Silk filament can create excellent-looking prints, but it can also highlight every imperfection in the print, depending on how it’s used. It looks best on prints with a lot of features, such as sharp edges or tight curves – the reflections then pick out these features. If your print has large flat areas or gentle curves, the reflections will pick up any issues, such as ghosting or a Z seam.
We wouldn’t recommend silk PLA for any mechanically important parts – the elastomers that make it shiny affect its strength. The slight increase in flexibility may be useful for some prints, but if this is what you’re after, a different plastic, such as PETG, may be more appropriate.
When used well, silk filament produces stunning prints straight off the print bed – no need for finishing or painting. We’re big fans of low-poly prints in silk, but that’s just us.
If you want high-gloss prints, silk PLA is a great choice, but there are a few alternatives:
• PET and PETG are both a little shinier than PLA, though not as shiny as most silk filaments.
• Vapour smoothing is where you place your print in an enclosure with some solvent vapour that dissolves the surface of the print – when done correctly, it can lead to a very smooth finish. The chemicals required can be quite unpleasant though. This is most commonly done with ABS, though others can work.
• You can simply paint your print using high-gloss paint. This works particularly well if you need to sand or fill parts of your print first.