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3D Printing Material Options

FDM printing has quite a few different material options available, each ranging in price, strength, flexibility, and ability to print.  Here at SD3D, we have standardized to 16 material options, though this will likely change as more selection becomes available.

The two most commonly used materials are PLA and ABS .  PLA is a biodegradable material derived from corn starch and is the most cost effective material to print in.  While PLA has a very high tensile strength, it’s low elongation and the fact it can deform at 120°F make it a very brittle material at low infill.  That said, PLA has a very small shrinkage rate, making it perfect for large parts, molds, and prototypes.  

ABS is a much more mechanically strong material due to it’s high glass transition temperature and bend before breaking.  Legos are made of ABS and this is the go to material for the majority of mechanical applications.  

ABS can also be acetone vapor finished since it is soluble in acetone.  This process costs more, but will make your part more water tight and give it a shine that is comparable to injection mold quality.  

Aside from these two most common materials, all of our unique materials have their own application.  We offer PETG for parts that need to be mechanically strong but have a very high probability of warping in ABS, while we have poly carbonate ABS for parts that require a very high glass transition temperature..  

We then have a few nylons which have a very high strength, with varying degrees of elongation, and one even being FDA approved.   

Up next we have a wide array of carbon fiber reinforced blends, all the way up to our strongest material, carbon fiber reinforced nylon.  

Finally we have quite a few flexible materials, each with their own degree of flexibility and shore hardness.  

Nylons and flexible materials come with a hidden cost of being quite difficult to print.  They require a PVA mixture be painted onto the print bed in order for proper adhesion and they cannot print very complex parts.  These materials are more likely to ooze which results in a hairy and less precise print.  Support material is also very hard to remove due to its very strong layer adhesion, meaning scarring will be far more common on these materials.  

Pricing varies drastically between materials because of this difference in difficulty to print, along with the inherit cost to manufacture.  We will go over pricing a bit more in a future video.

If you have further questions, be sure to visit SD3D.com/Materials.  Here we go over each material option, along with their tensile strength, elongation, and glass transition temperatures.  We then compare each of these options via graphs and charts

Thanks for watching, and I hope this helped you to figure out the material that is best for your project.  If you have any further question, leave them in the comments below.  And don’t forget to subscribe for even more 3D printing tips and tutorials