Delrin 3D printing filament is a unique material. Learn how to print Delrin, where it's used, and where to buy this special filament.
Delrin, also known as acetal or POM, is a unique thermoplastic material. But before we discuss what makes it so special, let’s clear up some issues around nomenclature.
When creating new formulations, it’s common for material manufacturers to come up with their own unique names. In this case, the American chemicals company DuPont did just that when they manufactured an acetal resin thermoset plastic and called it Delrin. Since then, the Delrin name has simply stuck with people.
Scientifically, a more appropriate name for Delrin is polyoxymethylene (POM), which comes from the material’s chemical background. There are two common types of POM: copolymer acetal (POM-C) and homopolymer acetal (POM-H). In fact, the latter is what’s known as Delrin.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll go along with the crowd and use “Delrin”, even if what we’re really talking about is POM-H-based 3D printing filaments.
Delrin is essentially a high-performing engineering plastic. You could even say it’s a material in between plastic and metal. That means it has a unique mix of properties, which include the following:
With this particular combination of properties, Delrin can be used for a number of different purposes, and at the same time, the benefits of the material make it more challenging to 3D print.
Now that we’ve gone over exactly what makes Delrin such a special material, we’ll give you an overview of the most common types of objects that use Delrin filament. Hopefully, you’ll come away with some ideas for what you’d like to print! We’ve got you covered with tips for successful prints, and finally, where to buy it.
Alternatively, if you’d rather not go through the hassle of 3D printing with such a stubborn material, there’s always the option to use a 3D printing service. Through Craftcloud, the 3D printing and price comparison service from All3DP, you’ll find a number of industrial-grade materials that are well-suited for functional parts.
Properties of a material have a strong influence on where it’ll be used, and Delrin is no exception. Engineers love high-stiffness materials such as Delrin for high-load and high-impact parts.
Most Delrin 3D printing applications are high-performance engineering parts like gears and bearings. Apart from having to deal with load and pressure, parts like gears are also subject to wear. As Delrin has a high resistance to wear, it’s an ideal material choice for such parts.
Another aspect that’s important for making gears is the material’s coefficient of friction. Think of it as a measure of expressing how “slippery” the material is.
For example, rubber is a very grippy material, and that grip gives rubber a high coefficient of friction. Delrin, on the other hand, is smooth, so it has a low coefficient. This makes it ideal for making rotating parts.
Read our full article on 3D printing gears if you’d like to investigate the topic further!
Chemical and dimensional stability is also important for engineering parts. Luckily, Delrin delivers in both fields. It can withstand higher temperatures and the part’s original dimensions won’t change under temperature fluctuations.
Delrin is also sometimes used for piping because it has a low moisture absorption rate and is chemically resistant to solvents, hydrocarbons, and neutral chemicals.
As far as other applications go, Delrin is used in some rollers and safety restraints, but that’s usually more connected with Delrin applications within traditional manufacturing techniques.
Having a material that delivers in so many aspects comes with a price, and not just in terms of money. What we’re talking about here is the difficulty of 3D printing with Delrin.
The most common problem with 3D printing Delrin is bed adhesion, which leads to warping because of the low coefficient of friction. Since the material is smooth, it’s slippery, and thus more challenging to properly stick to the bed.
Regular heated beds with either glass or some kind of textured surfaces probably won’t work here. What you need is a wooden or a cardboard surface on top of the heated bed on which to lay your print. Blue tape, hairspray, or similar methods like adhesives might provide good results but aren’t a guarantee.
Because Delrin 3D printing filament is a stiff material, you’ll need an all-metal hot end. Just remember that, if Delrin gets overheated, it will produce formaldehyde fumes that are dangerous to inhale.
Another tip is to use an enclosure or heated build chamber. In case you’re in need of some inspiration, we have some DIY ideas for a printer enclosure. Alternatively, you could use a 3D printer that comes enclosed.
PLA is a great, easy-to-print filament that doesn’t produce any harmful fumes during printing. However, PLA’s setbacks are in strength and thermal stability, meaning it isn’t ideal for making functional or moving parts.
A step up from PLA is obviously PETG, which is a more flexible and durable material than PLA. PETG is a great compromise between PLA and ABS, as it’s easier to print than ABS and doesn’t produce fumes. And while PETG can serve to produce some moving functional parts, they aren’t quite on the same level as with Delrin.
ABS is slightly more durable than PETG, but emits fumes and can be make it tricky to print.
ABS is easier to print than Delrin, perhaps because ABS isn’t as stiff. Delrin is known for its great machinability, which is handy for post-processing, and easier done than with ABS.
Both ABS and Delrin are very durable plastics, but Delrin still has more durability. It’s also got a lower coefficient of friction.
Looking to buy some Delrin 3D printing filament? Here are some options:
And there you have it – everything you need for Delrin 3D printing success!
(Lead image source: GetLoFi via YouTube)
License: The text of "Delrin 3D Printing Filament: The Basics & Best Brands" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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