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Why You Should Try Carbon Fiber Filaments

2024.05.22  254 clicks

Written by Abigail    May 22, 2024


What is carbon fiber filament?


Carbon fiber filament is a specialized type of material used in 3D printing that incorporates short strands of carbon fibers into a standard base material, such as PLA, ABS, PETG, or Nylon. These carbon fibers are known for their high stiffness, tensile strength, and resistance to temperature, which significantly enhance the properties of the base material.


The addition of carbon fibers to the filament improves its structural integrity, making the final printed object stronger, sturdier, and more dimensionally stable. Carbon fiber reinforced filament is particularly beneficial as it minimizes the risk of parts warping or shrinking as they cool down post-printing. Moreover, despite the increased strength, carbon fiber filaments maintain a lightweight mechanical property, which is advantageous for applications where every gram counts, such as in the aerospace and automotive industries.


Overall, carbon fiber filament is a composite material that offers a balance between strength and weight, delivering new possibilities for 3D printed parts applications that require high performance under stress while still being lightweight.


Bambu Lab PLA-CF Filament


Image Source: Bambu Lab


Types of Carbon Fiber Filaments


PA12 CF (Polyamide 12 Carbon Fiber)


PA12 CF is a high-performance filament that combines Polyamide 12 with carbon fibers, resulting in a material with excellent stiffness, strength, and heat resistance. It’s particularly noted for its low moisture sensitivity and warp-free printing capabilities, making it suitable for manufacturing tools and functional parts that require precision and durability.


PA6 CF (Polyamide 6 Carbon Fiber)


This filament is reinforced with carbon fibers to improve stiffness, strength, and heat resistance significantly. PA6 CF is ideal for applications that demand high durability and impact resistance, such as automotive parts and industrial components.


PLA CF (Polylactic Acid Carbon Fiber)


PLA CF offers the ease of printing associated with PLA but with added strength and rigidity thanks to the carbon fiber reinforcement. It’s a great choice for those looking for an upgrade from standard PLA for parts that need to be both strong and lightweight.


PET CF (Polyethylene Terephthalate Carbon Fiber)


PET CF filaments are known for their low moisture absorption and high dimensional stability. They combine the toughness of PET with the strength of carbon fibers, making them suitable for load-bearing structures or prints used in high-temperature and humid environments.


PETG CF (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol Carbon Fiber)


PETG CF is a co-polyester reinforced with carbon fibers, offering ease of printing, excellent strength and stiffness, and superior dimensional stability. It’s a versatile material that’s suitable for a wide range of applications, including those requiring chemical resistance and low shrinkage.


ABS CF (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene Carbon Fiber)


ABS CF is a blend of ABS plastic with carbon fibers, which enhances the material’s strength, stiffness, and temperature resistance. It’s known for its ease of printing, excellent dimensional stability, and smooth surface finish. ABS CF is ideal for creating strong and durable parts that can withstand mechanical stress and higher temperatures.


PC CF (Polycarbonate Carbon Fiber)


PC CF combines polycarbonate’s high heat resistance and mechanical properties with the strength of carbon fibers. This filament is perfect for applications that require parts to maintain their integrity under high thermal stress. It’s also known for its high stiffness, excellent dimensional stability, and superior surface quality.


Why use carbon fiber filament?


Carbon fiber filament, a true innovation in 3D printing, offers exceptional properties and advantages. Here’s why you should be intrigued to try it:


Carbon Fiber Filament Properties


High Tensile Strength: Carbon fiber filaments exhibit superior tensile strength, making them capable of withstanding significant stress without stretching or breaking.


Lightweight: Despite their strength, these filaments are remarkably lightweight, which is crucial for applications where weight is a limiting factor.


High Stiffness: The rigidity of carbon fiber filaments means that printed parts maintain their shape under force, leading to more durable and stable creations.


Thermal Stability: With a high tolerance for temperature, carbon fiber filaments can withstand heat without deforming, making them suitable for parts that experience high thermal exposure.


Low Thermal Expansion: These filaments have minimal thermal expansion, ensuring dimensional accuracy and consistency in printed parts.


Chemical Resistance: Carbon fiber filaments resist chemicals well, which is beneficial for parts that may be exposed to corrosive substances.


Carbon Fiber Filament Advantages


Durability: Parts made with carbon fiber filament are known for their durability, able to endure the rigors of functional use without succumbing to wear and tear.


Precision: The low shrinkage rate of carbon fiber filaments means that printed parts are precise, making them ideal for technical and engineering applications.


Aesthetics: The unique texture and finish of carbon fiber prints offer an attractive aesthetic that is both professional and modern.


Versatility: With various base materials available for carbon fiber filaments, such as PLA, ABS, and Nylon, there’s a type for nearly every application.


Considerations for Using Carbon Fiber Filament


Printer Compatibility: Ensure your 3D printer is equipped with a hardened steel nozzle to handle the abrasive nature of carbon fibers.


Printing Settings: Adjust print speed and retraction settings to accommodate the filament’s properties for optimal results.


Post-Processing: Be prepared for different post-processing techniques, as carbon fiber parts may require unique finishing methods.


Formlabs Carbon 3D Printed Parts


Image Source: Formlabs


Carbon Fiber 3D Printed Parts Applications


Aerospace and Aviation


In the aerospace sector, the strength-to-weight ratio is paramount. Carbon fiber 3D-printed parts are used to produce components that are both lighter and stronger than traditional materials, leading to increased fuel efficiency and performance.


Automotive Industry


The automotive industry benefits from carbon fiber’s durability and lightweight nature, using it for parts like dashboards, bumpers, and gear knobs. The material not only improves the vehicle’s performance but also its fuel efficiency.


Medical Devices


Carbon fiber’s biocompatibility makes it suitable for prosthetics and orthopedic devices. Its lightweight and high-strength properties provide comfort and functionality for patients.


Sports Equipment


From bicycles to tennis rackets, carbon fiber is used to enhance the performance of sports equipment, offering high strength without adding unnecessary weight.


Robotics


In robotics, carbon fiber parts contribute to the creation of more efficient and precise robots. End-of-arm tooling, for example, benefits from the material’s rigidity and lightness.


Consumer Products


Everyday items such as laptop cases, phone covers, and even furniture are now being made with carbon fiber filaments, providing a sleek, modern look along with durability.


Industrial Tooling


Carbon fiber is also used in the manufacturing of jigs, fixtures, and alignment tools, which require high precision and strength to maintain their shape under stress.


Energy Sector


In the energy sector, carbon fiber is being explored for use in wind turbine blades and energy storage systems, where its strength and fatigue resistance can lead to longer-lasting, more efficient designs.


Formlabs Carbon Fiber 3D Printed Parts Applications


Image Source: Formlabs


Best Carbon Fiber Filaments


1. MH PRO Series Carbon Fiber Nylon


The MH PRO Series Carbon Fiber Nylon filament is engineered for both prototyping and end-use applications. It is the ideal choice for projects that require the highest level of performance. The filament features high impact resistance, chemical resistance, and impressive durability. Its ±0.02mm diameter tolerance ensures consistent printing.


MH PRO Series Carbon Fiber Nylon


Image Source: MatterHackers


2. Bambu Lab PLA Carbon Fiber Filament


Bambu Lab's carbon fiber reinforced PLA offers a unique combination of ease of use and enhanced mechanical properties, making it an excellent choice for a wide range of printing projects.

With its carbon fiber texture, the PLA-CF filament provides prints with a distinctive matte finish and minimized layer lines. Besides, the filament's improved stiffness and strength mean that your creations will not only look good but also be robust and durable.


Bambu Lab PLA Carbon Fiber Filament


Image Source: Bambu Lab


3. 3DXTECH CarbonX™ ABS+CF


The CarbonX™ ABS+CF filament is a high-performance, carbon fiber reinforced ABS filament that sets a new standard for industrial-grade 3D printing. This filament is designed for professionals who require parts with exceptional strength, stiffness, and dimensional stability. The CarbonX™ ABS+CF filament is made using high-flow ABS and premium high-modulus carbon fiber, resulting in a material that offers ease of printing alongside its robust mechanical properties. With a carbon fiber content of 10%, it provides an excellent surface finish quality.


3DXTECH CarbonX™ ABS+CF


Image Source: 3DXTECH


4. Filamentive Carbon Fibre PETG Filament


With a composition that includes 20% recycled carbon fibers, this filament offers exceptional stiffness and impact resistance while maintaining a heat resistance of up to 80°C. It’s perfect for creating parts that are not only strong and durable but also have an attractive matte black surface, ensuring your prints look as good as they perform.


Filamentive Carbon Fibre PETG Filament


Image Source: Filamentive


5. Polymaker PolyMide™ PA12-CF


Polymaker PolyMide™ PA12-CF is a carbon fiber reinforced nylon 12 filament, and it is engineered for professionals who seek exceptional performance, offering superior mechanical properties and excellent dimensional stability.

The PolyMide™ PA12-CF is known for its low moisture sensitivity, which greatly enhances its handling, storing, and printing capabilities. It’s designed to deliver an excellent surface finish and is ideal for creating manufacturing tools and functional parts that require high precision and durability.


Polymaker PolyMide™ PA12-CF


Image Source: Polymaker


6. Raise3D Industrial PA12 CF+ Filament


This filament is specifically engineered for demanding applications where durability, strength, and precision are not just desired but required. It has great toughness and reduced water absorption. The addition of 15 wt.% short carbon fibers enhances mechanical and thermal properties, as well as the surface quality of printed parts. It exhibits a higher strength-to-weight ratio, better interlayer bonding quality, and improved dimensional stability compared to its counterparts. Ideal for use in manufacturing, automotive, and aerospace industries, the Raise3D Industrial PA12 CF+ Filament excels in creating jigs, fixtures, and functional parts that can withstand rigorous use and harsh conditions. Its superior interlayer bonding strength and resistance to wear and heat make it a top choice for professionals seeking reliable and consistent results.


Raise3D Industrial PA12 CF+ Filament


Image Source: Raise3D


7. Raise3D Industrial PET CF Filament


This filament is designed for those who require strength, rigidity, and performance from their printed parts. With a significant 15wt% carbon fiber content, the PET CF filament offers enhanced rigidity, strength, and heat resistance, making it an ideal choice for end-use applications that demand durability. Its low moisture absorption and high creep resistance ensure that your prints will maintain their integrity even in challenging environments. Whether you’re creating jigs, fixtures, or functional parts, the Raise3D Industrial PET CF Filament provides a cost-effective solution without compromising on quality.


Raise3D Industrial PET CF Filament


Image Source: Raise3D


8. Polymaker PolyMide™ PA6-CF


The PolyMide™ PA6-CF Black is a carbon fiber reinforced nylon 6 (PA6) filament, which means it offers significantly improved stiffness and strength compared to conventional filaments. With a heat deflection temperature of 215°C, it is capable of withstanding demanding applications while maintaining outstanding layer adhesion.


Polymaker PolyMide™ PA6-CF


Image Source: Polymaker


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