FILOALFA, an Italian manufacturer of 3D printing filaments has unveiled its latest material: ALFA+. The new filament, a naturally sourced technopolymer, is said to offer significant advantages over existing filaments such as PLA and ABS by combining and improving on both materials’ best qualities.
For example, ALFA+ has the same ease of printing as PLA and is eco-friendly. It also exhibits a higher tensile strength and better heat resistance than ABS. In fact, tests on 3D printed parts have shown that ALFA+ has a heat deflection temperature (HDT) of 105°C, 50% higher than PLA’s HDT of 55°C, and 30% higher than ABS, which begins to deform at 89°C.
These features, explains FILOALFA’s Antonio Berera, will enable ALFA+ to become a serious contender in the desktop 3D printing materials market. Considering that the filament will be priced at the same cost as FILOALFA’s ABS, this seems entirely possible.
“The filament market consists mainly of two materials, PLA and ABS, and for well-founded reasons: both materials have a low cost and are readily available on the market,” explains Berera. “Today, PLA represents a very strong market share that is continually on the rise due to its ease of printing. On the other hand, it has a characteristic factor that limits its use significantly: its relatively low heat deflection temperature (HDT), which makes it malleable at temperatures of just 55°C. This makes it unusable in applications that may be subject to even modest temperatures.”
“ABS, for its part, is appreciated for its mechanical properties and its thermal resistance (HDT) of between 80 and 100°C. It is, however, often criticized for emitting a strong smell while being printed as well as being difficult to print with on entry-level machines that do not have heated beds and confined print volumes,” he adds. “In combining the best qualities of both materials, ALFA+ is an economical and easy-to-print filament, similar to a PLA, but also rugged and robust and able to reach operating temperatures of up to 105°C.”
When using FILOALFA’s new ALFA+ filament, makers can reportedly optimize the material’s thermal resistance by baking their 3D printed parts at 80°C for at least two hours. By completing this post-processing step, the company says its material will achieve an HDT value at 0.45MPa of 105°C. By offering clients a 3D printing material that is eco-friendly, easy to use, strong, and heat-resistant, FILOALFA is aiming to both offer a versatile, catchall filament and to revamp its own 3D printing materials offering.
As Berera elaborates: “The 3D printing market is still very jagged and complex. On the one hand, there are the needs of non-professional users who expect great performance and top-quality materials with entry-level machines, and on the other hand there are the experienced users who have a growing need for a single, simple and definitive material which is able to accompany the professional, as well as hobbyists, in all their projects, from the most complex to the most basic.”
“As a material that is compatible with the vast majority of printers, and which offers excellent mechanical and, above all, thermal properties, all while keeping its price competitive with PLA, ALFA+ can fill this need,” he adds. The new material is now available in various different colors, making it suitable for a broad range of both professional and hobbyist projects.
FILOALFA has also worked with Italy’s largest public research institution, the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR). When asked about the partnership, Berera said: “The first collaboration came about because of the WASP 3D printers in use at CNR, but it has mainly been thanks to our interest in research that our relationship with CNR has been consolidated and we hope to continue to support them in the future.”