How to Pick a 3D Printer Material
Todd Grimm posted on August 01, 2012 |
Confused by all the 3D printing material claims of "ABS-like," "tough," and durable? There's a new w...

FDM material samplesI’ve written two blog posts ([1] [2]) about the importance of materials to the future of 3D printing. The bottom line is that without a material that performs as needed, speed, cost and quality are irrelevant.

Well, 3D printer manufacturers know this all too well, and they are battling for your business with big claims and lofty promises. There is no shortage of “–like” statements (e.g., ABS-like) and long strings of adjectives (e.g., tough, durable). With all the marketing, it’s hard to distinguish one material from the next, even within one company’s product line.

Stratasys has responded with an informative white paper, “Thermoplastics: The Best Choice for 3D Printing,” that clearly differentiates 10 of its thermoplastic materials. In clear, non-technical language, the white paper describes key attributes and primary applications for each thermoplastic. With a quick read, you will learn when to use ABS-M30, polycarbonate, ULTEM or any of the other seven materials offered for Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). Once you’ve narrowed down your options, then you turn to the company’s material spec sheets to get values for mechanical, thermal, electrical and chemical properties.

This guide is perfect for those of us that aren’t materials engineers with an understanding of how tensile strength, elongation at break and impact strength combine to make a tough or durable material.

What the white paper doesn’t tell you is that of all the 3D printing processes that use thermoplastics, FDM has the most variety of commercially available polymers.

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