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PLA is quite certainly the 3D printing material
that is most commonly used nowadays. It is very easy to print but it has the problem
that the parts, even though they are strong, are not very tough and like to shatter upon
loading. During the last time there have been a couple
of different types of PLAs coming on the market which try to tackle this negative property. Ultimaker and Makerbot sell their Tough PLA
and also Polymakers Polymax PLA is a PLA that can handle quite a bit more beating than standard
material. In todays filament test I have the Slovenian
AzureFilm Strongman PLA on my testbench to really find out if the claims hold true and
how it compares to normal PLA. AzureFilm reached out to me a couple of months
ago and asked me if I wanted to try out one of their filaments. I noticed that they were selling Strongman
PLA that claims to replace ABS with its properties. Since I never did an in-depth test of such
a material I asked them for a roll of it. The filament comes on 1kg spools which are
vacuum sealed with no additional box on the outside, which I don’t really mind. It currently sells for around 33€/kg which
is more expensive most regular PLAs but still reasonable. The rolls are nice and sturdy but unfortunately
only have one pair of holes around the diameter which is just never at the position where
your filament ends. With the first set of test specimens I dialed
in the extrusion factor which was somewhere in-between 105 and 110% and in the end I ended
up using 107% for all of the samples. Since the speed of the cooling fan will influence
layer adhesion I printed a test tower where I varied fan speed from 0 to 100%. 75% looked already great and I just added
another 10% for safety and went with 85% for the rest of the samples. I printed the same test tower to dial in the
nozzle temperature and varied temperatures from 190°C to 230°C. The main difference
I was able to see was that at 190°C the surface ended up more matt than glossy and at 230°C
stringing was a little increased. Again, for the sake of layer adhesion, I used
a higher temperature of 220°C for the rest of the samples that printed odorless on my
60°C PEI bed without any bed adhesion or warping issues. Overhangs printed flawlessly up to 65° and
even 75° didn’t look too bad. Even though the stringing test wasn’t perfect
it printed good and details were well represented. Also the bridging test didn’t show any issues
even a the largest gap that was printed. All of this was also represented in the 3D
Benchy that came out perfectly with barely any issues. The surface was very nice and shiny but the
black wasn’t a perfect opaque color but very minimally shined in a very deep dark
bluish or purple color. With a tensile strength of around 50 MPa it’s
around 20% weaker than standard PLA but it yields much more before breaking. It was interesting so see these whitening
marks I don’t know from PLA but are very common when ABS is yielding. Layer adhesion on the other hand was great
and the standing specimens were able to bear 70% of the load compared to the lying specimens. With a tensile modulus of 2100 MPa it is a
little less rigid than regular PLA but way stiffer than PETG or ABS. This is also nicely visible if we test the
filament itself and take a look at the stress displacement plot of Strongman PLA and some
regular ABS. The slope of the initial curve represents
the stiffness and is way steeper than for the ABS. Additionally the filament was able to bear
quite a bit more load but both yielded quite a bit and did not suddenly break. The hook test confirms the previous results
because it failed at 55 kg, so just a little before regular PLA but yielded quite a bit
before it finally snapped. The standing hook failed at 38 kg of load
which again confirms the good layer adhesion. The impact test is where this material should
really shine and the tests confirmed this because the impact strength was really 2 to
3 times higher than regular PLA but still is not the most impact resistant under the
polymers. Even though the upright specimens only were
able to take up half the energy it still shows that this material is able to handle some
beating. Finally, there is the temperature test where
Strongman PLA, not surprisingly, did perform very similar to standard PLA and softened
and failed just around the 60°C mark. In summary, I was really pleased printing
this material. I had no issues with bed adhesion or other
printing problems and even though Strongman PLAs static strength isn’t as high as regular
PLA it performed very well in the tests with its high amount of yielding before failure
and good layer adhesion. If your parts don’t need to work in elevated
temperatures it is a very good alternative to PETG or even ABS due to its shear ease
of use but still being able to handle some beating. What’s your opinion on these modified PLAs? Where would you use them and do you think
they are an alternative to especially ABS? Let me know down in the comments! You can find links to the material and the
test methods I use down in the description. The detailed test report together with print
profile and all test sample are available for my Patrons. If you enjoyed this video and learned something
then hit the like button and subscribe to the channel for more. If you have suggestions and comments about
my methods, please leave them down below and let me know what other material you would
like to see me investigate in the future. Until then, thanks for watching, auf wiedersehen
and until next time!

52 thoughts on “What is TOUGH PLA?! Testing AzureFilm Strongman™ PLA

  1. I never quite understood, what is actually the use case for ABS-like materials? Specifically in impact strength? Safety of failure mode? They're not flexible or springy in a way that would allow them to withstand repeat bends like say polypropylene. Because even incomplete failure like stretching is usually reason enough to discard and replace the part, it hasn't stood up to the use-case, and stiffer rigid material performs better in that regard.

    Of course ABS has advantages that it's extremely low-cost and has very reasonable temperature resistance, i just don't understand why it's considered mechanically advantageous.

  2. To say PLA is the most used plastic, It's still expensive for the amount we get on a 1KG Reel,… Price needs to come down a lot more.
    Though, It is a shame that we can't download the results without paying for a patron subscription, I'm unable to work due to mental health problems, I know it's only a couple of pounds, but when your not working, a pound is a loaf of bread.

  3. CNC KITCHEN : There is only one weakness of plain PLA (PLA plus etc): resistance in temperatures above 60 deg c.
    If standard PLA was able to withstand for example 20 deg c higher temperatures there would be almost no reason to print in any other material.

    Please try to compare different PLAs (from many diffrent brands- require samples etc) – try to make a big group test on resistance to high temperatures.

    I think you will get many views and this video will be very helpful for a lot of subscribers.

    Thank you.

  4. Hey great video! I really liked how you tested the mechanical properties. But have you tried annealing this pla? It would be interesting to see how the filament performs then.

  5. Hello Stefan, I would like you to make a test on PC (polycarbonate), like PC Max from Polymaker. I failed quite some prints before getting reliable results, still fighting against warping and layer separation. Prints withstand temperatures up to 110°C, and it's a good material for manipulating the part afterwards (milling, grinding,…).

    An interesting test for me would be the scratch resistance of the materials. For parts that are in contact and moving.

    Greetings from west Germany.

  6. I'm still not sure I understand what you were comparing and that could just be for my lack of knowledge I've always only use PLA but I was thinking about PETG however the comparison I would like to see is the reasons why people use ABS can this new PLA do that or what it can or can not do based on the reason why people use ABS or PETG.

  7. I could see the use of tough PLA maybe for printing toys for kids to avoid shattering if you're having trouble with ABS. But I've had no issues printing with PETG. And with an enclosure, brim, and glue stick, ABS prints just fine. For strength and temperature deflection it looks like PETG and ABS are better options. I personally would not pick up a spool of tough PLA; however, I have tried Raptor PLA from Makergeeks, which is a high temp PLA and have had great success with it. I printed some golf hole covers/cylinders for the putting green in my Dad's back yard so kids and people wouldn't trip over them and the Raptor PLA held up perfectly through several days of triple digit heat and direct sunlight.

  8. Hallo Stefan, kannst du die Datei mit dem Hacken irgendwie zugänglich machen?
    Ich würde gerne selbst ein paar mit meinem ABS Filament drucken und sie dir zum test zuschicken wenn das möglich wäre? Mich würden die Vergleichswerte interessieren!

  9. Not even close to being an ABS replacement. Where ABS shines is its temperature handing ability and usability outdoors.

  10. Hallo, Stefan! Thank you so much for the test. This ist most elaborate test ever within such a time frame. I have a question though: Did you try annealing with it? I know from your tests and from my own experience, that PLA benefits the most from the annealing. Bot thermally and mechanically. Do you have any filament left? Please? Schönes Wochenende!

  11. Any chance you could test a polypropylene filament such as Verbatim PP? Polypropylene seems like a material with pretty interesting properties, but there doesn't seem to be much information about it available when it comes to 3D printing.

  12. I have switch to PLA+ from Esun for most of my structural work. It is so much better then regular PLA for the impact strength, however it is the same as normal PLA when you consider that it has almost the same glass transition temperature as regular PLA. I made a mistake of leaving something outdoors, it was not in direct sunlight but in hot weather and it warped.

    I don't know if we have a PLA that can replace ABS quite yet, but I can't print the complex objects that I make with ABS for the warping issue. I have enclosed a printer for this task but no matter what there is some warping especially if you have a complex part with different thicknesses going from narrow to thick and back will warp and the brim does not make a difference. I feel the same way about ASA but it is better in the warping department, still has warp issues but not as bad. It's just the expense of the ASA that makes it hard to justify. I can get a roll of good ABS for 12 bucks but same roll of ASA is closer to 50 bucks at 5 times the cost of ABS it makes it an unattractive swap.

    PLA is great to print with, but I feel the next thing they need to fix is increasing the glass transition temp if it can be done.

  13. Stefan, can you confirm that the initial tests (extrusion, cooling, temperature) were performed in that order? Thank you very much in advance.

  14. Most modified PLA is a waste of time only a couple have actually improved on actual PLA but the alternative plastics for that enhanced feature are usually cheaper and better. Why bother printing something that's 20% weaker than normal PLA but will deform before braking even if it deforms and doesn't brake it becomes useless as the part is the wrong shape.
    You will not replace ABS as it has high temperature resistance at 100* – 110* and acetone smoothing is a massive bonus. PETG is a nice blend between PLA and ABS having the strength and decent temperature resistance at around 80%.
    Blends that make the most scene would be a plastic that deforms like ABS to have carbon fiber filled ABS to make it more stiff and ridged to make it even stronger then it still would have the high temperature resistance. It still would have to be cheaper than other plastics that fill this void like Polycarbonate i seen a polycarbonate with carbon fiber now that's a crazy combination.

  15. Hi, Stefan. Thanks for another great video. Would you mind sharing your method of calibrating the extrusion factor (1m30s)? Do you have to modify the gcode manually to do such tests?

  16. I would be interested to see if the tough pla still anneals like regular pla. Thank you for running these tests. I love them.

  17. The claim that it's an ABS replacement, at best needs some explanation. Perhaps if the pricing was more inline with a good quality ABS or PETG there might be a small argument for using 'Tough PLA' for makers that don't have the proper equipment to print ABS well?

  18. It's good to see manufacturers attempting to address the somewhat explosive failure mode of PLA. I don't print structural parts in PET, not because it's stronger, but because if I mess up and overload a part, it likely won't shatter like most of the PLAs I've tried. It's nice to be able to go back to the drawing board without extra bandages.

    I say "most" PLAs because I have seen deformation instead of shattering out of some high-temperature PLAs. I'm not sure if that was an intentional result, or just a side effect of making those plastics print hotter and handle annealing better.

  19. Can you please give us the links to the test models you used for configuring the printer (temp tower, bridging, …) ?

  20. I heard that, black and transparent PLA is more stronger than the others? do you think color make some difference?

  21. your way to operate is correct and scientific: i believe that your's are the most accurate tests i've seen in internet, with non professional environment .
    Sehr gut, Stefan!

  22. What slicer do you use, the slicer I currently use does not allow for different nozzle temperatures or fan speed during print

  23. Great content Stephan, I’ve been using PLA+ with good results. I have been looking for ways to print 12mm tubes to replace carbon fiber in concept drone frames. I stumbled on a process of stretching a finely textured vase to the point of the appearance of a filter straw. Something to do with how the filament is woven makes these very thin mesh tubes much, much stronger than a typical tube print. I am using a simple Cetus3d with scant control of the print process, but I have hope for the simple PLA.

  24. Hey Stefan, mal eine Frage. Ich habe mir jetzt auch die e3d slicon socks angeschafft. Ich habe gesehen, dass du die auch verwendest.
    Hattest du schon damit Probleme? Als ich heute nach meinem Druck schauen wollte, war dieser zwar ohne Probleme abgelaufen, allerdings war die Silikon Kappe um die Nozzle herum komplett zerstört. Ich habe absolut keine Idee, wie es dazu gekommen sein könnte. Hast du da vielleicht eine Idee?

  25. Hi Stefan,
    can you check the Makerbot Tough filament? They claim for it to have 2x the impact strength of ABS.
    Best regards,
    Benni

  26. Very nice video. Could you make some tests on 3D printed gears? Like maximum speed, wear and maximum torque for a few sizes? That would be awesome.

  27. Хорошие тесты) Я понял даже без знания английского языка. Спасибо за наглядность =)

  28. Hi Stefan. You talk about dialing in the extrusion factor to a certain percentage; I use a Original Prusa MK3 but I don't really understand what you mean by dialing in an extrusion factor for a specific filament. Do you have a video explaining this ?

  29. I really love these strength test. I have seen talk about using 3D goop to smooth PLA prints and would love to see how doing so effects strength.

  30. I want a material that holds its shape under load and does not deform, that material is at present ABS and I don't see anything else that can take its place at present

  31. Combine this with vapor smoothing and/or metal reinforcement to see just how strong you can get your hook.

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