Sep 14, 2016 | By Alec

Are you jealous of metal 3D printers, but don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to burn? Do you dream of 3D printing highly durable functional components? Fortunately, there’s now a steel-based solution that is even compatible with your existing desktop 3D printer. Dutch 3D printing filament specialist colorFabb has just released its new steelFill filament, a PLA/PHA composite material packed with steel particles that is absolutely perfect for high-quality metal-based prints. It’s time to steel yourself.

Founded as a branch of Helian Polymers (a sister company of Peter Holland) a few years ago, colorFabb quickly became the provider of a number of excellent and sometimes unusual filaments. They already have several especially popular metal-based 3D printer filaments in their catalogue. Back in 2014, they first launched bronzeFill, before expanding their range with brassFill in 2015. In an attempt to provide a wider range of options, they announced steelFill back in June of this year at the AM Show Europe in Amsterdam.

Iron Man Bust by Geoff.W available on Thingiverse here

That steelFill filament is now available, and seems to deliver absolutely spectacular results. While many unusual composite filaments require very high printing temperatures or other settings that not every 3D printer is capable of, this doesn’t seem to be the case for steelFill. It has been extensively tested on a wide range of conventional desktop 3D printers, including the Ultimaker 2 and the Makerbot Replicator 2. While the optimal print settings haven’t been shared yet, the model of the hand giving the devil horn sign (visible in clip below) was 3D printed on an Ultimaker 2+ at just 210 degrees Celsius and on a 50 degree heated print bed.

Really, there only seems to be one (affordable) hardware requirement that you might have to look into. As is often the case with composite filaments, the steel powder that is packed in steelFill can start to erode a conventional brass nozzle over time – which will negatively affect 3D printing quality. ColorFabb therefore advises users to swap a regular brass nozzle for a steel or hardened steel alternative, which will be less susceptible to erosion. “The steel powder we use for steelFill can affect the brass nozzle after printing enough of this material, for better reliability on the long run a steel nozzle is recommended,” they say. Combined with the help of a forthcoming tutorial in which print settings are discussed, this should enable most users to 3D print steel-based objects on a very wide range of desktop 3D printers.

ColorFabb Cannon by Labern available on YouMagine here

But for optimal results, there is one major difference between steelFill and regular PLA. As with colorFabb’s other metal-based filaments, the key to success is post-processing. “After printing steelFill will have nice matte drak gray finish. With similar polishing techniques used on bronzeFill, copperFill and brassFill it’s possible to smooth out the outer surface and expose the metal particles. Now the surface start’s to resemble a dark glossy steel look,” Colorfabb experts say.

This is perfectly illustrated by the gorgeous sculptures visible above, some of which are still unpolished. And who hasn’t dreamt of 3D printing a cannon? Best of all, the stainless steel powder used will ensure that the objects won’t rust either. If you’re interested, you can now order steelFill through colorFabb’s website here. Bring the metal.



Posted in 3D Printing Materials



Maybe you also like:


3D wrote at 9/14/2016 2:38:16 PM:

Nice! But I see they used Geoffro's Ironman model. He always specifically states he doesn't want commercial use of his models. I hope they contacted him as this is some kind of commercial use..

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive