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Carbon Fiber Filament – Explained and Compared

Picture of Farai Mashambanhaka
by Farai Mashambanhaka
Aug 8, 2018

In this Carbon Fiber Filament Guide, you will learn about the different types, use cases, and compare some brands of carbon fiber filament.

What is Carbon Fiber Filament?

3D Printed Carbon Fiber Filament Model
3D Printed Carbon Fiber Filament Model. Source: Simplify3D

Carbon Fiber Filament is not the same as carbon fiber materials. Whereas carbon fiber consists of a continuous strand, the filament is a combination of short carbon fiber strands and some printable material either PLS, ABS, PETG, or Nylon depending on required properties and durability.

The difference and choice of available brands will, therefore, depend on the difference in mixtures and properties of the Carbon Fiber Filament which are described and explained in the next sections.

Some of the pros and cons of carbon fiber filaments are as follows:

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Have very good dimensional stability
  • Have increased strenght and stiffness

Cons

  • Tough and abrasive on extruders and may require hardened steel nozzles making it expensive using them
  • Increased oozing during printing
  • Mixture increases the brittleness of the filament

For a more detailed description, filament manufacturers Rigid Ink and Pinshape have additional information for you.

Proto-Pasta Carbon Fiber Reinforced PLA

Proto-Pasta Carbon fiber Reinforced PLA
Proto-Pasta Carbon fiber Reinforced PLA. Source: Matterhackers

What is this carbon fiber filament made of? PLA with 15% (by weight) chopped Carbon Fibers. It is more brittle than standard PLA.

How much stronger is it? Proto Pasta is more rigid due to the fiber – it’s like it has increased structural support built right in. This filament is great for printing items that do not bend, such as frames, supports or tools. If you want to 3D print drone parts or an RC car, you’ll love this stuff.

Recommended printing settings: Requires a nozzle size of .5mm. Smaller nozzles tend to give you trouble because of the chopped carbon fiber, and direct-drive spring loaded pinch-roll style extrusion head. Careful, this material is moisture-sensitive, so better store it in a desiccant bag.

Density: 3 g/cm3 (1300 kg/m3)

Parameters: Bed Temp (if available, is not required): 50° C. Hot End Temp: 195 – 220°.

Product image of Proto-Pasta Carbon Fiber

Proto-Pasta Carbon Fiber

Matterhackers Nylon X

Nylon X
Nylon X. Source: Matterhackers

What is this carbon fiber filament made of? Nylon X is a combination of nylon with 20% (by weight) and micro-carbon fibers.

How much stronger is it? Because of the Nylon, the filament reaches high stiffness, impact resistance, and high tensile strength and therefore can be consideres to be an engineering grade filament. Also gives hobbyists and advanced users alike the durability (from nylon) combined with stiffness (from carbon fiber). Ideal for building RC cars, drones, sports accessories, gears, home fittings, and artistic 3D prints.

Recommended printing settings: Nylon X must be kept dry and packaged with a desiccator that absorbs moisture from the air. Otherwise, this might lead to degraded prints. Drying can be done by baking in ab oven at 180 deg Fahrenheit for 4 to 6 hours. Matterhackers recommends a stainless steel nozzle, the Olsson Ruby, or other hardened nozzle types.

Density: 1.52 g/cm3 (1520kg/m3)

Parameters: Print temperature: 250-265°C and Bed temperature: 60-65°C with PVA glue stick.

Product image of Matterhackers NylonX

Matterhackers NylonX

3DXTech Carbon Fiber Filament

3DXTech Carbon Filament
Carbon Filament. Source: 3DXTech

What is this carbon fiber filament made of? 3DX Tech Carbon fiber is made from high modulus carbon fiber and premium PETG.

How much stronger is it? It offers more stiffness, chemical resistance and dimensional stability when compared to traditional unfilled FDM/FFF materials. Ideal for structural applications.

Print settings: Any FDM/FFF printer with a nozzle of 0.4mm.

Density:1.34 g/cm3 (1340kg/m3)

Parameters: Extrusion temperature: 240°C, bed temperature: 65°C, 50mm/sec print speed.

Product image of 3DXTech Carbon Fiber Filament

3DXTech Carbon Fiber Filament

ColorFabb XT CF20 Carbon Filament

Colorfabb PA
Colorfabb PA. Source: Colorfabb

What is this carbon fiber filament made of? ColorFabb XT CF20 is a combination of a PETG Amphora 3D polymer and with up to 20 percent carbon fibers.

How much stronger is it? ColourFabb XT CF20 offers a high stiffness which is twice as much as PLA/PHA. The manufacturer claims great dimensional stability and heat resistance. Ideal for drones and aerospace or automotive prototyping.

Print Settings: Works well with 3D Printers that use with standard 1.75mm and 2.85mm size filaments.

Density: 1.35 g/cm3 (1350kg/m3)

Parameters: Printing Temperature: 240-260C and Bed Temperature: 60-70 C. Print speed is 40-70mm/sec.

Conclusion

It should be noted that the comparison is really centered on the pellets of choice mixed with the carbon fiber and application relative to the properties. Though not as cheap as standard filaments, Carbon Fiber Filaments are still a hit in the market and good for 3D Printing applications.If you are looking for printers that 3D print strands of carbon fiber, please take a look here

License: The text of "Carbon Fiber Filament – Explained and Compared" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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