Use Instructions and FAQs
Printing with Filamet™
Temperature: 401-419°F (205-215°C)
Set print bed to 122°F (50°C) (optional).
Speed: 1800mm/min to start
Filamet™ prints just like any other PLA 3D printing filament, with one exception... start slow. Rushed prints are the most common cause of rough prints. Because Filamet™ is more than three times heavier than plastic filament, three times more energy is needed for print heads to heat the material, often taking more time. Some users have added larger heaters to their print heads in order to get higher print rates. With experience, prints can be faster, but for a quick win on a first try, start at about 1800mm/min. Increase to normal speed as experience is gained.
Layer Height: Many slicers lay down an extra wide first layer to get good adhesion to the bed. This is not a problem unless the first layer is very thin. With traditional PLA, it will simply squeeze out at the sides. Filamet™ is more viscous which slows this process. If the printer nozzle seems clogged, it may be that the nozzle is too close to the bed on the first layer. Once dialed in, some users are printing down to a layer height of .1mm.
All development and testing was done with .4mm nozzles, but The Virtual Foundry recommends moving to a larger size. Nozzles at .5mm can be used without losing a noticeable amount of detail and will likely overcome any clogging problems.
Reel Placement: Reducing friction and pull on Filamet™ during printing is important. Try hanging the reel just above the printer. Any way to reduce friction and pull will greatly reduce chances of breakage during printing.
Sanding and Polishing Filamet™
With heat, Filamet™ becomes clay-like. It can be carved, resculpted, pieces can be added and seams smoothed. Important! Constant movement is necessary when sanding to avoid unintentional melting. Experimenting is worthwhile.
Needle file: To make print lines vanish, sand the surface even. The loose particles from sanding are smashed into the print line gaps with the heat from the friction, fixing them in place. This step is complete once the entire print’s surface is smooth and even.
Sandpaper or 3M Radial Disc: Start with 120 grit sandpaper or 80 grit 3M Radial Disc, and go over every part of the print. The matte surface will become shiny as finer grits are used. Complete the entire surface of the print before moving to the next grit. The Virtual Foundry recommends using 4 grits with 3M and 6 or 7 grits with sandpaper. A nice shine can be achieved with less, but the mirror shine comes closer to the 7, ending around 3000 grit. After sanding, rub the print down with some flannel or a sunshine cloth to clean off loose particles. A mirror shine should be evident at this phase, even before the last step.
Sewn Buff and Zam: Place sewn buff on a rotary tool, then liberally apply zam to the buff and to your print. The print will melt if it gets too hot, so it is critical to keep the buff moving and continue to apply zam liberally. It may be useful to practice this step on a simple print or a “failed print.”
The Sintering Process and Magic Black Powder (MBP)
Mix: Start with a mixture of 1.8 parts MBP to 1 part water and adjust as needed. The mixture should be a bit on the runny side but have a thicker consistency than water. Starting with a thinner mixture allows more time to paint on the first layer before the MBP sets up too much.
Prep: Manually paint a layer of the MBP mixture onto the print, carefully covering all surfaces. This coat grabs all the detail of the print and makes a mold that holds the print’s shape while firing. During the painting process, the MBP is thickening in the firing vessel (metal cylinders work best as the firing vessel). Put the print into the MBP while it's just barely thick enough to suspend it. If it’s too thick, air pockets and bubbles can occur and create deformities in the fired print.
Tip: Magic Black Powder application video
Candling: This step removes moisture from the MBP. Place the firing container in the kiln and quickly bring the kiln temperature to 425°F (218.3°C). Hold for 1 hour, 15 minutes.
Vaporizing: This step removes the binder from the print. When candling time is up, quickly bring the kiln temperature to 662°F (350°C) and hold for 3 hours. Once this temperature is reached, the print has achieved its final look.
Tip: Once the container passes 600°F (315.5°C), minimize its exposure to oxygen (i.e., open kiln minimally, make sure peepholes are plugged, etc.).
Sintering: This step turns the print into pure metal. Quickly increase kiln temp according to the table below.Then hold for a time dependent on the size of the print. The swirly cone print (42g) will hold for 45 minutes.
Tip: The strength of the final product is directly related to how long the print is held at the sintering temperature. If the end product is powdery and brittle, it’s under sintered. If the print looks like old wrinkled fruit, it’s over-sintered.
Quenching: This step ends firing and cools the print. While the print sinters, prepare a 1-2 gallon metal container of water. Using tongs and heat resistant gloves, remove the print container from the kiln and place directly into the water. The water will hiss and bubble as the project cools, and MBP will disintegrate. Retrieve the object from the water when cool, after about 3-5 minutes.
Initially, the print will be dark: this is a very thin surface layer. Much of it can be removed by pickling, but sandblasting, fine steel wool or tumbling will also get the job done. The Virtual Foundry recommends 3M Radial Bristle Discs.
What size head do I use?
A .4 or .5 mm head will bring the best results. At .4 mm, head cleaning may be needed every dozen prints or so. At .5 mm this seems to be almost a non issue.
How should I place Filamet™ when I am printing with it?
Ease the pull on the Filamet™ to reduce breakage while printing. Hanging the Filamet™ above the printer works well. A little suspension frame with some free spinning ball bearing action works too.
Do I need a special head?
A ceramic or steel head can be used, but brass heads work just fine.
How Strong is Filamet™?
While Filamet™ isn’t as strong as standard PLA (because of the very high metal content), it is still sturdy. Reducing friction on the Filamet™ as it's pulled into the printer is key.
What kind if printer does Filamet™ work on?
Filamet™ works in any desktop printer. If the printer prints with standard PLA, it will print with Filamet™.
What is the Metal Content of Filamet™?
Filamet™ is at least 90% metal.
Is Filamet™ Conductive?
While in its printable spool form, Filamet™ has a PLA binder (10% or less). Through sintering, the PLA binder is burned off and the remaining object has the same properties of whatever metal it is.
What are the print settings for Filamet™?
Printer settings and sinter firing schedule can both be found on the Use Instructions page and printed instructions are included with every order.
I want to sinter a print. Where should I start?
The best way to learn the sinter process is to print the swirly cone model and then follow the sintering instructions on the Use Instructions page which are set for this size model. Sintering times vary by the size of the print.
Do you have any instructional videos?
Yes! Check out The Virtual Foundry YouTube channel for instructional and promotional videos.
Do you Have a message board to discuss Filamet™ and techniques?
Yes! Check out the Support Forum page. We try to personally respond to questions posted to the board but there are also many great and knowledgeable users of our product glad to help out too.
What do I need to polish Filamet™?
The Deluxe Buffing Kit provides everything needed to polish prints.
Where can I find Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the copper Filamet™?
Are you going to have more printable metals?
The Virtual Foundry is consistently working on expanding available products. Keep watching this website and our Facebook page for new material announcements.
What makes Filamet™ special?
Filamet™ makes metal printing available to anyone with a desktop 3d printer - no need to purchase a costly printer to print with metal.
What kind of kiln do I need?
Mainly, the kiln needs to be programmable. The Virtual Foundry uses kilns that are made for firing semi-precious metal clays.
What is the mix ratio for Magic Black Powder (MBP)?
As a starting point, consider a ratio of 1 to 2 with 1 cup of water to 2 cups of MBP. This may be a bit on the dry side in which case a bit more water should be added. The goal of the mixture is a bit runny but not like water. A layer of MBP will be painted on to the print to create a mold that holds the object's shape while firing. Be sure to apply to all the detail of the print - cracks, crevasses, etc. While this layer is being applied, the remainder of the MBP mixture will begin setting. Starting with a thinner mixture will offer more time for this process. It's important to have that first layer fully applied and the object into the remaining MBP mixture when the mixture is just barely thick enough to suspend the object. If the mixture is too thick, air pockets may form and create deformities in your fired object.
Note: Metal cylinders work best as the firing vessel.
How should I store Filamet™?
Filamet™ does not appreciate being exposed to air for weeks. When not in use, store Filamet™ in a sealed plastic bag with the desiccant pack included with the product.
Where is the link for the swirly cone model?
Here and at the bottom of every page of this website.