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Resources3D Printing DesignAll About Sandstone 3D Printing Filament: Materials, Properties, Definition
Plastic filament for 3D printer. Image Credit: Shutterstock.com/vchal

All About Sandstone 3D Printing Filament: Materials, Properties, Definition

Learn about sandstone 3D printing filament and all of its different properties.

Xomety X
By Team Xometry
September 19, 2022
 8 min read
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Sandstone 3D printing filaments are artistically and visually pleasing when used to build 3D models. 3D printing enthusiasts and hobbyists alike have been fascinated by the variety of colorful designs that can be created with these filament materials, especially in the embellishment of action figures or figurines. Sandstone filament also benefits the architectural and construction industry, for which it aids considerably in the crafting of very realistic designs of architectural and landscape models. 

The 3D printing filament is called sandstone because it possesses the rock-like features of a sandstone. Sandstone printing filament is composed of PLA (Polylactic Acid) and ceramic or limestone powder. Among its properties, it: can be inked easily, is not water resistant, and melts at a temperature of 165–210°C. Sandstone filament does not need a heated bed and does not warp or shrink during the printing process. Also, the sandstone binder allows for stronger binding between the layers of the extruded material. 

This article will further discuss what sandstone is, its composition, properties, printer settings, and how it compares with other filaments.

What Is Sandstone 3D Printing?

Sandstone 3D printing is the use of 3D printing technology – particularly color jet printing – to build sandstone-like models. Sandstone is a great option for multicolor printing. It transcends many filament types when it comes to the 3D printing of decorative models. Some of the applications of sandstone 3D printing include figurines, medical models, and architectural models. Sandstone is among the most popular 3D printing filaments because it prints with different surface textures when printed at different temperatures. For example, a lower temperature of 165 °C will produce a model with a smoother finish, while a higher temperature of 210 °C will produce a rougher finish. A single model can be created with different surface textures by altering the print temperature. For more information, see our guide on how 3D printing works.

What Is the Composition of Sandstone Filament?

Sandstone filament is generated by fusing PLA (Polylactic Acid) with limestone or ceramic particles. Sandstone-printed parts look a lot like ceramic or sandstone. Most 3D models go through post-processing to achieve a smooth surface finish. However, the rock-like finish of sandstone filament is a positive attribute that benefits several design types, such as architectural models. 

What Are the Properties of Sandstone Filament?

Sandstone filament is a very interesting material with several physical properties including:

  1. The surface finish of the model is rock-like.
  2. It is relatively lightweight.
  3. When it comes to high-strength applications, sandstone is certainly not the choice. It is known for its rigidity and brittleness.

Comparison of Sandstone Filament Properties

Table 1 below highlights a side-by-side comparison of the properties of sandstone with other filament materials:

Table 1: Comparison of Sandstone vs. PETG vs. ABS vs. TPU
PropertiesSandstonePETGABSTPU
Properties

Melting or printing temperature

Sandstone

165–210 °C

PETG

230–250 °C

ABS

240–270 °C

TPU

220–250 °C

Properties

Heated bed temperature (not necessary)

Sandstone

45–70 °C

PETG

70–80 °C

ABS

95–110 °C

TPU

30–60 °C

Properties

Impact resistance

Sandstone

Poor

PETG

Good

ABS

Good

TPU

Good

Properties

Rock-like finish

Sandstone

Yes

PETG

No

ABS

No

TPU

No

What Are the Limitations of 3D Printing With Sandstone?

3D printing with sandstone, though very useful, comes with a disadvantage. Layers of construction are difficult if not impossible to smooth out; as a result, this sandstone-like material has a haptic feel to it. The surface is also quite porous, not waterproof, and has low impact resistance. Some of its advantages are that the material is resilient and flexible, and compared to other filaments it seldom warps.

Why Is Sandstone Used in 3D Printing?

Sandstone is used in 3D printing for many reasons. Prototypes can be 3D printed according to a prescribed set of colors. There are a myriad of colors to choose from, which enables one to create visually and artistically pleasing models. The material allows for ink coloring and can be structurally fused with definite precision. 3D-printed sandstone is not ideal for creating functional parts because of the brittle nature of the material. In other words, it breaks easily under intense stress. This property is why it is used essentially for decorative pieces.

How To Use Sandstone in 3D Printing?

Getting everything right at the outset ensures that 3D printer sandstone comes out in the best texture, form, and shape possible. Here are some tips and tricks for 3D printing with sandstone:

  1. Limestone or gypsum-based powder should be used. This powder goes along with a binder which facilitates the fusion. The binder is a glue-like solvent that has been mixed with CMY or CMYK colors.
  2. Sandstone 3D printing filament can do without a heated bed. However, if a heated bed is used, let it fall between 40–70 °C.
  3. The model should be handled with care and should not come in contact with water. If that happens, it will cause the model to lose its lustrous color.

To get a really good finish, print in the temperature range 165–210 °C

What Are the Best Configuration Settings for Sandstone 3D Printing?

The best configuration settings for sandstone 3D printing depend on the brand used. It is recommended to check the manufacturer’s recommended settings to get optimal results. Table 2 below shows the recommended printer settings for sandstone filament:

Table 2: Sandstone Filament 3D Printer Settings
Printer SettingsValue
Printer Settings

Extruder temperature or nozzle temperature or print temperature

Value

165-210 °C

Printer Settings

Bed temperature

Value

45-70 °C

Printer Settings

Print speed

Value

50-60 mm/s

Printer Settings

Extruder fan speed

Value

0-10%

Printer Settings

Retraction speed

Value

20-45 mm/s

Printer Settings

Retraction distance (direct)

Value

2-3 mm

Printer Settings

Retraction distance (Bowden)

Value

4-6 mm

Printer Settings

Flow rate

Value

95-105%

Printer Settings

Bed material

Value

Glue Stick, PET Sheet, Kapton Tape, and Glass Plate

What Is the Best Sandstone 3D Print Speed?

The best sandstone 3D print speed ranges from 50–60 mm/s. The speed should stay within this limit. However, an individual can start with a low speed and work up until an unusual level of strings begins to form on the print. When this formation of strings happens, reduce speed a little and observe the results.

What Is the Melting Temperature of Sandstone Filament?

The melting temperature of sandstone 3D printing filament is between 165–210 °C. The printing temperature depends on certain factors, namely, the type or brand of filament used, the type of printer, and the part requirement. The temperature has a direct impact on the model's surface texture. Adjust the temperature setting until the preferred texture is reached. To print a model with varying surface texture, alternate between the specified melting temperatures. 

Is a Heated Printing Bed Required When Printing With Sandstone?

No, sandstone 3D printing filament does not require a heated printer bed. The reason is that sandstone filament does not warp during 3D printing. However, if a heated bed is used, set it at a temperature that falls in the range of 40–70 °C.

What Is a Good Wall Thickness for 3D Printing Sandstone?

A good wall thickness for 3D printing sandstone is 2 mm for supporting walls – connected to at least two sides of the 3D model. However, if it is an unsupported wall – connected to only one side of the 3D model – a value of 3 mm should be used. 

What Is a Good Wall Density for 3D Printing Sandstone?

Generally, the infill density used for most filaments falls between 15-50% – and sandstone 3D printing filament is not an exception. Infill density describes how much thermoplastic material or filament the inside of a 3D print is made of. It is usually measured or defined as a percentage in slicer software programs. 

Slicers are calibrated to read an infill density ranging from the very least (0%) to the highest (100%). 0% means the part is hollow and 100% implies that the part is completely solid and strong. The decision on which infill density to use is highly dependent on the application. For functional and end-use parts, an infill density above 50% is recommended. For prints that do not need to be super strong, an infill density of 15-50% is okay.

Is Sandstone Filament Water Soluble?

There is no available information on sandstone filament’s water solubility. It is recommended to refer to the manufacturer’s material data sheet.

What Is the Difference Between Sandstone and PLA in 3D Printing

PLA is created from organic materials such as sugarcane and corn (also included in the composition are additives). Sandstone, on the other hand, is made by combining PLA with calcium or ceramic powdered particles. PLA use cases include medical implants, medical suturing, and food packaging purposes. While sandstone is used for artistically pleasing applications such as architectural models, figurines, and landscape design models. 

Summary

This article presented sandstone 3D printing filament, explained what it is, and discussed how it can be used for 3D printed parts. To learn more about sandstone 3D printing filament, contact a Xometry representative.

Xometry provides a wide range of manufacturing capabilities, including 3D printing and other value-added services for all of your prototyping and production needs. Visit our website to learn more or to request a free, no-obligation quote.

Disclaimer

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Xomety X
Team Xometry
This article was written by various Xometry contributors. Xometry is a leading resource on manufacturing with CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, 3D printing, injection molding, urethane casting, and more.