3D Printing Materials |Filament, ABS, PLA, Nylon, Metal, Flexible
3D Printing Materials
What you get out of a 3D Printer is limited by what you put into it. In the case of 3D Printing the input is 3D Printing Materials, or filament. In a world of exciting and rapidly evolving technology, 3D filament is evolving at the fastest pace. There is a wide variety of material types that come in many different states, sizes, colors, density, flexibility and even tastes. This article will cover the three main filaments; PLA, ABS and Ceramics and then dive into the ever expanding world of special filaments.
Polylatic acid or PLA is low-cost, biodegradable and has minimal shrinkage. PLA is great for producing quick prototypes for testing form and fit. Strong, flexible plastic with a slight porous surface. Very popular material, prints are constructed by a fine grain of powder fused together by a leaser beam, layer after layer.
- $20 – $30/lb
- Lowest Cost
ABS is the most common 3D printing plastic. The material is a thermoplastic with crystallization properties. A plastic wire is softened by passing through a heated extrusion nozzle. As soon as the plastic is deposited on the 3D printer plate it hardens.
- $20 /lb
- Low Cost
- Many colors available
- Does not stick well to cold platforms
- Potentially toxic fumes when heated
3D Print Pottery into any shape
- $ – High Cost
- Need metal extruder
- Have to finish print in kiln
Prints like plastic, but stiffer than aluminum. This patent pending composite is 20X stiffer than ABS and is strong than 6061-T6 aluminum by weight. Carbon Fiber is prefect for fixtures, jigs and parts that need the highest strength-to-weight ratio.
- Best strength-to-weight
- Stiffer than 6061 AL
- Fiberglass filament is the prefect alternative when the strength of Carbon Fiber Filament is needed but the stiffness and weight are less critical. Fiberglass filament uses the same Continuous Filament Fabrication process for impressive strength but at a much lower cost.
- Best Strength-to-Cost
- Electrically Insulating
- Safe, Easy, Non-Toxic
- Ready to use – no post curing
Fantastically flexible, but tough as nails. Nylon filament has great fatigue and impact resistance. Nylon is also a great outer protective layer to keep your fixtures and tooling from scratching sensitive parts. It’s also a great choice for tabs, clips and mechanical fasteners.
- Tough plastic
- Low friction
Exotic filaments are advanced materials for your 3D Printer. Most combine standard PLA/ABS thermoplastics with a variety of other material like metal, carbon fiber, glow compounds to create hybrid materials with unique properties. Most standard consumer printers can handle the PLA and ABS blended filaments but some exotic filaments include materials that will increase the wear on your printer nozzle. Always check the manufactuer settings and recommendations before using exotic filament in your 3D printer.
High Strength Filament
High Strength Filaments are unique filaments that boast the highest tensile strength at 8,000PSI, 5X stronger than standard PLA/ABS consumer filament. Carbon Fiber, with the highest strength to weight ratio is the standard base material for high strength filaments. Carbon Fiber filaments are ideal for applications that require superior stiffness, ease of printing and lighter weight parts vs. standard materials. Polycarbonate is another incredibly tough material designed for strong, resilient parts. This unique material provides improvements over standard ABS in heat deflection, impact resistance, rigidity and flexibility. Ploycarbonate is the material used in marking bullet proof glass and bullet proof vests. High strength filaments have a wide variety of applications and 3D printing custom mechanical and industrial parts is currently one of the most popular. These filaments are perfect for applications requiring the greatest possible stiffness and strength
Color Changing/Glow-in-the-dark Filament
Voxel8 silver ink has a bulk electrical resistivity, making it more conductive than conductive filled-thermoplastic filaments and more than 5000X more conductive than carbon-based inks. Voxel8 Silverink