Carbon Fiber Nylon Filament

9 Advanced, Carbon Fiber Filaments and More

We're going to explore the 9 most popular advanced filament types that you can print with in your at-home 3D printer to understand their differences, their ideal applications, and why you might want to check them out.

These engineering-grade filaments like Nylon, polycarbonate, and carbon fiber composites filaments are becoming more and more popular due to the increased popularity of enclosed consumer-grade 3D printers, like Creality K1CKingroon KLP1, QIDI Tech, etc, and all metal extruders and hardened nozzles that are actually capable of printing these types of materials.

Nylon Filament

To top this list off, let's start with Nylon. Generally speaking, Nylon is an incredibly durable material. It features higher heat resistance than most commodity plastics such as ABS or PETG, and it really excels in toughness, aka durability, and strength, particularly interlayer adhesion. Additionally, it offers more ductility than other plastics, meaning that it has a lot more  flex, like PETG, particularly in thin parts. This is a large contributor to its toughness. Nylon also exhibits great chemical resistance, making it a great choice when your part will be exposed to oil or solvents. Additionally, Nylon is actually quite affordable when compared to other heat-resistant plastics out there, such as PEEK.

The downsides, however, are that it can be pretty tricky to print. First of all, Nylons are highly hygroscopic, and they need to be printed directly from a filament dryer for the best results. Second, this material is highly prone to warping, so an enclosure is an absolute must.

In 3D printing, there are two different types of Nylons that are commonly used: PA-6 and PA-12. The names indicate the number of carbon atoms in the repeating units, which in turn dictate different behavioral properties of the material. PA-12, like this, for example, has a lower moisture absorption rate, making it more stable in various environmental conditions, both during and after printing, as well as higher flexibility. But PA-6, conversely, has higher strength and stiffness, but then it's also more easily affected by moisture, it has a higher melting point, which makes it trickier to print. This is why when it comes to plain old Nylons without the carbon fiber stuff we're going to get into, PA-12 is generally more popular for 3D printing.

Nylon is best suited for things that needs to withstand high heat, applications where the part will be repeatedly abused, bumped, violated, vibrated, or impacted, and applications where you actually want that high ductility. So the list of specific examples includes plastic gears, automotive parts, flexible living hinges, workshop tools, gaskets, and things like that. 

Polycarbonate Filament - PC

Polycarbonate filament often abbreviated as PC. Recognized for its exceptional clarity and robustness, PC stands out as one of the toughest thermoplastics on the planet. When compared to your standard commodity plastics like ABS or PLA filamento, PC, like Nylon, offers superior heat resistance, making it a prime choice for applications that demand high thermal stability. Its strength is commendable, and its interlayer adhesion is often dramatically superior, producing robust and cohesive parts when 3D printing.

One of the most distinguishing features of PC is its impressive impact resistance. In terms of rigidity vs. ductility, PC is somewhere between ABS and PLA on the more rigid side, and Nylon on the more ductile side. While it's still pretty rigid and can shatter, it's able to absorb significant shocks without breaking. This resilience, combined with its very high transparency, is why it's frequently used in things like bulletproof glass and eyewear lenses, though obviously not 3D printed ones.

Additionally, while specialty filaments like PEEK might outperform PC in terms of certain extreme conditions, PC remains a much more budget-friendly option for many applications that require high performance but not at the absolute peak.

However, 3D printing with PC is not for the faint of heart. Similar to Nylons, PC is quite hygroscopic, which can significantly impact print quality. Although its moisture absorption is generally lower than that of Nylons, it's still advisable to store PC filaments in a dry environment and consider using a filament dryer while printing them. Additionally, PC is notorious for its tendency to warp, especially in larger prints. There are some PC blends out there, like the one made by Prusament or Kexcelled's PC K7, which aim to combat this, but even these easier-to-print blends are, at the end of the day, PC, and they'll behave like it.

Therefore, using an enclosed printer and ensuring a heated bed is essential for optimal results, and even then, you might need to heat the chamber and/or use bed adhesion products to reduce warping. When considering which applications are best suited for PC, think of scenarios demanding strength, clarity, and heat resistance. Ideal use cases include projects with lighting elements, for example, light housings, fixtures, or cases for electronics with LEDs that you want to shine through. PC is also great for things like drone parts, clear containers, such as bins or buckets, tanks for liquids, and even prototypes for functional testing under strenuous conditions. Its durability and clarity make it a favorite for many in the 3D printing community. 

Polycarbonate Carbon Fiber, PC-CF

Polycarbonate Carbon Fiber, or PC-CF, combines the inherent strength and durability of PC with the rigidity and durability of a carbon fiber composite, making it an exceptional choice for demanding applications. Renowned for its high strength-to-weight ratio, PC-CF filament owes its robustness to the carbon fiber reinforcement. While maintaining excellent thermal resistance characteristic of polycarbonate, PC-CF exceeds standard PC filaments in heat resistance due to the addition of carbon fibers.

PC-CF's primary strengths lie in its robustness and heat resistance, making it suitable for parts exposed to high temperatures or mechanical stresses. However, its extreme rigidity can be a drawback for applications requiring flexibility or impact resistance. Additionally, the abrasive nature of carbon fibers necessitates special considerations such as a hardened steel nozzle and careful temperature management during printing.

Compared to standard PC, PC-CF offers enhanced stiffness and dimensional stability, particularly beneficial in reducing warping. When compared to other carbon fiber composites like carbon fiber Nylon, PC-CF sacrifices some durability and impact resistance for increased rigidity and heat resistance. Consequently, PC-CF is more suitable for applications requiring high strength and rigidity, such as aerospace components, automotive parts, and mechanical gears, as well as for prototyping functional parts subjected to high temperatures or mechanical loads.

PLA-CF Filament

PLA-CF, which is essentially polylactic acid or PLA reinforced with carbon fiber. At its core, plain PLA is a biodegradable thermoplastic derived from renewable resources like cornstarch or sugar cane. It's a favorite among 3D printing enthusiasts due to its incredible strength and rigidity, combined with its extreme ease of printing and minimal warping. Believe it or not, PLA is actually so strong that fellow YouTuber Clough42 discovered that it is superior to PA-CF in some instances.

However, when infused with carbon fibers, like these various colored versions are, PLA undergoes a transformation that enhances some of its mechanical properties while simultaneously reducing others. First, the addition of carbon fibers increases the stiffness and strength of PLA. Kind of. It's a little bit misleading because increased strength is something that is touted on all of these different carbon fiber-reinforced filaments. Depending on the quality of the filament and the printing conditions, you may achieve increased strength in the axial direction, and some PLA-CF formulations will use surface-treated carbon fiber, and as a result, interlayer adhesion isn't impacted a lot, as seen in Kexcelled's own PLA K6CF. However, because the carbon fibers are basically a contaminant in the material, you will also generally experience decreased strength between layers. This point was corroborated by experts at Kexcelled and Stefan from CNC Kitchen.

Property Typical Value Property Typical Value
Density 1.29 g/cm³ at 23℃ Young's modulus (X-Y) 2945±100MPa
Melt index 9.2 g/10min Young's modulus (Z) 2143±91MPa
Light transmission N/A Tensile strength (X-Y) 28.28±0.7MPa
Tensile strength (Z) 12.54±0.7MPa
THERMAL PROPERTIES Elongation at break (X-Y) 4.2±0.12%
Property Typical Value Elongation at break (Z) 0.75±0.08%
Glass transition temperature 61.8℃ Bending modulus (X-Y) 3215±182MPa
Melting temperature 162.4℃ Bending modulus (Z) N/A
Crystallization temperature N/A Bending strength (X-Y) 54.2±1.4MPa
Decomposition temperature N/A Bending strength (Z) N/A
Vicat softening temperature 64.1℃ Charpy impact strength (X-Y) 4.82±0.14KJ/m²
Heat deflection temperature 50.4℃ Charpy impact strength (Z) N/A

When companies advertise the strength of carbon fiber filaments, they are generally explaining this nuanced point. PLA-CF, like these, is considered by some to be kind of a gimmick, with its primary benefit being more aesthetic than anything. This is not only because of the beautiful matte textured finishes that the carbon adds but also because, as with all the carbon composites on this list, adding carbon fibers improves its dimensional stability by reducing warping and making parts come out much cleaner. Though PLA doesn't really suffer from printability or warping, adding carbon fibers can make this material stronger and more rigid in some specific senses. But it's still PLA. It's not an engineering-grade material, and so it will still retain the downsides of PLA, including absolutely zero tolerance for heat. What's more, carbon fibers can actually take some of the bad characteristics of PLA, like brittleness, and make them worse.


While PLA-CF, and really all of the CF composites on this list, print even better than their pure counterparts, they're also incredibly abrasive. This means that whenever you print with any carbon composite filament, you will need to ensure that you print with a hardened steel nozzle, or diamond nozzle ideally. You'll also need to ensure that you have all-metal gears, and you're going to experience accelerated wear on any bowden tubes or anything in the path of the filament.

In terms of applications, PLA-CF is ideal for components that need a balance of strength and lightweight construction. It's suitable for drone frames, RC car components, and even lightweight tooling. It's also great for saving money on prototypes because it will exhibit similar dimensional behavior to PA-CF, but it costs considerably less.

PET-CF Filament

If you've been 3D printing for some time, you may have heard of PET or PETG. PETG is definitely one common filament in 3D printing. Both PET and PETG are polyethylene terephthalate, with the "G" in PETG standing for glycol modified, which has a substantial effect on the polymer's properties.

PET is commonly used in plastic water bottles and packaging containers. It is known for its strength, durability, resistance to chemicals, and slightly higher temperature tolerance. It is quite rigid and can be semi-transparent or transparent.

PETG shares many properties with PET but is more flexible, making it less brittle, and has slightly less temperature resistance. From the standpoint of 3D printing, PETG is often the preferred choice due to being easier to print. 

PET-CF Filament Specification
Property Typical Value
Density (g/cm³) 1.3
Heat Deflection Temperature (°C) 112
Melt index (g/10 min) 4.7
Odor Almost odorless
Solubility Insoluble in water
Mechanical Properties
Property Typical value
Young’s modulus (X-Y) 6030 ± 350 MPa
Young’s modulus (Z) 3200 ± 75 MPa
Tensile strength (X-Y) 87 ± 4 MPa
Tensile strength (Z) 34 ± 2 MPa
Elongation at break (X-Y) 2.01 ± 0.17 %
Elongation at break (Z) 1.25 ± 0.09 %
Bending modulus (X-Y) 5300 ± 200 MPa
Bending strength (X-Y) 123 ± 5 MPa
Charpy impact strength (X-Y) 5.60 ± 0.58 KJ/m²

Carbon fiber blends are among my favorite filaments. Not only do the printed parts look incredible, but the carbon fiber also enhances the strength and stiffness of the printed part. As an added bonus, these filaments are often easier to print with, exhibiting less stringing and warping compared to their non-blended counterparts. 

PET-CF, which lacks the glycol addition and actually boasts higher heat resistance than PETG-CF. It also exhibits lower susceptibility to water absorption. PET carbon fiber suitable for both general-purpose parts and high-temperature applications. The advantage of PETG-CF is its compatibility with affordable open printers.

Slicer Settings for PET-CF

Nozzle temperature 280-320°C
Recommended nozzle diameter 0.4-1.0mm
Recommended build surface treatment PEl build plate or Coating with PVP glue
Build plate temperature 60-80℃
Raft separation distance 0.08-012 mm
Cooling fan speed OFF
Print speed 30-90 mm/s
Retraction distance 1-3 mm
Retraction speed 1800-3600 mm/min
Recommended support materia aeSupport™ S-Multi Quick-Remove Support

The filament printing temp range for PET CF is between 280 - 320°C. Therefore, using an all-metal hotend is a must for printing with this filament.

Carbon Fiber Nylon Filament

Next on the list is one of the most popular carbon composites for 3D printing – carbon fiber Nylon, such as PA-CF or PAHT-CF. These filaments come in various formulations, including PA-6 and PA-12 versions, high-heat variants, and standard ones, each with slightly different characteristics based on brand and application.

The addition of carbon fibers to Nylon aims to combine the durability and heat resistance of Nylon without sacrificing rigidity. While carbon fiber reinforcement enhances rigidity, it does come with a trade-off – a reduction in impact resistance and overall durability. Carbon fiber parts, once deformed, tend to fail catastrophically rather than deform gradually.

For applications requiring rigidity and high heat resistance, carbon fiber Nylon makes sense. However, for situations where impact resistance and ductility are crucial, pure Nylon is more suitable. The video emphasizes the importance of considering the specific requirements of each application to choose the right material.

Adding carbon fibers to Nylon not only enhances rigidity but also improves printability and heat resistance. This is especially notable in the case of Nylon, known for being challenging to print. Carbon fibers reduce warping and improve dimensional accuracy, making printing carbon fiber Nylon more accessible than printing pure Nylon.

Moreover, carbon fiber Nylon exhibits increased temperature resistance, making it a consumer-grade alternative to high-performance materials like PEEK. The video mentions that, compared to plain Nylon, carbon fiber Nylon can add 10 to 20 degrees Celsius to its heat resistance.

Nylon CF Properties

Physical properties Typical Value Test Method Test Condition
Material density 1.09 g/cm³ ISO 1183 20 ℃
0.96 g/cm³ ISO 1183 235 ℃
Melt flow index 9.92 g/10 min ISO 1183 235 ℃, 2.16kg
Diameter tolerance ±0.10 mm
Mechanical properties Typical Value Test Method Test Condition
Tensile strength 54.5 MPa ISO 527 50 mm/min
Elogation at break 103% ISO 527 50 mm/min
Tensile modulus 500 MPa ISO 527 50 mm/min
Charpy impact resistance 86.2 KJ/m² ISO 179 25℃,unnotched
Hardness 75 share D ISO 7619
Thermal properties Typical Value Test Method Test Condition
Melting temperature 160℃
Printing properties Recommended Notes
Print temperature 235-260℃ Pecommended settings!
It may differ according to the printer and the object,
Try your own settings before printing.
Hot pad 80-105℃
Bed adhesive Always use brim for better bed adhesion.
Speed of printing 20-30mm/s
Other recommendations cover around printer Protection against change of ambient temperature.

How to Print Nylon CF?

Make sure you have all metal hotend and extruder for Nylon or Nylon CF print.
All-metal hotends, such as Micro Swiss's dual gear direct drive all-metal hotend, and those from E3D, Slice Engineering, or other reputable brands, can be used. The key is ensuring that the hotend is entirely made of metal.

Another essential upgrade is the nozzle. For printing with abrasives like carbon fiber, it's recommended to switch to a hardened steel, like Micro Swiss hardened steel nozzle, ruby-tipped, or a nozzle like Nozzle X from E3D.  

Moving on to the heated bed, the focus is on preparing it for printing with nylon—a material known for being finicky and selective in terms of adhesion. While the user typically uses a PEI sheet for PLA and PETG prints, nylon requires a specific build surface. There are two recommended options for this: a borosilicate glass bed or a Gear Light. Also apply a thin layer of glue stick on the bed to enhancing adhesion.

The next crucial step is addressing the hygroscopic nature of nylon. Nylon has a high affinity for moisture absorption, a characteristic shared with other thermoplastics like PLA and ABS, although to a lesser extent. While the moisture absorbed by PLA and ABS usually doesn't significantly impact print quality, nylon is an exception, and it's essential to dry it before printing. It's recommended to dry the Nylon / Nylon CF filament beforehand to ensure optimal results.

Various options are available for drying filament, like the Sunlu Fila Dryer S1. Drying the filament for at least six hours under 55°C temperature is advised to ensure satisfactory results. This step is crucial for preventing moisture-related issues during the printing process with carbon fiber Nylon filament.

Slicer Settings for Nylon CF

Let's delve into the slicer settings for printing with Nylon CF. 

  • bed temperature: ~70°C
  • hotend temperature: ~275°C
  • first layer speed: around 15mm/s
  • speed speed: 40 - 50mm/s

It's essential to note that these temperatures may need slight adjustments based on your specific printer, environment, and the presence of an enclosure. 

For printers without challenging bridging or overhangs, it's recommended not to activate the cooling fan to achieve the best inner layer adhesion. However, if significant bridging or steep overhangs are present, it's advised to use the cooling fan at no more than 50%. This cautious approach helps mitigate the risk of warping, a common concern with nylon filament.

Specific use cases for carbon fiber Nylon include caster wheel mounts requiring rigidity and durability, applications in workshops where rigidity under heat is essential, and parts like mounting brackets or tools used in proximity to heat sources like heat guns or soldering irons.

ABS Carbon Fiber Filament

Now, let's delve into a carbon fiber filament that doesn't receive as much attention – ABS-CF. Despite being overshadowed by other carbon composites, ABS-CF has its own set of characteristics and use cases.

ABS-CF is essentially ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) with added carbon fibers. As mentioned earlier, the addition of carbon fibers enhances the material's printability, making it more accessible, especially for those familiar with the challenges of printing plain ABS.

While the overall principles of carbon fiber reinforcement remain the same – improving rigidity, axial strength, and printability at the cost of affordability and layer adhesion – ABS-CF stands out in specific aspects.

Firstly, being a commodity plastic, ABS is more affordable compared to engineering-grade materials like Nylon. This affordability extends to ABS-CF, making it a cost-effective option for those looking for carbon fiber reinforcement without breaking the bank.

Secondly, ABS-CF is highlighted for its ease of printing, surpassing some other carbon composites. It is less hygroscopic than filaments like PETG-CF or PA-CF, resulting in reduced warping issues. Although it requires an enclosure, mainly due to fumes, ABS-CF is considered easier to handle in comparison.

Carbon Fiber ABS 3D Printing Filament
Physical Properties Unit Typical Value
Density g/cc 1.11
Mechanical Properties Unit Typical Value
Tensile Strength, Break MPa 46
Tensile Modulus MPa 5210
Tensile Elongation, Break % 2
Flexual Strength MPa 76
Flexual Modulus MPa 5260
Thermal Properties Unit Typical Value
Glass Transition Temp(Tg) 105
Deflection Temp at 0.45 MPa(66psi) 76
  • Nozzle Temp: 220-240°C, we recommend hardened steel nozzles with a minimum diameter of 0.4mm.
  • Bed Temp: 100-110°C
  •  Other: Ideal layer height is 60% of nozzle diameter. We do not recommend printing layers smaller than 0.2mm with carbon fiber reinforced filaments.
  • Bed Prep: Magigoo Bed Prep Adhesive gives us the best results
  • Heated Chamber: Recommended, a chamber helps reduce warping.
  • Supports: Water soluble AquaTek X1 USM works great for complex parts.
  • Drying Instructions: 80°C for 4 hours.

ABS, as a base plastic, is known for its durability, making it a common choice for a wide range of consumer goods. ABS-CF inherits this durability, making it suitable for various applications, from tools and toys to electronics.

While ABS-CF might not excel in a specific aspect, it offers a well-rounded compromise, blending affordability, printability, durability, strength, moderate heat resistance, and rigidity. It becomes a suitable choice for users with enclosed printers who prefer a cost-effective alternative to more expensive carbon composites like PA-CF.

Applications for ABS-CF include automotive parts under moderate heat, tools, indoor brackets requiring high rigidity (such as those for camera equipment or robotic arms), and other scenarios demanding a balance of properties.

ABS-GF Filament

ABS-GF, or glass fiber filament, replaces carbon fibers with glass fibers, providing slightly different mechanical properties and a more economical alternative.

Glass fibers, unlike carbon fibers, enhance tensile strength rather than axial strength and rigidity. While carbon fibers contribute to improved heat and electrical conductivity, glass fibers do not, making them potentially preferable in environments involving electronics or electricity.

Although there are nuanced differences in areas like abrasion resistance, the main consideration for choosing ABS-GF over other advanced filaments is often the price. While ABS-CF might offer overall better performance, ABS-GF becomes an excellent choice for those seeking enhanced tensile strength in their prints without a significant cost increase.

ABS-GF finds applications in various scenarios, such as electronics housings, tool cases, tools, or handles, where its improved tensile strength can be advantageous. It is also suitable for prototyping parts that may later be reproduced in ABS carbon fiber for the final product.

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