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NinjaFlex 3D Printing Filament Gets Colorful
Ann R. Thryft
September 12, 2014
3 Min Read
The types of filament available for filament fusion 3D printers are growing all the time. We've told you about several, including wood filament; MadeSolid's recyclable, ABS-like PET+ filament; and its investment casting resin. A flexible 3D printing filament from the belting company Fenner Drives is now available in a growing assortment of colors, most recently gold and silver.
The NinjaFlex filament has been sold since October 2013, but the available colors began expanding this spring. The filament is made of specially formulated thermoplastic elastomer. It's not only flexible but also harder than you'd expect: around 85A (Shore A), compared to most 3D printing filaments, with a hardness in the range of 45D-75D (Shore D).
Click the photo of Fenner Drives' gold filament below to start our slideshow on its offerings.
Fenner Drives said in a press release that it developed the material when a team led by product development engineer Stephen Heston began experimenting with the company's polyurethane belting material. The team was working on a link-belt project and became dissatisfied with the time involved (and the materials available) for prototyping flexible components.
In addition to consumer applications like HD goggles, bike handlebars, and shoes, NinjaFlex has been used in medical prototypes, custom leg braces, belt prototypes, and other components for Fenner Drives. The material can be used in many filament 3D desktop printers that accept ABS and PLA, including MakerBot, MendelMax, RepRap, Ordbot, Airwolf, and Lulzbot models.
"Some desktop printers have extruders that are not well designed for use with flexible filaments," Heston told us in an email. "The problem is usually a gap between the extruder drive mechanism and the entrance to the hot-end. This gap leaves room for flexible filaments to buckle and cause a jam. However, with most printers, it is possible to print out a 'spacer' with ABS to fill this gap and fully support the filament, thus preventing these issues. Many designs of these spacers for various printers are available for download on Thingiverse and other CAD-sharing websites."
NinjaFlex is being made in 1.75 mm and 3 mm diameters in colors such as Snow, Fire, Midnight, Sapphire, Lava, Flamingo, Grass, Sun, and Water (for semi-transparent applications). You can access technical specifications here and a FAQ page here.
About the Author(s)
Ann R. Thryft has written about manufacturing- and electronics-related technologies for Design News, EE Times, Test & Measurement World, EDN, RTC Magazine, COTS Journal, Nikkei Electronics Asia, Computer Design, and Electronic Buyers' News (EBN). She's introduced readers to several emerging trends: industrial cybersecurity for operational technology, industrial-strength metals 3D printing, RFID, software-defined radio, early mobile phone architectures, open network server and switch/router architectures, and set-top box system design. At EBN Ann won two independently judged Editorial Excellence awards for Best Technology Feature. She holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University and a Certified Business Communicator certificate from the Business Marketing Association (formerly B/PAA).
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