OverViewMasfen Machinery has implemented a new extrusion line to obtain filaments from a wide range of thermoplastic materials that can be used later to print parts by means of 3D printing technology. This filament extrusion line is equipped with a single screw extruder, a controlled cooling bath, a haul-off unit and a winding system, allowing to obtain rods with thicknesses of 1.75 mm and 3.00 mm filaments, although their versatility makes possible that it can be modified for other thicknesses.
Thanks to this new equipment, the Masfen Machinery is already able to process conventional, technical and biodegradable plastics, elastomers and modified materials (ABS, PE, PP, PVC, PLA, among other), what means new capacities when carrying out R&D projects.
This is the case of identifying commercial materials that can be used to produce filaments or developing customised and optimised materials by means of physical or chemical modification to reach the requirements defined. It will even allow modifying materials to get functional properties, such as conductivity, solubility, antimicrobial, etc. with applications in different sectors; carrying out processing assessments when manufacturing filaments of materials to be used, both commercial and new developments; and optimising processing parameters for commercial filaments.
What 3D Printing Materials Can And Should You Use?
There is a wide range of materials each with their own features, strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes it is hard to choose the most suitable material with your project in mind. This page is an overview of the most common materials that can be used on desktop 3D printers. For each material, we listed the features, pro’s and con’s so it can help you with choosing the right material. Look at our side menu for a quick overview of what materials we have listed and if there is a specific material that you would like to know more about but is missing from the list, let us know!
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is an petroleum-based polymer. It is very resistant to high temperature which makes this material perfect for real-world components. It is a pretty cheap material allowing for cost effective prototyping. ABS is the go-to material for most 3D printers. Along with PLA, it is the most common material used for desktop 3D printing.
ABS is available in a large array of colours which makes it popular among makers. Even the colorless ABS 3D printed object can be painted to any color. The material is mechanically strong, so you don’t have to worry about the lifespan of your model.
If you’re using ABS it is advised to print at 220° and 250°centigrade. To avoid bending and warping you will want to print with ABS on a heated bed (from 50° to 100°C) to ensure gradual cooling of the material. ABS gets a shiny, glossy look when processed with acetone vapour as this solution has the property to melt the upper layer of the printed object, making it smooth and shiny.
The biggest downfall of ABS is that it is a nonbiodegradable toxic material that releases toxic fumes at high temperatures and smells awful.
- Highly Available with a large variety of colours
- Applicable to just about any printerWarping
- Mechanically strong
- Longer lifespan
- Requires heated bed
- Not suitable for use with food
Made from renewable resources, Polylactic Acid is green 3d printing material. It has a moderate price point on the market and has various desirable properties and technical specifications which makes it the perfect 3D printer filamentfor hobbyists.
PLA’s general print temperature is between 180° and 220°. It is a slightly flexible material, but it generates a smoother outer shell of the printed object. Due to the fact that it is made of corn starch, PLA is not toxic and releases a pleasant sweet smell. PLA is preferred for 3D printing smaller objects.
This material is generally considered easier to print than most other materials, however, the postprint processing of PLA objects is much more difficult than those printed in ABS. PLA is available in a wide variety of blends such as wood, bamboo (mixing the standard plastic with fibers), copper, bronze (powder mix), and glowing effect (phosphorescent pigment).
- Easy to print
- Easily available in a variety of colours
- Can be printed on a cold surface
- High speed printing
- Low warping
- Not very sturdy
- Can deform when exposed to heat
- Difficult to post-process
Nylon is a strong and durable synthetic polymer with a translucent silky finish, also called white plastic. It is also sold for a moderate price which makes it widely used for the production of household items. Want to get started with printing Nylon?
Nylon is a flexible material, with a natural white color, but it can be painted in any color with an acidbased dye. With nylon you can print moving parts, making it ideal for hobbyists. Although nylon prints have a somewhat rough surface, it can be smoothed out. It is recommended, however to avoid nylon for printing small elements as the smoothing procedure can damage them. Taulman 618, Taulman 645, and Bridge Nylon are the most popular types of material for 3D printing. Taulman 3D printing materials are known to have high interlayer bonding, ensuring great durability and resistance of the printed model.
Just like PLA and ABS, Nylon material absorbs moisture from the air. This fact affects the quality of the print. Also, the moisture that gets absorbed by the material is the one to blame for the fumes released during printing. To avoid this, it is advised to store Nylon in airtight containers.
- High durability
- Flexible yet strong
- Easily dyed by leaving it soaked
- Produces smooth prints
- UV and chemical resistance
- Constantly meant to be kept dry in moisture free containers
- Printer suitability varies
- May require alterations to printers just to use
- Can expire
- Nylon sometimes shrinks during prints, and thus results can be imprecise
PP or polypropylene is a plastic used for many different purposes such as textiles, ropes and stationery. It is also resistant to multiple chemicals and solvents. PP is one of the most cost-efficient materials. The most common shaping technique for producing PP is injection molding. It ranks as one of the most coveted materials in the world.
Polypropylene can be strengthened by copolymerising it with ethylene. It can be used as an engineering material. It is also resistant to fats and almost all organic solvents at room temperature. PP can be dissolved in nonpolarity solvents such as xylene, tetralin and decalin.
It is very stiff and strong, and is thus used heavily for ropes and small components. Another great aspect of polypropylene is that since it is so widely used, it can be easily recycled for new filament. While it can be comparatively expensive, it’s recyclability makes it a bit more cost-effective.
However, PP does have it’s downsides. While it retains colour during heating, it has low solubility when it comes to dyes. Because of its excellent electrical insulating properties, polypropylene has a tendency to retain static charges caused by processing and handling. This condition also attracts dirt to the polymer surface.
- Resistant to many solvents
- Does not require complex heating apparatus
- Stiff and strong
- Colour retention
- Resistant to bacterial growth
- Impacted by UV
- Expensive (more so than PE)
- Heavy warping
- Difficult to print (very few printers currently manage it)
PET and it’s derivative material PETG are one of the most popular materials in the world. Even if you don’t know them by name, you’ve definitely seen them used in plastic bottles, in clothing fiber and in everyday consumer products. PETG is a modified version of PET with notable differences.
PET and PETG are easy to print with, however, they require a very precise temperature environment. This often leads to a lot of experimentation to get the exact parameters right. PETG and PET don’t necessitate a heated bed but it does help. The materials are not soluble in acetone.
The core differences between PET and PETG are durability (PETG has more), reaction to overheating (PET becomes brittle), Impact resistance and the presence of glycol in PETG. Recyclability is a massive advantage of PET and PETG. This can allow for the reuse of failed prints. They are generally transparent.
- Low warping
- Easy to print and has good layer adhesion
- Can be sterilised
- Good for food and drink containment
- Requires very accurate temperature conditions to get right
- PET becomes brittle from overheating (though not PETG)
- PETG can be weakened with UV light
- Prone to scratches (more than PLA)
HIPS stands for high impact polystyrene. Polystyrene is one of the most common materials in our daily lives. HIPS is a low cost material, with a higher strength level than the standard polystyrene. HIPS is used for various things like plastic signs and thicker containers.
HIPS can be used as a support material since it can be erased using limonene. HIPS is comparable to ABS in terms of ease of use. The core difference is its ability to dissolve. HIPS undergoes a high level of warping. However, with a well-balanced temperature level, it can produce very smooth layers.
HIPS is very malleable and can be used to make intricate structures. It is best used with a heated bed because it needs a constant temperature. In fact, without a constant flow of heat can cause HIPS to clog up the nozzle and delivery tubes. This means that it can make it difficult to print with 2 nozzle systems. It also has another downside, which is that it produces very strong fumes, so it’s best used in a ventilated area.
- Very smooth
- Very durable
- Wide range of applications
- Dissolvable and great as a support material
- Strong fumes
- Constant heat flow
- High level of warping/ can cause clogging in the extruder