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All You Need To Know: Silk PLA Filament for 3D Printer

Dec 17,2023 | 3D4Create

What is Silk PLA Filament?

Silk filament is a unique 3D printing material made with real silk fibers. Known for its smooth texture, beautiful sheen, and flexibility, silk filament offers new possibilities for 3D printing stunning objects.

Silk filament provides a glossy finish that looks and feels different than standard PLA. The silk fibers reflect light beautifully, creating eye-catching 3D-printed parts. Silk also has a soft, lightweight feel in the hand.

Key properties that make silk filament desirable for 3D printing include:

  • Smooth, glossy finish that prints finely detailed features
  • Light diffusion results in a stunning sheen
  • Soft flexion and flexibility compared to other plastics
  • Odorless printing experience
  • Better bridging capabilities than standard PLA

rainbow silk pla filament

Rainbow Silk PLA Filament

 

How Silk PLA Filament is Made?

Silk filament can be made from either 100% natural silk fibers or artificial silk polymer mixes. Mulberry silkworm cocoons are the primary source of real silk.

To produce real silk filament, the long fibroin strands are extracted from the cocoons through a degumming process. The raw fibers are then dissolved and extruded into a filament using a specialized spinning system.

Artificial silk filaments use synthetic polymers like polyethylene and polyamides blended with silk particles. This lowers the cost while mimicking some of the natural silk’s sheen.

Both types of silk filament provide a matte, sandy surface at first. A finishing gloss process is applied to reduce roughness and enhance shine. This gives silk filament its signature luster.

Real silk filament offers more flexibility, better moisture wicking, and improved layer adhesion over blended mixes. But artificial silk costs much less.

 

Printing with PLA Silk Filament

Silk filament is compatible with most common desktop FDM/FFF 3D printers. A 0.4mm nozzle can print silk well, but 0.25mm is ideal for maximizing detail.

Key silk PLA filament print settings include:

  • Nozzle Temperature:
    • Typically 190-220°C. Follow filament instructions.
  • Bed Temperature:
    • Usually 40-60°C. Refer to filament guidelines.
  • Print Speed:
    • Varies based on printer, print object, and desired quality.
    • For most prints, 60-150mm/s is common.
    • Excessive print speeds can result in issues like blurring, poor layer adhesion, inadequate gloss finish, and substandard surface texture due to insufficient cooling and extrusion time for proper interlayer bonding.
  • Fan Speed:
    • Set around 50% to prevent overcooling.

Silk fibers can absorb moisture, so dry filament before use. Store silk in an airtight container with desiccant. 

filament storage vacuum bag

Filament Storage Vacuum Bag with Electric Charge Pump

 

Uses and Applications of Silk Filament

Silk filament produces stunning results for:

  • Jewelry - Silk’s luster makes it perfect for printing bracelets, pendants, earrings, rings, and more. The smooth finish allows for intricate designs.
  • Fashion Accessories - Printed silk is well-suited for wearables like eyeglass frames, handbags, watch bands, and fashion tech.
  • Figurines - The light diffusion and sheen of silk bring fluidity and life to 3D-printed miniatures and collectibles.
  • Art Pieces - Silk’s unique aesthetic qualities lend themselves nicely to 3D-printed art, sculpture, and decor items.
  • Architecture Models - Accurately visualize buildings with realistic material finishes straight from the print bed.

silk filament jewelry

Silk Filament to Make Jewelry

 

Pros and Cons of Silk Filament For 3D Print

Pros:

  • Beautiful high-gloss sheen straight from the printer
  • Soft, lightweight feel and flexion
  • Excellent fine detail resolution
  • Odorless printing
  • Low warping compared to other materials

Cons:

  • More delicate and prone to cracking vs. PLA or ABS
  • Low glass transition temp (55°C) limits use
  • Fibers can clog smaller nozzle sizes
  • Natural silk costs more than standard filaments
  • Difficult to paint or glue post-print

silk pla

Conclusion

With its ability to produce glossy, vibrant prints, silk opens up new possibilities in 3D printing. From jewelry to art sculptures, silk’s flexibility and sheen can take projects to the next level. While requiring more care in printing, silk filament yields stunning results not achievable with other materials.

 

FAQS:

1. What is silk filament?

Silk filament is a 3D printing material made from silk fibers extracted from silkworm cocoons. It contains real mulberry silk mixed with a polymer binder that allows it to be extruded into a 1.75mm filament for FDM/FFF printing.

2. What is silk PLA vs regular PLA?

Silk PLA is a blend of polylactic acid (PLA) plastic with silk fibers. This gives the finish an attractive sheen and luster while maintaining PLA's easier printability. Regular PLA on its own has a matte appearance and feel.

3. What is the difference between silk filament and standard filaments?

Compared to common filaments like PLA and ABS, silk filament is more flexible and elastic due to the silk fiber content. It also has a distinctive glossy sheen and light diffusion properties that make printed objects shine. The silk gives a soft, smooth finish.

4. Is silk filament brittle?

Silk filament is more prone to cracking and layer separation than rigid plastics if printed parts are stressed or bent excessively. Too much cooling when printing can also cause silk layers to delaminate. So silk requires more careful handling, but isn't inherently brittle with proper printing.

See Also:

All You Need To Know About Rainbow PLA Filament

Ultimate Guide for Wood PLA Filament

Optimize Your PLA Prints: Settings and Tips for Better Quality

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