I recently backed a 3D printer on Kickstarter, and I would like to 3D print parts for high-temperature applications. So I have two questions;

  1. What's the highest temperature polycarbonate can be safely heated to without warping or releasing toxins?

  2. If there's a filament with better temp-resistance I can print could you tell me? (If you know the highest temperature it could reach safely, that would be helpful too.)

My 3D printer will have a heated bed up to 100°C, and an extruder temp of up to 250°C.


2 Answers 2

  • Polycarbonate is heat-resistant up to ~120C. Above this temperature it will gradually become flexible and may irreversibly bend. It will not generate any toxic fumes all the way up to ignition temperature (630C), because it's fumes are not considered harmful. Note though, that with your temperature limit you may not be able to print with polycarbonate, or only do so at a very low speed.

  • According to the sheets of commercially available printable plastics, PC has the highest printing temperature and heat resistance among them, seconded by nylon. This refers to the FDM printers only. SLS printers may be able to use other materials, even metals like aluminum or titanium, so if you really wish to get temperature-resistant prints, you may look for workshops that have SLS printers and ask them.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! But can polycarbonate resist constant temperatures of ~ 120 °C, or if exposed for long periods of time will it eventually degrade? $\endgroup$
    – Rafael
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 3:51
  • $\begingroup$ I've never used polycarbonate under permanently elevated temperatures. It will be able to withstand 100C for a long time, because PC coffee cups do exist. As you approach glass transition though, you may expect it to eventually degrade. $\endgroup$
    – ZuOverture
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 4:00
  • $\begingroup$ PLA coffee cups exist as well. I don't think you can draw any conclusions about the properties of 3D printed materials from the properties of specifically-engineered mass-produced products made from that same material. There's a lot more to it than "it's X plastic, therefore it melts at Y temperature". $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 8:13
  • $\begingroup$ @TomvanderZanden, the fact that coffee cups exist proves the plastic is able to withstand that temperature at least. I don't see where I was wrong saying this. 3D printing does not alter material properties to any significant extent. $\endgroup$
    – ZuOverture
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 8:24
  • $\begingroup$ @ZuOverture No, my point is that it doesn't. There exist PLA coffee cups. Standard 3D printed PLA would not withstand boiling water (but it can be annealed after printing to make it withstand higher temperatures). I'm not sure what the deal with PC is, but just the fact they make coffee cups out of it does not mean a 3D printed object will withstand the same level of heat (and indeed, in the case of PLA, it doesn't). $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 8:26

All plastics have two temperatures to consider for operation and evaluation:

  1. Melting point = the temperature that plastics starts to get soft; this can be considered for maximum temperature operation.

  2. Flow temperature = normally used for molding process and this have a wide range of temperatures depending on PPM´s and mixtures to meet a purpose like coffee cups. Here a link for filament temperature guides

Polycarbonates are the most plastic used for industrial and kitchen appliances. Due higher temperatures support and hardness, so I think is not possible to use polycarbonates in 3D printers due its temperatures are from 250°C to 320°C.

  • $\begingroup$ PC can be printed at 260℃ and a bed temperature of 110℃. It can be printed perfectly on 3D printers, you may consider using an all metal hot end though. $\endgroup$
    – 0scar
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 14:59

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