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Guide to Glow in the Dark 3D Printer Filament

Introduction

Are you thinking of trying a new 3D printing material? If so, then you should consider glow in the dark filament!

Glow in the dark filament gives you a unique finish that is similar to standard PLA or ABS but, as the name suggests, it glows in the dark. It’s available in a variety of colors, from green through to red, and blue. The great thing is that it’s easy to print since it does not require any unique settings or attention.

But before we dive in further, what exactly is glow in the dark 3D printing filament and how does it work?

Well, it’s merely a standard ABS or PLA filament that has an added phosphorescent material by the manufacturer, which makes it glow a variety of colors in the dark.

The most popular phosphorescent material is Strontium Aluminate, but Calcium Sulfide and Zinc Sulfide are also used. 

These pigments cause the glowing of these 3D printing materials in the dark after being exposed to light. The composition of glow in the dark 3D printer filament is very much alike to other composite materials, for instance, wood filaments, magnetic filaments, and carbon fiber filaments.

How do Glow in the dark 3D printer filaments work?

The process through which Glow in the Dark materials glow is referred to as phosphorescence, and it is a process that involves the absorption and storage of electromagnetic energy in the visible light spectrum. This energy is then gradually released as a glow.

Phosphorescence is a particular type of photoluminescence.  

This means these materials are completely safe, and you should not have any concerns if they are dangerous.

Advantages of Using Glow in The Dark Filaments

Glow in the dark 3D printer filaments an excellent choice when making display items as well as decorations or toys. Moreover, it is used in designing signages for your garden and safety markings, such as road signs.

Another appealing aspect of glow in the dark 3D filament is that they come in a broad range of colors, and there are different brands to choose from. The most common filaments are green, violet, and red. Nevertheless, the general agreement among many users is that the green and blue variants produce the best glow.

You can also customize and finish glow in the dark filaments in numerous designs. This means you can have the sanded and fasten together without struggling, with your creativity being the only limit.

Understanding how to use glow in the dark filaments is rather straightforward. And like every other composite material, you should always handle it with care as they are somewhat fragile. Nonetheless, the final print is less prone to shrinking or warping.

How Should You Use Glow in The Dark Filaments?

Glow in the dark filaments are either ABS-based or PLA-based, but there is a big difference in the printing methods between these two variants.

Temperatures

You should start with the standard PLA or ABS printing temperatures unless the manufacturer advises otherwise. The printing temperature of PLA is between 180 to 220 digress Celsius, whereas that of ABS is between 210 to 240 degrees Celsius.

In case of any issue, such as stringing or blobs, then you should tweak these parameters to your preference.

According to most users, glow in the dark 3D printer filaments perform best when printed at printing speeds of less than 15mm/s to a maximum of 100mm/s. Because this is an extensive range, you need to be wise and choose to print at the central point, at around 50 to 60mm/s. You should then adjust upwards or downwards from this range until a satisfactory stringing level is realized.

When using a PLA-based glow in the dark 3D printer filament, you are not required to use a heated bed. However, you can use a heated bed that has a temperature setting between 60 to 70 degrees Celsius. In contrast, ABS-based glow in the dark 3D printer filament requires to be printed on a heated bed, which has the temperature set at around 100 to 110 degrees Celsius.

Bed Adhesion

When using either of these filaments, standard adhesion methods should work perfectly well for both these filaments. This includes the application of a layer of glue stick on the heated bed or a standard blue painters’ bed on the unheated bed.

A PLA-based glow in the dark filament is more resistant to warping, unlike the ABS-based prints. Therefore, you can use a cooling fan to reinforce the final PLA print but must never do the same when using an ABS-based glow in the dark filament.

How to Get the Best Glow

According to most users of glow in the dark 3D printer filaments, increasing the width of printed materials results in the glow in the dark filaments producing a brighter glow. Therefore, you need to consider this when designing your print. Additionally, if you decrease the infill and increase the shells, then your 3D prints get to glow a lot brighter and for a prolonged duration.

Limitations of Glow In The Dark Filaments

As you design a glow in the dark 3D printer filament, it is crucial to remember that the phosphorescent materials do not generate its light but rather absorb light energy. This then means that the final print’s glow gradually starts to reduce after being left in the dark, and it will be off if left for several hours at most. Therefore, you should never expect that your glow in the dark 3D printer filament to be a source of light that stays light through the night.

Another drawback of glow in the dark 3D printer filaments is that they are relatively more complex to use in comparison to metallic or wood filaments. The reason for this is that they tend to be somewhat abrasive.

You should thus switch your standard brass nozzles to a toughened equivalent to prevent abrasion as time passes by when making use of the glow in the dark filament. Because of this, you can decide to get the nozzles with a broader diameter to minimize abrasion. The ideal diameter size to produce excellent prints whereas getting rid of abrasion is of 0.5 to 0.6 mm.

Like every other composite filament, glow in the dark filaments tend to be more susceptible to snapping because of the infused phosphorescent powder. Therefore, you should ensure the filament path from the spool does not have sharp turns to prevent any issues.

Best Brands of Glow In The Dark Filaments On The Market

There is numerous glow in the dark 3D printer filaments to choose from, but not all are of good quality. In this list, I will take you through the best glow in the dark filaments. This is based on the ease of use, how helpful the customer service is as well as the unique color designs on offer.

Hatchbox Glow in the Dark Filament

Hatchbox is among the most highly rated glow in the dark filaments on the market, with many positive reviews across the 3D printing community. This filament is also one of the best-rated filaments in general.

The reason why this filament is very popular is that unlike most other glow in the dark filaments, it has excellent tolerance. Its tolerance rating is +/- 0.01 mm. 

One of the things that make the Hatchbox a preferred glow in the dark filament is because it can be printed in settings that are comparable or identical to the regular PLA settings. It also rarely causes any issue to your machine plus is very easy to use.

Moreover, it generates a bright glow for an extended duration. However, you should always confirm that your source of light emits UV light, or else it will not get enough charge.

MeltInk3D

This glow in the dark filament is among the best choices you can get as it is easy to use and of incredible quality. It also charges fast and produces a bright glow.

The possible issue when using this filament is it is relatively harder to work with, unlike other filaments. Because of this, it is best always to use a steel nozzle when using the MeltInk3D glow in the dark filament.

This filament quickly wears out the brass nozzle as time passes. Therefore, if you intend to do a lot of prints using this filament, it is best to invest in a suitable kind of nozzle.

Gizmo Dorks Glow in the Dark Filament

This is also another remarkable glow in the dark 3D printer filament that glows brightly in the dark. The Gizmo brand is famed for its exceptional customer service, and these somewhat offset the fact that this filament is not of the best quality compared to other brands. However, it is still a great glow in the dark filament and produces a bright glow when once it gets charged.

The main drawback when using this filament is that using it to print is not as easy, and it clogs more in comparison to other filaments. It also is somewhat challenging to find the ideal printer settings when using it. Still, with persistence, you will attain excellent results.

This glow in the dark 3D printer filament does an outstanding job by working hard to ensure all the issues have been addressed to your satisfaction.

3D Solutech Glow in the Dark Filament

3D Solutech is one of the brightest glow in the dark 3D printer filaments on the market and one that you need to try out. This is very much commendable of 3D Solutech, who made use of plenty of additives in the filament to ensure a bright glow.

Whereas the color of 3D Solutech glow in the dark filament is not any better or different to that of its rivals, it, without a doubt, the glow outperforms the majority of them. Printing with this glow in the dark filament is very easy, and it incorporates a uniform flow through its hot end and sticks excellently to blue painter’s tape. Additionally, it boasts an impressive tolerance of +/- 0.05 mm.

The customer service team seems to reply to issues relatively faster through their Facebook page. Therefore, in case of any query, you should head over to their social media platform.

Conclusion

After reading through this article, you are now well-versed on what glow in the dark 3D filaments are, how to use them, the benefits of using them, and the best brands to choose. Whereas these filaments might not be entirely practical, they do provide you with a cool factor. However, it is still a niche item that has very few applications. Still, it compensates for this by incorporating style and flair.

Therefore, you should use a glow in the dark 3D printer filament when thinking of doing a fascinating project. This filament is also reasonably easy to use, and the final prints are unique.  

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