How to Choose the Best Material for Your Design

May 8, 2017

So, you’ve got an idea for a 3D print project. Maybe you’ve drafted the design and even have a tentative sense of the pieces you need to use. But how can you choose the best materials without knowing all your options? That’s why we’re here to help! Here’s a list of some of the best 3D printing materials we offer to help you materialize your vision.

  1. Unfilled Nylon 11: The most appealing quality of this powerhouse material is its durability. Nylon 11 offers unbeatable resistance to breakage from long term use and elongation. It can withstand temperatures of up to 390 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as withstand extreme pressure and impact. This material comes in black, so it’s perfect for a sleek, modern design.
  2. Unfilled Nylon 12: This is our most generally applicable and affordable material and suits just about any design or prototype imaginable. Applicability and affordability aside, Nylon 12 offers outstanding strength and flexibility, despite its light weight, which makes it easy and cost-efficient to transport and ship. This material comes in white, so it suits any design color scheme. It’s also resistant to chemicals and has a melting point of 325 degrees Fahrenheit and can be tumbled, dyed, painted, glued, drilled, tapped, machined and basically undergo any procedure your design requires. You can even use Nylon 12 for any non-alcoholic food and beverage products, as it is certified by the FDA.
  3. Nylon 12 FR: For any design that requires fire retardant materials, turn to Nylon 12 FR. This material has some of the same qualities as unfilled Nylon 12 and will even produce parts that are physically identical to those you could make with unfilled Nylon 12. It has fantastic self-extinguishing properties when exposed to flame. This feature makes it perfect for aviation and automotive parts. Like the regular Unfilled Nylon 12, this material comes in white.
  4. Carbon Fiber and Glass Filled Nylon: This is among our strongest materials, even more durable than Unfilled Nylon 12. It also offers high heat resistance, dimensional stability, conductivity (since it’s made with carbon) and flexibility. Though Carbon Fiber and Glass Filled Nylon is not flame retardant, it still works well for unmanned motor and air transportation. This material comes in light grey and black.
  5. Polystyrene: This is more of a specialized material that is used for the production of lost patterns for investment casting. It has one distinct advantage: it allows for print gating and for placing the sprue directly onto the pattern. It has a low residual ash content of 0.002% when it’s burned.
  6. Alumide: Though the aluminum component of this material makes it a bit more fragile, it maintains good dimensional stability and has a gorgeously sleek metallic sheen. Alumide parts are more easily machined in post-machining operation than parts made with any other material. This material comes in a light grey neutral tone, making it versatile for any design color scheme.

For more information on these materials or to see what else we offer, check out our SLS materials webpage. Every project is unique, which is why you need to be selective with your materials. If you don’t know which material is best for your product, we’ll help you figure it out! Contact us today, so you can witness firsthand how we can make your imagination come to life!

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