In terms of plastics, there is more and more choice in 3D filaments in terms of materials and colors. In addition, there are more and more manufacturers who specialize in the production of filaments. One of them is the well-known German manufacturer BASF. This company also offers a wide range of filaments, and we tested nine of them. Whether the filaments lived up to our tests and, above all, how, is shown in the following test report.
We test and evaluate the following 1.75 mm filament types
- Ultrafuse ABS Black 750g
Ultrafuse TPC 45D Yellow 500g
Ultrafuse PET Black 750g
Ultrafuse PLA White 750g
Ultrafuse PLA Gold 750g
Ultrafuse PLA Pink 750g
Ultrafuse TPU 85A Natural 750g
Ultrafuse TPU 95A Black 750g
Ultrafuse TPU 64D White 750g
based on the following criteria: Material properties, printing performance, handling and environmental properties. This yields the following sub-criteria: Packaging / spool, texture, dissolution, strength, adhesion, solidity (cold state, hot and cooled) and odor development. We use two professional 3D printers from Dremel in the test and print in closed areas. We measure odor development both sensory and by means of a PM 2.5 fine dust measuring device. . We measure gas development with a CO measuring device. The 3D models come from templates as well as our own designs using 3D scanners.
The filaments are distributed by BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH in Heidelberg, Germany. BASF 3D Printing Solutions is a wholly owned subsidiary of BASF New Business GmbH. Its mission is to build and expand the business of 3D printing materials, system solutions, components and services under the Forward AM brand. "Forward" comes from English and means "forward" or "progress." AM stands for Additive Manufacturing better known as 3D printing. AM is an emerging innovative manufacturing process that is fundamentally different from traditional manufacturing processes and opens up entirely new opportunities for research and industry.
The external characteristics
Let's start with the packaging of the filament. The filament comes in a nice, white-blue cardboard package with a pretty 3D design. On this, there is a sticker on each, which reveals the contents and the recommended temperature range. Some of the filaments came with and some without aluminum bags and vacuum. Some plastics tend to absorb moisture from the ambient air due to their chemical nature. For a better start with the filaments, these moisture-sensitive materials are packed airtight by the manufacturer to protect against this during storage and transportation. This measure to improve product handling is a process that BASF started some time ago and has successively extended it to the corresponding materials in its portfolio. TPUs, for example, have already benefited from this development.
If a part of this was not laminated with aluminum foil, this is probably due to the fact that this coil was part of the previous production run. Also, the film around the package already provides protection from basic moisture and also from damage. The manufacturer also refrains from applying full vacuum to the aluminum bags, as this could easily damage them and cause air to enter.
BASF filaments are dry-packed after production and are thus immediately printable. There is also a silica gel bag and film around the outer packaging in each package. At first glance, the reel reminds testers of the good old 7-inch (17.5-cm) vinyl record. It is made of plastic and has only two holes on each side for inserting the filament end. In the center of the spool we again learn the name of the filament, the weight and the recommended temperature range. The diameter of the spool is around 20 cm and the filament has been neatly wound. We notice an interesting trend in terms of weight. More and more manufacturers are selling 750g filament instead of 1000g. There are also 500cc versions more and more often. Our test filaments also have the weight of 750g for the most part. The manufacturer offers many different, partly strong colors on its online store. We therefore chose a colorful mix of colors to cover this spectrum as well. The color that stands out the most in the test is PLA Pink and we start with this one. We print a small pig with it.
Already when inserting the filament, the bright pink catches our eye and we like it very much. In addition, we already notice a good strength with a good flexibility at the same time. The pig was also printed very high resolution and detailed, without many threads or errors. Even the curly tail turned out well.
We continue with the white and gold variants. For both colors we print figures. Carefully selected color pigments ensure uniform and intense colors in the PLA filament from BASF. Thanks to an optimized manufacturing process, we also get good, clean prints in the test and never got nozzle blockages. Compared to ABS, a heated print bed is not absolutely necessary with PLA filament, since it shrinks less during cooling and the undesirable "warping effect" does not occur to any great extent. PLA is based on corn starch and is degradable under industrial conditions as well as recyclable. Therefore, it is one of the most environmentally friendly filaments for 3D printing. BASF's Ultrafuse PLA filaments provide excellent printing for both home use and technically demanding models.
Our test range includes the usual candidates like TPU, PLA, and ABS, but PET and TPC are two not-so-everyday-use varieties. TPC stands for Thermoplastic Copolymer Elastome and is a copolyester-based thermoplastic elastomer. TPCs are used in dynamic applications that require extended, continuous flexibility, such as those where the material is constantly flexing. TPC also has high strength, making it resistant to damage. TPC is ideal for dual extrusion printing, such as in combination with PETG for sealing parts and other areas that require high elasticity. The lower you choose the filling level, the more elastic the printed components will be. The same applies to the wall thickness. The thinner the more elastic. In this way, components with partially elastic/reinforced areas can also be printed. Heatable printing plates are essential for successful processing of TPC.
PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate and gained its notoriety primarily through PET bottles, which are usually disposable and can be recycled. PET is also becoming increasingly popular in terms of 3D printing. Ultrafuse PET is made from high-quality PET that is as easy to print as PLA, but stronger. PET filament has a wide range of use (temperature and speed) when printing, so it can be used with any 3D printer. Ultrafuse PET is 100% recyclable, waterproof, and available in high-quality colors and finishes.
For the TPU and TPC filaments, we have printed cell phone cases, among other products. For both TPU and TPC, the adhesion to the print bed here worked very well from the start. In addition, the layers were printed nicely dense and without dropouts. The yellow TPC bumper is not only nice to look at thanks to its bright color, it also offers a certain amount of strength and flexibility at the same time. We compared the bumper to a store-bought one made of silicone and found that our test model is not only sturdier and stronger, but also offers the same flexibility as the store-bought model. The TPC bumper offered better strength and layer adhesion than the TPU bumper. BASF Ultrafuse TPC 45D filament is a flexible TPC material from BASF that is available in many colors. We have the colors Black, White and Natural in the test. White and Natural differ only slightly in color. All tested Ultrafuse filaments guarantee high color fidelity due to the quality-controlled manufacturing process. The filament also has a Shore hardness of 45D and prints well due to its low shrinkage.
BASF's TPU filaments offer similar properties, and we also get nice prints with these in testing, and are offered vibrant colors and dense materials. Ultrafuse TPU filament has excellent properties such as mechanical strength, abrasion resistance and slip resistance, making it ideal for use in the automotive, agricultural and construction industries. BASF Ultrafuse TPU filament also offers high cold resistance, good abrasion resistance and resistance to microorganisms.
ABS stands for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and is the second most widely used 3D printing material. It is strong, flexible and heat resistant. ABS is the plastic of choice for engineers and professional applications. ABS can be smoothed with acetone. A heated print bed is required for perfect 3D printing with ABS. BASF ABS filament is available in 9 colors. We have the color black in the test. This is also the most widely used in the field of ABS. Ultrafuse ABS filaments guarantee high color fidelity through a quality-controlled manufacturing process. In the test, the ABS models offer smooth, glossy surfaces, solidity, good mechanical properties and consistent color reproduction.
Odor development / exhaust fumes
Odor development is kept within limits for both TPU filaments, although this is somewhat more noticeable for ABS, PET and PLA. Some filaments are processed by very high temperatures up to nearly 300 °C. Due to the thermal decomposition, dangerous decomposition products such as the irritant gases CO, CO2 and nitrogen oxides can escape - just like car exhaust gases, but in a much smaller form. In the test, the values for all filaments were below 50ppm. In terms of fine dust with an aerodynamic diameter smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM 2.5), there are also no relevant values in the test. Nevertheless, users should not stay in the same room during printing if it is not sufficiently ventilated, as even slightly escaping vapors can be harmful to the body in the long run. This applies to all types of filament. The manufacturer also advises sufficient room air exchange at all times.
As mentioned at the beginning, we printed different cell phone bumpers with TPU and TPC, which were hardly distinguishable from purchased ones. Especially TPC scored with its strong and at the same time flexible texture. For PLA, PET and ABS, we also print different figure models and saucers. The latter is even waterproof when printed on PET and can function as a saucer for flowers. The figures are robust and were printed in very good resolution. Thanks to the very good layer adhesion and melting, you sometimes don't even see the fine lines that otherwise betray 3D printing. No wonder, because we always printed with a layer thickness of 0.1mm, but even here you can still see the lines everywhere when looking closely with other manufacturers.
Apart from only a few adhesion problems, which was mostly due to the print settings, there were no problems with the filaments in the test. We had no jams or clogs, no tangled filament, or any other problems in any of the test runs. What needs some improvement are the two holes for the filament end on the spool. They are definitely too few. There should already be at least 4 on each side here so that not too much filament sticks out.
Storage and prices
Ultrafuse filaments should be stored at a temperature of 15 - 25 °C in their original sealed packaging in a clean and dry environment. If the recommended storage conditions are followed, the minimum shelf life of the products is 12 months according to the manufacturer. However, we have made the experience that filaments can even last 3 years and longer if stored well. If you let your filament rolls lie open in the air for years, you will notice that they start to become porous and brittle after just one year. If you have a vacuumizer and vacuum bags at home, you can give unused filaments an even longer shelf life. The prices of BASF filaments currently range from 25 EUR for ABS, PLA, PET and TPC to 55 EUR for TPU filaments.
Conclusion: Whether TPU, TPC, PLA, PET or ABS, all filament types from BASF delivered very good test results and were easy to remove from the print bed. Overall, we obtained excellent printing results with all materials. The products were particularly characterized by good layer adhesion, high resolution and easy handling. The strong colors and solidity stood out in particular. Our test printers coped well with all grades and all in all there were no unsolvable problems. In conclusion, BASF filaments offer a perfect filament base for beginners, advanced and professionals!
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