The 3D printing industry has been making remarkable changes over time. Moreover, new printing machines can now print various materials such as metals, plastics, composites, and more.
As we focus on industrial 3D printing, you will encounter a wide range of different materials for your selection. Additionally, such materials have special features, plus their strengths and shortcomings.
However, you should be conscious of several factors like cost, texture, and material type to avert some 3D printing mistakes.
In this 3D printing materials guide, we will enlighten your understanding of different materials that you will involve in your work.
3D Printing Material Options
Nylon material happens to be a synthetic thermoplastics linear polyamide. It is durable, flexible, corrosion-resistant, and low friction material. We also use nylon material for manufacturing accessories and clothes.
One can use nylon material for constructing delicate and complex geometries. Again, you can use it as a filament in Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D printers. Typically, nylon material is a less-costly and tough plastic material.
Still, nylon has little warpage, and you can die or color it easily. One of its downsides is that nylon has a shelf life of only one year. Also, it shrinks while cooling, thereby causing some prints to be less precise. Overall, it is a 3D printing quality material that you can involve in your work.
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) is a powerful thermoplastic material that you can use as a 3D printer filament. You can still involve them in household 3D printing. It is the most available and affordable material that comes in multiple colors.
ABS material will last for longer as compared to the nylon material. Furthermore, nylon is a mechanically strong material. Engineers and manufacturers use it while making high-quality prototype production.
Its shortcoming is that it can warp if you cool it while printing. Also, it is a non-biodegradable material that will release toxic fumes when subjected to high temperatures.
Resin is a popular 3D printing material that you can apply in various SLA, DLP, and CLIP technologies. You can use different types of resin like tough resin, castable resin, and flexible resin.
One of the distinctive features of a resin material is that it has low shrinkage. Again, the raw material boasts of high-chemical resistance. The same material is delicate and rigid. You can use it in multiple applications.
On the other note, the material is costly with a short shelf life. One should always store it securely since it has high photo-reactivity. It would help if you avoided heat exposure as it can cause premature polymerization.
d) PLA (Polylactic Acid)
PLA originates from renewable resources such as cornstarch or sugarcane. It is among the 3D printing materials used in both primary and secondary schools as it is safe to use. Still, you can apply it to FDM desktop printing.
One notable characteristic of this material is that it proves to be easy to print. Also, it does not warp easily. You can still print with sharper corners on a cold surface. Most importantly, it is available in a variety of colors.
However, this material is not sturdy enough as it deforms when you subject it to too much heat.
e) Stainless steel
Stainless steel is among the most popular 3D printing materials metal. You can either print it by laser sintering or fusion. The possible technologies that you can use for this metal are SLM or DMLS.
Luckily, you can heat treat this metal to improve in hardness and strength. As such, it will perform well in high strength applications. It is highly resistant to corrosion with high elasticity.
The downside of this material is that the building time is much longer and expensive. Furthermore, the printing size is under a limit.
f) Gold and Silver
Gold and silver materials are sturdy and durable. You can process them while they are in powder form. The materials are ideal in the jewelry sector. One can use either SLM or DMLS process for printing.
You can use the product in the energy sector as it has high electrical conductance. And another thing; it is heatproof. However, 3D printing materials cost is very high.
Another shortcoming is that the two metals are difficult to work using lasers as they have high thermal conductivity and high reflectivity. Lastly, you will require an extremely high temperature during printing.
Ceramic material is the latest entrant in the 3D printing process that is more durable than plastic and metal. It can tolerate high pressure and heat without warping or breaking. It is also corrosion-resistant.
You can use this material in SLA, DLP, and Binder Jetting Technology. Notably, it happens to have high precision components. It also has a smooth and glossy surface. It will still show resistance to acid and heat.
The disadvantage of this material is that it needs a great amount of temperature to melt. It is also not suitable for kilning or glazing processes.
Titanium is the lightest and strongest material for 3D printing. However, you can still use it in the Direct Metal Laser Sintering. It is one of the best 3D printing materials for medical purposes. Furthermore, you can use it in space exploration.
The good news is that titanium metal has average surface roughness. It is also corrosion-resistant and biocompatible.
It will still offer greater complexity and resolution while designing it.
Unlucky, the titanium metal is expensive.
You can perform efficient industrial 3D printing when armed with proper materials and the right knowledge. As the 3D printing industry advances, it will require more materials to make more prototypes.
However, before you begin the 3D printing exercise, you should understand the properties of the materials that you are using. As such, it will be easier to find the right product at the end of the exercise.
Several 3D printing companies use advanced technology to process their final product using various materials. Such an option happens to be cost-effective while increasing profits.
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