Gizmo Dorks

Polypropylene 3D Printer Filament

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Polypropylene Filament

Polypropylene (PP) filament is a new semi crystalline thermoplastic used in Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). The Gizmo Dorks PP filament is a homopolymer and has wonderful properties that make it a useful plastic. Polypropylene has a high level of flexibility yet has great toughness meaning it is elastic without being too soft. Polypropylene is resistant to many chemicals and has a high resistance to electricity making it useful in electronic components.

The versatile polypropylene is a plastic used in our everyday lives in the form of packaging, labeling, lab equipment, stationery, and more. One of the most beneficial uses of polypropylene is to create food safe containers because polypropylene is odorless and nontoxic. Although polypropylene is recognized as FDA safe for food, the inherent process of creating printed objects from current 3D printing standards are most likely not FDA safe. Most extruders have brass heads that may leach 

3D printers such as those based off of the RepRap model will leave printed objects with a porous structure, a perfect growth site for bacteria. Some users have dabbled in sealing printed objects in Polyurethane, but that still wouldn’t solve all of the issues with producing food safe products in current 3D printing standards. Another issue would be the dangers from extruder nozzles. If the nozzle is made of brass, then lead might leach into the print.

Temperature Specifications

Extrusion temperature for polypropylene filament is 230-260°C. Every 3D printer is different, and please check if the printer can print at high temperatures. Many printer parts and extruders are not designed for extremely high temperatures and will possibly melt at temperatures near or higher than 260°C.

Build Platform

Polypropylene (Recommended) - Naturally, polypropylene filament will stick well to a surface made out of polypropylene. The cheapest and easiest solution is to use clear packing tape made out of polypropylene. Most packing tapes are made out of polypropylene, although some packing tapes are made out of polyester, which will not work. Please simply make sure you are using packing tape made out of polypropylene. The build plate should be heated between 60°C to 110°C with an optimal temperature of 60°C. Varying print speeds with different extrusion temperatures can be used. In general, polypropylene filament will adhere really well to packing tape. Different brands of packing tape will give slightly differing results. An alternative to packing tape is to use a polypropylene sheet, which may be more difficult to get.

HDPE - There are some cheap cutting boards that are made out of HDPE which can be picked up at any store such as Walmart. You do not need any heat with HDPE, as HDPE will deform and warp slightly with heat. Extrusion temperature of the first layer with HDPE should be 190°C. If a higher temperature is used during the first layer, polypropylene may bond too well to the HDPE board. A high extrusion temperature may cause the polypropylene and HDPE to fuse together making it very hard to remove the print. Print speed on the first layer or two should be very slow, 5 - 10mm/s. After the first few layers, you may resume normal printing speeds up to 90 mm/s.

Others - Tapes (Kapton, Blue, or PET), PEI sheets, glass, glue stick, and aluminum do not work well for polypropylene adhesion.

Printing Considerations

Polypropylene has a considerable amount of warp, more than ABS. Printing with a raft well help combat curling and warping.

Filament Specifications

  • Net weight: 0.8kg or 1.76 lbs
  • Diameter: +/- 0.05mm
  • Roundness: +/- 0.07mm
  • Spool Size: 200 mm x 68 mm, inner hole diameter: 56.5 mm

Polypropylene Filament Sizes and Colors

There are currently 3 different color options for PP filament.

  • Black
  • White
  • Yellow

The white polypropylene is the natural color. It has no color pigment additive.

Both colors come in two different size options.

  • 1.75mm Polypropylene filament
  • 3mm Polypropylene filament (nominal) with a true size of 2.85mm