3d printing materials can be the difference between a successful print or print failure. Whilst the main focus of 3d printing has been machines over the past few years, the attention is turning to materials and the development of this area is rapid. We recently interviewed an industry leader on their views of materials and found out this area has great growth potential. We have tested many different types of 3d printing materials here at the 3dfilemarket, from the most common PLA and ABS to most exotic and experimental materials such as woodfills, brassfill, bronzefill and XT. This page is to document our experience with different types of 3d printing materials and to showcase images of the prints.
What 3d printing materials should I 3d print with?
When starting out with 3d printing, the materials you use are just as important as the printer that you are printing with. There are many variables that can affect the success of a 3d print and the quality of the materials you use will effect everything. 3D printing materials come in two standard sizes, 1.75mm diameter and 2.85mm diameter. The later size being used mostly on Ultimaker brand 3d printer. The type of print or product you require can help determine what type of 3d printing materials you need to use. If you are downloading a part from a file repository and are only using the design for aesthetic reasons then PLA is a great choice. PLA stands for Poly Lactic Acid and is seen as a more environmentally friendly 3d printing material due to it being oil free. Cornstarch has been used in place of oil in the manufacturing process, resulting in a bio plastic that will actually bio degrade if disposed of in landfill.
If you would like a more hard wearing part/model then ABS would be a more suitable 3d printing material due to its increased strength properties. ABS stands for Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and Lego is actually made from ABS. Lego bricks last for years and can withstand repeated wear and tear so if you need a part that will last a long time this is a great choice. 3d printers like Zortrax only use ABS printers whilst most other printers such as Makerbots and Ultimakers can use pretty much any type of 3d printing materials. If it can be manufactured into a filament then it can be 3dprinted in most cases. The main difference, other than strength properties is the melting point of these materials. ABS is best suited to 3d printing at higher temperatures around 250 degrees, whilst PLA can be printed at much lower temperatures ranging from 190- 230 degrees.
Filament material sizes?
The main weights/sizes that 3d printing materials are available in are 1kg and 750grams. Obviously, 1kg will last longer however depending on how much you are 3d printing 750 grams could be more suitable for smaller scale projects. 3d printing materials do have a shelf life and PLA absorbs moisture so once it is out of its packet and should be stored in an air tight container with moisture absorbing packs inside. Many companies will also allow you to buy samples of 3d printing materials e.g. 5m/10m/20m lengths.
It is also important to make sure you unload your machine if you are not going to use your 3d printer for a while. Due to temperature variations in most rooms filament that is left exposed can become weak and brittle. To prolong the life of your 3d printing materials make sure they are stored in a cool, dark place when not being used.
3d printing materials are being developed all the time with new variants of materials being released on an almost weekly basis. One of the main companies that has pushed the development of materials is colorfabb. Colorfabb have developed many new experimental materials for use in personal 3d printers such as woodfill, brassfill, copperfill, bronzefill and cork fill filament. For more information on these 3d printing materials keep checking this page and our blog as we are testing them out.
We would like to thank Hawk3DProto.com for supplying the colorfabb filament for our testing case studies.
If you would like to contribute to this 3d printing materials page then please use the contact form below to email us your feedback regarding your experiences with 3d printing materials.