Flex filament

 (Thermoplastic Elastomers)

Basic Info

Flexible filament are characterized by their excellent flexibility, tenacity, and chemical resistance. These materials are relatively uncommon, expensive, and suitable mostly for advanced users due to high print difficulty.
 
Recommended nozzle temperature: 230 °C – 245 °C (Depending on hardness and brand).
 
Recommended bed temperature: 60 °C – 75 °C (Depending on the size of the object, bigger objects tend to need higher bed temperature).
 

Description

Flexible filaments are made of Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE) which are a blend of hard plastic and rubber. As the name suggests, this material is elastic in nature allowing the plastic to be stretched and flexed easily. There are several types of TPE, with Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) being the most commonly used among 3D printing filaments. In many cases, these terms are used interchangeably, along with popular brand names such as Ninjaflex. The degree of elasticity in the plastic depends on the type of TPE and the chemical formulation used by the manufacturer. For example, some filaments can be partially flexible like a car tire but others can be elastic and fully flexible like a rubber band. This guide will cover tips to help you with both of these variations of flexible filaments.PVB is not suitable for printing mechanical parts. Its dimensional stability is great, tenacity and tensile strength is comparable to CPE (and low-tier PETG) but temperature resistance is similar to PLA.Since it’s an easy-to-print material (similar to PLA), PVB is a great choice for both experienced and new 3D printer users that would like to try something new.

Chart

Flex

Pros and Cons of using Flexible filament

ProsCons

Flexible and soft

Difficult to print

Excellent vibration dampening

Poor bridging characteristics

Long shelf life

Possibility of blobs and stringing

Good impact resistance

Possibility of blobs and stringing

Applications

  • Functional prototyping and fit testing. Designers creating products or parts with elastic properties can test functionality with true-to-life flexibility – for example a phone case or seal

  • Custom tooling. Flexible filaments enable the creation of tools with ductile elements, such as handles or gripper parts

  • End-use parts. Rubber-like properties are ideal for many usable or spare parts. In particular, materials like TPU can offer softer contact points to avoid machinery damaging goods on production lines

 
flex tire
tire
flex-sole
shoe sole
flex-suspension
Rubber Suspension