Thursday 11 April 2013

3D Printing with Nylon 618 filament in Tie-Dye colours

 * Tie-Dye 3D printing with Nylon 618 *

Taluman Nylon 618 is a very versatile printing material. Nylon does not require a heated bed, has low warp, and cooling fans are not required for both big or tiny printing.

You can print big and really tiny things in Nylon

No fans or heated beds required!

Nylon has amazing self-bonding properties making any FFF (layer-by-layer) printed objects very strong and less prone to de-lamination.

Natural Nylon 618 material.

Another aspect of its development was the ability to colour the Nylon with fabric Dye. That hits almost every spot for me!

From the moment I spotted the 618 Nylon was available I wanted to try colouring the raw filament with more than one colour, something I have always wanted manufacturers to make is a range of filaments that have changes of colour during the roll or even across the roll, now I had a way to do it myself.

Taulman 3D recommends printing with the natural filament and then dyeing the parts afterwards for best results, but I wanted to see what happened when dyeing the filament first as that sounded a lot more fun.

Nylon 618 Intro video- 

Here is an introduction video going over the simple Filament Dyeing process, You can also watch it in HD on YouTube Here -

I wanted as simple method as possible to dye the filament rolls, nothing too messy or complicated, so obviously I ignored the instructions...

I used powder based Rit dye, this is compatible with Nylon, if you try anything else, do make sure it's suitable, some Dye's state they are not, and some (Dylon for example) don't seem to give any real advice on Nylon. Other specific acid based dyes are designed for Nylon, but getting hold of them is not all that easy in the UK, seems a little easier in the US.

The Rit Dye website recommends adding Vinegar when trying to dye Nylon, I can say that really didn't work for me, and seemed to make the dye almost useless. I’m not sure why it didn't help as the acid content of Vinegar or other things like citric acid are often used when dying Nylon based products.

You can use other natural dyes for Nylon, Cotchineal (squashed bugs) makes a very strong red dye, Turmeric and tea also work on Nylon.

Other links suggest adding add extra Salt to the Dye, this does not seem to hinder the dyeing process, but it's hard to say if it also helped with my particular setup as I only did it with one colour and that was an already  dark shade.

After ignoring the instructions for the dye and most other information I could find, I just boiled a kettle of water, and added around 200ml to the Rit Dye sachet in a glass Jam jar – stirred for 1 minute until dissolved.

It's a good idea to tie-wrap or secure the filament into a coil before dyeing. Also you want to drop the filament into hot (boiling if possible) water before putting it into the dissolved dye. Just for a few minutes to get it up to temperature.

Here is a before and after shot.

Note - the Nylon based tie-wraps also dye really well!

This is how it's done -

Then I just put the hot filament into a Zip-top bag and poured in the 200ml of dye, as you can see I wanted just half or less of the coil to be covered in the bag (depending on bag size).

Leave it for 30mins and shake/swish it about in the bag once or twice if you remember.
You can leave it for longer, but 30mins seems to be a good time to get a nice colour from this extra concentrated dye.

After 30mins or longer, you can remove the coil, and rinse in warm water, then cold water.

The one I added vinegar too was unfortunately the magenta (pink/fuchsia) so that really didn't work at all well, and ended up being more like a light pink/orange for some reason – I'll try again without the vinegar next time.

The yellow was done just with the Dye, this worked really well and was very fast acting and seems to give the strongest colour when printed.

For the Teal (dark green) I tried adding salt, this didn't seem to help and maybe needed longer to get a deep colour, hard to tell, but next time I use Rit dye it's going to be just plain.

Basically I would warn against adding Vinegar or salt and try to keep the dye as hot as possible for as long as possible.

You could do a whole coil if you lay it down in a zip bag or boil it up in a pan, or if like me you want a mixed filament 'tartan look' ;) rotate the filament in the bag and add another colour. Dye the next section like above, rinse and repeat.

Starting to look rather awesome don't you think?

In the end you should have tie-dye filament! you then need to dry out really well before use.

I'm sure you could wrap and bind the filament in all sorts of ways with rubber bands or plastic to get some really interesting and colourful effects.

I did think about drying it in an oven, I have done this before with ABS and PLA, this should also work well for Nylon, but as I was going away for a week I decided to leave the coils in an airing cupboard at a slightly elevated temperature, this worked extremely well and all of my spare ABS is stored in this cupboard permanently to keep out any moisture.

Another trick mentioned on the RepRap forums (by Sublime) is to put your filament in a metal of wooden box with a low wattage light bulb (~25w) to keep it dry. You can of course use desiccant sachets, but remember these really only do absorb a tiny amount of moisture and need to be dried themselves for re-use.

Printing with the filament is just as normal, I didn't see any issues at all with it. No steam or pops as the filament was really dry, actually better than when it had been originally delivered.
Layer bonding seems as strong as with natural Nylon, the only change I decided to make was to increase the temperature of the print to 235 degrees C.

And one final note, if you plan to use Nylon for printing, MakeAlot directed me that the best surface material to print on is Tufnol (Whale brand) this cotton weave, resin based laminate is often used for mechanical jigs in the electronics or test area. You need to get the Whale brand type and not other similar products based on fiberglass or composites.

This is what the Tufnol (Whale brand) surface looks like.

It will go by different names over in the US (often Garolite LE) and may have other names where you are.

Tie Dye Printing and Destruction testing Nylon 618 video- 

Here is a video showing the printing of Nylon on Tantilus and Rostock, I also do a little destruction testing at the end, showing the relative strength against PLA - You can also watch it in HD on YouTube Here

After initial testing I had been lowering the print temperature of the natural Nylon down to 225, but I noticed the dark Teal colour looked shinier and smooth at a little higher temperature, so 235 Deg C is my now normal setting for Nylon @60mm/sec printing speed using a 0.4mm J-head nozzle.

Blended Natural and Teal bands add another dimension to the Tron and Plus Vases

Cutting the filament cross section shows that the dye penetrates in about 85%, so you have a tiny core of natural looking filament, this obviously all gets melted together in the extruder nozzle but it’s interesting that the colours do not seem to really fade in the extruding process as I thought it might, you do end up with nice and unique looking parts, especially when the filament is cross multi-coloured.

I expect that doing a better dyeing process, having more agitation and constant high heat would dye the entire filament and produce even stronger colours.

I was originally trying to get a mix of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow filament, and where these colours mixed should have also given me Red, Green and Blue. But I could only get hold of Teal (dark green) instead of Cyan and I also didn't allow the coils to mix enough as I rotated them for each of the coloured dips.

I like this method as after you have dyed your coil there is nothing else to do, where as dyeing the parts after printing would be a pain each time you made a printed object, so I'm please how the first test came out and will dye more Nylon Filament with some other colours next time.

I have printed all these models using both the Tantillus printer as this was setup for 1.75mm Filament and also the Rostock for bigger models, both with cold Tufnol print surfaces.

Printing bigger Nylon prints on the Rostock also seems to work extremely well, I have only done a few so far, but the Rostock seems very happy with Nylon too.

And they stay very stretchy, the dye does not seem to make any difference to layer bonding or stretch.

I really love these gunny sacks, they print well and look great.

Many thanks for the great models by Ben Malouf (BenitoSanduchi) and Perry Engel (Cerberus333) these really make wonderful test pieces for Nylon printing and being thin walled they don't take very long to print. Check out more of Ben's work on Thingiverse Here and Perry's Here

Let me know what you think and send me some pictures if you try out any Tie-Dye printing!

I bought 3 rolls of the Taulman 618 filament, and dyed a lot of it, all sorts of different colour mixes, many I have not yet had time to try out, and it does go a very long way when printing hollow pots!

Plenty more great things to print out that deserve the Tye-Dye treatment, let me know what you would like to see Tye-Dye 3D printed and I'll do my best.

Very excitingly as I typed this up, Taulman3D has just announced a new clear Nylon 645 material with very high strength properties, I can't wait to try it out. I can imagine dyeing this new clear material would look rather fantastic when printed.

In other 3D news - 

E3D All metal hot-end -

I just received a new all metal hot-end from e3d-Online, it's one of the best machined objects I have ever received. And this really is an all metal hot-end, no PTFE inserts or sealing tape, just a stainless thermal junction and Aluminium heater block and heat-sink.
If it operates as good as it looks, we should have another option for really high temperature printing.

It's not as heavy as it looks :) it has a J-head compatible Groove mount that fits perfectly into Greg style extruders and all the modified Bowden hot-end mounts I have made so far.

I plan to test it with Nylon, Polycarbonate, PLA, ABS and PC-ABS and any other materials I can get my hands on very soon.
I may need to change the thermistor over to a thermocouple for some materials, but I will let you all know how it performs.

3D Printing Presentation in Cheltenham - 

Also, I will be speaking about RepRap and 3D printing along with demo's at the Cheltenham design festival -  April 13th, do come along if you can and say hello.

Thanks for reading, happy printing.



  1. Excellent post. I always thought your multicolour prints were nice but never had consistent luck joining filament so this is a great leap forward. Keep up the good work.

    1. Hi Brad, Thanks - the Tantillus loves Nylon printing, Have you tried any yet?
      I also think after 3 months of major printing I have almost worn out my bearings and rods, I know I should not have used LM8UU's, I'm going to switch to Nylon Bushings and new rods soon.

    2. Not yet, I planned on ordering a bunch of it and then things got busy becoming a dad and moving which has put a real hamper on my RepRapping time. Glad to see you are putting lots of time on your Tantillus it will be interesting to see what your thoughts on it are. Not many hardcore RepRappers have built them to my knowledge. After reading your post on the Rostock I am going to build a really small one with as much printable as possible including printable linear rails and bearings (started on that part yesterday).

      With the nylon being so soft do you think it will work well for bushings?

    3. :) I have to take a quick photo and e-mail it to you right now - I think it will make you smile - ref the Small Rostock comment you just made.

      I did try Nylon 618 for LM8UU replacements on Rostock, and it didn't work well, too soft as you say, but I hope that the new 645 version will be ideal.

      And a bit late, but congrats on being a Dad, it's great.

      I'm doing a blog post on the Tantillus, I don't think people realise how good it is, did you make a battery powered one, I'm very tempted.

    4. Thanks. No battery powered one just yet. But I do not see any reason why it will not work.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hi Rich,
    Tremendous work, both in this post and the previous one. There's nothing like kicking off a print (on my own printer) and settling in to watch a RichRap video, and read one of your blog update :-) I always look forward to reading your latest exploits.

    Quick Q: Once you dye the filament and rinse off how are you drying it?
    Not needing a heated bed is a nice advantage. Is there any sign of residue on the bed surface after repeated use, and if so does the bed need any preparation or scraping clean before printing again?
    Can you give some rough guide to print speed vs extruder temperatures, based on your experimenting?

    1. Hi Ivor,

      Thanks again, the drying issue was worrying me to start with, but the first method I tried worked perfectly - just shake off the water and put it in the Airing cupboard where my boiler is for 48 hours, it came out drier than when it was first delivered, I put all of it in there after that, then in Zip bags to keep it fresh!

      If you get the bed height wrong, it will bond so well that the surface of the Tufnol rips apart!

      When you get it right, it un-sticks with a little force and leaves no residue, I did end up scraping it down every 5 or 6 prints just to be sure.

      For small things under about 40mm in size Blue tape works very well.

    2. Hello RichRap,

      You wrote that you use Blue tape to print small parts of Nylon. The issue is that tape un-sticks from bed together with part. The also surface of part that contacted tape is dirty in tape. What are other printing conditions while you use Blue tape? Heat bed? Bed material?
      I tried cold bed and 40C bed covered by Blue tape. Bed is made of 1.5mm steel. Tape goes off from the bed together with parts all the time.

  4. What surface do you use for printing?

    1. It's all explained in the above blog post - Tufnol is ideal, you can also use blue 3M tape for smaller parts.

  5. Wow, Rich! Amazing work as always and thanks so much for using my designs! Brilliant!

    1. Hi Ben,

      Thank you so much for these and more amazing models, I still have so many more of your great designs to print. It's real pleasure to have them around the house.

      Keep up the great work.

      I'll add some of these pictures to thingiverse.


  6. Rich, fantastic work as always. A great read.

    1. Thanks Bob, it's a nice material to print with, If you have not already tried some it's well worth getting a roll to experiment with.


  7. An Other Great post! thank's I am planing my Build for a Delta Rostock printer, and I am planing on using the E3d hot-end I just Redraw everything in Solidwork (I have access to a good numeric Late and plan to make a mutch as i can myself)

    Let us know about your result using it! All metal realy apeal to me!
    I am planing to use the extruder you used and Makerslide for the motion coupled whit Gt2 Belt.

    I am Looking for using Igus rod-end and carbon fiber tube for effector.

    As for electronic I spot Azteeg X3 3DP It look thought...

    If you think I am not on the right track your thought are welcome!!

    Can wait to see more from your color mixing trial with many Extruder

    Cheer Frank

    1. Hi Frank, thanks, I should be starting the E3d hot-end testing next week, I have been asked about it a LOT over the last week, so I'll post something as soon as I can.

      The Delta build sounds good, should be a nice machine - make sure you find a nice way to tension the belts. And maybe think about using Spectra fishing line - it's really good!

      I have not had the pleasure to try the Azteeg X3, but it does look like a nice board. I'm just setting up a RUMBA board at the moment, very nice!

      I need to finally get some more Ceramic printing done soon, and after that I'll be back on the colour mixing extruder mission.


    2. Thank's for you comments Rich! I Look for the Rumba board but it seems not available you probably bought it for their kick-starter...

      The Azteeg board is sadly out of stock for a month now hopefully its gonna be back soon

      Thank's again I will fallow all your adventure whit great interest!


  8. Is it the same as fishing line?

    And about full metal end

    1. Do a search for Dyneema spectra fishing line - that's the sort you need for this sort of application.

      And thanks for the Forum link to the metal hot-end, google translate and I managed to get most of the posts.


  9. Does Nylon 618 give off any fumes when printing? I've almost exclusively used PLA, since the one time I tried ABS I started getting a headache. I decided to build a fume hood of some sort before I tried it again and haven't had time to do that.

    Nylon would be great, but I'm worried about melting different types of plastic, since I have very limited knowledge in this area.

    Incredible prints and colors, btw. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Daniel, I also use PLA most of the time, and ABS makes me feel ill after a while, I don't print with ABS in the house. I doubt I use more than 3Kg of ABS a year as I just don't like using it.

      I had no ill effects with Nylon printing, and didn't experience any types of noticeable fumes, I have used about 1.2Kg so far.

      When I first printed it had some moisture in it, some pops and puffs of steam can be seen during printing, but after a dry out in the airing cupboard this totally disappears, this drying really improves the print quality a lot, especially the outer surface, I have a before and after picture I'll try to post up.

      I'm no materials expert either, but I'm printing with it in the same way as I use PLA, just slightly higher temperature. And it's not a problem for me and much nicer to use than any ABS I have ever had to print with.

  10. Hi, was wondering what thickness of Whale Tufnol is recommended and i also read somewhere that Poplar Pine was a good surface to print on,
    any experience with that?

    1. Woods do seem to work, and tapes, but Tufnol is the best I have used so far, it actually sticks a little too well for really big parts.

      I have tried 1mm thick and that was fine for smaller parts (50mm and smaller)

      2mm was also good, but I had some twisting when printing really big parts as it was not clamped down.
      2mm also allows you to flex it to help remove the part, where as 3mm is a little too stiff to flex, but allows bit printing without flexing, you will need to use a blade or lever to help get it off the surface.

      So in short try 2mm or 3mm

  11. i noticed all of the prints are simgle walled have you tried thicker/solid prints?
    also what using 2 metrials in the same print (nyoln+pla) will the stick to each other?

  12. What a great video! Thank you! I'm a big fan of Richrap Wood Icing, and the tar! I'd love to win the Gelli Plate and all the prizes!


  13. Wow this 3D printing is so cool! It's amazing what we can do with modern technology. I still get blown away every time I read about how this 3D printing works.

  14. I admire the valuable information you offer in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anybody else!
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  15. Excellent Post ! Thanks for sharing.I Appreciate it.
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  16. Very informative and trustworthy blog. Please keep updating with great posts like this one. I have booked marked your site and am about to email it to a few friends of mine that I know would enjoy reading
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  17. Hey Rich, just a note that the Tufnol that you mention seems to be a company name. At least here in the U.S. the board you used is called phenolic and is a type of resin coated paper or cloth built up in layers of different thickness. It it usable in fairly high temperatures and is often used in the place of plastics where heat would deform the plastic.

    I just ordered the 2 different Nylons you mentioned to try out. Can't wait.

  18. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog post.

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  19. You could use modified jet printer heads to print the colors between plastic layers. You print only the perimeter and the end result would be full color 3d prints.

  20. Congratulations for this Excelent project!!!!

    Where do you usually buy the nylon 618 ??? i am searching everywhere in my country(Portugal) but i don't find it!

    can you give an advise?

    thank you

  21. Now the process of 3D printing and designing very difficult.why i saying like this because,more competition going on this field.
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  22. Great job rich. You are really a good plastic dyes manufacturer.

  23. Thanks for sharing, I have done one of these based off of your thoughts here..

  24. Hi Rich

    Have you ever had an issue with the nylon blocking the nozzle after leaving it in there after a print is completed? Just want to know should i remove the nylon filament before turning the printer off for the night.

  25. Superb post, very informative, cant wait to try it our myself.

  26. I finished consider drying it in a broiler, I have completed this before with ABS and PLA, this might as well likewise work well for Nylon, however as I was going without end for a week I chose to leave the curls in an airing organizer at a marginally hoisted temperature.

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  27. Awesome post i have been tie-dying for years and this is a whole new take on it. super interesting and i'll have to try it. If you ever get bored feel free to check out our work tie dye shirts

  28. Dear Richard,
    Your nylon printing suggestions in this post are really useful and very pleasant to read.
    I am wonder if you can allow the translation of a part of the article into Italian, to be published on my blog (, of course specifying your credits.
    Many thanks in advance,
    Pietro Meloni

  29. Dear Richard,
    I'm very impressed with your Nylon printing article. I've been looking for someone who might be able to print a model for me in Nylon, but I can't find anyone offering this as a service yet. Any chance you know someone?

    Many thanks



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