This is probably the most basic of questions. When I was shopping for a printer I saw models that would list a slew of certain plastics that the printer can print while other printers (different suppliers) would only list PLA/ABS. At the same time, the instruction manual that came with my printer only listed PLA and ABS.

What is actually used to determine the possible material (other than diameter)? I assume that if the nozzle can reach the required temperature to melt the plastic and the bed can reach the necessary temperature to maintain bed adhesion, then my printer can print that plastic. Am I correct?

For example, my nozzle can reach 250 °C, but the bed can barely reach 80 °C so I can print with ABS but not with ASA (since it needs at least 90 °C on the bed. However, if I switch out the heating element for something beefier then that opens up anything that needs a hotter bed. Right?

Let's assume that I have the means to change nozzles and extruder type to fit the need of the filament. The goal of this question is to limit to one or two limiting factors of the printer without major modification.

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    $\begingroup$ At least tell us your printer type (bowden or direct extruder? All metal hot-end or lined?) $\endgroup$ – Trish Feb 7 '19 at 0:06
  • $\begingroup$ The correct question is "what do I want to use," and can only be answered by considering the intended use of the items printed. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Feb 7 '19 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Trish Yeah I totally blanked on those. To me the extruder/nozzle was the least of my concern because I was so tunnel visioned on temp. I'll edit the question. $\endgroup$ – Lux Claridge Feb 7 '19 at 18:02
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft I often find that "can use" precludes "want to use" since what's the point of wanting to print in, say, nylon if my printer can't even do it. The question was about sourcing what's available then being picky from that list. $\endgroup$ – Lux Claridge Feb 7 '19 at 18:03
  • $\begingroup$ Lux, the extruder type (bowden vs. direct drive) and hotend setup (all metal vs. lined) are the quintessential factors of what filaments are possible besides the print temperatures possible. If you can only reach 80°C bed temperature, that is a severely limiting factor, eliminating some materials. $\endgroup$ – Trish Feb 7 '19 at 20:24

There are other factors besides temperature. Certain "soft" filaments won't go well through all extruders, and some other filaments with wood/metal particle additives don't go well through every extruder type and can cause clogging. Even people who do tend to print a lot of these materials will often use a specific nozzle just for those filaments.

That said, you still might be able to print even with something like ASA that seems unsupported. You can do this by taking additional measures for bed adhesion, or upgrading or swapping your nozzle or hot end.

If you can print PLA and ABS, you can probably also print so-called PLA+ and PETG, at a minimum.

  • $\begingroup$ So let's say that I am able to swap my nozzle for the recommended type of any given filament and I am using only hard filaments, then my limitation is solely based on temperature, correct? $\endgroup$ – Lux Claridge Feb 6 '19 at 21:33
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    $\begingroup$ Mainly, but the moment I go out on a limb and give a definite "yes" someone will create some new exotic material. $\endgroup$ – Joel Coehoorn Feb 6 '19 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ There is even more to if you can print some materials. There are filaments that absolutely need an all metal hotend, others can't be printed with one, some filaments are highly abrasive... $\endgroup$ – Trish Feb 7 '19 at 0:07

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