3D printers are now everywhere – in workshops, apartments, offices, classrooms and more. The 3D printing itself is a technology for the production of a product model, built by the method of layer construction of a three-dimensional object, in the process of which various consumables for a 3D printer are used – ABS plastic, PLA plastic, photopolymers and others.

The list of materials suitable for printing on a 3D printer is constantly growing and today includes several dozen types.

These are mainly plastics, nylon, paper, wood fibres, gypsum, acrylic, photopolymers, metal and even chocolate.

Let’s look at the characteristics of the most commonly used materials for 3D printing

ABS plastic

ABS plastic is one of the most famous and sought-after consumables. This type of material can withstand even strong external mechanical stresses, they are impact-resistant, strong and durable. Also, ABS plastic can withstand temperatures up to 100 ° C. Protopite made of ABS plastic boasts a shiny surface. The material itself is translucent, with a yellow tinge and can be painted in different colours. Another advantage is its high resistance to acids, bases, gasoline, fats, hydrocarbons and more. As for the price, it is twice lower than that of the basic competitor – PLA plastic.

PLA plastic

PLA plastic (polylactide) is the most environmentally friendly plastic for 3D printers and the most popular consumable. Polylactide is produced from biological waste (corn silage, sugar beet). The objects created with PLA are characterized by a high level of sliding, which is perfect, for example, if the material is used for the production of plain bearings.

PLA is most commonly used to make toys, medical supplies, and plastic for food, as it has a minimal level of toxicity compared to other materials. The only drawback is the higher price.

PVA – polyvinyl acetate

PVA – polyvinyl acetate is another suitable consumable for 3D printers. Most often it is assigned a supporting role in the production of objects with unique design and complex geometry. PVA plastic is also quite often used as a spacer for 3D printed parts.

Photopolymers

Photopolymers are quite a popular material with a large number of varieties, each of which changes its shape under the influence of sunlight. Photopolymers can be solid or liquid. Objects created on the basis of photopolymers are durable, resistant to moisture and sunlight.

Metal powder

Metal powder can be obtained from metals such as aluminium, copper, gold and silver or alloys from these metals. Items made of metal powder have a special metallic lustre that cannot be achieved even with ABS plastic. This material has found wide application in the creation of jewellery. The resulting models are very durable. The price of the powder depends on the metal from which it is made.

Nylon

Nylon is very similar in its properties to ABS plastic, but has a high resistance to high temperatures and absorbs moisture. It is resistant to various chemicals and solvents. The main disadvantage of nylon is the long period of hardening of the material, as well as the need to pump air from the extruder.

It is also toxic. It is mainly used in the production of levers, gears, parts for medical equipment, the creation of moulds and strings for musical instruments.

 

All of the above 3D printing materials have the necessary set of properties and good strength. However, the most sought after are two – ABS or PLA plastic. However, they do not always meet all the requirements, so manufacturers resort to other, equally high-quality materials.

 

 

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