No doubt, metal 3D printing is one of the most intriguing concepts. Unfortunately, to print with bronze, one must be ready to invest a lot of money to buy a proper metal 3D Printer.
Not just that, you will require special material compatible with metal 3D printers that would again add up to the total cost of printing. Therefore, to eliminate such limitations, one may choose to print with Bronze PLA.
The question is: What is bronze filament? These are just usual filaments that come with some addition of a smaller percentage of metals.
The percentage of metal amount differs from one manufacturer to another. Therefore, the results may vary, sometimes a little and sometimes considerably.
So, what are the different brands offering this particular filament? Well, the options are many, but you must trust the one that provides high-quality materials.
Otherwise, you may fail at achieving the expected results. And, to help you find the best brands, here is the list that points in the right direction. But before that, how about some important facts about the material?
Bronze PLA – Some Facts to Understand before Buying
When looking for a metal filament, such as Bronze PLA, look for the companies offering composite or metal fill. Also, do not forget to check the percentage of metal added to the PLA. The companies offer percentage by volume as well as percentage by weight.
Usually, the models printed with the best brands offer more solid results and look very much similar to cast metal. Further, you can enhance the look during post-processing steps. You can polish or sand your prints to allow for a better surface finish.
Cost Difference of PLA and Metal Embedded PLA
The first thing that comes to mind is the price of the material that comes with metal addition. And, why not? After all, it is imperative to understand the feasibility of such materials within commercial applications.
And, when talking about the cost, these materials cost at least double the cost of the usual PLA. That may look astronomical. However, it still is in the reach of commercial printing when compared to investing in proper metal 3D Printers.
Just remember, when checking the prices of bronze PLA, make sure you check the weight of the spool. Do not blindly consider the deal to be available for a 1 kg spool as usually in the case of PLA.
These metal embedded PLA mostly come in smaller qualities such as 500 gms spool. Also, the prices differ depending on the amount of metal included in the PLA spool.
Now, that you are ready to print already, let’s find out the basic to best brands offering a different percentage of bronze filled in the PLA material.
Basic to Best Brands Offering Bronze PLA
As discussed before, the companies offer a variety of different results with their Bronze PLA. With varying amounts of embedded bronze, not only the looks will differ but the properties as well. Therefore, you must choose your brand accordingly.
If you are looking for cheaper spools yet reliable, here is what you must choose: The Gizmo Dork brand. One of the most basic brands with a 5 percent of metal addition, the material could still get you perfect results.
The company offers two different metal-filled PLA, one of which is Bronze. And, the other one is Copper. Only with 5 percent of bronze inclusion, the material can allow you to produce great models with solid looks. Moreover, because the percentage of metal is small, you can expect it to be easy to print.
What’s most fascinating is its cheap price. Usually, the brand offers its I kg spool of materials for $25. To use the material for printing, your 3D printer’s nozzle must withstand a temperature of 190 to 225 degrees Celsius with a bed temperature up to 70 degrees Celsius.
The company has a range of products defining its reach into technological advancements. Apart from 3D Printers and filaments, SainSmart offers different other products. Such as laser engravers, CNC routers, and more.
When looking at its offering within metal filaments, SainSmart has a large base of materials for its users. You can find Bronze PLA, as well as other metal-infused filaments. For example, it offers brass composites and copper-infused filaments too.
Unlike other companies that have a fixed percentage of metal addition, SainSmart provides metal-infused materials in a differing percentage of metal combinations.
It ranges from 15 percent to 20 percent. These materials have great resistance to corrosion and are friendly with post-processing methods such as polishing and sanding.
The 1 kg spool of material starts at $50 and is different for different metal-infused materials. To print with these materials, you must have an extruder that reaches 190 to 220 degrees Celsius temperature.
Also, you will need a heated bed serving a temperature range of 40 to 60 degrees Celsius.
Providing Bronze PLA and Copper PLA with 20 percent of metal inclusion, Amolen materials are tested for their high quality and best results.
The brand has its unique frosted Bronze finish that looks very close to gold in appearance. Therefore, the company is very popular in the jewelry industry.
However, if you have a different requirement for material diameter other than 1.75mm, you may have to look for other choices. The Bronze PLA by Amolen only comes in one standard diameter size. The cost of the materials starts from $35 per kg spool.
For printing, nozzle temperature between 190 to 220 degrees Celsius will do the job.
Before we go on exploring the variety of metal-infused material offered by Colorfabb, let’s know about the company a little bit.
ColorFabb is the first company to come up with BronzeFill material in 2014. This was certainly a technological advancement leading to the breakthrough that today seems to be so achievable.
All thanks to the manufacturer for its pioneering discovery of mixing PLA with metal powder.
The company offers metal PLA, including Bronze PLA with 30 to 40 percent addition of metal. Its materials are a little expensive, starting from $75 for one kg spool.
Another reliable manufacturer for metal-infused filament, Proto-Pasta also offers 30 to 40 percent of metal inclusion with PLA. It is a US-based company offering five different material options.
In addition to bronze PLA, the company has other varieties such as brass, copper, steel, and iron-filled PLA.
What noticeable is that the bronze, brass, and copper are mixed with heat treatable PLA instead of the usual PLA. Hence, it is easier to make printed parts stronger by just heating those at 110 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes.
Just one drawback that you must consider before choosing this brand. The materials are brittle and must be handled with care. For choosing 1 kg of spool, one must be ready to pay somewhere between $70 to $100.
The printing requirements aren’t much different. You will require a nozzle temperature between 185 to 230 degrees Celsius and a bed temperature up to 60 degrees Celsius.
Offering 40 percent of metal with PLA, FormFutura materials offer the closest results to metal printing. The options are Bronze and Copper. And, the models printed with these materials bear weight as well as surface finish closest to corresponding metals.
The manufacturer offers two different variants: Classic Copper and Ancient Bronze. Those wanting to print with Ancient Bronze can also process the models after printing through post-processing steps. Such as waxing, sanding, polishing, and more.
Prices are also similar to the best brands in the market. It will cost close to $72 for a one kg spool. However, to print with this material, you will require a higher nozzle temperature as compared to the ones listed before FormFutura. Your printer’s nozzle must reach between 215 to 235 degrees Celsius for being able to print with these materials.
The Virtual Foundry
You may consider this brand to be the most unique alternative to the others listed here. The materials are expensive and offer 100 percent metal parts, easily printed with any FDM printer. Yes, that’s something very unexpected. But it’s true. So, how do they do it?
Well, the process is pretty different. After users print the models with the company’s material, they must process the printed parts through sintering steps for removing non-metals.
However, the results aren’t at all equivalent to the ones created with proper metal 3D printers. But the ease of accessibility makes it a great choice for many.
You will require a nozzle temperature of 205 to 235 degrees Celsius for working with the Bronze PLA.
Yes, working with metals on FDM printers is possible. And, Bronze PLA is one just straight example. Not only printing is easy with these materials, it does not require users to invest in metal 3D printers. Isn’t that the right alternative to a huge investment? But you must understand that the results vary exponentially. So, accept the bet if it fits your application needs.