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3D PRINTING MATERIALS CLASSIFICATION

Updated: May 27, 2019

3D Materials can be categorised into few groups. Basically there are two main group which is polymers & metals.


1. Polymers – such as plastics come in many forms and different in properties. It depends on the range of applications. Generally polymers in 3D Printing come in 3 different forms: filament, resin & powder and divided into two main categories: thermoplastics and thermosets. These materials only differ in their material behaviour


Thermoplastics – thermoplastics can be melted and solidified over and over again while generally retaining their properties. like in FDM printing processes, it makes use of thermoplastics materials by heating up solid thermoplastics to a malleable state and extruding it onto a build platform where it then solidifies.


Thermosets – Thermosets typically start as a viscous fluid and are cured to become solid. Curing can occur via heat, light exposure or by mixing with a catalyst. Once solid, thermosets cannot be melted and instead will lose structural integrity when subjected to high temperature. SLA/DLP/material jetting processes use photopolymer thermosets that harden when exposed to a laser or UV light. (3D Hubs : 3D Printing Technologies and Materials)


2. Metal – Unlike polymers, which are used in a variety forms (solid filament, powder, resin) metal 3D printing almost exclusively uses powders. metal printing allows for high quality, functional and load bearing parts to be produced from a variety of metallic powders. particles size distribution, shape and flowability are the collective forces acting on individual particles as they flow.


These are all important properties that govern how appropriate a metal powder is for 3D Printing (3D Hubs: 3D Printing Technologies and Materials)


3. Other (Ceramics) – some 3D printing make use of ceramics (typically a polymer filled with ceramic powder) or composites (chopped carbon filled filaments or metal-nylon powder).


Polymers filled with ceramics powder have improved wear resistance making them ideal materials for tooling applications. SLA printing for example offers a ceramic powder filled resin used for the production of high detail injection holds. Carbon, aluminium, graphite and glass are all added to SLS powder increasing strength to weight performance, wear resistance and static resistance.

SLS Nylon powder material


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