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Ball & Socket Joints : Better filament than PLA?

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    Ball & Socket Joints : Better filament than PLA?

    I'd like to use ball & socket joints to make action figures. Is there a filament that would work better than PLA for this?

    I think its more about the layer density, PLA is quite smooth already (in straight lines). If you gently grind away the layers with a bit of sandpaper you should be good.


      I think Steefaan's correct about layer density being most important. Unfinished FDM 3D printing probably isn't the best for smooth ball and socket joints. Some kind of finishing method to smooth it out would probably make it better. I haven't used this product, but I've been eyeing it: Smooth-On 3D Print Coating. It's self leveling and would probably yield a smoother and more even surface than sanding. However, it may also wear off if repetitively used. Switching to ABS would let you use acetone to smooth it out further. The acetone vapor technique seems to yield some very smooth and uniform results. Good luck, let us know what works for you.


        Actually it has more to do with the material's CoF (friction coefficient). Post processing and layer resolution can help, but you need to start with a material with witha low static CoF.

        PLA is not a low friction material. Neither is the Smooth-On Coating (XTC-3D) mentioned. The coating would quickly disintegrate in this application.

        Your best choices would be either:
        1. POM (aka acetal or Delrin) which is commonly used for dry bearing in things like VEX Robotics and sold by GizmoDorks,
        2. PP (polypropylene), also available from GizmoDorks, or
        3. Nylon (aka polyamide) available from Taulman3D and elsewhere.

        The problem is all of those materials are very challenging to print. Because they are low friction / low surface energy materials they don't like to stick much to anything including your print bed. For each case there are some special things you can do to get it to stick, such as using packing tape for PP, or a phenolic sheet (i.e. Garolyte) for Nylon. Wolfbite Nitro by Airwolf3D can also help.

        These materials also tend to absorb moisture so you'll want to dry them before printing. And they all have a high rate of shrinkage which means extreme warping. Very difficult to print without an enclosed build chamber.

        You could also try PETG, it's more slippery than PLA, although not as much as the others mentioned. But it's much easier to print without the aforementioned issues.

        Good luck


          Nylon would definitely be my choice for small ball joints, shrinkage isn't so much of a problem with smaller parts and with Taulman's Bridge Nylon and a 3mm Tufnol sheet I've made a replacement print cooling fan system -


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