3D printing enthusiasts are always looking for a good 3D printing material that best meets their printing needs. In this regard, scientists are trying to refine existing filaments, eliminating the disadvantages encountered when printing with them.
PCTG filaments are a good example. This industrial-grade 3D printing material is the better, but lesser-known version of the PETG filament .
In this article we will talk about PCTG filaments and everything you need to know to produce solid, fascinating and long-lasting 3D prints. So, read on.
What are PCTG filaments?
Glycol-Modified Polycyclohexylene Dimethylene Terephthalate, or PCTG for short, is a filament intended for 3D printing known for its transparency, resistance and durability. As already mentioned, PCTG is the renewed version of PETG filament. It has all the advantages of PETG without the disadvantages.
Compared to PETG, PCTG offers better chemical resistance, transparency and impact resistance. For this reason, PCTG is preferred over PETG for the production of complex applications.
THE PCTG filaments they are compatible with many open-source desktop printers. The filament offers considerable dimensional stability, boasts a low shrinkage rate and lasts longer than PETG.
Properties of PCTG
- Compared to the impact resistance of PCTG filament it is 20 times higher
- It boasts significantly superior chemical resistance
- Optical transparency is high, unlike PETG
- PCTG is free of BPA (Bisphenol A)
- The filament boasts good mechanical resistance and good robustness
- It has a low level of shrinkage and good dimensional stability
PCTG filaments are highly prized in the manufacturing industry due to their high ductility, greater chemical resistance and modest moisture absorption. The rate of odor emission is also low when printing. Their translucency has made them an excellent choice in the medical, packaging and container manufacturing industries, where aesthetics are key.
PCTG is an FDA approved material and is therefore an optimal choice for food packaging. The filament is also widely used to make kitchen utensils and similar items that may come into contact with food.
How is PCTG produced?
Glycol Modified Polycyclohexylene Dimethylene Terephthalate is created after implementing a polymerization method. PCTG filaments are composed of three raw materials (dimethyl terephthalate, cyclohexane dimethanol and glycol). The inclusion of glycol acts as a reactor that binds the monomers, cyclohexane dimethanol and dimethyl terephthalate, to trigger the polymer chain.
At the end of polymerization, a thermoplastic substance is obtained with properties such as strength, translucency and chemical resistance. The polymer created must be processed in order to be transformed into filament. The final properties of the material depend mainly on the polymerization conditions and control of the monomers which increase its popularity and versatility.
PCTG filaments are used to produce medical devices, food containers, water bottles, robotics and electronic devices. The filament is very popular in the food packaging industry due to its food safety features. Since it complies with all the strictest regulations regarding contact with consumables, the filament can easily obtain FDA approval.
Furthermore, PCTG has a non-toxic chemical composition. Thanks to its remarkable chemical resistance, harmful materials do not escape and do not contaminate food or drinks. PCTG filaments can withstand extreme heat and are therefore the right material to use for producing bottles and other reusable utensils.
PCTG vs. PETG – What are the differences?
|Composition of the material||PCTG is composed of dimethyl terephthalate, cyclohexane dimethanol and glycol.||PETG is composed of terephthalic acid, a modifier, and ethylene glycol.|
|Printability||PCTG filaments are renowned for exceptional layer adhesion, modest risk of warping and excellent compatibility with normal 3D printing settings.||PETG also guarantees good performance in terms of layer adhesion, print compatibility and low deformation rate. However, PCTG filaments are better in these aspects.|
|Flexibility||Compared to PETG, PCTG is more flexible and therefore is the perfect choice for printing objects that need greater mechanical strength, better ductility and greater impact resistance.||The filament offers a fair amount of flexibility, ensuring a balance between elasticity and resistance. For this reason it is preferred for printing objects that require ease of printing, resilience and impact resistance.|
|Environmental impact||PCTG is a recyclable thermoplastic. Thanks to its impact resistance, objects made with this filament can last longer, reducing the likelihood of replacements.||PETG filament is known for its faster biodegradability than PCTG.|
|Strength and endurance||If strength and durability are your priority, PCTG is significantly superior to PETG due to its chemical composition.||PETG is considered one of the most suitable filaments for printing robust and long-lasting applications.|
|Heat resistance||PCTG boasts excellent heat resistance which allows it to withstand higher temperatures without distorting the shape of the object. It can usually withstand around 302-356°F or 150-180°C.||Normally, PETG can maintain its shape if the temperature does not exceed 176-185°F or 80-85°C.|
|Considerations on the press||Printing considerations for PETG and PCTG are the same, however PCTG requires a higher printing temperature.||Although PETG and PCTG both require a heated bed and approximately the same printing speed, PETG can be printed at a lower temperature than PCTG.|
So, are PETG filaments or PCTG filaments better?
Both filaments have some great unique characteristics related to their chemical composition, while sharing similar properties. But what is the best choice? The answer depends entirely on your printing needs.
For example, if you want to print outdoor objects that are strong and durable and that do not warp in the sun, the PETG it might be the best choice. This filament is easy to print. It is mainly used for the production of prototypes, functional parts and containers.
On the contrary, if some application needs require greater impact resistance, greater flexibility and better transparency, then the right choice is filament PCTG .
They are widely used to make transparent cases, medical equipment and applications intended for particularly intense use.
Print with PCTG filaments
As for printers, PCTG filaments are compatible with almost all FDM or FFF 3D printers. Just make sure they have a heated bed and that the printing temperature can reach around 240-260°C. PCTG compatible printers require the heated bed to reach approximately 70-80°C to ensure proper adhesion.
Three of the best brands of PCTG-compatible 3D printers are
1. Temperature settings
Depending on the brand of PCTG filament, the printing temperature may change. For this reason, always check the manufacturer's instructions. As a rule, however, the ideal temperature for the filament is between 240 and 260°C.
The temperature of the heated bed must be around 70-80°C to obtain an optimal result. Too high a print temperature can cause warping or stringing, while a low print temperature leads to blobs, poor layering and bed adhesion. An adequate hotend temperature guarantees homogeneous extrusion of the filament, avoids clogging of the nozzle and ensures perfect adhesion of the layers.
Do some small tests with the filament to find the ideal printing temperature. To adjust the temperature, it is advisable to make small decreases or increases of 5°C until you find the right temperature.
Tip: Always use adhesive media and a heated bed when printing with PCTG. Recalibrate your printer and adjust print speeds and temperatures to get the expected results.
2. Adherence to the plan
Ensuring adequate adhesion to the bed is critical if you don't want the print to peel off during printing. If the filament fixes perfectly on the surface, the print will have a solid base. Using a heated floor at 70-80°C is the first step to obtain correct adhesion of the bed.
Furthermore, the print planes like the sheets of PEI or BuildTak or le glass plates they are ideal for improving the adhesion of the print bed. Often the filament does not stick when the print bed has not been cleaned. Then, clean the surface thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol before printing.
Apply PVA-based adhesives, glue sticks or hairspray to strengthen the adhesion. Activate the automatic leveling function, if present, or level the bed correctly to obtain an even first layer.
3. Printing speed
The ideal print speed is around 30-50 mm/s for PCTG. Anything faster than this can compromise the accuracy and detail of your project. If your model is simple, you can increase the speed to print faster. For intricate shapes and designs, it's best to print at a slower speed.
You can adjust the speed in small increments to find the right one. Check the capacity of your printer. Before setting the speed, consider the height of the print layer: larger layers should print faster than smaller ones.
Advanced tips and troubleshooting
Like any other filament, PCTG is also characterized by some common problems that need to be resolved to achieve high-quality 3D prints. The problems are:
1. Lifting and deformation
The reason for this problem is poor adherence to the plan of work. When the filament does not attach to the surface, it tends to detach or deform during processing. To avoid this problem, you should keep the heated bed temperature at 70-80°C, use bed adhesives, and keep the build surface clean.
Because PCTG must be printed at a high temperature, stringing can be a serious problem. Calibrating your retraction settings can help avoid this problem. Furthermore, to reduce the formation of drips, it is advisable to reduce the moving distance and increase the moving speed.
3. Poor adhesion of the layers
Rapid cooling or inadequate hotend temperature can be the cause of this problem. So, decrease the cooling percentage and increase the temperature to avoid this problem.
If the temperature is too high, it may cause print deformation, bubbles or oozing. To avoid this problem, keep the temperature within the suggested range.
5. Bridging problem
Adjust bridging settings. Adjust the orientation, cooling rate, and print speed. Check the projection angles and use appropriate support structures.
Calibrate your printer often and maintain a stable printing environment. Use the best quality PCTG filament to print. Read the manufacturer's directions for best results.
What is PCTG material?
It is a copolyester filament known for its mechanical strength, impact resistance, transparency and durability.
Is PETG better than PCTG?
Filaments have some characteristics in common, but choosing the best one depends on your printing needs. PETG is better known than PCTG for its stability in terms of flexibility and strength, but if your print needs greater strength and clarity opt for PCTG.
Is printing with PCTG safe?
Yes, but you must follow the safety instructions of the filament manufacturers.
Is PCTG recyclable?
Yes, but PCTG's recycling infrastructure is not as deep-rooted as PETG's.