For the past few weeks we have been torturing our Zortrax M200 3D printer with wide spectrum of filaments, none of whose name began with the letter “Z-“. The purpose of this ill-mannered activity was to check: a) whether Zortrax would explode when fed with non-OEM materials, and, b) which filaments could act an alternative for Zortrax-branded plastics, giving prints of equal quality while being slightly kinder on our wallets.
Firstly, we have great news for you. Zotrax did not explode, the heavens did not part and a pair of hands did not emerge from them tearing apart the 3D printer warranty card. What is more, you can feed your Zortrax M200 with any kind of ABS (and other materials) and the result will be more or less acceptable. But the devil is in the details and after many weeks of testing we are able to tell you which filaments are worth having a go at them and which to avoid.
Below, in alphabetical order, is a list of filaments which we have tested on Zortrax M200, together with their retail price per kilogram. For comparison, 1 kg of Z-ABS costs 43 EUR, and 1 kg of Z-HIPS costs 60 EUR.
- 3D Universal HIPS (white) – 35 EUR/kg
- Barrus ABS (silver) – 30 EUR/kg
- Devil Design ABS+ (pink) – 21 EUR/kg
- DR3D Filament ABS (white) – 24 EUR/kg
- DR3D Filament ABS-X (white) – 24 EUR/kg
- DR3D Filament PC-ABS (black) – 24 EUR/kg
- DR3D Filament ABS-H (black) – 24 EUR/kg
- Katun ABS (navy) – 39 EUR/kg
- Noviplast ABS (grey, white) – 20 EUR/kg
- Spectrum Filaments ABS (orange) – 26 EUR/kg
- Verbatim ABS (grey) – 39 EUR/kg
For those, who are not familiar with Zortrax, its software, Z-Suite does not allow us to control the printing temperature. We can only choose between 4 printing profiles, one for each of four Z-filaments. And so, Z-ABS prints at 275°C, Z-Glass at 255 – 260°C, Z-Ultrat at 260°C and Z-HIPS at 250°C (source: a website for a device for hacking Zortrax’ temperature setting – Z-TEMP).
Searching for alternative materials for Zortrax, we printed at least two models from each of the tested filaments: a 3DBenchy torture test and a ball bearing. We also made some larger projects using selected materials. We mostly used the Z-ABS printing profile, but when the temperature was clearly too high, we were switching to Z-HIPS profile. We did not use the Z-TEMP device. Our goal was to find an alternative to Z-ABS that would give quality prints at the same temperature as Z-ABS (and similarly for Z-HIPS). We took two models printed with blue Z-ABS as reference prints:
What’s the fuss?
Firstly, it should be noted that only one of the tested materials was totally not suitable for printing on Zortrax. PC-ABS by DR3D Filament needs higher temperature than the maximum achievable on Zortrax. When printed on a profile for Z ABS, its layers do not stick together very well. The resulting mess can be seen below:
As for the other filaments, the prints look fine at first glance, with everything in its place. On closer inspection, however, it appeared that in some cases it was necessary to change the profile from Z-ABS to Z-HIPS, because the temperature was clearly too high.
In a few cases, despite the fact that (visually) prints on the profile of Z-HIPS came out nicely, very difficult to break away from a model raft (or even was impossible). Such materials are not eligible, therefore, for printing on Zortraxie (at least without resorting to the Z-TEMP).
Natomiast jeśli chodzi o pozostałe filamenty, wydruki z nich na pierwszy rzut oka wyglądały poprawnie, to znaczy wszystko było na swoim miejscu. Przy bliższej inspekcji okazywało się, że w niektórych przypadkach konieczna była zmiana profilu z Z-ABS na Z-HIPS, gdyż temperatura była za wysoka. W paru przypadkach, mimo, iż (wizualnie) wydruki na profilu Z-HIPS wychodziły ładnie, bardzo trudno było oderwać od modelu raft (lub wręcz było to niemożliwe). Takie materiały nie kwalifikują się zatem do druku na Zortraxie (przynajmniej bez posiłkowania się Z-TEMP’em).