Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A splash of British colour - Faberdashery PLA experiments

I have been using Faberdashery PLA for the last week and I’m really impressed with it, here are a few things it inspired me to design and print along with some testing results and observations using the filament with my Prusa Mendel printers.

Faberdashery are UK based and their wide range of coloured PLA is manufactured in the UK. They sell by the meter instead of by weight so you can choose as much or as little as you need.

A great way to experience the range is with a Rainbow fun pack
In the Rainbow pack you get 10 beautiful colours, they also have Gold, Silver, and Black, White and others by the meter or 100 m coils. 
No natural/clear PLA is available yet, but maybe they will stock it in the future.

The first great thing about the filament is the great range of Opaque colours, usually PLA is transparent with just a suggestion of colour. I do like the nice solid colours from Faberdashery, they look more like ABS but without the nasty smell or the warp.

The way it’s delivered and packed is great and it feels like you are getting some care and individual attention for your order. The only thing I would like to see in the future is the filament bags heat-sealed maybe with some desiccant for moisture absorbsion, but I expect most of us will use is straight away as soon as we get it.

I finished almost the whole box in 4 evenings flat!

Dimensions of the filament are very good, round and the minimum I measured was 2.74mm and the maximum 2.89mm. All my models were sliced for 2.85mm Filament and I did not need to re-slice for change in colour so having this tolerance is very good when you are doing multicolour filament joining.

The Filament Polymer type is 4043D, recommended temperature of 160Deg C to 220 Deg C, I found the higher end was required for faster printing.

With all these great colours I decided on a Rainbow and after not finding one on Thingiverse I made my own in Sketchup.

It was not just designed to look pretty as I added lots of sections for filament bridging and thin layers for colour change. Skeinforge finds bridging on curves hard as it decided on an angle for the direction of bridge and does the whole section the same angle, so at points along the curve filament is going straight into the gap, this makes it a hard test especially when done at high speed, that’s why you can see a few gaps and dips in the model surface. I could make it look much better with a different Rainbow design but this was testing how the filament would perform on my Prusa Mendel ‘Bling’ machine.

These are the sections of coloured filament you need for the rainbow, it's about 3.5M it total - and Note the correct length of cream filament above, more on that below as I made a mistake in the joining process...
The red length is longer than it needs to be for 'overrun'

I did mess up with the filament joining, as you can see from the printed Rainbow picture above the Red covers 3 bows and mixes Orange, this was simply an incorrect length of Cream filament right after the First White colour, I had cut the correct length of cream as you can see in the photo above, but I joined a off-cut of 12cm rather than the correct length of 37cm :(

The cream should have been where the Pink is and so on, this would have also made light blue in the correct place etc. when I get more filament I’ll try again with the correct lengths and I’ll have a better Rainbow.

Underside of the rainbow, - Note the filament bridging test.
On the back you can see the Cream, it’s in the infill section of the Pink Bridging colour, if it would have been the correct length it would also have been on top.

The rainbow and all the objects here were printed at 120mm/sec Feed/Flow and 200mm/sec Travel speed, 0.5mm Nozzle and 0.3mm layer with 1.5 WOT, no slowing down even on the bridging, just full speed apart from the first layer down and perimeter were done at 60mm/sec.

Take a look at the below videos of the Rainbow print, you can see how the filament is extruding for yourself.

Rainbow files on Thingiveres Here - 

With the multicoloured Heart box I tried a different method to combine colours, along with the joined coloured  filaments I also designed cut-out sections and objects to fit into the voids, after printing these separately these were heated with a hot-air gun and pushed into the spaces, this was not as easy as I had expected due to the fact I made them sized to fit, really they need to be slightly smaller as they would be so much easier to join when warm and soft. 
I’ll try this method again, but similar results could be achieved just with filament joining.

 This round of colour printing also convinced me that you need at least 2 layers to make a good colour change as you can see in the above Purple top-colour and the 'A' below.

Next time I'll make the colour change 2 layers, this would make it nice and solid.

Youtube Video of the printing.
Heart Box files on thingiverse Here - 

I have wanted to print a old fashioned working fan, again I didn’t find one of thingiverse, so I designed a simple one that you can print out in whatever colours you like and fit the sections together.

Simple Sketchup design, each blade is the same. 

The hinge pin is a section of 3mm filament, just melted at each end to hold it in place. The sliding tabs are also fitted in place with melted tops to hold it all together.

Fan design files on Thingiverse here - 

Temperature testing -

This is a good video to show the speed and how smooth the filament is going down - first layer is at 60mm/sec

Using the different colours I discovered that a good temperature for extrusion and a Glossy print is 205 Degrees C and if you want a Matt effect (especially on the Dark Blue and Purple) raising the temperature above 215 Degrees C (See the close-up of the Faberdashery F logo below for an example).

Matt effects can be achieved running the filament at 215 - 220 Degrees C.

Simple two colour print test

My next machine - A very British Mendel - 

3 Colour Red, White and Blue printing.

It's always nice to see community suppliers manufacture in their home country so I could not think of a better way to say 'MADE IN THE UK' than a very British Red, White and Blue Mendel. 

I'll order some more filament and my 3rd Prusa Machine will be made in this Fabtastic 3 colour scheme.

Thanks Faberdashery, keep up the good work and give us all even more great colours to play with.

I will be doing a 'Big PLA Review' shortly, with print comparison and destruction testing from as many suppliers as I can order product from. It should be a good reference point for anyone looking to buy PLA for 3D printing. Stay tuned for updates on this, I hope to include, UK, Europe, US/Canada and Chinese suppliers.

Thanks for looking and please leave a comment.



  1. Nice colors but VERY EXPENSIVE @ £35.00 (39,9 €) per 100 meter coil (880g).
    At the GRRF (https://shop.grrf.de/3-mm-pla-c-82_100_94.html?zenid=2e13bb505e9fae4c3e6546aa865e43ac) you get a 2200 g roll of PLA for 67 €!
    This would cost £99.75 (113.72 €) from your supplier.

    I do like some of the colors though...

  2. Hi Bob,

    I really like the colour choice, you can’t beat it if you have a specific object or colour you need, I would recommend at least buying a Rainbow pack even if it’s just to inject a bit of colour into the many other 2.2Kg rolls of material we all have for every day printing.

  3. Besides variety it sounds like £35 is also buying material and manufacturing quality. Roll on the next post Rich! And I'm glad your new Mendel would fetch equally as much on ebay.co.fr and ebay.co.it as it would over here.

  4. Way to go Rich! Fantastic work!

  5. Hi Rich, I already have 12 colors, BUT... I would like to get that purple! By the way, your British Mendel looks more like an American Mendel to me!

  6. Hi Bob, yes the purple is really nice, i'm going to be ordering more and also the pink for my little ones.

    Someone else said it looks French! i'll have to try a bit harder to make it look more British...

  7. "i'll have to try a bit harder to make it look more British..."

    Hang a tea bag on it, that ought to do it! :-)

  8. The people from all these countries, (and more!) probably like red white and blue RepRaps:
    Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Faroe Islands, France, Iceland, North Korea, Laos, Luxembourg, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Russia, Samoa, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Thailand, United Kingdom & United States. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:JRM/Notes/List_of_national_flags_in_red,_white_and_blue

    Keep up the interesting work Rich! I'd be happy to give a small donation towards an unbiased material's test fund, especially if other (non-suppliers/manufacturers) are interested in contributing too - a very useful resource for all of us; particularly those just starting out.

    BTW, are you interested in hosting or attending a RUG meet up in the GL/WR/HR area - or perhaps you know of some upcomming local events? Give me a mail at hamish you-fill-in-the-dot mead and-the-at gmail if you're up for it.

  9. Hi Hamish -

    Thanks for the flags! I think I have found a way to make it more British looking so I'll see how it comes out.
    Thanks for the offer on the materials test, I have about 12 different types and suppliers to test, so that will keep me busy for a while, the plan is to make a set of test objects and physical tests so other people can also do the same and expand out testing, hopefully it will be useful in time and give us all a better idea what is worth our time and money.

    I have e-mailed about the Reprap meet up, sounds like a good idea.



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