3D Printing Materials Guide
We have a wealth of knowledge and experience with the wide range of materials used in additive manufacturing and in the manufacture of products using composite technologies.
With the rising concern about our environment the choice of material is becoming increasingly important as clients consider the benefits of recycling or re-using the material. Whilst performance characteristics are clearly important clients are now considering alternative material options which have lower adverse impacts on our environment.
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ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) has a long history in the 3D printing world. This material was one of the first plastics to be used with industrial 3D printers. Many years later, ABS is still a very popular material thanks to its low cost and good mechanical properties. ABS is known for its toughness and impact resistance, allowing you to print durable parts that will hold up to extra usage and wear. ABS also has a higher glass transition temperature, which means the material can withstand much higher temperatures before it begins to deform. This makes ABS a great choice for outdoor or high temperature applications.
ASA, also known as Acrylic Styrene Acrylonitrile, is a 3D printable plastic with properties similar to ABS. It was originally developed as an alternative to ABS that would be more UV resistant by changing the type of rubber that’s used in the formulation. ASA is known for high impact resistance, higher temperature resistance, and increased printing difficulty. It’s commonly used in outdoor applications instead of ABS due to its superior resistance to UV and harsh weather conditions. Due to its heritage, ASA still retains many of the same printability drawbacks that are seen with ABS. Warping is still a consistent issue that you need to account for, as well as the potentially dangerous fumes that the plastic emits during printing, due to the presence of Styrene.
Nylon (a.k.a. Polyamide) is a popular material in the plastics industry, known for its toughness and flexibility. Nylon filaments typically require extruder temperatures near 250 ºC, however, some brands allow printing at temperatures as low as 220 ºC due to their chemical composition. Nylon filament are hygroscopic, which means they readily absorb moisture from their surroundings. This filament is 100% recycled. Source nylon reclaimed and manufactured into filament here in the UK. Other standard types and grades of nylon available on request.
Polycarbonate (PC) is a high strength material intended for tough environments and engineering applications. It has extremely high heat deflection, and impact resistance. Polycarbonate also has a high glass transition temperature of 150° Celsius. This means it will maintain its structural integrity up to that temperature, making it suitable for use in high-temperature applications. It can also be bent without breaking and is often used in applications where some minor flexibility is required. Most available Polycarbonate filaments contain additives that allow the filament to be printed at lower temperatures.
PEEK (polyetheretherketone) is one of the highest performing semi-crystalline thermoplastics available
today. Peek Offers a combination of properties that allow it to replace metal in some of the most severe end-use environments. PEEK is one of the most chemically resistant plastics and offers excellent strength, superior fatigue resistance at a continuous-use temperature of 2400C (4640F)
PEEK CF (Carbon filled polyetheretherketone) adds extra stability and stiffness to PEEK. The addition
of specially selected carbon fibres improves the mechanical properties of the material and increases its HDT maintaining its properties at a higher temperature.
PEKK (polyetherketoneketone) is a high-performance thermoplastic that has similar properties to ULTEM and PEEK in the FDM processing family but with more flexibility in the geometries that can be built and great value pound for pound in terms of cost to performance ratio.
It’s excellent material properties include high strength and heat resistance, toughness and wear resistance. These superior qualities make it a lighter alternative to aluminium and steel in certain uses cases.
PLA, Polylactic Acid, is one of the most popular materials used in desktop 3D printing. It is the default filament of choice for most extrusion-based 3D printers because it can be printed at a low temperature and does not require a heated bed. PLA is a great first material to use as you are learning about 3D printing because it is easy to print, very inexpensive, and creates parts that can be used for a wide variety of applications. It is also one of the most environmentally friendly filaments on the market today. Derived from crops such as corn and sugarcane, PLA is renewable and most importantly biodegradable.
TPE, Thermoplastic Elastomers make flexible filaments which are a blend of hard plastic and rubber. As the name suggests, this material is elastic in nature allowing the plastic to be stretched and flexed easily. There are several types of TPE, with Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) being the most commonly used among 3D printing filaments. In many cases, these terms are used interchangeably, along with popular brand names such as Ninjaflex. The degree of elasticity in the plastic depends on the type of TPE and the chemical formulation used by the manufacturer. For example, some filaments can be partially flexible like a car tyre, but others can be elastic and fully flexible like a rubber band.
ULTEM™ 9085 resin is a flame-retardant high-performance thermoplastic for digital manufacturing and rapid prototyping. It is ideal for the transportation industry due to its high strength-to-weight ratio and its FST (flame, smoke and toxicity) rating. Combined with a Fortus® 3D Printer, ULTEM 9085 resin allows design and manufacturing engineers to produce fully functional parts that are ideal for advanced functional prototypes or end use without the cost or lead time of traditional tooling.
MED610 is a transparent, biocompatible PolyJet™ material medically approved for bodily contact. The material is designed for both medical and dental applications and is approved for permanent skin contact (more than 30 days) and limited mucosal membrane contact (up to 24 hours).
EPX 82 (Epoxy) is a high-strength engineering material with excellent long-term durability and mechanical properties comparable to lightly glass-filled thermoplastics (e.g. 20% GF-PBT, 15% GF-Nylon). EPX 82 has a heat deflection temperature ranging from 104°C to 130°C (depending on conditioning) and the functional toughness required for a variety of automotive and industrial applications such as connectors, brackets, and housings.
CE 220 (Cyanate ester) is a high-performance material with excellent strength, stiffness and thermal stability that is a good choice for use at elevated temperatures. CE behaves similarly to 14% glass-filled Nylon 6. It has excellent thermal stability and chemical resistance. CE withstands over 92 MPa of stress before breaking.
Carbon powder filled plastic has exceptional stiffness and strength properties allowing for parts to be machined mechanically and post processed to attain enhanced surface finishes. Typical applications include functional covers, brackets, cases for motorsport, aerospace, consumer electronics and sports equipment. 3D Printed Carbon material also has conductive properties and very good long-term stability with low moisture absorption making it ideal for end use applications with structural and weight saving requirements.
Graphite powder filled plastic, which is ideal to produce final components in less demanding applications, where surface finish and colour are important. Typical applications include functional concept models, covers, brackets and cases.3D Printed Graphite material has Static Dissipative properties, making it ideal for applications where static build up is undesirable or even dangerous.
EvoLVe 128 is a durable stereolithography material that produces accurate, high-detailed parts and has been designed for easy finishing. It has a look and feel that is almost indistinguishable from finished traditional thermoplastics, making it perfect for building parts and prototypes for functional testing applications
Taurus is an extremely durable and high temperature resistant stereolithography (SLA) material that allows expansion into new prototype and end-use applications. Parts printed with this material are easy to clean and finish. The higher heat deflection temperature of this material increases the number of applications for the part producer and user. Taurus brings the combination of thermal and mechanical performance that until now has only been achieved using thermoplastic 3D printing techniques such as FDM and SLS.
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