Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Review: Makergeek's Raptor PLA

PLA is the main material used in our home based FDM printers. It's reasonably cheap, easy to get, and requires the least amount of fiddling to get to work. It's actually one of the strongest also. But, it's also the lowest temperature melting point and though it's stronger, it's brittle making it less than ideal to use for structural parts in things like our printers themselves and other products like remote control vehicles and other high impact applications which we generally default to using ABS for.  The problem with ABS is it requires a good bit more care to be taken getting the printer adjusted and it also requires a heated bed to prevent warping during print, and even then it can fail to hold and you end up with corners pulling up or outright failed print. Other materials have popped up with the promise of ease of use with better strength but are usually a mixed bag and often fall short of the claim.

Enter Makergeeks' Raptor PLA. This is a high temperature,  premium PLA made in the USA and sold directly from the factory. It has an added advantage that if you put it in the oven at 212ºf (100ºc) and bake it for around 10 minutes that it will change it's structure and become stronger and more heat resistant. But, does it really? Well, I haven't tried any heat test to see if it resists higher temperatures but I have tried it's strength and I can honestly say, YES, it does increase it's strength, it's as strong as ABS if not a tad stronger and is WAY more flexible than standard PLA,... after you cook it.  If you take the part off the printer with out heat treating it's rather weak.

"Ugg, that means I have to put it in the oven have have my kitchen all stinking of plastic." Well, no. Honestly I didn't notice even the slightest oder from it being in the oven. And, it's odorless during printing so that is a BIG advantage over ABS!

"Bet it doesn't really print as easy as regular PLA!"  Well, actually it does, and maybe even easier. In my tests I didn't get a single print fail, not one.  It just always stuck to the bed, printed easy and rather nicely. I even had one I deliberately set the nozzle a scooch high to see what would happen and it actually held. This is all on blue painters tape, no bed heat. I do always wipe the tape with rubbing alcohol to remove the release coating on the face of the tape the factory puts on so the tape doesn't stick to its self, but I do that with anything I print no matter what. Really the only difference between this and regular PLA for printing is the increase to 230º-ish nozzle temperature. That's it.

"But it's expensive". Well ya, it costs s few bucks more to purchase, but, it very well may be cheaper in the long run over things like ABS and PETG. How? Well it you take the percentage of failures you get working with ABS compared to original cost. Think about how much you end up throwing away in test prints and set up, then the actual prints that fail hours later because the thing popped a corner or shifted during a print because of it warped. Unless you have a dedicated printer for ABS you'll likely waste a good portion of the material in setup and failures. With the Raptor, it's less likely and even if it does happen it'll be much less and less often. Not only will it be saving you money, or at least breaking even cost wise, but also saving a mess of headaches. And with the price coming down a good bit lately it becomes even less of an issue. (Latest pricing was $33 a roll which  includes shipping in the US) 

To sum it up... would I recommend this? Whole heartedly, yes! You do need to cook it after to get strength but I'll probably use up the ABS I have, and for future purchases I'll mostly be getting Raptor PLA for anything I want to be use in impact or stress related areas.  Still will get standard PLA for the "shelf dust collecting" items though.

http://www.makergeeks.com

Here's a little video I did testing the strengths of each.


7 comments:

  1. Nice review. I had a roll on the way and was interested to see how it worked. How are the finishing properties?

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  2. Do you mean like doing something similar to using acetone on ABS? Or just how nice a finish? The finish right off the printer is on par with PLA. It really depends more on your settings, layer height and such. Pretty much every I've printed has been 0.1 layers. As to after finishing/sanding and such I have no clue as I haven't bothered with anything I've printed.

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  3. Just received my Raptor PLA. Been spending the last 48 hrs trying to get it to work half way decent. Loved their ABS which is why I tried their Raptor PLA. After having to turn my extruder multiplier up to 120% I broke out the calibers and took some measurements. Here are the results (Width by thickness measured along 10 ft of filament):

    1.68 x 1.74mm
    1.64 x 1.72
    1.61 x 1.68
    1.62 x 1.71
    1.62 x 1.74

    These are really bad tolerances. Just to make sure I wasn't doing something wrong, I measured their ABS the same way:

    1.74 x 1.74mm
    1.74 x 1.73
    1.73 x 1.73
    1.74 x 1.73
    1.74 x 1.73

    I'm having an awful time with this and suspect its a bad batch. Could you be so kind as to measure your filament in a few places and let me know how oval yours is and your tolerances? Appreciate the help, I'm ripping my hair out.

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  4. just checked like 3 feet of it (a meter) checked like 20+ spots. all read a near perfect 1.71 and 1.73 at a 90º turn.

    I'd say contact them and get new roll. send pictures and explain your issues clearly and politely and they'll probably send you a new roll.

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  5. I literally just got a new roll of green 1/2 hour ago and spec'd it up and found the same as you basically :/ it's very "football" shaped at 1.73 one side and 1.67ish at a 90º turn. it seems consistently that way as I went up the roll multiple ft and got the same readings at like 10 places. Printing with it now and it seem fine though so far. printing like butter actually and really nice, but only 15-20 into the print sooo....? we'll see.

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  6. I contacted support and they sent me back an Email in less than 5 minutes.. they are replacing my roll.. now I wouldn't expect that fast a response, think I was lucky in timing and such, but, if you send a few pics if possible of the prints, and of the caliper readings on the filament, pretty sure they will cover you!

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  7. All, thanks so much for the response. The issue has really been rearing its head while I have been doing thin walls where gaps will sporadically appear in the extrusion and the surface finish is just not very good. However, it seems to average out on other parts with multiple perimeters. I have contacted them once and got a really weird response back, I'm contacting them again, hoping for a more sound resolution. However, with that said, Makergeeks has really treated me well in the past and have had nothing but good things to say about the other filaments I have tried or their customer service. I generally really like them. I'll let you all know how it goes.

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