing the print in limolem.

 

Extruding HDPE with Felfil Evo

Extruding the HDPE with Felfil Evo is quite simple and requires no special attention. Here are the parameters to set:

 

Temperature:                                                    200°C
Rpm:                                                                           9
Motor duty:                                                          0,5 A
Drying needed:                                                       no

 

 

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