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Hand printed with TPU 3D printer filament

3D Printing with TPU

TPU filament is used to create flexible, durable 3D prints. You can stretch it and bend it, and it won’t break. NinjaTek® has been extruding TPU for over 50 years, bringing a level of expertise and knowledge unmatched by other companies.

What is TPU 3D Printer Filament?

TPU, or Thermoplastic Polyurethane, is a flexible and durable 3D printing filament for beginners and pros alike. TPU has unique characteristics that make it elastic like rubber, yet durable like plastic.

TPU has qualities that other materials don’t have, such as vibration dampening, shock absorption and incredible elongation.

TPU Uses & Applications

TPU can be used in a number of industries across a variety of applications when you’re looking for high-performance materials. TPU’s shock absorption and vibration-dampening qualities make it the ideal material for prosthetics and orthotics (footwear inserts/insoles), as well as sporting goods and athletic equipment.

TPU’s soft, sleek feel lends itself well to the realistic texture needed for prosthetics. It’s even been used to make tracker-enabled turtle eggs to fool poachers.

Another advantage of TPU is its durability. It can take a beating. For example, when TPU is used to produce seals and gaskets, printed components hold up just as well as (if not better than) traditionally manufactured parts.

While durable, it’s also chemical resistant and non-marring. It can stretch around tools to protect them and other equipment from damage.

How to print with tpu

TPU can be somewhat tricky to print with because of its unique properties, but the prints you get have impressive quality and can withstand the test of time.

Temperature: TPU prints at moderate speeds and temperatures (225°C to 250°C).

Common issues: TPU has great elongation and stretchiness, but those properties can also cause some minor clogging and stringing. Check out our Troubleshooting Guide for common print issues and fixes.

Properties of TPU: Pros & Cons

Pros of TPU

  • Flexible
  • Stretchy like rubber
  • Durable, shock- and impact-resistant
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Vibration dampening
  • Huge variety of color and hardness options

Cons of TPU

  • Can be a challenge to print for beginners due to its unique, high-performance properties
  • Difficult to post-process because of its abrasion and chemical resistance

FAQs about TPU

Is TPU flexible?

Yes, TPU 3D printer filament is known for its flexibility, such as NinjaFlex® filament. There are some varieties of TPU filament with more rigid properties, like our Armadillo® filament. TPU is ideally suited for 3D printing applications where flexibility and durability are essential.

How soft is TPU filament?

TPU has a soft, smooth texture that lends itself to a number of applications. In addition to being soft, it has impact-resistant and elastic properties well suited for many industries, including healthcare and sports.

How fast can you print TPU?

TPU typically prints best at slower speeds. When combined with high heat, it will flow smoothly from the nozzle. If you’re looking for a quick-printing material that’s going to hold up with minimal issues, try our Cheetah® filament.

Which NinjaTek Filament Do You Need?

Compare hardness, elasticity, impact resistance and other properties of our 3D printer filaments.

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NinjaTek fire red 3D printer filament spool

Fenner Precision Polymers
187 West Airport Road
Lititz PA 17543 USA

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