May 13, 2015 | By Alec

At some point or another, we all begin to look for more 3D printing options that offered to us by PLA or ABS filament. In the ensuing quests for alternatives you quickly end up at one of Kai Parthy’s many exciting filaments. And that’s rather unsurprising, as the German inventor definitely deserved the nickname of filament wizard over the last few years, thanks to the many options he gives to makers. If you’re looking for exceptionally flexible or strong filaments, wood or ceramic-like properties or even a ‘4D printing’ material that is solid when dry and becomes very flexible when in contact with water, you end up at Kai’s sooner or later.

Of all those filaments, perhaps the most groundbreaking and popular was LAYWOOD, which was released way back in 2012. This special filament is a composite material of recycled wood and polymer parts that can create wood-like objects that have the look, feel and even the smell of wood. Depending on the printing temperatures used (it can be printed at any temperature between 175 and 250 degrees Celsius), it can even feature light and dark colors.

Just an example of what you can do with LAYWOOD.

As Kai explains to, it fascinated many users. ‘In the meantime I sold to a lot of enthusiastic small and bigger retailers all over the world. Sometimes the shipment costs has been nearly higher than the ordered amount inside. So it was not easy to distribute LAYWOOD (TM)  from my garage to all over the world,’ he says. ‘Especially in the first month I got nice feedback by early birds printing wooden planes, bred boxes or the omninous owl. Jeremie Francois even created a plugin to automate the procedure of manipulating the g-code for the tree-ring effect. This was an amazing gift to me.’

Kai is therefore now back for more and has developed a new edition of the LAYWOOD filament to give us even more 3D printing potential. It’s called LAYWOOD-FLEX, and where the original wood filament sought to emulate a typical two-by-four, the FLEX version is essentially recreating the quality of tree branches out in nature. It results, in short, in slightly bendable versions of the wooden filament. ‘I added some flexibilizers and got a proper result which is in sum a thermoplastic polymer-composite, made from harmless ingredients. It’s not rubber-like, but enough bendable to print un-destroyable things,’ he tells us.

You can see the FLEX filament in the clip above. In a nutshell, LAYWOOD has a higher tensile strength, but will break under enough pressure. LAYWOOD-FLEX, meanwhile, has a lower tensile strength, but has a far higher degree of elasticity. Perfect for 3D printing belts, imitations of wooden decorations or even small pieces of furniture (and whatever else your making mind comes up with). Interested? Check out your local filament supplier or contact Kai directly here.


The filament’s full specifications are:

  • No (or minimal) warping
  • Rough or smooth surfaces that can be sanded
  • 3D printable tree-rings (185 to 255°C) are possible, depending on temperature and printing speeds. Elasticity will be higher on darker layers.
  • Sticks well to ABS-paint on cold platforms or blue tape.
  • Print directly on capton-tape with a 50°C platform .
  • Contains ~ 35 % recycled wood, as well as harmless binders made by co-polyesters.
  • Nozzle: 0.5 mm.
  • 2.85 / 1.75 mm filament.
  • Prices exactly the same to LAYWOOD.

Kai Parthy’s creations

This latest and promising filament can be added to a long list of Kai’s exciting filaments, which include:

LAYWOO-D3, also known as LAYWOOD (2012). The wood/plastic composite that LAYWOOD-FLEX is based on.

LAYBRICK (2013). A sandstone-like filament that contains chalk for smooth an rough surfaces, EMS or shielding. It is perfect for 3D printing architectural models.

An example of LAYBRICK.

The BENDLAY series (2013/2014). A transparent, very tough and yet bendable filament.


LAYCERAMIC (2014). A clay-based filament that can be sintered in a kiln after 3D printing (up to 1000 degrees Celsius). After glazing with enamel, it results in gorgeous ceramic structures.


The patent-pending POROLAY series (2014). Including four separate filaments (LAYFOMM 40/60, LAY-Felt, GELLAY and LAY-TEKKKS), these filaments are perfect for 3D printing 3D membranes, filters, future cloths, artificial paper, oriented fibers, bio-cells, marine organism flow simulation amd micro-foam. What’s more, rinsing the printed object in water will turn the solid material into a porous and fibrous structure.

POROLAY - strong or flexbile.

MOLDLAY (2014). A wax-like filament that can be used for lost wax molding and even for permanent mold casting.

Silicone cast in a mold.

DI-ELECTRO-LAY (2014). This frequency shielding filament is filled with up to 76 Titanium Dioxide, and can be used for high frequency shielding or influencing electromagnetic fields (developed for Dr. Pommerenke, Jiao Xiangyang, Missouri University of Science and Technology).

An example of a 3D printed antenna of a PCB.

Carbonyl-iron (3/2014). This filament modifies the permittivity and permeability of magnetic fields and magnets, and is filled with 75% carbonyl-iron (developed for Dr. Pommerenke, Jiao Xiangyang, Hui He, Guangyao Shen, Missouri University of Science and Technology).


And finally, there’s LAY-a-PVA (1/2015). This PVA water-soluble filament is perfect for 3D printing support structures (temperatures: 225 – 245°C). Dissolving in cold water, this filament has improved adhesion to ABS and is fully crack proof. 


Posted in 3D Printing Materials


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