Nebula Black: A Color to Dye For

Last year, we were proud to present to you all our new U-HIPS filament line in Nebula Black! Today, we’re excited to share with you just how we got here, so you know exactly what’s going into the filament you’re using.

It all starts with our U-HIPS Party Pink flakes. Similarly to how we create our Party Pink filament, we process the material we receive until they are the uniformly sized flakes that we would typically send straight to our extruder. But to achieve our Nebula Black color, we now incorporate a Carbon Black (color index PBk 7) powder pigment which comes from the soot of charred organic material like wood.

The Coloring Process

Determining concentration

Now that we were set on the color we wanted to create and had all the materials we needed to make it, we then had to figure out how much powder we needed in order to get it to exactly the right shade of black we envisioned. To get us started, we tested out 3 variations of powder to total weight ratios: 1%, 2%, and 3%.

Filament sticks of different shades of black to represent the filament extruded with variations in concentration of Nebula Black powder. From the left to right the concentration increases from 1%, 2%, and 3% and repeats over 3 days
A comparison of extruded filament samples using different concentrations of carbon black powder

We immediately were able to rule out 3% because we noticed that the added powder did not mix fully with the flake. Additionally, the surface texture was rough when testing which we deemed unacceptable, so we determined that 3% concentration was too high. Between the 1% and 2% shades, the shade difference was very minimal. However, the 1% had a much nicer finish, so we landed on the 1% batch because its nice satin black finish with a slight hint of purple, which is actually what inspired the name Nebula Black!


This added step in our extrusion process is fairly straightforward.

We first weigh out the flake that we will be extruding to determine the total mass. Then we weigh out the carbon black powder to the percentage of the total mass that we determined was ideal (in our case, 1% of the total mass of flake). We combine the two in a capped bucket and agitate the mixture to “season” the flake with the pigment.

Then we’re ready for extrusion, and ready to send along some Nebula Black U-HIPS filament right to your door!

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