Choose the most robust 3D printing material
There are so many 3D printing materials to choose from that it might be overwhelming. Which one would be best for your production? It might be a hard call to make. To help you we’ve written about available materials, their properties, and possible applications. Recently we had a look over flexible 3D printing materials, today we will focus on the strongest ones.
3D printing doesn’t finish at FDM technology. However, with FDM you can build fairly good prototypes, real Additive Manufacturing allows you to fabricate fully functional, end products. Thanks to Additive Manufacturing your parts can be strong, and produce less material waste which also leads to lower manufacturing costs.
We will go over different 3D printing technologies such as SLS and Jet Fusion for plastic, PolyJet for resin application and we will also cover metal 3D printing. There are a lot of options but, we will try to share with you our 3D printing experts’ knowledge to help you pick one. Now, which material and technology should you choose for strong and robust parts?
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
SLS is a 3D printing technology which produces your parts layer by layer with fine polymer powder. Once a layer of powder is spread on the bed, a laser beam sinters it in the shape of your part at 160°C to 200°C. Selective Laser SIntering technology is perfect for low-volume production, robust prototypes, and simulation. It allows for intricate geometries and lattice structures. It is a very robust 3D printing material.
Many options with Nylon
Nylon has the biggest variety of properties. At Sculpteo we offer Nylon PA12, Nylon PA11/12, and Nylon 3200 Glass-filled. Nylon PA12 comes in 17 different colors, 5 finishes, and 2 layer thickness. Your parts will come out strong, but if your model has a small wall thickness, it will be flexible at the same time. The melting point for Nylon PA12 is a minimum of 170°C and a maximum of 180°C . With SLS technology you can really experiment with your design.
Nylon PA11/12 is just as strong as durable as Nylon PA12, but it is more economical. It comes only in grey color and in one layer thickness, however, you can get your parts polished for smoother surface finish. Last, but not least, Nylon 3200 Glass Filled is the strongest out of the 3 Nylon materials. However, it presents very little flexibility. It has a bit more sleek surface and additional polishing can be added. Nylon 3200 Glass Filled can withstand temperatures up to 176°C.
The texture of Alumide
Alumide, used with SLS technology is a material made out of a combination of polyamide powder and fine aluminum particles. The properties of this plastic are basically the same as Nylon. What makes Alumide stand out is the texture and color. If those aspects are important in your design, take a closer look at this material. It has a shiny finish and feels somewhat porous. However, thanks to its texture the layers are not as visible. Alumide is the right solution if you care for both the looks and durability.
Lastly, it might so happen that your project has to present a high level of flexibility. If so, you should get more familiar with PEBA. This material is a Polyether block Amide. It has similar properties to a rubber. It can resist high stress and fatigue, at the same time staying very flexible. Thanks to 3D printing you can achieve highly complex designs without compromising the quality of your parts.
Jet Fusion by HP
Jet Fusion is an Additive Manufacturing technology developed by HP. It produces the parts by a fusing agent being applied on each layer. Jet Fusion PA12 material really stands out as a 3D printing plastic. It is stronger than Nylon, provides you with some level of flexibility and at the same time, it is resistant to chemicals, especially hydrocarbons, aldehydes ketones, mineral bases, and salts, as well as alcohols, fuels, detergents, oils, and fats. Those are some pretty impressive qualities of our Jet Fusion PA12.
This material is also scratch and abrasion proof. On top of that Jet Fusion PA12 is light and UV stabilized and can be used for outdoor projects, and it’s biocompatible. It also has higher precision than Nylon. Jet Fusion PA12 comes in two colors, black, and grey. There are also two finishes available.
You already got to know the properties of our strongest plastics, let’s talk about resins. 3D printing with resins is done with PolyJet technology. The 3D printer jets drops of curable liquid photopolymer onto the building tray and each layer is instantly UV-cured. We offer two Materials with PolyJet technology: VeroWhite Resin and VeroClear Resin.
The first one comes in 12 colors, whereas VeroClear is only translucent. They both have a really high-quality surface look and are capable of showing a lot of details. If the look and complexity are your priorities then our resins will be the right choice for you. Of course, in this blog post, we talk about strong 3D printing materials, and PolyJet technology will produce durable parts.
Metal 3D printing: Selective Laser Melting
Now we will talk about Additive technologies with the application of metal materials. Selective Laser Melting (SLM) is a 3D printing technology which uses metal powder to produce your parts. A layer of metal powder is spread and then fused locally in a full melting process. At Sculpteo we use Aluminium AlSi7Mg0,6 which is composed mostly of 90% aluminum, 7% silicone and 0.6% magnesium. This material can be subjected to high voltage, it is durable and lightweight at the same time, which might be crucial for your project.
What is DMLS?
Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) is another metal 3D printing technique. The difference between SLM is the sintering temperature. DMLS doesn’t fully melt the metal powder. The ingredients of our Stainless Steel 316L are iron 66-70%, chrome 16-18%, nickel 11-14%, and molybdenum 2-3%. This material presents high resistance against corrosion as well as a fine surface look and of course is strong. Those properties make Stainless Steel 316L a great candidate for applications in medical, automotive and aerospace industries.
The second option for DMLS technology is Titanium 6AI-4V composed of Titanium 88-90%, Aluminium 5.5-6.5%, and Vanadium 3.5-4.5%. This 3D printing material stands out for its low toxicity, high resistance to oxidation, and acid as well as extremely high melting point (1660° C or 3260° F). Not only that, but it also produced very precise parts.
Lastly, let’s focus on metal casting. This method is perfect for small parts such as jewelry. It allows for the production of many ideal replicas of the master project. The first model is 3D printed, then a mold is created around it for metal to be poured into them producing high-quality metal parts.
With this technology, we offer 3 materials: Sterling Silver, Brass, Bronze. They all have the same properties when it comes to strength. They are robust and will provide you with a very smooth surface and high level of details. The materials differ between each other by plating options.
Comparing all materials
As you can see there are so many choices when it comes to 3D printing with strong materials! To make the decision easier we prepared for you a table of all materials we mentioned and their properties where 5 is the highest and 0 means this quantity doesn’t apply.
|Nylon PA12 (SLS)||5/5||4/5||4/5||4/5|
|Nylon PA11/12 (SLS)||5/5||4/5||4/5||4/5|
|Nylon 3200 Glass-filled (SLS)||5/5||1/5||1/5||2/5|
|Jet Fusion PA12 (Jet Fusion)||5/5||4/5||4/5||4/5|
|Aluminium AlSi7Mg0,6 (SLM)||4/5||2/5||3/5||0/5|
|Stainless Steel 316L (DMLS)||4/5||2/5||3/5||1/5|
|Titanium 4AI- 4V (DMLS)||4/5||2/5||3/5||0/5|
|Sterling Silver (Casting)||4/5||5/5||4/5||2/5|
Which material do you choose?
Tell us in the comments or Twitter which 3D printing material was the best for you! Is robust but flexible PEBA or strong and resistant Titanium your preference? At Sculpteo we are very curious about our client’s projects, so don’t be shy and share with us pictures or videos of your work. Maybe we will write about it our next blog post?
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