What are the different types of 3d printer filament materials?
The popularity of additive manufacturing technology has resulted in a wide range of engineering plastics in 3D printing. Newer filament materials and filaments are being used nowadays.
In this blog, we look at various types of 3D printer filament materials and filaments.
High-temperature 3D Printing can be challenging, with various filament materials like PEEK, PEI, PAEK, and PEK being used.
PEEKPEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone) is used for industrial 3D printing. It was created in 1926 by Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), an UK manufacturing company initially named Victrex, which is known today as PEEK.
PEEK as a material has zero water absorption, outstanding harsh chemical resistance, good fire performance, excellent mechanical strength across a broad temperature range, and good dimensional stability.
PEKK (Polyetherketoneketone) is a liner thermoplastic polymer. PEKK shows excellent physical and mechanical properties, such as melting temperature and compressive strength in comparison to other polymeric materials.
PEKK provides users with even more advantages over PEEK such as more strength at high temperatures, higher compression strength, improved barrier performance, and better wear and friction properties.
Polyetherimide (PEI)PEI is widely used as an alternative to metals in compact electronic gadgets, as it increases the performance of compact electronics by heat dissipation. It has good chemical resistance, excellent electrical insulation properties, high tensile strength, and is inherently flame retardant.
PEI also has excellent mechanical properties, good temperature stability, and offers good wear resistance. It is also non-flammable, non-conductive, and generally resistant to chemicals, except chlorinated solvents. PEI also comes in multiple colours, though its natural colour is light brown.
Aerospace, automotive, food production, and medicine are some fields where printed PEI parts are used for both functional prototyping and low-volume production.
PPSUPPSU (Polyphenylsulfone) competes with other polymers that are used in the medical segment. One of them is Polycarbonate (PC), which is used extensively for medical applications. PPSU offers better heat resistance, sterilization, chemical resistance, and hydrolytic stability. This helps in enhancing the longevity of the medical equipment.
In the realm of consumer 3D printing, there are various thermoplastic materials used as 3D printer filaments such as PLA, ABS, PET, PETG, TPE, TPU, TPC, PA, and PC. Let us look briefly at these.
PLAPolylactic acid (PLA) is the most popular type of 3D printer filament, as it is easy to print with and has a lower printing temperature than ABS. It also does not emit an off-putting odour during printing and is widely used in many specialty filaments.
ABSAcrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is moderately superior to PLA in terms of material properties. Commonly used in injection moulding, ABS is found in many manufactured household and consumer goods, including LEGO bricks and bicycle helmets. Its key advantages are that it has high strength, provides high durability, and has resistance to high temperatures.
PETPolyethylene terephthalate (PET) is one of the most commonly used plastics in the world, and used in water bottles, clothing fibers and food containers. However, “raw” PET is rarely used in 3D printing, its variant PETG is an increasingly popular 3D printer filament.
PETG is used as an ideal 3D printer filament for functional objects such as mechanical parts, printer parts, and protective components, due to its flexibility, strength, and resistance to high temperature and impact.
TPEThermoplastic elastomers (TPE) are essentially plastics commonly used to produce automotive parts, household appliances, and medical supplies.
TPUThermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is a particular variety of TPE and is a popular 3D printer filament. Compared to generic TPE, TPU is slightly more rigid – making it easier to print. It’s also a little more durable and can better retain its elasticity in the cold.
TPCThermoplastic co-polyester (TPC) is another variety of TPE, though not as commonly used as TPU. Similar in most respects to TPE, TPC’s main advantage is its higher resistance to chemical and UV exposure, as well heat (up to 150 °C).
NylonNylon, also known as Polyamide (PA), is a popular family of synthetic polymers used in many industrial applications and is a go-to material in powder-fusion 3D printing. As a filament for 3D printing, it excels where strength, flexibility, and durability are key requirements.
PCPolycarbonate (PC) is popular for its extreme durability and resistance to both physical impact and heat and is naturally transparent. It is used in bulletproof glass, scuba masks, and electronic display screens.
To conclude, the polymer market has opened huge opportunities for materials like PEEK, PEKK. PEI and PPSU are to be used in 3D printing, and their unique characteristics and advantages have led to continuous research and development for use in more and more applications.