From the entertainment industry to healthcare, 3D printing spreads all over the world due to its competitive advantage and the benefits it brings. Having knowledge about 3D printing will surely help you in getting along with the speed and the performance.
Here in this article, we are going to discuss about one of the most important things in 3D printing, and that is the materials that are used for 3D printing.
Due to its versatile applications, there are so many materials that can be used, and it is mainly determined by the specific platform and the particular applications. Let’s get into details about this below.
Types of Materials
With the involvement of technology in 3D printing, new forms of materials are being introduced. These materials can be supplied to the printers in different forms such as powder, resin, and filament, as supported by the 3D printers.
For easy perception of the diverse types of materials, we will categorize them into different categories.
The first form of material we are going to talk about is plastic. It is the most common and yet useful material today used as a 3D printing material. Due to its various features and characteristics, it is considered as the best choice for 3D printing.
Plastic can be used for various applications and is one of the most reliable options for 3D printing material. It is further classified into different classifications.
- Poly Lactic Acid – PLA: PLA is a special type of thermoplastic that is widely used by professionals, and as well as it can be used to facilitate beginners due to its user-friendliness properties.
It is the most widely held form of the material which is used for 3D printing. PLA material is readily available at an affordable rate, and it is not only user friendly but also harmless for the environment as it can be biodegraded and can be transformed.
Unlike other forms of materials, it can operate at low temperatures and does not require an enclosure or a heated bed; there are no toxic gas or fumes are produced. It offers smooth parts with strength and durability.
- Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene – ABS: ABS and PLA are the most common varieties of materials being used for 3D printing. ABS material is known for its impact resistance and building rigid objects that can bear up to changing temperature. It is one of the oldest forms of material being used and is still prevalent in 3D printing.
The ABS material is used where you need to have high temperature and needs strong and rigid objects. It provides good resistance to heat and gives an appealing output. This material is also easily available and is cost-effective.
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It does require you to have an enclosure and a heated bed. It is widely used for building automotive hardware, musical instruments, and as well as toys such as the Lego bricks. ABS material is not preferred for beginners but is widely used by professionals.
- Polyvinyl Alcohol Plastic – PVA: PVA is another form of plastic material that is usually used with the PLA as supporting material. Support material is required when you are building complex prints and needs quality and efficiency.
PVA material is soft and flexible and can be dissolved in water. It also helps parts of the 3D prints from distorting and gives added support and strength. Just like PLA, it does not require a heated bed or special hot end extruder.
- Polycarbonate – PC: When you need to build high strong material that can last long and can endure high temperature, PC is the material you need.
When using this material, it is favored that the machine has an enclosed build volume, and proper ventilation is also required as you are going to deal with high temperatures.
Naturally, it comes transparent and is available easily. It can bend without getting a fracture the moisture can affect the output result.
Materials can be used in powder forms as well; it gets melts and then from the 3D print structure. We can get the powder form from different materials and resources.
When using the powder forms, it becomes easier to transport and makes it easy to convert it into any shape. The most common forms of the powder material which is used are mentioned below.
- Nylon – Polyamide: It is another form of material that is widely used for 3D printing. Nylon filament offers much stronger strength and durability as compared to ABS and PLA form of materials. Based on its properties, it is mainly used for building mechanical parts, tools, and components. It requires a high temperature for melting and requires special attention for storage so that it does not get affected by the surrounding.
- Alumide: Combining Nylon with Aluminum dust, you get the Alumide filament. It is used for enhanced accuracy and better quality. Alumide parts offer metallic shine and are good at heat resistance.
After plastic, metal is the most used form of material for 3D printing. Not only is it used for creating prototypes and models of metallic equipment, but also it is widely used for finishing works, jewelry products, and medical appliances.
The metal is used in the dust form, which is then supplied through an injector to form a shape. The most common metals used for 3D printings are stainless steel, bronze, nickel, aluminum, and copper.
They are often combined with PLA based on the type of application. The metallic form of material is highly durable, not dissolved, and does not require a heated bed.
If you want to give your model a wooden look, wood filaments are there to help you. The wood filaments contain the blend of recycled woods such as dust and cork and are combined with PLA material.
It does not require you to have any unique tool or equipment to use the wood filament, and it is easy to use, just like the PLA material.
It also does not have need of an enclosed volume and a heated bed. It is used to give wood texture and finish to the building product, for example, household decoration items.
5. High Impact Polystyrene – HIPS
HIPS material is usually used as supporting material in a combination of ABS material. It is a lightweight material, easily available, and can be dissolved by d-Limonene.
It has many similar properties as ABS material. It gives stability and strength to the building material and offers temperature and impact resistance. Plus, this material also provides water resistance, helps in better bed adhesion, and is user friendly.
PET or PETG is a similar type of filament and is an advanced version of Polyethylene Terephthalate – PET. It is widely used for making waterproof applications such as water bottles.
This material offers a smooth and shiny finishing surface, transparent, and does not produce any fumes or gases while printing. A heated bed is recommended when using this type of material in 3D printing.
Selecting the Correct 3D Printer Filament
By now, you are aware of the most common types of filaments being used for 3D printing. All these are easily available at an affordable cost, and most of them are user friendly, making them feasible to use for beginners.
For choosing the right 3D printer filament, you need to see the type of 3D printer you are using and what are you going to build with it.
If you are not familiar with the filament before which you are going to use, it is recommended that first, you practice with it so that appropriate settings are achieved, and you get the desired result at the end.