3D printing is a revolutionary technology that has enabled the creation of complex objects with a variety of materials. From ABS and PLA to carbon fiber and nylon, there are a wide range of materials available for 3D printing. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the most common 3D printing materials and their properties. The most popular FDM 3D printing materials are ABS, PLA and their various blends.
More advanced FDM printers can also print with other specialized materials that offer properties such as increased heat resistance, impact resistance, chemical resistance and stiffness.
ABSis a low-cost material, ideal for printing strong and durable parts that can withstand high temperatures. Flexible filaments, commonly referred to as TPE or TPU, are known for their elasticity, which allows the material to stretch and bend easily.
PLAis the reference material for most users due to its ease of use, dimensional accuracy and low cost.
HIPS is a lightweight material that is most commonly used as a soluble support structure for ABS models.
PETand PETG filaments are known for their ease of printing, smooth surface finish, and water resistance.
Nylonis a hard, semi-flexible material that offers high impact and abrasion resistance. It's an ideal choice for printing durable parts.
Carbon fiber filaments contain short fibers that are infused into a PLA or ABS base material to help increase strength and stiffness.
ASAis a common alternative to ABS and is ideal for outdoor applications due to its high resistance to UV rays, temperature and impacts.
Polypropyleneis ideal for high cycle and low strength applications due to its fatigue resistance, semi-flexible and lightweight characteristics.
Wood filamentscombine a PLA base material with cork, wood powder or other derivatives, giving the models a real wood look and feel. One of the most widely used printing materials, PLA (polylactic acid), is very versatile.
It is made from renewable sources such as sugar cane, which helps keep the price low. It is a very tolerant material with a low probability of deformation and good reuse. As an added benefit, it produces a sweet popcorn smell when melted.
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)is the second major plastic used in 3D printing. It is more heat resistant than PLA, but can be melted and reused if necessary.
Its melting point is approximately 221°F, so you don't have to worry about your creations melting in most cases. Now, there are a couple of limitations. First of all, you will need a thermal printing bed so that it does not stick. Second, you'll need a well-ventilated print area.
This is because HIPS vapors can give you a real headache if allowed to build up.
HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene), with a transition temperature of 212°F, is very similar to ABS. Like HIPS, PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) is most commonly used as a support material. Not so good at creating objects since it's soft and biodegradable. The main difference between PVA and HIPS is that PVA dissolves completely in warm water.
This means that you don't need to get any additional solutions or products and you can simply continue with the work at hand. The main drawback of this material is that it tends to clog the nozzle if you keep heating it without actually printing. In addition, you'll need to store any additional amount of PVA in an airtight container to prevent moisture from entering.
Nylon, if you want to create objects that can withstand shocks, is the right material for you. It's tough, abrasion resistant, and has a good degree of flexibility that most others don't have. For example, nylon can be used to create cable ties without them breaking.
The main problem is that nylon tends to absorb moisture from its environment. This can deform the finished product and compromise its structural integrity. As such, you'll need to store it in an airtight container when you're not using it. In addition, its transition temperature is quite high around 250° F so you may need a special extruder.
Carbon fiber filament, usually PLA or ABS with strong fibers that improve its stability, is very light but manages to greatly improve the stiffness and stiffness of an object. In addition, these fibers help prevent shrinkage as the article cools.
Required print settings hardly differ from those of ABS or PLA filament.