Now for something completely different. There is a Dutch 3D filament company called Tiamet3D, that has partnered with Carbodeon, a Finnish nano-diamond manufacturer, that made a new product. It’s a PLA filament mixed with industrial nano-diamonds that Tiamet3D is calling ULTRA. They’ve sent out just forty 300g sample reels to some of the social influences in the community. I happen to be one of the 40 recipients of this new Tiamet3D filament, which is pretty cool.
By Alex Ardvark
Packaging and First Impressions
The Ultra comes in a neat little box and the filament itself is wrapped round an environmentally friendly bio-degradable cardboard spool. I’d expect nothing less from a Dutch company.
Now like me, you were probably thinking Ultra would be sparkly and something that will just shred the brass printing nozzle like a shuriken through tofu. But no!
These are really really really tiny bits of diamond, the Ultra filament has an opalescent hue to it. According to Tiamet3D, these diamond particles are so small, that instead of wearing away your nozzle, they actually act as a lubricant.
This helps reduce wear and increase the lifespan of nozzles. Also, because these particles are so small, they integrate in the plastic matrix as it cools and actually make the Tiamet3d Ultra stronger as a result.
Materials traditionally included in PLA filament: metal powder, wood fibres, etc actually interfere with the plastic matrix and actively make many exotic filaments much weaker. In a way it ‘s a shame you can’t see sparkly bits. There is no visible way to tell diamond is involved in Ultra.
Printing with Tiamet3d Ultra
After a chat with Reid Larson of Tiamet3D, I found out that best printing temps for Ultra are 220-240C. This is very high for PLA based filament. Tiamet3D claim they’ve successfully printed at 500mm/s. To put this into perspective. The fastest I regularly print is 150mm/s, and most filaments can’t take it.
The average desktop 3D printer rarely prints at more than 50-70mm/s. If pushed, my He3d k200 delta can manage 200mm/s. I’ve not been able to do that with any filament I’ve tried in the past. The bottle clip was printed in Tiamet3D Ultra at 200mm/s. So that’s pretty impressive.
So far I’ve printed a couple of bottle carrying clips. The bottle clips printed in Ultra feel very solid, compared to a standard PLA bottle clip, these are noticeably stiffer and at least as flexible. One of the Tiamet3D Ultra properties is increased layer adhesion, Tiamet3D claim parts made with Ultra have a solid, almost injection moulded finish. I can confirm that.
The below video clip shows the Ultra clip going on to the neck of the bottle and that the dimensions are absolutely spot on, considering that this part was printed at 200mm/s, this is extremely impressive. It spins with no problem and is the correct fit. Ultra is also flexible enough to have no worries about clipping on and off the bottle neck.
This is probably the stiffest filament that I’ve used. A flex test of the actual filament strand gives you about 4-5 full flexes before it breaks. This number is consistent with tests I have performed with quality PLA. So it’s not brittle, just very hard.
Another model that I used to test the Ultra was an iris box. I figured that would be a good test for how well it prints and also to test the lubricating aspects of the filament. Usually, I use a little 3-in-1 oil on the boxes and they open and close really easily and smoothly.
The first box looked good, but it would not turn, no way, no how. The second broke after I hit it repeatedly with a hammer in an effort to ‘encourage’ it to turn. Looks like there’s a little stringing with Ultra, and you can’t do an iris box if there’s any stringing. The little internal hinges for the leaves are just rock solid.
I reckon that if I had the time, inclination and a lot more filament to play with, I could tweak the retraction settings so that it worked.
What Else Have I Printed with Ultra?
I have made some 30×30 aluminum extrusion strut nuts. These use 3mm nuts and bolts that slot directly into the aluminum extrusion, twist and lock. I ordered some metal ones from china and they sent me huge things, see the picture below of one next to the printed Ultra nuts.
The Ultra nuts work great. I suppose if you really tried you could break them, but they tighten up a lot more than the standard PLA ones do and lock really solid. No apparent strain or damage when removed either.
I’m building a very large delta out of 30×30 aluminum extrusion and have, so far, not found anyone selling metal locking strut nuts that fit it. I will be making a fair few of these Ultra nuts. I am very impressed with them.
Problems with Printing Ultra?
Just the one really and don’t think I can blame the filament. The thing about self lubricating, diamond coated, ultra smooth filament is that it doesn’t stick that well to Printbite. Printbite is my preferred print surface these days. The odd thing is that with the bed at 50c, it sticks great.
With my delta, however, after a while the bed temp tends to creep up and settles on 60c. This actually helps with PLA, my standard filament, but the Ultra tends to detach itself at the higher temp. I haven’t tried this yet, but presumably I could get round it by setting the bed temp to 40c.
So to sum up: I’m fairly impressed with Tiamet3D Ultra.
Reid Larsson told me the batch of 40 rolls of Ultra they sent out to testers was the very first batch that came out properly. So this may go through several more phases of development before it hits the shelves. But as it stands, Tiamet3D Ultra is an impressive product.
One other thing about Ultra – It is satisfying to hold things made from it. The extra density to normal plastic is apparent and the smoothness makes it a pleasure to handle. Definitely closer to an injection molded part than a standard 3D printed object. This kind of tactile and existential property, is also important and gives Ultra another edge over standard PLA.
So as it stands Ultra is definitely a new and potentially successful direction in Filament development. Here’s hoping Tiamet3D get it to full production. If you go to the Tiamet3D Website shop you can get 50 gram samples that are currently retailing for £10 and 500gm rolls for £55. For something coated in actual diamonds – that’s not bad 🙂