Nylon is extremely tough, resistant to heat, large shocks and impacts, and doesn’t scratch or wear down easily — no wonder it’s considered one of the best industrial 3D printer filaments. Used in FDM as a filament, as well as in SLS and MJF as a powder, Nylon is one of the most versatile 3D printing materials around.
- This article focuses on Nylon. For an overview of all filaments, check out our guide to 3D printer filaments.
Nylon Filament Properties
Nylon is a form of polyamide, with forms such as PA12 commonly used in SLS 3D printers.
Nylon filament is known for being extremely tough and durable, as well as for its flexibility. Though ABS is known for its toughness, Nylon is a step above, with very high impact resistance, abrasion resistance and increased flexibility.
While filaments like PLA can be brittle, Nylon is tough, and when printed thick it can handle large shocks and impacts. Unlike ABS, it does not print with bad odors.
This makes it ideal for functional parts that can be made quickly using rapid prototyping, tested for errors, and quickly iterated on.
Nylon also offers very good surface finish if you use the right 3D slicer and printing settings, and despite the toughness can be printed very intricately and accurately. We discuss the best settings for 3D printing Nylon further on in our Nylon filament guide.
Nylon melting point & Nylon 3D printing settings
An extruder temperature of around 250C is used to 3D print Nylon, though some prefer to print at a lower temperature, and some slightly higher. Between 220C and 260C is the broad temperature range.
You will certainly need a heated bed to print Nylon to prevent warping. Most professionals and hobbyists use between 70-90C heated bed temperatures, though some recommend going even higher, at 100C. Without a heated bed, parts will cool too quickly, leading to warping and curling that ruins your parts.
For the same reason it is highly recommended to use an enclosure or heated chamber when printing Nylon filament. These enclosures maintain a hot temperature around the print, so the part cools at a steady, slower rate that reduces warping and curling. As with ABS, without an enclosure parts will suffer significant curling and deforming.
Using the correct build surface is also key to an accurate part, as this improves bed adhesion and reduces warping. Makers often use glue stick, PEI sheets, and Kapton tape, though this changes slightly depending on what type of print bed you have.
Unlike with PLA 3D printing, you should not use a cooling fan when 3D printing Nylon filament. Turn your fan off before printing to avoid any errors.
Another important factor is to ensure the Nylon filament you use is dry. If not, parts will be weaker, rougher and bubbly. Nylon is extremely hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs large amounts of moisture from the air, worsening printing quality. Nylon filament needs to be stored in airtight containers when not used, and dried if it has been out in the open beforehand.
We will explain more about drying and storing Nylon filament later in this article
How much does Nylon filament cost?
Prices vary based on the type and blend, but generally the cheapest Nylon filaments cost around $30 per kilo. Typical high-quality filament can expect to cost $50 per kilo and upwards. Major filament brands such as Polymaker, ColorFabb and more make their own Nylon filaments, as well as 3D printer manufacturers such as Dremel.
Best Nylon Filament for 3D printing
There are a number of popular Nylon filament brands and types. The cheapest Nylon filaments can cost as low as $30 per kilo, whereas NylonX is more expensive as it is mixed with carbon fiber, as is NylonG which is mixed with glass fibers for added strength.
Some of the best places to buy Nylon filament include:
- View the full range of Nylon filaments on Matterhackers here
- Matterhackers NylonX filaments
- Matterhackers NylonG filaments
- 3DJake UK & Europe Nylon filament selection
Advantages of Nylon Filament
- Very strong: ABS is another filament known for its durability, but Nylon is stronger than ABS as well as more flexible. For really tough 3D printed parts, Nylon is the best choice.
- Flexible: as a result, Nylon parts are not only strong, but have great impact resistance. This makes Nylon filament ideal for parts that will come under a lot of strain and force, such as in mechanical gears and functional parts.
- Great for making functional parts: Nylon is perfect for functional parts that need to be able to hold up to significant, long-term strains, and for testing whether a design will work.
Good 3D Printers for Nylon
Unfortunately, unlike with PLA you cannot buy a very cheap 3D printer and print good quality Nylon parts. More reliable, durable and effective 3D printers are required for good Nylon 3D printing, which cost more.
We have picked out the best Nylon 3D printers we recommend, starting at the lowest price ranges.
It is worth noting that while all of these Nylon 3D printers are good for Nylon printing, only the Pulse XE is designed specifically for printing filaments such as NylonX and other abrasive filaments. If you want to print these filaments only, consider looking into the Pulse XE.
The Best Nylon 3D Printers
|Name and brand||Build Volume (mm)||Price||Best place to buy|
|Qidi Tech X-Pro||230 x 150 x 150||$699||Amazon here|
|Pulse XE||250 x 220 x 215||$999+||Matterhackers here|
|Qidi Tech X-Max||300 x 250 x 300||$1,299||Amazon here|
|Dremel 3D45||254 x 152 x 170||$1,899||Matterhackers here|
|Ultimaker S3||230 x 190 x 200||$3,850||Dynamism Store here|
|Ultimaker S5||330 x 240 x 300||$5,995||Dynamism Store here|
Disadvantages of Nylon filament
- Prone to warping: if not properly optimized, 3D printed Nylon parts can curl up on the edges, rendering functional parts such as gears completely useless. Carefully optimized print settings are required, as well as a heated bed, enclosure, and build surface to prevent warping.
- Requires airtight storage: to stop water absorption which affects print quality. This adds to expense, though we recommend filament containers further on in this article that can extrude directly from a small hole, so you do not need to remove filament to print.
- Requires additional investment in a high-quality hot end: we highly recommend upgrading to a high-quality hot end, which we recommend in our hot end buyer’s guide. Nylon is tough and requires higher temperatures than filaments like PLA, which some more basic hot ends can struggle with. To get the most out of your filament, consider upgrading your hot end.
Tips to get the best results from Nylon 3D printing
- Use a 3D printer with an enclosure: some Nylons are prone to warping as a result from the huge change between the printing temperature and the outside environment. A heated bed can help, especially with the bottom layers, but a heated chamber or enclosure work far better at controlling warping and curling.
- Optimize printing settings: if necessary, consider using brims or rafts to prevent warping, and use the correct heated bed and extruder temperatures for the best results.
- Dry filament before use / use an airtight filament container: dry filament prints better quality, stronger, and more crisp surface finish parts.
Nylon is commonly used to create durable and long-lasting plastic gears, screws, hinges, nuts and bolts and cable ties. Beyond this, custom parts that need to be strong, as well as somewhat flexible, are often best for Nylon.
Nylon is commonly used to make gears due to its low friction and good abrasion resistance, with its flexibility also making it useful to create hinges. Within 3D printing, Nylon is used in durable parts for rapid prototyping, as well as often in homemade maker projects such as on drones or RC cars.
How to Store Nylon
Nylon is extremely hygroscopic, absorbing huge amounts of water from the air, which can ruin printing quality and result in weaker, bubbly parts. To prevent this, Nylon filament should be kept in a filament container.
We recommend the following products below to keep your filament in the best condition.
Nylon Filament Dryers
Filament dryers remove a significant amount of the moisture that your filament absorbs, resulting in better quality prints with better surface finish. A dryer, coupled with the appropriate storage container, can keep Nylon in great printing shape for a long time.
We recommend the following:
Different types of Nylon Filament
NylonX: NylonX is a hybrid Nylon filament with carbon fibers added to further improve toughness and improve stiffness. Though used sometimes by committed makers, NylonX is mostly used for industrial uses such as in rapid prototyping, and it is recommended to use hardened metal nozzle as these filaments can wear down nozzles quickly.
NylonG: similar to NylonX but instead of carbon fibers, NylonG is Nylon blended with glass fibers to improve strength and resistance further. Again, this is a mainly industrial filament, though some hobbyists will find niche everyday uses.
If you are interested in our other filament guides, check out:
- Our complete guide to ABS filament
- Our complete guide to PLA filament
- Our comparison of PLA vs ABS
- The best 3D printers buyer’s guide
- The top 10 FDM 3D printers
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