An overview and basic testing knowledge of high-temperature printer filaments.

For our first activity, I'll be printing with ColorFabb_HT, a New High-Temperature Filament. ColorFabb is relatively well known throughout the 3D printing community for offering a standard of filament above what is normally available from other producers. Over the years, they have created specialty filaments that have impressed makers, but so far they have focused aesthetics over practicality. Their new filament, ColorFabb_HT, appears to ignore looks and focus on practicality.

ColorFabb_HT is a departure from traditional ABS and PLA filaments, in that it is made from a completely new material designed specifically for 3D Printing. In this case, the filament is comprised primarily of Eastman Amphora copolyester to make a filament with odor-neutral processing, higher heat tolerance, and overall higher strength. We’ll be looking at how the filament holds compared to each of these claims later in the series. This is the filament we will be looking at during these articles, as it is the first plastic filament to specifically advertise a heat tolerance of 100 degrees Celsius.


A spool of ColorFabb_HT filament


Pulling the filament out of the box, it doesn’t look very different than standard PLA filament, besides the glossier surface. The big surprise came with actually holding the filament itself; the filament is much more pliable than anything else I’ve worked with. However, looking at a filament can only tell you so much about it. The real test comes with printing. To print my models, I used this slicer profile with a few major modifications to work with my printer. Firstly, my printer does not have a heated build plate, so that slicer setting had to be left blank. And secondly, the extrusion temperature for this filament is obscenely high, at 260 degrees celsius. The Makerware slicer capped at 255 degrees, so I had to make a slight concession on that front.

I quickly learned that people don’t include the heated build plate property just for the fun of it. If you are looking to use this filament, your printer absolutely must have a heated build plate. I tried changing the extrusion speed, I tried printing on tape, on acrylic, and with hairspray. Nothing stopped the inevitable curl.


A ColorFabb_HT print curling off of the print bed


Luckily, I was able to use a different 3D printer that did have a heated build plate. This time, with the appropriate slicer settings, the models printed beautifully. The parts have a glossy finish, although with this profile the layer height is too large for a truly smooth surface. All I printed were simple models of rings for strength and heat testing, but the filament should have no problem printing any model that PLA could print. In addition, I printed several of the same ring model in Inland brand white PLA. Both slicer settings were structurally identical, with 15% linear infill and 0.3mm layer height. So, in the end, how do these two models stack up? We will go over how they compare in terms of heat resistance and strength in the next two articles, but for now, we can look at how they look in terms of weight and price.


Filament TypeModel WeightCost per KilogramModel Cost
Inland PLA18g$15$0.27

From the chart, we can already see that the high-temperature filament is more expensive than the Inland PLA; the HT model costs over three times to print than the Inland filament. In addition, anyone wanting to print with HT would have to invest in a higher end printer with a heated build plate, so the overall cost of HT is much higher. Because the ColorFabb_HT filament is significantly more expensive than the standard PLA, the experiments concerning heat resistance and strength will be aimed at seeing if ColorFabbs entry performs high enough to justify buying it over regular filament.

In my next article, we will talk about the first two experiments—the heat and stress tests—I conducted and how the filaments performed!

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