Material Index

Material index://Plastics (FDM)

Select material for more information:

PLA 

Polylactic Acid, commonly known as PLA, is one of the most popular materials used in desktop 3D printing. It is the default filament of choice for most extrusion-based 3D printers because it can be printed at a low temperature and does not require a heated bed. PLA is a great first material to use as you are learning about 3D printing because it is easy to print, very inexpensive, and creates parts that can be used for a wide variety of applications. It is also one of the most environmentally friendly filaments on the market today. Derived from crops such as corn and sugarcane, PLA is renewable and most importantly biodegradable. As a bonus, this also allows the plastic to give off a sweet aroma during printing.

Technologies: FDM,3D Printer

Properties: Biodegradable, Food safe

Applications: Concept Models, DIY Projects, DIY Projects, Functional Models, Manufacturing

PLA-WOOD

Wood-based filaments are typically a composite that combines a PLA base material with wood dust, cork, and other powdered wood derivatives. Typically, the filament consists of around 30% wood particles, but the exact number may vary depending on the brand. The presence of these particles gives the 3D printed parts the aesthetics of real wood. This filament is also less abrasive compared to other composite filaments such as carbon-fiber filled and metal filled, since wood particles are much softer. There are some wood-like filaments on the market that only contain wood coloring, but no actual wood particles, so these typically have a very different look and feel. This guide will focus on wood infused PLA filaments since these are the most common, but you can use these tips as a starting point for other wood-based filaments as well.

Technologies: FDM 3D Printer

Properties: Fragile

Applications: Conceptual Models, Visual Arts, Interior Design 

PETG

PETG is a Glycol Modified version of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), which is commonly used to manufacture water bottles. It is a semi-rigid material with good impact resistance, but it has a slightly softer surface which makes it prone to wear. The material also benefits from great thermal characteristics, allowing the plastic to cool efficiently with almost negligible warpage. There are several variations of this material in the market including PETG, PETE, and PETT. The tips in this article will apply to all of these PET-based filaments.

Technologies: FDM 3D Printer

Properties: Strong, Food-safe, Weather-resistant, Hardly inflammable

Applications: Concept Models, DIY Projects, Functional Models, Manufacturing

TPU (95A)

Flexible filaments are made of Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE) which are a blend of hard plastic and rubber. As the name suggests, this material is elastic in nature allowing the plastic to be stretched and flexed easily. There are several types of TPE, with Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) being the most commonly used among 3D printing filaments. In many cases, these terms are used interchangeably, along with popular brand names such as Ninjaflex. The degree of elasticity in the plastic depends on the type of TPE and the chemical formulation used by the manufacturer. For example, some filaments can be partially flexible like a car tire but others can be elastic and fully flexible like a rubber band. This guide will cover tips to help you with both of these variations of flexible filaments.

Technologies: FDM 3D Printer

Properties: Flexible, Soft, Elastic, Fatigue Resistant

Applications: Concept Models, Vibration Damping, Grip Sleeves, Phone Cases

NYLON

Nylon (a.k.a. Polyamide) is a popular material in the plastics industry, known for its toughness and flexibility. Nylon filaments typically require extruder temperatures near 250 ºC, however, some brands allow printing at temperatures as low as 220 ºC due to their chemical composition. Many printers do not include a hotend that can safely reach 250 ºC, so these lower-temperature versions can be useful and potentially save you from needing to upgrade your hotend. One big challenge with Nylon filaments is that they are hygroscopic, which means they readily absorb moisture from their surroundings. Printing Nylon after it has absorbed moisture will lead to several print quality issues, thus filament storage becomes very important and requires special attention.

Technologies: FDM 3D Printer

Properties: Strong, Smooth surface (polished), Somewhat flexible, Chemically resistant

Applications: Concept Models, Functional Models, Medical Applications, Tooling, Visual Arts

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Material index://Resins (LCD)

Select material for more information:

STANDARD RESIN 

Standard resins produce high stiffness, high resolution prints with a smooth injection molding-like finish. Their low-cost makes them ideal for prototyping applications. The color of the resin affects its properties. For example, grey resin is better suited for parts with fine details and white resin for parts that require a very smooth surface.

Technologies: LCD 3D Printer

Properties: Smooth surface, Somewhat flexible

Applications: Conceptual Models, Functional Models, Visual Arts, Tooling (Prototypes)

FLEXIBLE RESIN

Rubber-like resin allows engineers to simulate rubber parts that are soft to the touch. This material has a low tensile modulus and high elongation at break, and it is well-suited for objects that will be bent or compressed. It can also be used to add ergonomic features to multi-material assemblies, like packagings, stamps, wearable prototyping, handles, overmolds and grips.

Technologies: LCD 3D Printer

Properties: Flexible, Soft, Elastic, Fatigue Resistant

Applications: wearables prototyping, multi-material assemblies, handles, grips, overmolds

CASTABLE WAX

This material enables printed parts with sharp details and a smooth finish, and will burn out cleanly without leaving ashes or residue. Castable resin allows the production of parts directly from a digital design to investment casting through a single 3D printed part. They are suitable for jewelry and other small and intricate components.

Technologies: LCD 3D Printer

Properties: High resolution, Smooth surface

Applications: Manufacturing (Jewelry, Dentistry, Automotive)

CERAMIC RESIN

Ceramic resins are reinforced with glass or other ceramic particles and result in very stiff and rigid parts, with very smooth surface finish. Ceramic resins offer good thermal stability and heat resistance and can be kiln fired for a glass-like finish. They have a high modulus of elasticity and lower creep (higher resistance to deformation over time) compared to other LCD/SLA resins, but are more brittle than the Tough and Durable resins. Ceramic resin is also suitable for parts with thin walls and small features (the recommended minimum wall thickness is 100 µm).

Technologies: LCD 3D Printer

Properties: Flexible, Soft, Elastic, Fatigue Resistant

Applications: molds and tooling, jigs, manifolds, fixtures, housings for electrical and automotive applications, tableware, pottery, fine art