Materials for 3D printing in M Aerospace RTC
The 3D printing market has grown exponentially during the last years, which has allowed the variety of materials and technologies to expand likewise. We’ll then discuss the common materials and their characteristics.
Filaments: filaments are the most popular materials in the 3D printing world due to its low cost, easiness of printing and versatility. For the printing with filaments, the most common technique is FDM that refers to plastic extrusion, however, the majority of printed parts with this technology are destined to prototyping. Other technologies that can be printed with plastic are Material Jetting and Multi Jet Fusion. The most common filaments are PLA, ABS and PETG.
PLA is a thermoplastic filament biodegradable that is extruded at an average temperature between 160 °C and 220 °C. This material emits odors when extruded, but, contrary to ABS, these are not toxic gasses to the user. It's considered an adequate material when you’re beginning in 3D printing due to its low cost and behavior during printing.
ABS is an affordable material, but for high quality printing, it’s necessary to include accessories to the printer, such as heated beds, an enclosed printing chamber and even a fume hood if it’s printed in poorly ventilated rooms, due to that some of the gasses that this material emits are toxic. The spool with the material needs to be stored properly in hermetically sealed containers in order to assure its properties, this is because the material it’s sensitive to humidity. It has an extruding temperature between 230 °C and 260 °C.
On its part, PET can be used in 3D printing, however, for this task it needs to be modified with glycol, which is known as PETG. This changes the material composition, it allows to obtain clearer finishes and less brittle. This material has high impact resistance, it’s flexible, resistant and can sustain moderate mechanical stresses. It’s commonly used for food grade applications.
There can be found materials such as TPE, which stand out for their flexibility and elasticity. TPU filament it’s a variant that offers flexibility properties that are similar to rubber but modified to be more manageable for printing. Another variant available to use it’s TPC, which stands out for its resistance to chemical treatments and UV rays.
Nylon on its part, it’s a versatile filament that it’s commonly found in deep white color, it’s recommended a printing temperature of between 235 °C and 260 °C. Vapors emitted during Nylon printing don't present risks to health. Its specific properties vary depending on the type of Nylon used, it can be found, for example, that Nylon 645 it’s stronger than Nylon 618.
HIPS and PVA filaments are plastics commonly used for support due to their solubility in various substances. HIPS it’s the commonly used, specially for printing with ABS, due to its ease to be dissolved in limonene. In a period of 24 hours the part can become free of supports without requiring sanding or manual removal to improve part quality. For its part, PVA is water soluble, which makes it practical, but it’s not easy to handle it and deteriorate quickly.
M Aerospace RTC works with a variety of ABS filaments. In turn, we have available other polymers such as Nylon, Polycarbonate, Ultem and other rigid plastics, flexibles and light curables. Finally, we have a great variety of rubbers. We encourage you to contact us to obtain more information about the materials and process we have.
Powders: printers that use powder to build parts melt the powder and distribute it layer by layer until obtaining the thickness, texture and patterns desired. Among the most common non-metallic powders used are:
Polyamide: It’s a polymer made from many amide bonds, it’s biocompatible due to being made from materials such as corn starch and can be used in food grade applications and non alcoholic beverages.
Alumide: It’s a mixture between polyamide and aluminum powder, it’s a material which makes parts with great thermal resistance, but it needs post-processing. Alumide it’s used for complex parts, due to the printing technique having few geometrical limitations.
Resins: Resins are materials sensitive to UV rays that make them solidify using a light source. Parts made with these materials have great quality of details and smoothness. Common resin has properties similar to ABS, however, the mechanical properties it has are lower. It can be divided in two groups:
Standard resin: It has properties similar to ABS, good surface finish and moderate mechanical properties. It’s used in general use printings or for fast printings.
Advanced resins: Its main characteristic it’s that it offers functional mechanical properties. The main applications for this type of resin are engineering and dental.
Metals: Metals in 3D printing are the second most popular group in the industry due to the fact that this technology allows metallic parts that have designs up to 30 times lighter at the same time allowing less material waste. For metal parts it’s used DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) technology based in metallic powder, which allows end-use parts, however, the majority of parts need thermal post processing. M Aerospace RTC works with aluminum, stainless steel, bronze, gold among other materials.
In the same way, there exist metallic alloys, which work with a different technology called Binder Jetting. This technology uses a great variety of ceramics, polymers, sand and metals. Our company has available stainless steels such as 420 and 316, titanium and copper to work with this technique. If you need other material or require more information, please contact us with questions to give you the best attention.
Also if you need any 3D printing service in Mexico or Latin America or have any rapid prototyping project, don’t hesitate to call us.