There are many types of 3D printing materials in the market and it is important to learn about these materials and the differences between them. Furthermore, if you are thinking in buying a 3D printer, you need to find out the supported materials and if it meets with your project or business.
In a previous article, What Are the Types of 3D Printing Technologies?, we explored the different types of 3D printers and each printer type works with specific range of materials.
The 3D printing materials vary based on many factors such as the printing technology, the look and feel of printed object, flexibility and sustainability, and of course the price. These factors should be considered when buying your first 3D printer and its associated materials.
The high price for 3D printing materials is another reason to learn about each type and how to choose the one that fit with your project needs with low price.
Below, we will explore the different types of 3D printing materials and characteristics of each of them:
Plastics / Polymers 3D Printing Materials
The plastics are the most commonly used materials because its cheap price and support by many of the desktop 3D printers (5 Affordable 3D Printers to Buy). The 3D printers that use this type of materials are known as Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM).
The technique behind this material is very simple, the desktop printer heats the plastic filament and the heated plastic extrude into the printing bed as very small layers above each other the create the complicated 3D model. In industrial 3D printers, the filament is heated using UV lasers.
There are different types of plastic filament such as the following:
- ABS (acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), strong material allows high carving accuracy. It is also durable and heat resistance.
- PLA (Polyactic Acid), plant-based plastic with low melting point.
Additionally, there are other materials such as the PC (Polycarbonate) and HDPE (High Density Poly Ethylene).
Photopolymer Resin Materials
These materials are used in Stereolithography printing, where a UV laser beam carve the 3D model in a resin liquid. The output of printing using photopolymer resin is very detailed and have smooth surface. The photopolymer resin materials include high detail resin, paintable resin, transparent resin,…etc.
The video below shows how to use the resin materials in 3D printing.
There are various materials that are used in a powder form such as ceramics 3D printing materials, and metal 3D materials. The technique behind these materials is similar to the stereolithography.
Instead of using the photopolymer as a printing materials., the laser beam carve the 3D model in the material in powder form to join the powder grains together in thin layers. After building the 3D model the unused powder is removed in a process called “de-powdering”.
iMaterialise provides a useful Periodic Table of Materials that give more idea about the different 3D printing materials and examples for each material.
As the 3D printing technology evolves, new materials are used and tested such as food, chocolate, nylon, organic tissues. Some materials are very expensive and others do not provide the required quality. So, it is important to plan for your 3D printing project and the best material that fit with the project adjectives.
If you would like to share with us other 3D printing materials, feel free to submit to the comments below or through the Submit Project or News link.