PETG Filament: Explained
While many people tend to get intimidated when using PETG filaments in their 3D printer, the truth is, the material is used in more products than you’d expect. For instance, those clear plastic bottles in your refrigerator are probably made from either PET or PETG, which is Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) with an added glycol modifier, hence the ‘G’ at the end. In the 3D printing space, many users take advantage of the PETG filament for structural prints.
Because of its high level of durability, PETG is now considered one of the best options if you’re looking to print items that require better structural integrity. Additionally, printing PETG on Ender 3 is also preferred because it allows users to get a solid printed item at relatively low heat. In short, rather than choosing between PLA and ABS, using PETG filaments gets you the best of both worlds.
For those who have experience with PLA filaments, you will appreciate what PETG brings to the table even more, mainly because the PETG filament is incredibly ductile. In other words, while PLA filaments tend to break under pressure, and many times without any warning, you will notice the PETG prints bend a little before breaking, which gives you enough time to tweak the settings or stop the 3D printing process to make some last-minute adjustments and save a print.
Because of its ductile nature, PETG is also seen as the preferred choice for 3D printing items that have snap-fit mechanisms or where you need to include little tabs that bend out and can be snapped in place once the lid has been pressed fully. You can also 3D print a part that is required to hold something in place without bending or breaking.
Printing PETG on Ender 3
Now that we are familiar with the wonders of the PETG filament, here are some tips on how you can get started printing PETG on Ender 3. So, let’s get started.
The Ender 3 by Creality is considered to be one of the most used 3D printers by hobbyists. This is mainly because the Ender 3 delivers some great looking 3D prints without much effort and is easily available because of its affordable price. While the Ender 3D printer series has seen quite a few upgrades over the years, such as the Ender 3 V2 and the Ender 3 Pro, there are still quite a few 3D printer beginners who are not sure about printing PETG on Ender 3.
Needless to say, the Ender 3 has literally become the be-all-end-all of beginner 3D printers and for a good reason. The Ender 3 takes the guesswork out of printing with PLA, Exotic PLA or PLA+, which gives you great bed adhesion and solid prints. ABS is another 3D printer filament that’s commonly used in the Ender 3 and is known for its high level of flexibility. When it comes to printability, PETG filaments have grown in popularity through the years mainly because the PETG 3D printer filament offers incredible elasticity while under strain along with great heat resistance. Since we all know that the Ender 3 is a capable 3D printer, let’s take a look at how you can get started printing PETG on Ender 3.
Bed Adhesion, Temperature, and Build Surface
So, let’s tackle the process step by step. While printing PETG on Ender 3 can be challenging, there are ways for beginners to simplify the process. This includes using the right bed adhesion settings. Also, for those of you who will be working with the PETG filament for the first time, PETG has a high melting temperature as compared to other filaments. This is why you will have to make sure that the bed temperature is 70 – 75 degrees Celsius on the Ender 3 before starting the printing process.
Another factor to consider when printing PETG on Ender 3 is the build surface. Many experienced Ender 3 users often go with BuildTak, which is the traditional Ender 3 development surface, mainly because PETG filaments provide excellent bonding along with other qualities. That being said, experienced Ender 3 users are also quick to point out that setting a very low elevation for the first print layer can also result in breakage because the PETG will fuse with the print bed.
This is especially the case with an Ender 3 that has a glass build plate, making it easy for PETG to fuse with. In fact, the fusion of the PETG to a glass build plate can be so strong that many have reported the glass build plate breaking while trying to remove the PETG. But, there is a way out of this problem. If you do wish to use a glass build plate with the Ender 3, all you have to do is add a thin layer of hairspray, a specialty bed adhesive or an adhesive stick that will prevent the PETG from fusing with the glass. As a beginner, you could also use blue painter’s tape to get a safe bed bond for the PETG, which is also easy to remove and has become the gold standard when printing PETG on Ender 3.
First Layer Height/
Printing PETG on Ender 3 is not the same as using PLA or ABS. As a rule of thumb, it is advised to keep tweaking the print bed in increments of 0.02mm until you get the perfect layer height.
Print Temperature, Bed Temperature and Build Surface
Getting the print temperature and fan setting right is critical to perfecting your 3D printing PETG on Ender 3. Bed temperature is another factor that should never be ignored when printing PETG on Ender 3. When it comes to the ideal temperature to get the best results, many experienced 3D printer users always use 70 to 75 degrees centigrade as the bed temperature for their 3D printing. BuildTak is considered the default surface area for the Ender 3 and is widely used by beginners and experienced 3D printer users.
One of the main reasons it is the preferred choice is that it offers excellent adhesion while providing a more natural 3D printed object. The best way of spotting when you have set the temperature too high is that the PETG filament tends to get stringier with an increase in temperature, as in, small cobweb-size strings begin to appear between areas of the part being printed, which is an indicator that the temperature is too high.
One of the features that new users need to know about when Printing PETG on Ender 3 is that the PETG filament can flow more freely since it is in more of a liquefied state when heated. To make sure that the PETG filament does not break, it is best to maintain a retraction speed of no more than 40 mm/s, along with a retraction distance of 6 mm and a print speed of no more than 50 mm/s, depending on what’s being printed.
One issue that many users of the Ender 3 printer face when using PETG is that it can absorb a lot of moisture from the air. This mainly occurs because it is a hygroscopic material, but the good news is that there is an easy fix. To make sure this doesn’t happen when printing PETG on Ender 3, all you have to do is make sure that the filament is dried properly. This can be achieved with a PrintDry PRO. However, if you are living in an area where it is extremely humid, then the spool of PETG filament should be dry enough for you to start printing right out the box.
Again, even for those living in extremely dry and humid places, it is recommended to dry the PETG filament every few weeks just to be on the safe side. One of the reasons why it is so important to make sure that the PETG filament you’re using is always dry is because a wet PETG filament can change the molecular structure of the materials that can result in a much weaker print.