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I was interested in printing traction tires with my Ender 3 and using TPU.  My test engine was a Lionel JLC Y6B using Polymaker TPU 95A.  I went through a few different trials with different size tires as shown below.  I did find printing one a time did a better job of making the tire as opposed to trying build many at once.  I did not use a scale for testing pull, but rather I have a short, curved 4% grade that is a must to make it up on my layout.  In the end my, last set of tires listed below worked the best and would make it up the grade with the train in pull and minimal slipping at a slower speed, but still not as good as normal traction tires.  If I had smaller grades, I would probably be using my printed ones. Has any one else worked at this and found a better filament for this?  I suppose I could use the softer 90 A durometer offered, but the tires still seems to have no tackiness to it like a traditional traction tire.

Attempt 1 -- 30 mm OD, 28 mm ID, 3.2mm Width

       Made it up the grade, seated properly but too thick, caught on brake shoes

Attempt 2 -- 29.2mm OD, 28 mm ID, 3.0mm Width

       Wouldnt make up the grade.  seated properly, but wouldn't grab well.  I think the rail slipped between the grooved rim and tire.

Attempt 3 -- 29   mm OD, 27.5mm ID, 3.2mm Width

        Worked the best, made up grade

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Last edited by Hump Yard Mike
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Great thread.  Is there a TPU brand you have been using with more success? I have been debating on getting a new roll of my same brand but with the softer 90A durometer instead.  I noticed when I raised my the temp of my printing head to 225 (from 200) I got a smoother tread and it seemed to work better.  I did some poking around on the internet looking for some type of post processing ( like the acetone vapor for ABS) that might help treat the surface so it was smoother like a slick and could not find any.

A side note, I thought the tpu tires were much easier to install as they held their shape better than the traditional ones.

I am just starting down the 3D print road and hacking at the tire situation as I learn more about this technology.  If I didn’t have my track grade situation, I would be very happy with the tpu tires assuming they would not need to be changed as often.  It seems like I get barely a year out of a set of traction tires, before they need to be replaced because they won’t stay on any more.

I still have the roll of Novamaker 95A I got from Amazon. If I just make tires with it, I doubt I’ll ever use it all up. I printed my tires with the exact temp and speed settings I use for PLA which are pretty much default. I only really adjusted the layer height (down to .08mm).

I am new to 3D printing too and I really enjoy the experimentation. I’m also learning a lot about CAD. My Creality FDM printer has been a lot of fun for parts like this.

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