Jun 22, 2016 | By Alec

If you’re a big fan of practical 3D printing, you’ll be happy to hear that Taiwanese filament manufacturer BotFeeder has just launched a new product that lets you 3D print functional accessories for bikes, cars, and even jackets or shoes. Called reFilactive, it’s a flexible 3D printable filament that contains light-redirecting beads that make it reflect light in the darkness. Easily 3D printable on most desktop 3D printers, it’s a perfect option for making reflective accessories and wearables.

BotFeeder, of course, is a Taiwan-based filament developer that has already brought numerous fascinating 3D printer filaments to the community. Their filament family already includes the conductive Filatron, the flexible Filastic and is now thus expanded with a reflective filament. Reflective, however, doesn’t mean it glows in the dark – something that BotFeeder’s Filaglow filament does do. Instead, reFilactive exhibits the same properties as the reflective gear worn by cyclists, construction workers and so on, meaning it becomes very visible once light (partially) shines on it. Many street signs also incorporate reflective materials to make them more visible in your headlights.

As the Taiwanese developers revealed, they actually found inspiration in many of those existing accessories. “Our inspiration and passion to create reFilactive™ simply came from these ideas. Whether it is the pedestrian's sportswear clothing, pet's harnesses, street signs, or cyclist's safety gears, many of them have the reflective effect at night. Since we manufacture filaments, we thought it would be exciting to create 3D filaments with the reflective effect. Our project began on September 2015 and it was until recently that the finalized version of reFilactive was complete,” they say.

This filament obviously is far more than a gimmick, as it enables some very practical 3D prints that promote safety. It enables users to easily 3D print reflective plates that can be sewn to your jacket or shoes, or even glued to your bike. Reflective bracelets, which can be worn when going for a late-night run or walking your dog, are also easily 3D printed. But as it doesn’t glow in the dark, the effect only optimally works when a light source and your eyesight are aligned. “The redirected light intensity will be dependent on the brightness of the light source itself,” the makers say.

This amazing effect is achieved by incorporating light-redirecting beads into the filament, which become an integral part of the 3D print’s surface. The filament itself is gray under normal lighting circumstances, but starts emitting a white color when placed in a dark environment with a nearby light source. Due to the nature of the reflective materials used, it is only available in gray, but the material itself remains very flexible – perfect for wearables.

It also means that you’ll find it easy to 3D print on any 3D printer that has previously successfully worked with flexible materials. “If users have prior experience in 3D printing flexible materials, then there should not be any differences in printing with reFilactive. However, for users with no prior experience, following our printing tips should give you a good start,” its makers say. Ideally, the material is 3D printed at 230 degrees Celsius, at 20 to 30 mm/s, with 0.2 mm layers and a 30 percent infill (or higher). A heated print bed isn’t necessary. The only downside is that the surface touching the print bed is not reflective, so adjust your designs accordingly.

The filament itself has been under development for some time and BotFeeder revealed it caused quite a few problems during that process. “After overcoming difficulties within countless experiments and trials, BotFeeder finally managed to finalize the optimal formula in bringing out the potential of reFilactive,” they say.

Due to the high material and production costs the filament brought with it, they have just launched a flexible crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo – seeking to raise $10,000 over the next month. As a flexible campaign, backers will still receive their rewards regardless of whether or not the goal is reached. If you’re interested in this remarkable reflective filament, check out the campaign here.



Posted in 3D Printing Materials



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