Wall Thickness vs. Colour

These are things that won’t mean to much to those who aren’t actively 3D printing themselves but trust me, they are essentials in the test program. We’re really getting into the R&D framework that I call Creative Metallurgy here so feel free to check it out.

Wall Thickness vs. Colour;

The recycled nylon is translucent which means there are two elements to how ‘colour’ presents itself; through the reflected light and the transmitted light.

Reflected light is a function of the photon absorbance of the material itself (or pigments within the material), so is independent of wall thickness. Designers of both forms and materials who use opaque materials don’t have to consider transmitted light.

Transmitted light can be a direct transmission i.e. light passing through from its source with specific wavelengths filtered on the basis of the material properties, or it can be internally reflected and refracted, and so impacted by the design of the form and the way that the form is printed. Not only do the pigmentation and absorbance impact the final perceived colour, but the refractive index also impacts the overall printed outcome.

Not all translucent materials are attractive as their thickness increases, but if the world of glass and ceramics tells us anything it is that most people find translucence appealing when the form is light, delicate or decorative, but less desirable when the form is primarily functional.

René-Jules Lalique, creating his glassware in the early 20thC, was the master of the balance between transmitted and reflected light.

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So why am I saying this ?

Well, the recycled fishing net is translucent. We already knew that. The question was how would that translucence manifest itself in a 3D printed form? There was no way to predict that because the material has been ‘aged’ by repeated exposure to ocean and weather. It has worked hard in its first life, so how its second life would look was always going to be a bit random.

The good news is that the recycled nylon retains good colour, even at extreme blends, and the really good news is that it exhibits both transmitted and reflected colour separately.

What does that mean?

It’s really difficult to photograph without studio equipment but the colour, when printed, looks like the kind of dual-colour that antique Lalique glass shows. It has that layering of colour, with a green-ish body but with a light blue ‘bloom’ when viewed at an angle. Depending on the printer and the form printed it also has a silvered quality due to internal reflective surfaces.

I’ve tried to photograph it but it really doesn’t show well here.

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The circular raft is one layer thick, flexible and very resilient overall, but weak in tension parallel to deposition direction.

What does this all mean for Fishy Filaments?

We knew that the material had non-technical aesthetic qualities in terms of the story of its first life, but the fact that it prints with a highly decorative finish shifts the balance of what markets might be approached. I’m not going to say too much about that but the message here is that some materials can be more than simply means to solve physical problems. Just ask any jeweler, sculptor or architect.

Author: Fishy Filaments

Recycling marine plastics into 3D printer filament

2 thoughts on “Wall Thickness vs. Colour”

    1. Its an interesting material with interesting properties which I am happy to share with the community.
      However I’d just re-enforce the point that some of those properties arise from the fishing culture (the type of nets used & the nature of their use) rather than the original polymer itself.
      There is no guarentee that, for example, the ‘Lalique effect’ will be consistent from year to year, or even present since it is exogenous to the production process.


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