Question about good Filaments and Printers

Our team is looking to 3D print parts on our upcoming robots, and while we don’t want to invest Markforged levels, we want to be able to create parts that will be able to withstand some force, and depending on the next game, maybe even hold the full weight of the robot up (if there is a climbing aspect to the next game). I’ve been lurking through some forum posts, but wasn’t really able to find what I was looking for from most of it. I know of the Prusa MK3S+ and Prusa Mini+, but not too much outside of that for printing major parts on the robot. I also want to know what types of filaments that are viable for parts of this nature. I’ve seen mentions of Polycarbonate, Nylon, and potentially even a Nylon + CF blend, but I’m not completely sure. Any advice or suggestions on this topic would be great!

We use Ninjatek Armadillo. It’s TPU, but is rigid, strong and stands abrasion well. We used it as the spool for our climber this past season.

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My current recommendations
Printers
The Bambu Labs X1 Carbon ($1,449) is an amazing printer, we have had ours for about a month, and it has been excellent, prints fantastic parts with PA-CF and Polycarb-CF filaments, and it’s incredibly fast at PLA parts as well.

That being said, most printers can make reliable parts for a robot; it just depends on how much time you are willing to put into tuning and maintaining them.

We own 12 Prusa mini+s that have been fantastic as well; most are set up for PLA+, which works for a lot of robot parts. Two of them are currently set up (hardened nozzle and satin print bed) for printing PA-CF and polycarb, and they can make parts as nice as the Bambu Labs printer. It just takes them a lot longer.

On the cheaper side, something like a Sovol V6 (<$260) can print many engineering filaments (300C nozzle) out of the box but will probably require more tuning. With a hardened nozzle, it can also print carbon fiber-filled filaments

Many teams have had good luck with Ender 3 variants (pro, v2, s1, s1 plus), and those can also be great printers with some care.

Filaments
Duramic PLA+ is an excellent filament at a good price.

Prusament makes great filament; many of our 2022 robot parts were made from Prusament PC-Blend filament. We also used Prusament PLA for some parts as well.

We have also used filament from 3D Maker Engineering. The PLA+ and Polycarb Pro have both worked well for us.

Most polycarb or Nylon-CF filaments will be pretty robust for FRC applications, and in many cases, PLA+ printed parts will work fine if they aren’t taking a lot of impact or force.

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I printed pullies and tube inserts for our team this year on my Prusa i3MK3S+ with CarbonX CF-PETG and it held up very very well, incredibly impressed. Just make sure your layer lines are not along any sheer forces, and I believe you will be just fine.

I’ve also heard great things about Prusament’s PC Blend Carbon Fiber Filament. It’s not a 1:1 replacement for onyx but is a great substitute where onyx would normally be used.

Great advice so far. Here’s a thread from earlier in the year with more: Favorite brand(s) of PLA plus/pro? PETG? - Technical / Manufacturing - Chief Delphi

If you look at the strength-to-price ratio of literally anything from Markforged, it will always be way worse than products from literally any other filament/printer company.

Prusa printers are a great alternative (and from what I hear, Prusa filament is also really great)

I have been a huge supporter of Markforged for many years now. However, we recently added a pair of Prusa Minis to our toolkit and so far, I have been extremely impressed. On one of them, I’ve switched the nozzle to an 0.8mm hardened steel nozzle, switched to their textured plate, and started printing with their PC with Carbon Fiber. From my first few test prints, I’ve found it to make parts that are nearly as rigid as those from Markforged and just a tiny bit less dimensionally accurate. And it prints WAY faster with this nozzle (maybe 3x speed). I’m still very much a novice with this printer, but so far I’m loving this setup.

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Although I’ve only been using it a couple of months, I’ve had great success with the Creality Ender 3 V2. Although it’s on the more budget side (~$260), with a bit of tuning and maintenance, it is probably more than adequate. I’ve done a lot of high-stress parts with it, and many of them are still holding up perfectly fine. I haven’t really tested any filaments other than a few kilos I got of Kiwi3d, so I can’t recommend anything there.

Overall, all the Creality printers are pretty good, and are all for a quite nice price too.

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We have used Armadillo for some gears. It has held up all season and the off season. We tried the PC and nylons including carbon variants in the past. Nothing performed even close to Armadillo. Can printed on most any printer. Most other parts are PETG.

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I run a (few) Prusa MK3S+'s (one fairly stock, one heavily modded).

I have the Ikea lack enclosure for both, and a “nozzleX” on the one that is mostly stock.

The Prusament PC blend with CF is my favorite filament for most robot parts. the Carbon Fiber helps it print better (and not warp). The parts look fantastic. They come out very tough, especially if you run with 4+ perimeters. This is a great balance of price vs print-ability. It is also super easy to set up within Prusa slicer since it is Prusament.

We will make simple mounts out of PLA/PETG/PLA+. Whatever is available. I like the Jessie Brand, but there are many good choices.

Prusa also makes a PA11 with CF. I have a spool, but haven’t tested it yet. It looks promising.

Just to add a -different- view point here… GLASS fiber reinforced nylon rocks! Tougher than CF, a little less stiff, and it comes in COLORS! That’s what your power drill shell is made of!

Nylon needs drying, a dry box, and an appropriate bed. Soooo worth the work!

Invest in a ruby nozzle if you are doing anything reinforced!!! Not that much money and the seem to last forever.

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Making notes of all the filament to try.

Team has 2 Prusa MK3S, usually printing PETG but now PLA+. Want to try the carbon fiber filament, so……

I have an MK3S+ at home, and a heavily modified CR-10 s5. Which I’m in the process of upgrading with a Hemera direct drive and V6 all-metal hotend, so I can attempt some CF filaments.

So many nozzle choices!! Hardened steel, Nozzle X, ruby……

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The one downside of Armadillo is that it’s a poor filament for removable supports. Nearly impossible to remove.

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I took a look, and I’m curious about the “printing up to 16 colors” claim… I see one of the X1 Carbon options includes the Bambu Lab AMS., which seems really cool, but I’ve heard these systems are often not very reliable. I’m a little more interested in multi-material printing (i.e. for dissolvable supports) than I am in multi-color, but both would be pretty amazing… Wondering if you got the one with the AMS & if so how well it is working out for you. Thanks.

I believe @cadandcookies recently purchased an X1 Carbon for himself with the AMS. From the various reviews i’ve seen, it’s comparable to the Prusa MMU2S. One thing to note is that if you do go with the AMS you will need some sort of a wastebasket behind the printer for filament switches, as it purges filament direct in to a chute instead of doing a purge tower like most multi-material printers would do.

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I do have an AMS. It is fairly reliable. I highly recommend using filaments that have plastic spools in it— even compressed cardboard ones make a dust that reduces friction on the rollers that can lead to jams.

Honestly the biggest benefit is not having to load new filament in manually to switch between colors during normal use.

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We have the AMS system on our Bambu X1 Carbon. Although we haven’t had many multi-filament prints the filament gets retracted after every print. I haven’t noticed any issues on the AMS itself, and the chute system works well. Would Highly recommend it if you think you would use it.

There are some limitations worth noting; Bambu has separate supports for high-temp materials and low-temp materials. The AMS is super useful for this use case because you save a significant amount of material that would be wasted on a purge tower.

Worth noting is that regardless of whether you multi-filament print, you need a wastebasket if you use the AMS. We use a small Tupperware container, and throw it out once a week or so.

Something that hasn’t been said yet, is that the Bambu is super fast. almost twice as fast as our tuned Prusia minis, while having a better-printed quality due to its Active Vibration Compensation.

Here is a short real-time video of the printer:

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We do have the AMS and like people above we have mostly used it just to store multiple filaments ready to print and not really for multi-material or multi-color. We have done a couple multi color tests with PLA and it worked great. Getting some high temp break away filament has been on my list so we can see how well it works.

We have had zero issues with the AMS so far.

The two issues we had with the printer were a bad case light cable that was causing resets and support sent us new parts to get it fixed.

We also had one nozzle clog printing special TPU-Carbon Fiber. I believe one of the pieces of CF was too large to fit through the nozzle, probably need to use 0.6mm nozzle with that specific filament.

The only other complaint I have about the printer is that there aren’t any handles or easy ways to lift, so it’s not convenient to pack up to bring to tournaments or something like that but that’s not much of an issue.

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We have a Prusa MK2.5s and a Mini+ - both were used heavily over build season (very rarely did I not see them printing something). Both printers are enclosed in their own LACK enclosures as well.

Personally I have an Ender 3V2 and a Prusa i3 MK3S+ - I really prefer my Prusa over the Ender. The reliability of the Prusa is just unbeat - just being able to click print and know that it’ll work is really nice.

We primarily printed in PLA+ with a bunch of different brands, specifically ERYONE, Filaments.ca “Canadian Maker Series”, and 3D Printing Canada’s “Value PLA”. We also have used TPU and CF-Nylon for parts on our robots as well.