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3D printing filaments

PLA – polylactic acid

PLA is a biodegradeable plastic based on corn starch. During printing, PLA emits a slight smell of cooking oil. PLA is the jack of all trades in the world of 3D filaments. It’s strength, heat resistance and other properties are nothing special, but good enough for most prints. Due to it’s relatively low cost, environmental friendliness and ease of printing, PLA is by far the most printed filament type. Aside from standard PLA in many colours, other types of PLA like wood infused, carbon fiber infused, metallic, marble, impact (more stress resistance), silk (smooth surface) are also available at slightly higher prices.  If you want the widest range of colours, beautiful details and ease of printing, PLA is the best choice for you.

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Flexible materials

TPU is a rubbery flexible plastic, that can still endure admirable mechanical stress. TPU is suitable for any project that requires a flexible, bendable part that doesn’t easily break.  It is commonly used in various medical fields, tool manufacturing and even phone cases. TPU is biodegradeable and isn’t toxic.

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PET-G – Polyethylene terephthalate

PETG’s close relative, PET, is famous because of plastic bottles. PET-G is impact resistant, slightly flexible, remarkably resistant to chemicals. PETG is also one of the few foodsafe 3D filaments. PETG is a great choice for mechanical parts, that require slightly higher impact and stress resistance. 3D Printing PETG is similarly easy to PLA, but requires better, more expensive machines. Visually, PETG prints with small details look a tiny bit worse than PLA. Carbon fiber infused or fire retardant PETG filaments are also available with us.

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PC – Polycarbonate

PC is firm and highly temperature resistant. It is ideal for parts that require extreme stress and impact resistance. PC doesn’t conduct electricity, so it’s ideal for electronics enclosures and parts that are close to electronics. Aside from electronics, PC is also commonly used in the automotive industry.

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ASA – acrylonitrile styrene acrylate

ASA has many pros – great stress resistance, temperature resistance, extremely low deviations in dimensions when heated up and much more. Unlike ABS, ASA can rival PLA with it’s details, colours and overall looks. ASA can be used to print small details as well as endure relatively hard mechanical stress. If you want to print ABS, maybe consider ASA, as it’s properties are very similar to ABS, but it’s much easier to print and lasts longer.

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ABS – acrylo butadiene styrene

ABS is easily postprocessed and can endure quite hard mechanical stress. It’s properties are very similar to ASA, but it’s much harder to print, needs an enclosure for the printer and is susceptible to warping away from the print bed and between layers. Despite being a bit obsolete, ABS is still a great choice for parts that have to endure prolonged exposure to the elements.

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PA – nylon

Nylon is a versatile material, both firm and resistant to impact. Nylon has very good temperature and chemical resistance.

 

FYI, nylon prints absorb moisture from the air.

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PP – Polypropylene

Polypropylene is one of the most common plastics overall. Packing products like clear tape, ready meal boxes etc.. are made from polypropylene. PP has excellent chemical resistance and endures higher temperatures than other foodsafe plastics. A huge con of PP is the printing, as it requires a special plate also made from PP, otherwise it will deform away from the print surface.

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CPE – Copolyester

CPE is basically what ASA is to ABS, a sort of upgraded version of PLA. Unlike PLA, it’s perfectly suitable for mechanically stressed parts and endures higher temperatures than PLA. However, CPE is much more expensive, comes in a small variety of coulours and is harder to print.

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HIPS – high impact polystyrene

A newcomer to 3D printing filaments. HIPS has been a common packing material for years. It is firm, resistant to temperatures and ideal for very big prints. HIPS is also remarkably easy to postprocess.

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Vinyl 303 (PVC)

You’re probably familiar with PVC in it’s many forms. 3D printed PVC is one of the best materials for industrial grade stressed mechanical parts.

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ULTEM/PEI

Ultem® 1010 PEI is the perfect material, if you want parts that can endure prolonged exposure to temperatures upwards of 200 degrees celsius.

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PEEK

Can withstand prolonged exposure to temperatures up to 250°C.

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This post was written by Tomas