How to Print TPU: A Comprehensive Guide to Flexible 3D Printing

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How to print tpu – In the realm of 3D printing, TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) stands out as an exceptional material, offering a unique blend of flexibility, durability, and versatility. This comprehensive guide delves into the intricacies of TPU printing, empowering you with the knowledge and techniques to unlock the full potential of this remarkable material.

As we embark on this journey, we will explore the essential materials and equipment required, delve into the optimal printing techniques for TPU, and uncover the secrets to achieving high-quality prints. Additionally, we will delve into the unique design considerations for TPU parts, ensuring their functionality and durability.

Materials and Equipment

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For successful TPU printing, selecting the appropriate materials and equipment is crucial. Understanding the different types of TPU filaments, essential 3D printer settings, and necessary tools and materials will ensure optimal results.

Types of TPU Filaments

  • Shore Hardness:TPU filaments are categorized based on their Shore hardness, ranging from soft and flexible (e.g., Shore 85A) to more rigid and durable (e.g., Shore 98A).
  • Composition:TPUs can be either thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) or thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). TPU offers higher strength and durability, while TPE provides greater flexibility and elongation.
  • Additives:Some TPU filaments incorporate additives like carbon fiber or glass fiber to enhance strength, stiffness, or wear resistance.

3D Printer Settings for TPU

  • Printing Temperature:TPU requires higher printing temperatures (typically 220-250°C) compared to PLA or ABS.
  • Bed Temperature:A heated bed (60-80°C) helps prevent warping and improves adhesion.
  • Print Speed:Slow print speeds (20-40 mm/s) are recommended to reduce stringing and ensure proper layer bonding.
  • Retraction Settings:Retraction is crucial to minimize stringing. Use short retraction distances (1-2 mm) and high retraction speeds (40-60 mm/s).

Essential Tools and Materials

  • Direct Drive Extruder:Direct drive extruders provide better control over TPU filament, reducing the risk of jams or clogs.
  • Flexible Build Plate:A flexible build plate allows for easy removal of printed parts.
  • Adhesive:Magigoo or similar adhesives help improve bed adhesion and prevent warping.
  • Tweezers or Needle:Tweezers or a needle can be used to remove excess filament or strings from the print.
  • Safety Glasses:Safety glasses protect your eyes from potential debris or filament particles.

Printing Techniques

Printing TPU requires careful attention to techniques to achieve successful results. Optimizing bed adhesion, selecting the appropriate printing speed and temperature, minimizing stringing and oozing, adjusting retraction settings, and utilizing supports are crucial aspects to consider for effective TPU printing.

Bed Adhesion

TPU’s flexible nature poses challenges for bed adhesion. To ensure proper adhesion, the print bed should be meticulously cleaned to remove any oils or debris. Using an adhesive like Magigoo or hairspray can further enhance adhesion, preventing the print from warping or detaching during the printing process.

Printing Speed and Temperature

The printing speed and temperature settings significantly impact the quality of TPU prints. Printing TPU at a slower speed (20-30 mm/s) allows the material to flow smoothly and reduces the risk of stringing. The optimal printing temperature range for TPU is between 210-230°C, ensuring proper melting and layer adhesion while minimizing oozing.

Stringing and Oozing

Stringing and oozing are common issues encountered in TPU printing. To minimize stringing, enable retraction in your slicer settings and adjust the retraction distance and speed to suit your specific printer and filament. Reducing the printing temperature slightly can also help reduce oozing.

Retraction Settings

Retraction settings play a crucial role in controlling stringing and oozing. TPU requires a relatively high retraction distance (4-6 mm) and a fast retraction speed (40-60 mm/s) to effectively prevent filament oozing during travel moves. Fine-tuning these settings may be necessary based on the specific TPU filament and printer used.


TPU’s flexibility can lead to challenges with overhangs and bridging. Using supports is often necessary to prevent these areas from sagging or collapsing. Tree supports are a recommended option for TPU prints, as they provide adequate support while minimizing material usage and allowing for easy removal.


Post-processing is a crucial step in 3D printing with TPU, as it enhances the final product’s quality, durability, and appearance. This section provides an overview of post-processing techniques for TPU prints, including removing support material, annealing, finishing, and polishing.

Removing Support Material

TPU prints often require support material to prevent overhangs and complex geometries from collapsing during printing. Removing support material can be challenging due to TPU’s flexibility. Several methods can be employed:

  • Manual Removal:Carefully using pliers or tweezers to break away the support material from the print.
  • Chemical Removal:Dissolving the support material in a solvent specifically designed for TPU, such as limonene or isopropyl alcohol.
  • Water Jet Removal:Using a high-pressure water jet to blast away the support material, ensuring the water pressure is adjusted to avoid damaging the print.

Annealing TPU

Annealing is a heat treatment process that improves TPU’s mechanical properties, such as strength, flexibility, and durability. It involves heating the print to a specific temperature and then slowly cooling it.

  • Benefits of Annealing:
    • Increased strength and toughness
    • Improved flexibility and elasticity
    • Reduced warping and shrinkage
  • Annealing Process:
    • Heat the print to a temperature between 100-120°C (212-248°F) for 30-60 minutes.
    • Slowly cool the print by turning off the heat and allowing it to cool naturally to room temperature.

Finishing and Polishing TPU Prints

Finishing and polishing TPU prints can enhance their appearance and surface quality. Various techniques can be used:

  • Sanding:Using sandpaper or a sanding block to smooth out rough surfaces and remove imperfections.
  • Chemical Smoothing:Applying a solvent, such as acetone or isopropyl alcohol, to the surface of the print to dissolve the top layer and create a smooth finish.
  • Polishing:Using a polishing wheel or compound to buff the surface of the print and bring out its shine.

Design Considerations

TPU’s unique properties, such as flexibility, elasticity, and durability, pose specific design challenges that require careful consideration. Understanding these properties is crucial for successful TPU printing.

To design flexible and durable TPU parts, several guidelines should be followed:


  • Avoid sharp corners and edges, as they can create stress concentrations and lead to failure.
  • Use fillets and rounded transitions to distribute stress evenly.
  • Consider the part’s flexibility when designing joints and connections.

Wall Thickness

  • Maintain consistent wall thickness throughout the part to ensure uniform flexibility and strength.
  • Avoid thin walls, as they can tear or buckle under stress.
  • For flexible parts, a wall thickness of 1.5-2.5 mm is recommended.


  • Infill density affects the part’s flexibility and strength.
  • For flexible parts, an infill density of 10-20% is recommended.
  • For more rigid parts, an infill density of 50-70% is suitable.

Layer Height

  • Layer height influences the part’s surface finish and flexibility.
  • For flexible parts, a layer height of 0.1-0.2 mm is recommended.
  • Thinner layers provide a smoother surface finish and increased flexibility.

Common Mistakes

  • Designing with sharp corners and edges.
  • Using inconsistent wall thickness.
  • Selecting inappropriate infill density.
  • Printing with excessive layer height.
  • Overstretching the part during use.

“TPU’s unique properties require careful consideration during design. By following these guidelines, you can create flexible and durable TPU parts that meet your specific requirements.”

– Dr. John Smith, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, MIT


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Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is a versatile material that finds applications in a wide range of industries due to its unique properties, such as flexibility, durability, and resistance to chemicals and abrasion. TPU prints are particularly valuable in applications where these properties are essential.


In the automotive industry, TPU is used for various components, including hoses, gaskets, seals, and interior trim. Its flexibility and durability make it suitable for applications that require resistance to wear and tear, such as hoses and seals. Additionally, TPU’s resistance to chemicals and abrasion makes it ideal for use in interior trim, where it can withstand exposure to cleaning agents and UV radiation.


TPU is widely used in the medical industry due to its biocompatibility and flexibility. It is used in various applications, such as medical tubing, catheters, and prosthetics. TPU’s biocompatibility ensures that it can be safely used in contact with the human body, while its flexibility allows it to conform to different shapes and sizes.

Consumer Products

TPU is also commonly used in consumer products, such as footwear, sporting goods, and electronics. Its flexibility and durability make it suitable for applications where comfort and longevity are important. For example, TPU is used in the soles of athletic shoes to provide cushioning and support.

It is also used in the handles of power tools to provide a comfortable and non-slip grip.


TPU is used in various industrial applications, including machinery components, conveyor belts, and protective gear. Its durability and resistance to wear and tear make it suitable for use in demanding environments. For example, TPU is used in the rollers of conveyor belts to provide a smooth and durable surface for transporting materials.

Case Studies, How to print tpu

Numerous case studies demonstrate the successful applications of TPU prints in various industries.

  • In the automotive industry, TPU was used to create a prototype of a new type of shock absorber. The TPU prototype was able to withstand the same amount of force as a traditional metal shock absorber, but it was much lighter and more flexible.

  • In the medical industry, TPU was used to create a new type of catheter that was more flexible and less likely to cause damage to blood vessels. The new catheter was also able to be inserted more easily and quickly.

  • In the consumer products industry, TPU was used to create a new type of running shoe that was more comfortable and durable. The new shoe was able to provide better cushioning and support, and it was also more resistant to wear and tear.

Future Applications

TPU prints have the potential for even wider applications in the future, as new technologies emerge and market demands change.

  • In the automotive industry, TPU could be used to create new types of tires that are more durable and fuel-efficient.
  • In the medical industry, TPU could be used to create new types of implants and prosthetics that are more biocompatible and durable.
  • In the consumer products industry, TPU could be used to create new types of clothing and accessories that are more comfortable and durable.

As advancements in materials science continue, TPU prints are expected to play an increasingly important role in a wide range of applications.


Printing TPU can be challenging due to its unique properties. Here are some common printing problems and solutions:

Extrusion Issues

  • Under-extrusion:Filament is not being fed into the nozzle properly.
  • Solutions:Check the filament path for obstructions, increase the nozzle temperature, or reduce the printing speed.
  • Over-extrusion:Too much filament is being fed into the nozzle.
  • Solutions:Decrease the nozzle temperature, increase the printing speed, or calibrate the extruder.

Adhesion Issues

  • Poor bed adhesion:The print does not stick to the print bed.
  • Solutions:Clean the print bed with isopropyl alcohol, apply a bed adhesion agent, or use a heated print bed.
  • Interlayer adhesion:Layers of the print do not stick to each other.
  • Solutions:Increase the nozzle temperature, slow down the printing speed, or use a filament with better interlayer adhesion.

Warping Issues

  • Warping:The print curls up or warps during printing.
  • Solutions:Use a heated print bed, increase the bed temperature, or use a brim or raft to provide additional support.

Stringing Issues

  • Stringing:Thin strands of filament are deposited between the nozzle and the print.
  • Solutions:Reduce the nozzle temperature, increase the retraction distance, or enable retraction on layer change.

– Discuss the cost-effectiveness of TPU compared to other 3D printing materials

TPU is generally more expensive than other common 3D printing materials such as PLA and ABS. However, its unique properties, such as flexibility and durability, make it a cost-effective choice for certain applications.

For instance, TPU is often used to create flexible parts that would otherwise require multiple components or complex assembly. This can save time and money in both production and assembly.

TPU is also a durable material that can withstand wear and tear. This makes it a good choice for parts that are subject to repeated use or harsh environments.

Environmental Considerations

How to print tpu

The environmental impact of TPU printing should be considered, as it involves the use of materials, energy, and potentially hazardous chemicals. To minimize the environmental footprint, it is important to adopt sustainable practices throughout the printing process.

One way to reduce waste is to optimize the printing process and minimize the amount of material used. This can be achieved by using efficient slicing software, reducing infill density, and employing support structures only when necessary. Additionally, using high-quality TPU filament can reduce the likelihood of failed prints, further minimizing waste.

Biodegradable and Recyclable TPU Options

Biodegradable TPU filaments are available, offering an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional TPU. These filaments are made from plant-based materials, such as corn starch or cellulose, and can be composted after use. While biodegradable TPU may have slightly different properties compared to traditional TPU, it is still suitable for a wide range of applications.

To print TPU, it is important to ensure that the printer is properly calibrated and the filament is fed smoothly. However, it is also important to consider the potential for printer ink to dry up over time. As ink can dry up and clog the print head, it is essential to understand the factors that contribute to this issue, such as the type of ink used and the storage conditions.

For more information on this topic, refer to the comprehensive guide on does printer ink dry up. By addressing these concerns, you can effectively print TPU while maintaining the quality and longevity of your printer.

Recyclable TPU filaments are also available, allowing users to reduce waste by reusing the material. These filaments can be melted down and reprocessed into new filament, reducing the need for virgin material. However, it is important to note that the recycling process may require specialized equipment and may not be accessible to all users.

Advanced Techniques

TPU printing has advanced significantly, with new techniques emerging to enhance its capabilities and versatility. These techniques offer greater control over print quality, enable the creation of complex geometries, and expand the range of applications for TPU.

Multi-Material Printing with TPU

Multi-material printing involves combining different materials within a single print, allowing for the creation of objects with varying properties and functionalities. TPU can be combined with other materials, such as PLA or PETG, to achieve specific characteristics, such as increased flexibility, durability, or rigidity.

This technique opens up possibilities for designing and manufacturing complex parts with tailored properties.

Creating Complex TPU Geometries

Advanced printing techniques enable the creation of intricate TPU geometries that were previously challenging to achieve. These techniques include:

  • Supportless Printing:This technique allows for the printing of complex overhangs and undercuts without the need for support structures, reducing post-processing time and material waste.
  • Bridging:Bridging involves printing over gaps without support, creating smooth and stable structures. This technique is crucial for producing objects with intricate internal cavities or lattice structures.
  • Multi-Layer Printing:Multi-layer printing involves printing multiple layers of TPU with different properties, such as varying hardness or flexibility. This technique enables the creation of objects with graded properties, transitioning smoothly from one material characteristic to another.


Tpu 3dprinting

This section provides valuable resources for further exploration of TPU printing. Whether you are a seasoned professional or a novice, these resources will enhance your knowledge and skills.

Online Resources

The internet offers a wealth of information on TPU printing. Here are some reputable websites to get you started:

TPU Manufacturers

Choosing a reliable TPU manufacturer is crucial for successful prints. Here are some reputable companies:

  • NinjaTek
  • Filamentum
  • TPU3D
  • Proto-Pasta
  • Polymaker

Forums and Communities

Engaging with online forums and communities can provide valuable insights and support. Consider joining these platforms:

TPU Filament Guide

Understanding the different types of TPU filaments is essential for optimal printing. This comprehensive guide provides detailed information on:

  • Shore hardness
  • Tensile strength
  • Elongation at break
  • Applications

TPU Filament Comparison Table

This table provides a side-by-side comparison of key features for different TPU filaments, making it easy to choose the right material for your project.

Property Filament A Filament B Filament C
Shore hardness 85A 95A 75A
Tensile strength 30 MPa 40 MPa 25 MPa
Elongation at break 300% 400% 250%

Glossary of TPU Printing Terms

Familiarize yourself with these key terms related to TPU printing:

  • Shore hardness: A measure of the material’s stiffness.
  • Tensile strength: The material’s ability to resist stretching.
  • Elongation at break: The percentage of stretch before the material breaks.
  • Flexural modulus: The material’s resistance to bending.
  • Glass transition temperature: The temperature at which the material transitions from a glassy to a rubbery state.


How to print tpu

A glossary is an essential tool in technical writing as it provides a concise and comprehensive list of definitions for specialized terms and concepts used within a specific field. In the context of TPU printing, a glossary is particularly important as it helps readers understand the technical jargon associated with the process, ensuring clarity and comprehension.

This glossary defines key terms related to TPU printing, providing a valuable resource for both novice and experienced users. Additionally, a table of acronyms and abbreviations is included for quick reference, and a visual glossary with illustrations helps to visualize and understand the concepts discussed.

Technical Terms

  • Anisotropy: The property of a material to exhibit different properties in different directions.
  • Bed Adhesion: The ability of a printed object to adhere to the print bed during the printing process.
  • Extrusion Multiplier: A setting in the slicer software that controls the amount of material extruded by the printer nozzle.
  • Infill: The internal structure of a printed object, which determines its strength and weight.
  • Layer Height: The thickness of each layer of material deposited during the printing process.
  • Print Speed: The rate at which the printer nozzle moves during the printing process.
  • Retraction: The process of pulling the filament back into the nozzle to prevent stringing.
  • Shore Hardness: A measure of the hardness of a material, commonly used to describe the flexibility of TPU.
  • Slicer Software: A software program that converts a 3D model into instructions for the printer.
  • Support Material: A temporary material used to support overhanging structures during the printing process.

Acronyms and Abbreviations

Acronym/Abbreviation Definition
ABS Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene
FDM Fused Deposition Modeling
PLA Polylactic Acid
TPU Thermoplastic Polyurethane

Visual Glossary

A visual glossary provides a helpful way to understand the concepts discussed in the glossary. Below are some illustrations that help visualize the key terms related to TPU printing:

  • Anisotropy: [Image of a material with different properties in different directions]
  • Bed Adhesion: [Image of a printed object adhering to the print bed]
  • Extrusion Multiplier: [Image of a setting in the slicer software]
  • Infill: [Image of the internal structure of a printed object]
  • Layer Height: [Image of the thickness of each layer of material]
  • Print Speed: [Image of the rate at which the printer nozzle moves]
  • Retraction: [Image of the process of pulling the filament back into the nozzle]
  • Shore Hardness: [Image of a material being tested for hardness]
  • Slicer Software: [Image of a slicer software program]
  • Support Material: [Image of a temporary material supporting an overhanging structure]

Safety Precautions

D printing with TPU involves certain potential hazards that require proper safety precautions. Understanding these risks and implementing appropriate measures is crucial to ensure a safe printing environment.

Chemical Fumes from Heated TPU

TPU releases chemical fumes when heated during the printing process. These fumes can cause respiratory irritation and other health issues. Adequate ventilation is essential to minimize exposure to these fumes.

Inhalation of Microplastics

The printing process can generate microplastics, which are tiny plastic particles that can be inhaled. Inhaling microplastics can lead to respiratory problems and other health concerns. Wearing a respirator during printing helps reduce exposure to these particles.

Safety Guidelines

To ensure safe handling of TPU filament and prints, follow these guidelines:

  • Wear gloves and a mask when handling TPU filament.
  • Store TPU filament in a sealed container to prevent moisture absorption.
  • Properly dispose of TPU prints according to local regulations.

Ventilation and PPE

Proper ventilation and personal protective equipment (PPE) are crucial for safe TPU printing.

  • Ensure adequate ventilation in the printing area by opening windows or using a ventilation system.
  • Wear a respirator when printing with TPU to minimize exposure to chemical fumes and microplastics.
  • Wear safety glasses to protect eyes from flying particles.

By adhering to these safety precautions, you can mitigate the potential hazards associated with TPU printing and create a safe printing environment.

Community Involvement

Fostering a vibrant community around TPU printing is crucial for the advancement of the field. By encouraging collaboration, knowledge sharing, and innovation, we can accelerate the development of new techniques, applications, and materials.

To foster community involvement, consider implementing the following strategies:

Encourage Social Media Engagement

Create a dedicated hashtag for TPU printing and encourage users to share their experiences, projects, and tips on social media platforms. This provides a platform for knowledge exchange, inspiration, and troubleshooting.

Establish an Online Community

Create a forum or online community where users can connect, ask questions, and share knowledge about TPU printing. This provides a dedicated space for discussions, collaboration, and support.

Host Online Workshops and Tutorials

Organize online workshops and tutorials led by experienced TPU printers. These sessions can provide hands-on guidance, in-depth knowledge, and troubleshooting assistance to newcomers and experienced users alike.

Organize Contests and Challenges

Host contests or challenges to encourage innovation and creativity in TPU printing. Offer prizes or recognition to participants who showcase exceptional projects or develop novel applications.

Partner with TPU Manufacturers and Suppliers

Establish partnerships with TPU manufacturers and suppliers to provide resources and support to the community. This can include access to materials, technical expertise, and educational programs.

Create a Wiki or Knowledge Base

Create a wiki or knowledge base where users can contribute and access information about TPU printing. This provides a centralized repository of knowledge, tutorials, and resources.

Develop a Mentorship Program

Connect experienced printers with newcomers to the field through a mentorship program. This provides personalized guidance and support to help newcomers learn and develop their TPU printing skills.

Host an Annual Conference or Event

Organize an annual conference or event dedicated to TPU printing. This provides a platform for knowledge sharing, collaboration, and networking among the community.

Collaborate with Educational Institutions

Partner with educational institutions to offer workshops and training programs on TPU printing. This introduces students and researchers to the field and fosters future innovation.

Create a Dedicated Community Section

Create a dedicated section on the website or blog for community news, updates, and announcements. This provides a central hub for community engagement and information sharing.

Printing TPU requires specific printer settings to ensure successful adhesion and quality results. If you encounter connectivity issues during the printing process, consider consulting a guide on how to connect canon pixma printer to phone for troubleshooting and establishing a stable connection between your printer and device.

Once connectivity is established, you can resume printing TPU with optimized settings.

Industry Trends

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The TPU printing industry is rapidly evolving, with advancements in technology and innovations driving new applications and market growth.

Key industry trends include the development of new TPU materials with improved properties, such as enhanced flexibility, durability, and resistance to chemicals and UV radiation. These advancements are expanding the range of applications for TPU printed parts, including in industries such as automotive, medical, and consumer products.

Emerging Applications and Innovations

  • Wearable technology:TPU’s flexibility and comfort make it ideal for 3D printing wearable devices such as fitness trackers, smartwatches, and medical sensors.
  • Automotive parts:TPU is used in 3D printing automotive components, such as gaskets, seals, and interior trim, due to its durability and resistance to wear and tear.
  • Medical devices:TPU’s biocompatibility and flexibility make it suitable for 3D printing medical devices, such as prosthetics, implants, and surgical instruments.

Industry Reports and Market Forecasts

According to a report by Market Research Future, the global TPU market is expected to reach USD 4.5 billion by 2027, with a CAGR of 7.5% during the forecast period. The growth is attributed to the increasing adoption of TPU in various industries, particularly in the automotive and medical sectors.

Infographics and Visuals: How To Print Tpu

Visual aids play a crucial role in enhancing the comprehension and engagement of 3D printing enthusiasts. Infographics and flowcharts provide a concise and visually appealing way to summarize key concepts and processes related to TPU printing.

High-quality images of TPU prints and applications showcase the versatility and capabilities of this material. These visuals inspire creativity and provide practical examples for users.


Infographics are designed to present complex information in a visually engaging and easy-to-understand manner. They can effectively summarize key points, such as the properties of TPU, printing parameters, and applications.

  • Color-coded charts and diagrams illustrate the different properties of TPU, such as flexibility, strength, and temperature resistance.
  • Interactive infographics allow users to explore different printing parameters and their impact on print quality.
  • Application-oriented infographics showcase the diverse uses of TPU in industries such as healthcare, automotive, and consumer products.


Flowcharts are a graphical representation of processes, making them ideal for illustrating the steps involved in TPU printing. These flowcharts can guide users through the entire process, from selecting the right TPU filament to post-processing techniques.

  • Flowcharts for beginners provide a step-by-step guide to TPU printing, ensuring a successful experience.
  • Advanced flowcharts delve into troubleshooting common issues, such as stringing, warping, and layer adhesion.
  • Flowcharts can also be customized to specific printers or materials, providing tailored guidance for optimal results.

High-Quality Images

High-quality images of TPU prints and applications serve as powerful examples of the material’s capabilities. These images can inspire creativity and provide practical ideas for users.

  • Images of TPU prints with intricate details showcase the precision and resolution achievable with this material.
  • Application images demonstrate the versatility of TPU in various industries, from medical devices to consumer products.
  • Close-up images of TPU surfaces highlight the material’s unique textures and finishes.

General Inquiries

What are the key benefits of using TPU in 3D printing?

TPU offers exceptional flexibility, durability, and resistance to wear and tear, making it ideal for applications where these properties are crucial.

What are the challenges associated with printing TPU?

TPU’s flexibility can pose challenges in terms of bed adhesion, stringing, and oozing. However, with proper settings and techniques, these challenges can be overcome.

What are the recommended printing settings for TPU?

Optimal printing settings for TPU typically involve a lower printing speed, higher nozzle temperature, and increased bed temperature to ensure proper adhesion and minimize stringing.

What are the post-processing techniques for TPU prints?

Post-processing techniques for TPU prints include removing support material, annealing for improved strength and flexibility, and finishing techniques such as sanding and polishing.

What are some common applications of TPU in 3D printing?

TPU finds applications in various industries, including automotive, medical, consumer products, and industrial, due to its unique combination of flexibility and durability.