3D Printing Materials
A Guide To Choosing The Most Suitable 3D Printing Materials
Are you new to 3D printing and have no idea what 3D printing material to use? With the popularity of 3D printing these days, many new materials are surfacing and it may get all too complicated for a beginner. With this guide, discover commonly used 3D printing materials and carefully select the perfect one for your application!
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
ABS is one of the most commonly used FDM 3D printing plastics. Short for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, the material is a popular 3D printing material due to its low cost and good mechanical properties. These properties include commendable impact and wear resistance. It is the same plastic used in legos!
However, one print issue you are likely to encounter with ABS is that the material is susceptible to warping. Warping happens when the plastic cools from its extrusion temperature to room temperature, causing the plastic to shrink and contract. This can be particularly troublesome for the first layer, as this change in size can frequently cause the part to separate from the bed, thus ruining the print.
ABS A-100 is a subcategory of the usual ABS 3D printing material. Its properties are largely similar to the latter. However, warping rate and printing temperature for ABS A-100 is significantly reduced. Although ABS plastic is one of the most popular choices for 3D printing, it shrinks when it cools. This is especially so without a heated bed. The bottom of your print will cool at a different rate than the rest of your ABS print. This warping thus results in an undesirable print. With this enhanced ABS-A100 filament, you can bid goodbye to warping and expect a more accurate and precise print.
PLA is another popular FDM 3D printing material alongside ABS. Short for Polylactic Acid, it is a biodegradable vegetable based thermoplastic which commonly uses cornstarch as a raw material. In contrast to ABS, PLA tends to be less durable, more fragile, and more sensitive to heat. Its melting point is also relatively low at 150ºC. However, when cooling, this material contracts less than ABS. This makes it more resistant to warping and gives it good geometric stability during manufacturing. Hence, PLA is generally preferred for rapid prototyping where form is more critical than function.
ABS-ESD7 is a material that is able to prevent a buildup of static electricity. It can be used to produce end-use components, electronic products, industrial equipment and jigs and fixtures for assembly of electronic components. Due to its excellent static-dissipative properties, it is suitable for use in areas such as the semiconductor and electronics industry. Electronics manufacturers can expand the use of 3D printing onto the assembly line with this durable material that works with soluble support removal. This allows for the creation of complex parts with no extra effort.
Another variation of ABS, the ABS-M30 is up to 25% to 70% stronger than usual ABS. It is an ideal material for concept modeling, functional prototyping, manufacturing tools and production parts. The material has greater tensile, impact and flexural strength than standard ABS. Layer bonding is also stronger to produce a more durable part. ABS-M30 is able to produce higher quality end-use parts that are stronger, smoother, and have more feature detail.
6. ULTEM™ 9085 CG Resin
ULTEM™ 9085 CG Resin is a flame-retardant, high-performance thermoplastic. The material meets the extensive, more stringent test criteria and material traceability required by aerospace industries and regulatory agencies. It features a high strength-to-weight ratio, excellent heat resistance and high impact strength. It also possesses favourable flame, smoke and toxicity (FST) characteristics. Typical applications of this material include prototyping, tooling and low volume, highly customized production parts.
7. ULTEM™ 1010 CG Resin
ULTEM™ 1010 resin is a high-performance FDM thermoplastic that offers excellent strength, thermal stability and the ability to withstand steam autoclaving. ULTEM 1010 resin is available in a general-purpose grade as well as a certified grade (CG). Certified grade is bio-compatible and approved for food contact with NSF 51 and ISO 10993/USP Class VI certifications. It is suitable for special applications such as food production tools and custom medical applications. ULTEM 1010 resin offers the highest heat resistance, chemical resistance and tensile strength of any FDM thermoplastic. The 3D printing material is ideal for aerospace and automotive applications.
Short for Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate, ASA is suitable for outdoor-use production parts that require UV resistance and strength. From electrical housings and brackets to sporting goods and automotive prototypes, ASA’s ease of use also make it a great choice for iterative design.
1. GP Plus
GP Plus is a low viscosity stereolithography resin with an opaque white appearance. It is ideal for industries such as Aerospace, Automotive and Consumer Products. Parts printed with this material are extremely durable, accurate and moisture resistant.
2. Somos Watershed XC 11122
The Somos Watershed XC 11122 produces strong, tough, water-resistant, ABS-like parts. This 3D printing material produces parts that are nearly colourless, resembling true, clear engineered plastic. It is ideal for the Automotive, Medical and Consumer Electronic markets. Applications include lenses, packaging, water flow analysis, RTV patterns, durable concept models, wind tunnel testing and investment casting patterns.
Charcoal grey in appearance, Taurus has strong mechanical properties such as a high elongation at break and thermal resistance. The material also features high surface detailing and precision. Therefore, it is an ideal choice for the aerospace and automotive industries. Taurus produces parts comparable to injection-molded products, with the added advantage of a fast lead time.
Somos EvoLVe 128 is a durable stereolithography material that produces accurate, high-detailed parts that are extremely easy to post process.
The look and feel of Somos Element is extremely similar to traditional thermoplastics and therefore makes it ideal for building end-use parts like jigs & fixtures, or prototypes for functional testing applications.
Somos NeXt is a highly durable stereolithography material which produces very accurate parts with high feature resolution. This material is ideal for the production of tough, complex parts that also exhibit excellent moisture and thermal resistance.
This 3D printing material helps you take product design to new heights with a look and feel almost indistinguishable from finished traditional thermoplastics, but with a toughness, durability and accuracy not traditionally seen in stereolithography resins.
VeroClear is a Polyjet photopolymer that offers transparency as well as rigidity. The material simulates PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate), commonly known as acrylic. VeroClear is a popular alternative to glass. Hence, it is often used for concept modeling and design verification of clear parts such as eye wear, light covers and medical devices.
This material is perfect for ornamental objects, but can also work for more mechanical uses, or functional prototypes. It is also often used by large companies when prototyping new designs. VeroWhite/Grey offers the possibility to create extremely realistic prototypes and also end-use parts due to its high accuracy and smooth surface. This resin is available in VeroWhite (opaque white appearance) or VeroGrey (grey appearance).
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
Short for Polypropylene, PP is one of the most popular SLS 3D printing materials. It appears off-white and features a very long high elongation at break. 3D printed PP’s properties are comparable to injection-molded PP. The material is semi rigid and lightweight. Due to its toughness and good fatigue resistance, PP is ideal for low strength applications like living hinges, straps and leashes.
2. PA12 (White)
PA12 (White) is a powder-based self supporting material. Therefore, it does not require any support structures and is able of producing the most complex designs. It is ideal for creating fully functional prototypes or end-use parts with high mechanical and thermal resistance. The material produces parts with excellent long-term stability and resistance against most chemicals.
3. PA12 (Grey)
PA12 (Grey) material offers great flexibility when 3D printing especially complex models, as it is flexible and durable. As a result, the objects produced by this material have a wide range of uses. This ranges from mechanical (prototypes, geared systems, articulated objects, etc.) to ornamental, or even educational (bone structures, etc.).
4. TPU (Flexa Black)
Flexa Black is a TPU based powder for producing flexible parts. Despite being a flexible material, the Flexa Black Powder is hard and resistant to inter alia chemical agents. It has similar properties to rubber, possesing good form-ability and suppresses hits and shocks well.
Multi Jet Fusion (MJF)
PA12 for MJF is an engineering grade thermoplastic that produces high-density parts with extreme dimensional accuracy and fine detail for functional prototyping and final parts. In comparison to PA12 for SLS, the PA 12 material used by MJF has a very fine grain, resulting in parts with higher density and lower porosity than parts produced with the former. It is ideal for complex assemblies, lattice structures, housing, enclosures and connectors, and optimal for post finishing processes.