My Printrbot Plus kit arrived with a spool of ABS. My first print was "Mr. Jaws" using ABS and it came out physically perfect, but the chemical smell was way too much.
I was concerned about the physical properties and longevity of PLA, so I decided to try Nylon. According to the Taulman3d web site, the 618 nylon has very low fumes. I have found this to be true. It's not completely odorless, but it's way, way less offensive than ABS.
Of course, mechanically, nylon has very desirable properties. It's strong but resilient (not brittle); it resists attack by almost any chemical you can name, and it is great if you want low-friction moving parts.
However, for 3D printing, there is one major, major problem: it's about as sticky as Teflon, even in the molten state. So finding a suitable bed for printing is a challenge. The Taulman web site recommends poplar wood or Garolite. The latter is a composite board made from wood fibers, somewhat like Masonite. I have not tried the poplar wood because I wanted to have a bed that's not subject to warping from temperature and humidity changes. Taulman also said that "cellulosic fibers" should work.
So here's what I've tried so far with utter and complete failure, no adhesion:
• Kraft paper, glued to glass;
• Kraft paper packing tape, the type which uses water-activated adhesive and thus has no "release" coating on top;
• Kapton tape, both plain and sanded with 330 grit sandpaper;
• Glass plus two different kinds of floor wax;
• Glass plus Aqua Net hair spray;
• Glass plus sugar syrup (the syrup beaded up on the glass; I could see it was hopeless from the start;
• Glass plus Elmer's glue;
• Blue painter's tape;
• Clear packing tape (I was hoping for a "welded" bond like the Garolite -- see below);
• Vinyl electrician's tape (this melts when the printhead touches it, but rejects bonding to the nylon).
A few experiments have yielded slightly improved results, but each needs an individual explanation for the good and the bad:
1) Garolite. When I tried this, I had the bed heated, and I had the Z clearance set pretty low because all of my previous experience said this was necessary. Well, in spite of the fact that Garolite has a glossy surface, it really bonded to the nylon. In fact it welded to the nylon.
I used a hammer and chisel and still did not get all of the nylon off the Garolite. The part, of course, was trashed. The Taulman web site says the adhesion is so good you may want to tape off part of your part, and that's true. But how can I know beforehand exactly where to put the tape? Maybe it could work with the bed at room temperature and the nylon thread just barely touching down in a molten state. One piece of Garolite big enough for one bed is about $30 from McMaster-Carr.
2) Masonite. On my first try there was no adhesion, but I learned that "Tempered Masonite" has a coating of cured linseed oil, so I sanded the smooth shiny surface until it became dull. Then when I did a print, the part adhered very well. There was no lifting at the corners. Yet, I could still remove the part without breaking it. However, the part came away with Masonite fibers embedded in the bottom, which is kinda ugly. Also, that means the after a few parts have been made the Masonite will have a depression where you have been pulling material away. The good news is that Masonite is readily available from the big-box stores and only costs $5.00 for a piece big enough to make six beds. A downside is that it is definitely subject to warping when exposed to heat and variations in humidity. I did my first experiment with a heated bed, and another with the bed at a chilly (garage) temperature; heated works better.
3) Cloth. In my first attempt with cloth, I glued bed-sheet material down to glass with Elmer's glue. The nylon stuck to it fairly well, but not quite good enough. In my second attempt, I glued a thicker and coarser denim material down to glass with epoxy glue. The nylon seemed to stick to it with the right amount of hold, and only a little blue denim fibers came away with the part. However, I was using the bed heated to 85C and only later found out that the epoxy is not rated to work above 80C. So when I pulled my first small part off the denim, it lifted a part of the denim. Later when I tried a larger part, I could see the denim deflecting in that area - so it was not a stable bed. To be continued...
I'd love to hear about others' experience - or solutions - with nylon.