After trying a few different plastics, and still finding that nothing I printed was even remotely pliable, I came to the conclusion 3D Printing simply wouldn’t work for anything I envisioned. Therefore, the 3DPrinter made it’s way to the back of the closet.
Long story shortened, a friend sent me a link to a video where they print in nylon. It was just like any of the other 3D Printing videos you see, except at the end you see a nylon part that can be easily twisted and bent. I was anxious to try it out. He sent me my first samples of 3D Printing nylon and included me in his test program as a designer and nylon tester.
That was three months ago. I’ve been printing Purses, Clutch’s, Belts, Wallets, Rings, Bracelets, Compact cases, Earrings, Necklaces you name it for accessories and because this stuff is so durable, I’m thinking the holy grail of accessories, Shoes! But I’m not that good a designer….yet. Oh, and did I mention you can print out 2 or 3 layer flat sheets and then iron them to make permanent seams and folds?
So, because this 3D printing nylon is so new, and I think there may be others out there that would like to print accessories or smooth, lustrous and pliable items, I wanted to show how I create some simple items and how I 3D print em.
I do want to explain the pictures I am uploading because there are a lot of CAD screen photos. I am doing this because some people may think using 3D CAD is hard and it’s not. I only measure when I absolutely have to and everything else is a guess based on “if it looks good and seems about right and I like it”.
As a tip, there are three CAD commands just for us quick designers that allow us to do anything.
1. Boolean – This is a fancy term for adding two parts to become one part or subtracting one part from another.
2. Fillet – Another fancy term for putting soft round edges on parts.
3. Cage Edit – Another fancy term, but this is great. It’s like having your basic part made of jello. You simply push or pull a certain point and the area around that point follows along…..like…jello! This is what I use most because it lets me push and pull curves into my design and if I don't like it, I just undo it and try again. After playing with the cage command just an hour I had it down and now I'm pretty good at adding nice curves and flow to my designs.
You will notice that I design by adding a known part, like a round peg (cylinder) that equals a lip gloss and then I add and subtract other pegs (cylinders), donuts (torus) and squares to make the part like I want it. And that is why I have the CAD photos so others can see how easy it is.
A short note on 3D Printing.
1. Design your part in a 3D CAD program. Then export the part to a file as a “Part.stl”
2. Slice your part – This is a small program by itself or it comes with your 3D printer.
(This is where you tell the 3D Printer how to make your part. Dense, Hollow, Normal and the number of outside walls. You can make your part in just perimeters or circles or thicker parts you can add fill. Fill is how sturdy the part is. A high fill means the part is printed with lots of nylon inside, so it won't be so pliable or bend as much. And some parts you make hollow, like my purse.)
Load the “Part.stl” in to the slicer program and it will output a file called “Part.gcode” or something similar (see your printer instructions).
3. The “Part.gcode” is the file that the 3D Printer uses to make your part.
4. Don’t worry about all the tech stuff. The printer has sensors to keep you from breaking it, so just keep trying and it will get easier each time.
I have this down to about 2 min, now that I've done it a hundred times. IT is really easier than it sounds.
Each section of my instructable shows a complete accessory. I will show you how I designed a Lip Gloss shell, a compact replacement case, a simple ring, a bracelet, a simple credit card DL and money pocket, a fully usable and pliable belt and last a “KD” designed lustrous, pliable purse with silver adornment.
All the tools we will need:
1 each 3D CAD program – There are free ones and low cost one available on the web, ask some tech friends. I have a student version from college that I use. taul says that Google has "Sketchup" for free and a free one from Autocad "123D" , so check there.
1 each 3D Printer that can print 3mm round Nylon
2 each spools of 618 Nylon from taulman3d.com – this is what I have tested and use and it cost the same as regular 3D printing plastic It comes a natural color that is really no color but looks bright white when you print with it. You can see this in my photos.
1 each 20 to 40 watt soldering iron with a sharp “clean’ tip
1 each hobby knife to cut away loose threads
1 each Metal ruler 12” type – this must be metal to stand the soldering iron
1 each Metric measuring tool. I use a caliper I bought on ebay They are not very expensive and make measuring in metric a snap. You can use a metric ruler, but it's harder to measure some items.
1 each flat metal surface – like the back of a cookie sheet
1 each Eyelet Crimp tool – these are at all hobby stores
1 each Small Screw driver
1 each Needle Pliers
1 each scissors
1 each small tube of gorilla type glue. You will need a sticky type of thick glue. A lot of glues will not stick to nylon.
Step 1: Lip Gloss Shell
1. Find or purchase a Lip Gloss you want to use
2. Measure lip gloss diameter – Mine is 17mm
3. Add a thread to the 17mm = 17.5mm The thread is the nozzle size of your 3D Printer. Mine is .5mm – this to make sure it prints a little larger opening for the lip gloss. I add .5mm on all openings and holes.
4. Lip gloss looks bout this tall (Insert estimated measurement here)…
5. Make 17.5mm tall peg –
6. Make little larger round peg but a little shorter…looks to be 24mm dia…not to large..
7. Push small peg up to give the tube a bottom….not much…just so it looks good….
8. You need some shape……so add rounded ribs…
9. Select “add torus(donut to the rest of us)” make it bout the right size a little larger than the tube…..
10. Copy and paste a few more…eyeball the spacing…
11. Now…Boolean “add” the outer peg and toruses…so it’s one part
12. Now for the hole where the gloss goes…
13. Boolean difference small peg from large peg…
14. Looky there….just like I planned it…export stl to thumb drive
15. Now to slice it for the 3D Printer…
16. I want it to shine….so I lower the temp to about 245….
17. Set the layers height to bout .3mm….
18. Go with one perimeter and two solid layers…!
19. Slice to g-code file …
20. Set to print on PCB material (printed circuit board with lots of lil holes makes the print stay flat for tall or large parts – I get mine at Radio Shack for about $3)
21. Load gcode in to printer….And print …
22. Once printed, carefully remove and trim any loose nylon threads.
23. Insert the Lip Gloss….if it slides in to easily, just wrap a little tape around it. Use clear gift tape, because a dark colored tape will show through .
Now take a look above. In less than 20 simple steps we created a very simple “off-the-top-of-our-head” idea to a beautiful part that really works. And the feel of the nylon is a lot better than the plastic already on the lipgloss. This truly gets easier each time you design and print something. I have done so many prints now, I don't pay attention to the tech stuff and just work on my design ideas.
Step 2: Compact With Powder Tray and Mirror
Old Compact with glass mirror - Some are easy to take apart and these are best.
1. Use the small screw driver to gently remove the color or powder tray from the compact. These are usually held in by a glob of cheap glue. Take your time and go around the entire edge….when you get a portion pried up, slip the screwdriver under it towards the center and pry from the center up. This helps so you don't bend the tray.
2. Now the mirror….now that the powder tray is out, set the water faucet to very warm and place the compact under the flowing warm water for a min or so….
3. Use your fingers to try and rotate the mirror. It should also be held in by cheap glue and under hot water should begin to rotate….
4. When it starts to rotate…..just keep at it and when it feels looser, try to pry it up with a hairpin or thin plastic comb. The screw driver might break the mirror so don’t use it.
5. Measure the diameter of the mirror and powder tray. 58mm we’ll call it 60 and go to CAD
6. I set the powder tray to be a round peg 60mm dia and make it taller than I need.
7. I make a slightly larger round peg (ok cylinder, happy?).
8. This is my powder tray so I make it about 6-7mm tall….looks good!
9. I set the 60mm peg in and give myself a bottom of 1mm.
10. Then Boolean the 60mm from the larger peg…..clk bottom’s done!….
11. The mirror is also 60mm dia. The top of the compact will enclose the bottom.
12. The bottom is 68mm dia. So make a peg 68.5mm dia and about 20mm tall
13. The mirror will be in the top portion of the lid…so make another peg 60mm and 20mm tall
14. The lid will be a larger dia to cover the powder tray…So make a 73-74mm dia peg but make it the height we need for the total compact….or about 11mm tall
15. So…we got a 74mm, 68.5mm and 60mm pegs….
16. Move the 60 mm to give the mirror 1mm of space in the 74mm peg
17. Boolean subtract the 60mm from the 74mm……clk, clk, done
18. Move the 68.5mm to give the mirror 1mm of clearance from the powder tray and boolean subtract the 68.5mm from the larger part…..clk, clk, done…..
19. Now we have the top, but it looks like soup can….we need a soft edge!
20. In most 3D CAD programs, there is a “fillet” command….it rounds off the edge to give a smooth look and that will print to a smooth feel.
21. Select “Fillet”…..make it 2mm in fillet size.
22. Select the top edge and round it…..clk….done…..looks great….almost professional….almost…the nylon shine will finish it nicely.
23. Now, don’t forget to turn the top over before you export so it prints upside down! Otherwise it’ll turn out a mess.
24. Export to stl.
25. Slice it for:
26. 1 perimeter
27. 2 solid surfaces.
28. 25% fill…is all we need.
29. 235C printing temp…..we want shine…
30. Print on blue tape for soft smooth top and bottom.
31. Retraction “OFF” I don't use retraction…..it seems to takes days to print anything with it. - Retraction is a way to keep the printer from leaving tiny excess threads at certain places. With this nylon, I find it takes only a sec or two to just use a hobby knife to cut them off. I think that looks better than retraction anyway.
32. Hit print!
33. Carefully remove from the print table and cut any loose threads.
34. Add a dab of glue to the mirror and powder tray and glue them in place. Let set for a few hours and you’re done!
Gluing Nylon: They told me that nylon does not glue very well and I found out they are right. So when I glue it, I use a piece of sandpaper or an old nail buffer to make the glue point rough. I found the gorilla type glues does OK, but you need something really sticky. If I really need the parts to hold, I use the soldering iron to melt them together.
Next up is a simple Ring
Step 3: Simple Ring
I have printed several rings before in regular plastic but after I wash my hands a few times they all look dull. I found out that it’s the alcohol in hand sanitizer we use at restrooms. Nylon isn’t affected by alcohol or a lot of chemicals.
Start with a plain ring or short tube.
Now….here is a tip from K.D. Just cause your 3D Printer prints…..doesn’t mean it cant do some tricks. So, I’m going to print a plain ring, then print a tiny captured silver ringlet by just pushing the button that makes the 3D printer nozzle spit out hot nylon.
1 each 3D Printed Ring in nylon.
1 each small silver ringlet….you can probably find one on an old piece of jewelry and use a pliers to remove it. Something about the diameter of a pencil eraser should do fine.
1. Print a standard ring….plain.
2. Make perimeters 10 so it prints in all circles for smoothness.
3. Set height to .2mm for a lot of strong layers.
4. Set temp to say 245c Shiny yet sturdy..It just needs to fit comfortably.
5. 3D Print it the height you want…I’ll print this one about 6mm tall then stop the printer.
6. Next, Lower the print table or raise the nozzle to give you room under the nozzle….about 5 inches.
7. On my prusa, I have a button I can push that makes the nylon or plastic oooze out of the nozzle. Kinda like toothpaste. Push it to get nylon flowing out of the nozzle for sec.
8. Set the silver ringlet on the ring like shown….You must hold this with needle pliers cause you can definitely burn yourself if you’re not careful.
9. Gently guide the ring with the ringlet on it to the tip of the nozzle and let the tip of the nozzle touch the nylon inside of the ringlet. The hot tip will start to melt the nylon.
10. Push the button to make more nylon come out of the nozzle while holding the ring steady.
11. As the new nylon flows out, it will fill the ringlet and start to over flow.
12. Let the new nylon overflow about the same thickness of the ringlet then remove the ring slowly.
13. The new nylon will now cool making a shape (I don’t know what you call it) that will hold the ringlet.
14. Use a hobby knife to cut away any threads and look, you’re….done..!
15. Use a hobby knife to smooth out the edges..( I did not do this yet for the photo of this ring so you can see the sharp edges.)
Subtle but cute…from across the room it looks fashionable….and most important….it matches the lip gloss shell and compact.
Please be very careful doing this because the nozzle is super hot. I always put my finger on the nozzle flow button “first” then move in my rings because I don’t want to take my eye off of the ring to find the button while I hold something so close to the hot nozzle. Do not find out the hard way!
You Must read and follow all of your 3D Printer and material safety information. I am not responsible if you hurt yourself. The hot nozzle is two times boiling water temperature so it WILL hurt you if you touch it. Also, I have long hair and should really put it up around my printers moving parts.
Step 4: Bracelet
The hole size is easy….just find a bracelet you already have and measure the hole size. I know my size is 64mm dia. So whatever we dream up, that will be the hole we need.
We will just make a tube or band with a 64mm dia hole and make the outside dia about 72mm then make it about 6mm tall. We will adorn it with some silver key chain rings and then we can add keys for effect or small chains. There are tons of items at hobby stores to add so anything is possible from this starting point.
6 or more silver rings from key rings….the split type you have to wind your keys onto it.
Design a simple thick band. I’m a 64mm, so I’ll make a 72mm peg and make it 6mm tall.
1. Now I make a 64mm peg and make it 20 mm tall. Place it in the bigger peg and boolean subtract the 64mm from the 72mm and there, I have a thick band.
2. Now we are going to print 3 of em..
3. Export to stl….
4. Import to slicer program
5. We want these slick as possible…so
6. 8 Perimeters….this will make it all circles
7. 0 solid layers
8. 0% fill….this will make it all circles
9. .2mm height
11. Print on blue tape for a smooth surface. - Blue tape is the Blue painters tape you use when painting around doors and windows in your house. The parts you print will stick to the wax backing of the tape. I just place a few strips over my PC Boards. And it comes off easily.
12. Assembly – Just twist on the key rings to capture the bands as shown.
One of the tricks I use to pry open these key-rings is to use a staple remover. (Read this on the web a while back)
13. To add more bling….add some silver keys!…I don’t mix colors with other keys.
Simple, and again, it matches our other accessories.
Step 5: Simple Credit Card and D/L Pocket
1 each scissors
1 each soldering iron
1 each metal ruler
1 each cookie sheet
1. Print the attached stl ….it is the 120mm x 100mm part.
2. Just let it print 2 layers and stop the print. It’s about 8 layer so I can use it for other things.
3. CC’s are mostly 54mm by 86mm So we’ll add 18mm to the width for thickness of a few cards.
4. Use the scissors and cut one piece 104mm by 72mm
5. Cut one piece 72mm by 70mm
6. Lay the 2 pieces on top of each other as shown.
7. Use the steel ruler to set a space about 2mm along the first long edge.
8. Use the soldering iron to cut off a 2mm line along the edge.
9. This not only cuts the edge, but the heat seals the edge as a permanent seam and it won't tear or separate.
I set my soldering iron to about 80%. You need to go slow and make sure the tip touches the metal. sometimes the hot nylon will leave a tiny edge, so you can just slice it off with the hobby knife.
Also, I am not sure why, but the tip always get a dark coating on it, so keep a thick rag handy to wipe off the tip. You should wet the rag in water first.
10. Repeat on the opposite long edge…..then repeat along the bottom.
That’s it. Simple, yet works fine.
Step 6: Belts That You Can Actually Iron and Wear!
The first nylon belt I printed was better than I could have imagined…. very pliable, yet tough and no frayed or split threads. I could easily tie it in a knot but it didn’t stretch out hardly at all…just enough to have some “give” to it….I’ve made at least 12 or more. And because I can simply die them to the exact color I need, I don’t even have to shop for one to match my outfits…..I just get some die, and 3D Print one…And for saving some money? At the hobby store different size buckles are about $1.00 and eyelets are almost free. The nylon costs the same as the ABS and I can get at least 14 belts out of a spool of nylon.
So, I’m about a 27” waist, but wear a 30"-32” belt. Add about 6” for a buckle fold and a nice contoured tip and we’re at 38"”or 970mm. So.…how do I print something that long on my prusa with a small print table..? ….A trick….I print it on it’s edge as a spiral…! Then to flatten it from it's spiral, I simply iron it flat! Ironing printed nylon is a trick even taulman didn't know about!
I actually print two at one time. Here’s how.
For a 1.5” wide belt, Instead of a thin belt surface 38” long….think of a solid stick 1.5” wide by 38” long by ½” deep. However, think of it as hollow and you see that you get the two sides of the stick as belts then wind into a spiral shape.
We will print it hollow but with one solid surface. The solid surface helps hold it flat on the PCB print table while it prints each 38” long layer. I don’t let the print go to the end and print all four sides. I stop it just before it prints the fourth side (top) or when it gets to the width I want. Then I remove the nylon and it looks like a “U” shape from the end. I then cut off the solid layer and I’m left with two 1000mm” x 1.5” flat bands that I’ll make into belts..! Then, I just run a med-hot iron over it a few times to take the spiral out and flatten it.
Take a look at my standard CAD drawing for the belt. It’s a spiral that’s about 1000mm long and 100mm tall. This is what I export as my stl file.
1 each CAD file (see attached)
1 each silver belt buckle. I get these at the local hobby store or cut one off of an old belt.
12 or more silver eyelets.
Determine how wide you want the belt to be because you will want to stop the print before it goes much wider to save time. Make sure you have at least 20 feet of nylon so you don’t run out. A belt takes a lot of material depending on thickness.
1. Export the stl file for your slicer program
2. Slice as follows:
3. 2 perimeters….this makes a 1mm thick belt….about right for me.
4. 1 solid surface…..this is just to hold the spiral in place while it prints… because it is so long, it will shrink while it cools during print, so print on PCB and make sure the first layer almost touches the table. I find if my belts print more than 12 or more layers without bending up from the PCB table, then it will print OK.
5. 0% fill because it’s going to be hollow
6. height…. you need to be careful with this…..to small and it will take a day to print …..to large and a few layers might have tiny gaps. I use ½ of my nozzle dia or .25mm
7. Temperature…. The printer will be constantly spitting out nylon and because the incoming nylon will cool the heater some, we will need to bump up the temp a little even for a shine…so go with 255-260C This sounds too hot but the nylon goes through so fast I don’t think it actually gets that hot. (I’m not positive about this, it just seems this way from my experience)..
8. Load into the 3D Printer and “Print”……This will take about 2-3 hours to print. My 1" belts take just around 2 hours to print.
9. After printing, remove the spiral from the print table.
10. Take the scissors and simply cut off that first solid layer. It’s really easy to follow the ridges in the printed layers to help you get a straight cut.
11. Cut off the ends.
12. Now you should have two long bands, each can become a belt. You should Iron the Spiral out to make it flat before adding eyelets.
13. Now for the buckle. Measure in from one end about 80mm.
14. Use the soldering iron to poke a hole for the first eyelet.
15. Use the eyelet crimp tool to crimp in a silver eyelet. This is the eyelet for the buckle pin.
16. Remember, the eyelet “crimp” side always goes on the inside of the belt.
17. Run the band into the buckle and stick the buckle pin in the eyelet. You can now fold the remaining nylon back.
18. Hold the fold in place and poke two holes for the first retaining eyelets.
19. Install the first two retaining eyelets. Measure out about 12mm and install two more retaining eyelets.
20. These four eyelets will keep that buckle from going anywhere!
21. Now, wrap the belt around and against your bare waist with no slack. Where the tip end overlaps the buckle pin is the first center eyelet. Mark and install (Poke with soldering iron, then crimp silver eyelet).
22. Now make 8 marks going toward the tip of the belt at 24mm steps. Install all eight eyelets.
23. Put on your end outfit. Then put on the belt and tighten to your taste. You should still have two, three or more eyelets going toward the tip. You want about 2 eyelets beyond the buckle pin toward the tip.
24. Cut the tip flat leaving the two eyelets of length. Use the scissors to round off the tip.
25. See ! you just made a belt that would cost $25 or more and it looks and feels great!
26. If you want color, just dye it. Go to taulman3d.com to see color directions. If you do want color, you should dye it before you add the eyelets and buckle. You should also iron it before you color it.
Also, with a wide belt it may stretch its width slightly over time. To flatten it, just iron it again.
Because I printed it at 1mm thick, it is not too stiff yet, not so pliable it sags or stretches out.
I have also used this drawing to make long purse straps
Step 7: A Sleek and Modern Nylon Purse - Medium to Small Size
Simple purses look like a rectangular box with some soft curves. So…how to add soft curves to a rectangular box..? As I mentioned earlier, these 3D CAD programs have a few really neat features and the one I absolutely love is called “Cage Edit”. It’s like having your part made of jello. You simply push or pull a certain point and the area around that point follows along.
The only rule you have to pay attention to is that you “should” only push and pull in the X or Y direction and this is cause you’ll be 3D Printing the result. You can tinker with the Z but it makes 3D Printing the result a pain….or actually a mess. (Just my experience)
1. I’ll make it about 200mm long by 70mm wide by 110mm tall….small, but not to small
2. Make the rectangular box….
3. Now, add fillets to the tall corners.
4. Now…..cage edit….select part then select cage edit from menu…
5. I just know how my CAD program works, but Mike and taul tell me most other CAD programs can do this too….
6. Notice the control dots around my smooth rectangle…
7. I can select one or more and just shove em around or stretch them and the purse grows or shrinks at those places.
8. Select inside rows and scale down….pull in for deeper curves
9. Select all top dots and scale down…..pulls the top in
10. Go to right side view and select the middle dots and scale out to fatten the lower part just a little.
11. Now move the dots at the top to pull in the sides a little.
12. There! .Not bad for a few clicks in a CAD program…..
So why did I do it this way? I want the top corners to pull in because I’m going to put some eyelets in those corners. Then I’ll twist in a key chain loop into the eyelet holes. This will give me a large ring on each top corner. Then all I need to do is twist in the end of the silver chain on each loop after I cut the chain to the length I want and that’s about 14” or so.
1 each printed base purse
2 each keychain loops – silver
4 or more silver eyelets.
14” or more of silver chain…needs to be sturdy enough to be used as a purse handle….you can double up here if needed.
1. Export to stl file.
2. Slice as follows:
3. Perimeters = 2
4. Solid layers = 3
5. Layer Height = ½ nozzle dia…. .25mm for me
6. 0% fill…..we want to print this hollow. The printer will try to print a “top” but you need to stop the print as it begins to print a “top”. We just want the top open of course.
7. Print at 250C on PCB and make sure first layer is close to the print table.
8. Slice and Print…..this will take a while….maybe 2 - 3 hours depending on your printer speed.
9. After Printing and cutting off any loose threads…poke a hole with the soldering iron as shown.
10. Add all four eyelets to all four corners.
11. Twist in ring to each set of eyelets on each side.
12. Twist in silver chain on one side, then the other…
That's it! Well, I'm off to watch the game with a bunch of friends in the last photo. You can see the bracelet and purse and I'm also wearing one of my many belts.
This is just a basic design, but I think you can see that adding your fashion imagination, you can create all types of designs. I am now designing purses with slots and pockets. I want to find a way of printing one color on top of other colors like printing blue initials on a white purse. Or printing different color patterns on a solid color purse or clutch.
An important point for me, is that this definitely feels like a high quality pure nylon and not like a plastic feel at all!
The 3D Printing Nylon I use is listed on the web at:
If this instructable interests people, then I will add one about color.
I want to say a thank you to Mike (For fixing my printer after a storm) and taulman for being a tester and designer and answering all of my questions.