Experimenting with Wood Filament

I’ve always wanted test wood filament on my personal 3D printer; I had a chance in college to use it on the machines in fab shop and loved how it looked and felt. Most wood filaments are primarily PLA with some wood mixed in and the filament I decided to purchase was no exception. I went with Hatchbox, which is 80% PLA and 20% wood. Honestly, I would have guessed the wood percentage to be higher because the spool appeared/smelled like wood!

I was a bit nervous to load it in to my printer due to my printer’s history with clogs, so I researched the optimal settings online. Most people said to go with standard PLA settings, although some tried increasing both the nozzle and bed temperature slightly with decent results. Instead of 210 nozzle and 55 bed (standard PLA preheat settings on the Prusa), I bumped it up to 220 and 60. I cleared out the last bit of my clear ABS and loaded my wood filament- it took a bit longer to extrude and I had a minor heart attack during those first few minutes. But alas, it came through the nozzle in a clear and steady stream.

My first few trials fell short- I do recommend bumping the bed temperature up, potentially using a glue stick, and lowering the nozzle as I had initial difficulties with the filament refusing to stick. But once I got my settings jussstt right, I had absolutely beautiful results. Check out this gorgeous vase I printed (model here):

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After my first successful print, I decided I wanted to try post processing. I had watched youtube videos of people sanding and staining their models and was curious how well it worked. I purchased Minwax Polyshades Stain and Polyurethane in Antique Walnut and some high grit sandpaper and went to town:

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I was disappointed with how the vase turned out and do not have a final picture- the stain clumped and was not fully absorbed by the print. However, I had much better luck with a small frog I printed. Here it is pre-sand and stain:

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And here it is sanded and one layer of stain:

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The final product:

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Overall, it turned out very well! I felt like the most important part of the process was sanding the model down, as it seemed to help the stain absorb into the filament. I plan on continuing to test and will keep you all updated with new progress!

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