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Usually nylon or polyamide (PA) filaments are sold in natural or white color, but due to the enormous potential of this material, the need arises to obtain finishes in different colors. For this purpose, the ideal solution is to use a special dye for synthetic materials, such as RIT dye.
Nylon is a hygroscopic material, which means that it has the capacity to absorb humidity from the environment (which is why it is necessary to store it free of moisture in the filament state). The wetted filament affects the quality of the impression, since the moisture penetrates towards the nucleus of the filament, causing alterations at the moment of the fusion. However, in finished parts, water-based tinting only penetrates the surface layer and does not cause appreciable dimensional variations. For this reason it is always recommended to dye the final piece and not the filament.
While there are daring users who dare to dye the filament to create multicolored printed pieces, we do not recommend this method for the reason explained above. In addition, using tinted filament can deteriorate the extruder of the 3D printer, such good finishes will not be achieved and the properties of the nylon will decrease considerably.
The dissolution of the dye in water is carried out perfectly without any other addition (serves the chlorinated water from the tap). At a certain temperature, said solution will penetrate the nylon surface better and permanent dyeing of the 3D printed piece will be achieved in less time and achieving better finishes.
The only recommended dye for nylon is the American RIT in liquid format. The RIT dye is a product of development since the time of the First World War. The development and research of more than 100 years have achieved that today RIT dye is the most suitable for all kinds of uses and especially for nylon. Hence, the motto of the brand since its inception is: "Never Say 'Dye' ... Say Rit!". Dyes in powder form are also not recommended due to the added difficulty of achieving a uniform solution and with the appropriate water-dye ratios.
It should be remembered that nylon is one of the most durable materials on the market since it has an excellent resistance/flexibility ratio. It also has very little deformation and enjoys greater UV and chemical resistance than PLA or ABS. Nylon is the only material with a good tinting capacity, by taking advantage of the characteristic of hygroscopy. The nylon also leaves very few rough edges after printing, with the consequent production of smooth final pieces and without great need for post-processing.
When preparing the dissolution of the water with the desired dye color, attention should be paid to the water-dye ratio, since this parameter will be the one that most affects the final result of the piece of nylon printed in 3D, together with the temperature of the mixture during the dyeing. In the "Tips for use" tab, it is explained in more detail how the process of tinting the pieces should be, although in a conceptual way it should be clear that the two main parameters that influence the obtaining of a lighter or darker finish are the time that the piece is introduced into the mixture and the proportion of water-dye.
In the following image, this variability is shown for the same example of a piece that has been submerged for different times in the same mixture, and therefore, with the same water-dye ratio. In order to replicate the same results over time, it is very important to record the traceability of the entire process, noting proportions, times and temperatures used.
The colors available for being the most common are the "Graphite Black", "Racing Red", "Narcissus Yellow", "Sapphire Blue", and "Apple Green". As an example, below you can see the results obtained with Nylon 645. We remind you that they do not have to be the only ones possible since as we have said you can vary the intensity depending on the dye-water ratio, as well as the Tinting duration.
With the RIT dye you can also dye polyester, nylon, polyester and cotton, acrylic or acetate fabrics. In fact, the majority use of RIT dye and for which it is known all over the world is for the dyeing of clothes.