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Playing with NinjaFlex

I first heard about Ninjaflex from an article on one of the many 3D printer news sites so I thought I’d grab a spool and see how it goes.  Well it took a while to turn up as it was new and only available in the USA but, since then, they’ve got more places in their distribution pipeline, so you can pick it up in the UK.  Now the printer I was going to try it in has been undergoing some upgrades – as is the want in RepRap printers, there’s always a new part to try.

Then someone asked Printrbot to help with settings.  Now, you may have realised if your a fan, than the guys at PBHQ have been really busy, what with new Metal Simple and portable Go v2 printers coming to market and shipping, so I said I’d give it a try.

I got a spool from the lovely UK Distribution person, Janan and I gave it a try.  And this is what I found…

It’s a bit like printing with a rubber band.  Don’t take that as a bad thing, it’s really incredible stuff.  I started by printing a calibration cube, the usual 25mm one I always start with.

25mm cube in Ninjaflex
25mm cube in Ninjaflex

I needed to play with the heat a bit, it needs more than PLA, but not as much as ABS.  I was using 210 degrees which worked fine for me.  The other thing which is really important, especially with the 1.75mm is that it is really, really wobbly.

Printrbot Aluminium Extruder
Printrbot Aluminium Extruder

The extruder needs to be supported as much as possible and the raised feed on the Printrbot’s Aluminium Extruder works fine for that.  I’ve got some 3.0mm that I’d picked up myself and, when I have my i3 together, I’ll see how it works with a Wades extruder.  Even so, with the feed, if you try and push the filament too fast, it will tend to kink and mis-feed.

The layers held together fine and the flexibility really speaks for itself, as the pictures show.  But being able to print with filament is only half the puzzle, the main issue for me is ‘what do you print with it’.  Apart from the calibration cube, I printed the ‘Hello World’ of 3D printing (in my world, anyway), Cute Octo from Thingiverse.  Very squishy and bendy, just like it says on the tin.

More practically, I printed a motor couple for a Printrbot Simple rebuild I did for someone.  Nothing hard, a simple hexagon cross section with a hole through the middle, 25mm tall.  Worked a treat.  An original Printrbot from the Kickstarter turned into a Simple with a wood kit, some screws and cable ties.

I’d like to try it with multiple extruders to see how it bonds with the different plastics but, for the time being, if you feel the need for some bendy printing, this stuff is definitely worth a try.  Not the cheapest filament you will buy, but hunt around and see if there are any deals around.

25mm cube
25mm cube squashed