In order for your prototype or part to function properly and look the way you want it to, you must carefully select the right 3D printing material.
3D printing can be a great solution for prototyping and manufacturing a wide range of different parts. For many applications, 3D printing can be done faster and more cost-effectively than other manufacturing methods.
While deciding which specific 3D printing process is right for your prototype or part, it’s equally important to carefully consider which 3D printing material would be the best. Depending on the design and the goals that you have for your part, you must factor in the various mechanical properties and aesthetic characteristics that your part will need when it comes to 3D printing materials.
ABS requires ventilation and a heated bed to print. This durable plastic is impact and heat resistant.
FDM stands for fused deposition modeling. FDM is often used for prototyping because of its speed and affordability. Basic FDM offers lower accuracy and resolution compared to other 3D printed plastics. As a result, FDM is not ideal for intricate or complex parts.
Materials that are compatible with FDM 3D printing include:
Stereolithography—commonly called SLA—is a 3D printing process the offers very high degrees of accuracy and resolution. Additionally, SLA produces surface finishes that are smoother than all other plastic 3D printing processes. Parts that are printed using SLA can be painted and polished after printing.
Materials that are compatible with SLA 3D printing include photopolymers such as:
SLS stands for selective laser sintering. SLS 3D printing is known for making highly functional parts with great strength. The SLS 3D printing process is affordable and highly efficient, which makes it ideal for many different applications including rapid prototyping and custom parts manufacturing. SLS can also handle the intricate features of complex prototype and part designs.
Materials that are compatible with SLS 3D printing include:
Specific metal 3D printing processes include:
Materials that are compatible with metal 3D printing include:
Here is an overview of some of the most common types of applications for different 3D printing materials:
If you are new to 3D printing, the reality is some 3D printing materials are more difficult to work with than others. For this reason, it’s helpful to know which 3D printing materials are easier to select for beginners to work with.
Most beginners find PLA and PETG to be the best materials to start with. Let’s take a closer look at each:
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