We are fascinated by 3D printing and 3D printers but we generally tend to ignore the key ingredient that makes the whole 3D printing fantasy a reality i.e the materials which are used as ink in the 3D printer .These are the materials that are used by the 3D printers to create models by a layered approach.
Know About the Filaments Used in a 3d Printer
The materials used might vary based on the requirements and specifications of the user and there is a wide range of them you could choose from .Here’s a list of materials that are used generally .
ABS and PLA:-
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) the most commonly used in 3D printing over the past few years mainly because it is light, durable ,pretty flexible and more over extrusion force required is less then PLA .But it has some concerning disadvantages like high temperature of melting which is undesirable and also emits quiet intense fumes that might be injurious to the health .
All that being said it is cheap
Polylactic acid (PLA)is another commonly used material mainly cause of the fact that it is eco-friendly and biodegradable. Also it operates at a lower temperature in comparison to ABS but is pretty hard to work with .Overall it is considerably a better option for student project .
HIPS AND PVA:-
These are majorly materials used for temporary support more than anything .
PVA filament (Polyvinyl alcohol) make 3D printing a much easier process as they provide support temporarily to the structure being created .The cool thing about this material is that not only is it easy to work with and eco friendly but also easily removable post production .That would be because it literally dissolves in cold water (for a quicker result you can use hot water ) . It can be used on all common desktop FDM or FFF technology 3D printers .
HIPS filaments is made from a High Impact Polystyrene material which is a good support material .It is used majorly in medical and food industries because it is biodegradable and does not have any adverse health issues .The issue with these filaments is that the tend to curl or adhere to the final product a little to much.
Nylon serves as a raw material to many industries because of many factors including great biocompatibility this is also the major why it is widely used in medical industry. It is also used in cartilage replacement and prosthetic industry because of the fore mentioned reason . The most popular of them are Nylon 618 because of its natural white color and Nylon 645, but it is hard to use .Surprisingly nylon filament are not very popular and well spread comparing to such filaments as ABS and PLA which is why you do not find them easily .
Generally PET (PolyEthylene Terephthalate )is commonly used in manufacturing plastic bolltels
.In the original state PET filaments are colorless and crystal clear material but on heating and subsequent cooling down the material changes it’s transparency. Other than this the material has some other draw backs like it’s crystalline structure when allowed to cool down slowly after printing. But, the good thing about this material is that it is strong and pretty easy to work with other than that the thicker layer height the better clarity would have the material. There are different versions of PET, for example filament PETG is the modification of the one, that is clear thermoplastic with possibility to thermoform and mold the item after being printed. It is also possible to polish the material with flame.
Another feature that can be attributed to this material is that it works over a very wide range of temperatures which I a very desirable quality in any material used in this scenario But it needs to be stored in a place where it would not absorb water from air.
PETT also known as the “T-Glase” is a tough glass which is clear and may be a little stiff to work with in comparison to PLA ,in fact much stiffer .The range of temperature at which you can work this glass at falls between 212°C to 224°C.Like other materials we have discussed before there can be some curling during printing which can be avoided or reduced by turning off the cooling fan.
On the more positive side there are no unpleasant fumes during printing. This material as well as PET absorbs water from air which calls for an air tight storage because retaining moisture might cause the filaments to become weak and brittle . The main characteristics of PETT t-glase are strength especially with the larger nozzles used, biocompatibility and FDA approved to be used for food containers, clarity and shrinkage.
Polycarbonate (PC)is widely used in automotive, aerospace, medical and many other areas majorly because of factors such as extremely strength, impact resistant thermoplasticity . PC is desirable for its great mechanical properties and amazing heat resistance.
As expected 3D parts printed using PC are accurate and strong ultimately making it much more durable.
Apart from this another great thing about this material is it’s biocompatibility and it’s ability to be sterilized .Having so many positives makes it extremely popular for prototyping needs, functional testing, tooling and composite work.