How to choose the right 3D Printing materials?

FDM | SLA, DLP | SLS | MJF| SLM, DMLS

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3D printing or additive manufacturing technology, known for its advantages of low-cost and quick turnaround in prototype and on-demand production. It provides product designers and engineers more possibilities when developing new products.
 
However, because of the rapid changes in 3D printing, the materials it can print also change almost every month. This article aims to help users choose the most suitable 3D printing materials while reducing the cost of use.

Table of contents  

It takes around 15 minutes to read

>>The most popular 3D printing technologies & materials
>> Resolution & smoothness
>> Mechanical & chemical performance
>> Surface finishes: coloring, polishing, sand-blasting, anodizing, plating possibilities
>> Special functional materials: flame retardant, waterproof, ESD, medical-grade, flexible materials
>> How to save the 3D Printing cost?

China Dental 3D Printing Service

>>The most popular 3D Printing technologies & materials

So far, there are more than 20 types of 3D printing technologies on the market, such as FDM, SLA, DLP, SLS, SLM, EBM, DMLS, CLIP, CJP, Polyjet, and more. However, we only introduce the most commonly used 3D printing technologies & materials here,

FDM( Fused Deposition Modeling)
The process uses a digital design (Gcode) that is uploaded to the 3D printer. The filaments are melted and fed onto the build plate, as the nozzle moves across the build plate, the plastic cools and becomes solid, forming a hard bond with the previous layer, layer by layer until the object is finished.

Stereolithography(SLA)
The SLA 3D Printers begin drawing the layers of the support structures, followed by the object itself, with an ultraviolet laser aimed onto the surface of liquid photopolymer resin. After a layer is imaged on the resin surface, the build platform shifts down and a re-coating bar moves across the platform to apply the next layer of resin. The process is repeated layer by layer until the object is complete. 

Selective Laser Sintering(SLS)
The SLS machine begins sintering each layer of part geometry into a heated bed of nylon-based powder. After each layer is fused, a roller moves across the bed to distribute the next layer of powder. The process is repeated layer by layer until the build is complete.

Multi Jet Fusion(MJF)
Multi Jet Fusion uses an inkjet array to selectively apply fusing and detailing agents across a bed of nylon powder, which are then fused by heating elements into a solid layer. After each layer, the powder is distributed on top of the bed and the process repeats until the parts are complete.

Direct metal laser sintering(DMLS, SLM)
The DMLS machine begins sintering each layer-first the support structures to the build plate, then the part itself, with a laser aimed onto a bed of metallic powder. After a cross-section layer or powder is micro-welded, the build plate shifts down and a re-coater blade moves across the platform to deposit the next layer of powder into an inert build chamber. The process is repeated layer by layer until the part is complete.

Parameter

FDM

SLA

SLS

MJF

SLM/DMLS

Printing principle

Extrusion of melted filament

UV curing

Laser Sintering

Inkjet to selectively apply fusing and agents

Laser Melting

Layer height

50-200μm

25-50μm

32-50μm

50-100μm

50-100μm

Minimum Wall thickness

1.0mm

0.5mm

0.8mm

0.8mm

0.8mm

Achievable quality

Visible lines on the surface

Very smooth

Smooth

Smooth

Smooth

>> Resolution & smoothness

Technology

Tolerancing (mm)

Smoothness

FDM

Length within 100mm +/- 0,25mm; length >100mm, 100*0.25%mm

Visible lines on the surface, Ra24

SLS

Length within 100mm +/- 0,2mm; length >100mm, 100*0.2%mm

Smooth, Ra7

SLA

Length within 100mm +/- 0,1mm; length >100mm, 100*0.1%mm

Very smooth, Ra4.5

MJF

Length within 100mm +/- 0,2mm; length >100mm, 100*0.2%mm

Smooth, Ra7

SLM, DMLS

Length within 100mm +/- 0,1mm; length >100mm, 100*0.1%mm

Smooth, Ra7

 

>> Mechanical & Chemical performance

FDM Material-1

Properties

ABS

ASA

PETG

PC

PC/ABS

Young’s modulus
(MPa)

2147

2379

1523

2048

1832

Tensile strength
(MPa)

33.6

43.8

31.8

62.7

39.9

Elongation at break
(%)

2.7

6.8

4.4

12.2

4.2

Bending modulus
(MPa)

1400

3208

N/A

2045

2081

Bending strength
(MPa)

59

73.1

55.1

94.1

66.3

Charpy impact strength
(kJ/m2)

12.6

27.5

2.4

25.1

25.8

Aceton

dissolve

dissolve

Serious impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

Water absorption, Equilibrium, 23°C

No impact

No impact

No impact

No impact

No impact

Sodium Hypochlorite 15% (Chlorine Bleach)

Slight impact

N/A

N/A

No impact

No impact

Oil

Slight impact

N/A

N/A

No impact

No impact

Alcohol, Aliphatic

N/A

No impact

No impact

Slight impact

No impact

Weathering resistance

Slight impact

No impact

N/A

No impact

Slight impact

Hot water

Serious impact

Slight Impact

Slight impact

Slight impact

Slight impact

FDM Material-2

Properties

PA+CF

PEI 1010

PEI 9085

PPSF

PEEK

Young’s modulus
(MPa)

7453

2750

2500

2100

3738

Tensile strength
(MPa)

105

68

65

55

98

Elongation at break
(%)

3

3.3

5.8

3

9.1

Bending modulus
(MPa)

8339

3197

2550

2200

3612

Bending strength
(MPa)

169

120

110

110

147

Charpy impact strength
(kJ/m2)

13.4

30

N/A

N/A

N/A

Acetone

No impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

N/A

No impact

Water absorption, Equilibrium, 23°C

No impact

No impact

No impact

No impact

No impact

Sodium Hypochlorite 15% (Chlorine Bleach)

No impact

No impact

No impact

No impact

No impact

Oil

No impact

No impact

No impact

No impact

No impact

Alcohol, Aliphatic

No impact

No impact

No impact

No impact

No impact

Weathering resistance

No impact

No impact

No impact

No impact

No impact

Hot water

Slight impact

No impact

No impact

No impact

No impact

SLA Materials

Properties

ABS-like

Acrylic-Clear Resin

Somos-Taurus

Somos-128

Somos-8000

Young’s modulus
(MPa)

2500

2860

2310

2946

2370

Tensile strength
(MPa)

40

55

46.9

56.8

47.2

Elongation at break
(%)

4

4

4

11

8

Bending modulus
(MPa)

2300

2410

2054

2654

2222

Bending strength
(MPa)

70

82

73.8

80

66.8

Charpy impact strength
(kJ/m2)

10.5

10.5

47.5

38.9

23

Acetone

Serious impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

Water absorption, Equilibrium, 23°C

Slight impact

Slight impact

Slight impact

Slight impact

Slight impact

Sodium Hypochlorite 15% (Chlorine Bleach)

Serious impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

Oil

Serious impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

Alcohol, Aliphatic

Serious impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

Weathering resistance

Serious impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

Serious impact

Recommended Max. use temperature

35°C

35°C

45°C

45°C

45°C

SLS Materials

Properties

PA6

PA12

TPU

PA+GB

Young’s modulus
(MPa)

3200

1650

61

3200

Tensile strength
(MPa)

74

48

18

51

Elongation at break
(%)

4

4

276

9

Bending modulus
(MPa)

2300

1500

86

2900

Bending strength
(MPa)

99

N/A

6.2

70

Charpy impact strength
(kJ/m2)

10.5

53

No break

35

Acetone

No impact

No impact

No impact

No impact

Water absorption, Equilibrium, 23°C

No impact

No impact

Slight impact

No impact

Sodium Hypochlorite 15% (Chlorine Bleach)

N/A

No impact

No impact

No impact

Oil

Slight impact

No impact

Slight impact

No impact

Alcohol, Aliphatic

N/A

No impact

No impact

No impact

Weathering resistance

No impact

No impact

N/A

No impact

Hot water

Slight impact

Slight Impact

Slight impact

Slight impact

MJF Materials

Properties

PA11

PA12

PA+GF

Young’s modulus
(MPa)

1800

1800

2500

Tensile strength
(MPa)

52

48

30

Elongation at break
(%)

60

20

10

Bending modulus
(MPa)

1700

1800

2700

Bending strength
(MPa)

65

70

65

Charpy impact strength
(kJ/m2)

N/A

N/A

N/A

Acetone

No impact

No impact

No impact

Water absorption, Equilibrium, 23°C

No impact

No impact

No impact

Sodium Hypochlorite 15% (Chlorine Bleach)

No impact

No impact

No impact

Oil

No impact

No impact

No impact

Alcohol, Aliphatic

No impact

No impact

No impact

Weathering resistance

No impact

No impact

No impact

Hot water

Slight impact

Slight impact

Slight impact

>> Surface finishes: Coloring, Polishing, Sandblasting, Plating, Anodizing…

Technology

Initial colors

Polish & Coloring

Coloring

FDM

Multiple colors

Sand-blasting, Sand-paper polish

Spray Painting, Plating

SLS

White

Sand-blasting

Dyeing & Spray Painting

SLA

White, Clear,

Sand-paper polish

Spray painting, Plating

MJF

Grey, Black

Sand-blasting

Dyeing & Spray Painting

SLM, DMLS

Metal color

Sand-blasting, Electropolishing

Anodizing, Spray Painting, Plating

 

>> Special functional materials: flame retardant, UV resistance, ESD, medical-Grade, waterproof

Medical grade Materials:
ABS M30i(FDM), PEEK(FDM), PPSF(FDM), PA12( SLS & MJF), PA11(MJF), Ti64( SLM)

ESD Material:
ESD-ABS

Flame retardant materials:
PC-FR(FDM), PEI 1010 & 9085(FDM), PEEK(FDM), PA12-FR(SLS), PPS(FDM)

Waterproof materials:
PETG(FDM), PC(FDM), PEEK(FDM), PA12+GF(MJF)

UV resistance:
ASA, PC, Nylon+CF, PEEK, PEI

Flexible materials:
TPU95A & 85A(FDM), TPU75A & 90A(SLS), TPU50A(SLA). For high-standard TPU, we recommend using our Vacuum Casting service, please click HERE to learn more.

>>How to save the 3d printing cost?

Compared with CNC, 3D printing is not sensitive to the complexity of the objects. For example, in IN3DTEC’s China factory, one technician can control 15 to 20 devices at the same time. Therefore, the cost of 3D printing mainly depends on the weight of the part, So the most direct way to reduce costs is to make less weight of the objects, below are 4 free tips,

1. Choose the right material

Plastics:
the cost from high to low following by PEEK>PEI 1010=PPSF>PEI9085>PA+GF>PA+CF>PPS>PPA>PA6/66/12>ASA>PC>PC/ABS>ABS>PETG>PLA

Metals:
Ti64>>18Ni300>Stainless>Aluminum

2. Hollow the part

Samples with low strength requirements can be hollowed

3. Reduce the infill percentage(mainly for FDM)

4. Avoid any structure needs much support (Talk to us for any confusions)

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