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Is hot glue suitable for FDM printing, or some process similar to it?

I think it has all of the required properties, and could produce a flexible transluscent print. It's cheap, hotends are cheap, and the technology has been around for a while.

I couldn't find any examples or anyone talking about such a material for use, on here or the general Internet. I wonder if there are tradeoffs or challenges that make it not worth pursuing.

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  • $\begingroup$ Because here are only answers with the mindeset of "don't do it, because it don't sounds it could work, but nobody know it for sure.": If you are interested in this, then try to do it. Even a failture and researching the reasons why it cannot work with evidence is something good. $\endgroup$ – Horitsu Jul 24 '18 at 5:05
  • $\begingroup$ i've seen these on youtube. the prints aren't great, but they resemble the model... $\endgroup$ – dandavis Jul 26 '18 at 18:28
  • $\begingroup$ Have any of these answers answered your question? $\endgroup$ – Davo Jan 15 '19 at 17:49
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You could mount a hot glue gun to a 3D positioning frame, but you would immediately notice the following:

  • Hot glue sticks are fat, so you lose a lot of precision for each feed/retract increment. I.e., it's a lot harder to get precise feeds with a fat stick because the stick size is so much larger than the nozzle.
  • Hot glue sticks are short, so you would to create a filament to spool the stuff or come up with a glue stick feeder.
  • Hot glue melts at 120 °C and common plastics such as nylon melt at much higher temperatures. So hot glue would make an AWFUL structural part like a stepper mount. Even PLA barely deals with stepper temperatures. Note that temperature tolerance is irrelevant for costume parts.
  • Hot glue is soft, which makes it a great glue, but not very stiff for, say, making parts for a 3D printer. However, the parts might be fine for use only in costumes, etc.

But, if you then used your 3D glue printer to dispense glue for gluing stuff together, well...that might be valuable. :D

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  • $\begingroup$ to 1) there are many geared extruder setups out there. to 2) there are also longer sticks avaiable and glueing together is also an option. to3&4) if the goal is a flexible translucent part, than i think more of costume parts than mechanical parts. (btw. in costume making hot glue is a often used thing) $\endgroup$ – Horitsu Jul 24 '18 at 5:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Horitsu thanks for comment. Edited answer to support cosplay. $\endgroup$ – OyaMist Jul 24 '18 at 14:36
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Yes, we have Hyrel users who print with Hot Melt Adhesive 3796 from 3M (essentially a high performance hot glue) with our Krakatoa series print heads.

Hyrel3D Krakatoa series, KRA print head

These heads don't print with filament; the user fills a metal reservoir with paste, gel, or even powder or granules, loads the reservoir onto the head, loads the head onto the printer, applies heat if necessary (some models up to 250C), and then prints the gcode with positive displacement. The KR2 is like the KRA above, but it is made specifically for higher temperature, higher viscosity materials, with tighter tolerances and multiple gaskets.

I have used this model head to print materials including hot glue, polycaprolactone, porcelain, vasoline, toothpaste, plasticine, and metal clays.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QD2FrZ4kg1g for an overview of this head.

Note: I sell this equipment, and have used it since 2012.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think it would significantly improve this answer if you describe that the KR2 is a heated precision syringe which is specifically designed to extrude gel rather than rigid filament - and this addresses the first two issues mentioned in one of the other answers (feed precision when using a large cross-section stock, and printable volume per machine load). Presumably the 'hot end' temperature range is also more suited to lower melting points. $\endgroup$ – Sean Houlihane Jul 25 '18 at 12:06
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    $\begingroup$ I didn't want to turn this into an advertisement, but I'll elaborate some. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – Davo Jul 26 '18 at 11:12
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    $\begingroup$ I read 'toothpaste' and thought 'lol, I mis-read that as toothpaste...' $\endgroup$ – Sean Houlihane Jul 26 '18 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ You wouldn't believe the materials we've tested with... $\endgroup$ – Davo Jul 27 '18 at 11:45
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I think not. Unless you intend to make a very special printer that feeds on glue stick, you must make filament from it. Should be doable.

But my experience with cold hot glue, is that it is not very durable. It's a bit elastic but nothing like elastic filament. It breaks instead. So when you have your filament, I think you will have a bit of trouble handling it, feeding it into the printer etc. If you, for instance, clog the nozzle the slightest, the extruder will tear the filament to shreds very quickly.

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