The choice of materials for 3D prints is important. The 'ideal' material for any application comes down to how it will be used. Factors such as temperature resistance, impact strength, friction, creep, springiness and so on vary from material to material as does cost, We normally select the material, based on the application. Here is a run down of the materials we keep on hand:
Materials for 3D printing:
PLA: Easy to print, inexpensive and non-toxic, PLA is a good material for basic items that are not subject to heat or long-term mechanical stress. PLA parts should not be washed in hot water or left in a hot car as permanent distortion could result. PLA also suffers from 'creep' meaning that it will deform due to stress over time, It's great for ornamental items, cookie cutters, soap stamps, and so on. We have a wide choice of colours, subject to availability.
PETG: When PLA won't do, PETG is another non-toxic material with better mechanical properties. PETG is able to withstand moderately high temperatures and is much better suited to applications requiring long term stress. It’s also quite springy, and comparatively low friction, making it a good choice for parts that clip together. One issue with PETG is its poor impact strength, meaning sudden sharp knocks can cause cracks. Colour options are black, white, red, blue, grey and translucent, subject to availability.
ABS: For tough and higher temperature applications, ABS is a good choice. It has better impact strength than PETG, although less springy and higher friction. We can chemically weld ABS parts together to make a strong bond that's useful for complex parts. The downside of ABS is that it can be degraded by sunlight, so outdoor parts would need to be painted. ABS is a good choice for automotive parts. Colour options are black & white, subject to availability.
ASA: Very similar to ABS, ASA is more stable in sunlight. ASA is also more expensive than ABS, otherwise we’d use it in preference to ABS! Colour options are black & white, subject to availability.
Nylon: Nylon is low friction and tough, making it a great choice for gears and other moving parts. It’s expensive but a great choice for suitable parts. Colour options are black & white, subject to availability. We also have glass filled nylon for parts subject to high temperature or strength.
Polycarbonate: PC is an industrial thermoplastic that is extremely tough, durable and rigid. PC is known for its great impact strength and it's high heat resistance, making it the best substitute for metals in high temperature environments. Available in black.
Flex: Flexible and semi-flexible TPU materials are good where some elasticity is required. These materials are expensive, but because parts using flex are generally small it’s not prohibitive. These materials are useful for seals, couplings, covers and straps. Colour is black or white, subject to availability.
Others: We have some specialist materials available and can order others, so if the choices above don’t fit your application, give us a call.
Materials for mold making:
General purpose silicone suited to general, non-food applications such as soap molds or resin parts.
Food grade, high temperature silicone. Great for chocolates, cakes and other edibles,
3D Print resins:
Standard resin: This is good for decorative parts, giving a highly detailed finish. Needs to be painted.
Tough Resin: This is good for parts used for functional applications.
Jewelry wax: This is for use in 'lost wax' processes where metal is poured into a mold to replace the wax master.