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what is TPU or TPE in 3d printing filaments?

TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) and TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) are two types of flexible filaments used in 3D printing. Both TPU and TPE are elastomers, which are rubber-like materials that can be stretched and flexed without breaking.

TPU is a material that is often used in applications where flexibility and durability are important. TPU is known for its high elasticity, abrasion resistance, and oil resistance. It has a Shore hardness of around 95A, which means it is relatively soft and flexible. TPU filaments are commonly used to create objects like phone cases, shoes, and gaskets.

TPE is a similar material to TPU, but it is a more general term that includes a range of different types of thermoplastic elastomers. TPE can have varying levels of hardness and flexibility, depending on the specific material. Some types of TPE are more rigid and have a higher Shore hardness, while others are more flexible and have a lower Shore hardness. TPE filaments are used for a wide range of applications, from consumer products like phone cases and toys, to industrial products like gaskets and seals.

what are popular flexible filaments?

There are several popular flexible filaments used in 3D printing, each with their own unique characteristics and advantages. Here are some of the most common ones:

  1. TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane): TPU is a highly elastic and flexible filament with excellent impact resistance, making it ideal for applications that require shock absorption or vibration dampening.
  2. TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer): TPE is a more general term that encompasses a range of flexible materials, each with different levels of hardness and flexibility. TPE filaments are commonly used for making toys, phone cases, and other consumer products.
  3. Ninjaflex: Ninjaflex is a proprietary thermoplastic elastomer developed by NinjaTek. It is highly elastic, durable, and has a low coefficient of friction, making it ideal for applications that require high flexibility and low friction, such as wearables, grips, and seals.
  4. FlexPLA: FlexPLA is a flexible filament made by adding a plasticizer to PLA. It is less flexible than TPU and TPE, but has a lower printing temperature and is easier to print.
  5. PCTPE (Plasticized Copolyamide TPE): PCTPE is a highly flexible and durable filament that is resistant to chemicals and abrasion. It has a unique matte finish and can be printed at a lower temperature than other flexible filaments.
  6. FilaFlex: FilaFlex is a highly elastic filament that can be stretched up to 700% before breaking. It has excellent adhesion to the print bed and can be used to print complex shapes with overhangs and bridges.

These flexible filaments are used in a wide range of applications, from phone cases and toys to wearable devices and industrial products. When choosing a flexible filament, it is important to consider the specific requirements of the application and to choose a filament that is compatible with the 3D printer being used.

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