3D printers create a new age in technology. Many large companies are innovative in producing printer materials for 3D printing. Experts are eager to discover new ways to make 3D printers more useful in the future. One of their focuses is the materials for 3D printers.
Different materials are used in 3D printing. The commonly used materials are plastics that range from PEEK to PLA. People also use resin as a material for their printers.
You might also hear of “composites” or materials that come from two materials. (The material combination gives the best properties of the materials for 3D printing.) Metals are also a common choice to use on your 3D printers.
But you might be wondering – how much material does a 3d printer use? When we talk about 3D printing, your material choices are endless. Researchers are enthusiastic about making new materials for 3D printers.
Growth of Prototyping Design Concepts
Yes, 3D printers use different materials but not all materials are suitable for three-dimensional concepts. For example, you’ll create a 3D print of a food container, the materials you should use is food-safe. (An excellent material to use is PETG.)
People don’t have to use cheap metal if they’re testing their design to small-scale injection molding. (The thermoplastic option you can use is Nylon.)
Advanced manufacturing technologies were instrumental in the development of 3D printing materials. In the past centuries, artisans performed automated tasks. Now, anyone who has proper 3Dv printing skills can execute automated tasks.
Few examples of these tasks are the following:
- Full-color design concepts
- Visual arts projects
- Architectural models
Hence, you can’t argue that material development led to the growth of prototyping design concepts we have today.
Present 3D Printing Materials
The 3D printing materials are diverse. So, the products you would create are different as well. Manufacturers can determine the size, texture and product strength due to the flexibility of 3D printing materials.
Manufacturers perform fewer steps in achieving these qualities (strength, texture and size) unlike the traditional production process. Thus, creating different products is less hassle than before.
How Does a 3D Printer Work?
A manufacturer can create a finished model by inserting a detailed design image to the printer. Then, the design is rendered in STL or Standard Triangle Language. The STL allows the 3D printer to see a clear design from all angle sides.
Note: STL design is equal to multiple flat designs in a single computerized file.
The 3D printing industry is set to expand this year (2020) as experts developed more materials for 3D printers. Plastic is the eco-friendliest material used in 3D printing today. But the 3D printing expansion doesn’t end there.
The 3D printing industry is enthusiastic in discovering new ways to produce plastic. A few examples of these ways are using organic materials such as corn and soybean oil.
You might wonder – what are the plastic types used in 3D printing? Here are the following types manufacturers use:
PLA or Polyastic Acid
PLA Is an eco-friendly material used for 3D printers. PLA comes from natural products such as corn starch and sugar cane. PLA is available in hard or soft forms and is set to dominate the printing industry in the future. If you want a stronger material, use hard PLA.
ABS or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene
The ideal material for homebased printers is ABS because of strength and safety properties. ABS is also called the LEGO plastic due to its pasta-like qualities. Hence, ABS is a firm and flexible material for 3D printing.
You can choose different ABS colors depending on your preference. ABS is suitable If you want to create toys and stickers. But people also ABS in creating vases and jewelry.
PVA or Polyvinyl Alcohol Plastic
You can find this material in home printers. PVA isn’t suitable for support models but you can use this to create temporary items.
PC or Polycarbonate
Like the above-mentioned types, PCs aren’t used for most 3D printers. Polycarbonate is only used for printers that have a nozzle design and works at high temperature. If you have plastic toys and plastic fasteners, PC is used to create these items.
Plastic items used in 3D printers come in different sizes and shapes. Some of the items made from plastic are cogwheels, mesh bracelets and even Incredible Hulk action figures. Yes, plastic is the famous material you can use for your 3D printer. But do you know the “less-common” materials that can also be perfect to print 3D models?
If not, here are a few examples of other 3D printer materials:
Do you plan to create 3D models of vases, figurines or other home fixtures? Then, bronze is the material you need to print vase models and more to beautify your home.
If you’re printing coins, nickel is an excellent material to create a 3D coin. Some manufactures around the world are using nickel in the 3D printing industry.
Some people who love the kitchen so much try an innovative way of having kitchen utensils. Yes, you’re right if you’re thinking of 3D models of cookware, utensils and more. Stainless-steel works in most 3D printers you see in the market.
For jewelry collectors, gold is an ideal material to create braces, earrings and necklaces. You can print rings too! Most manufacturers are into jewelry making so there’s no doubt gold would be use more in the future.
3D printers use carbon-fiber as top-coat for plastic materials so that the plastic becomes stronger. As an alternative to metal, people are using carbon-fiber and plastic. The result is a convenient, fast and hassle-free printing process. In coming years, you can expect to see carbon-fiber material as an alternative to the slow carbon-fiber layup process.
Nitinol comes from titanium and nickel. The material is famous in the 3D printing industry because of its elasticity. Nitinol can be restored to its original shape even if you break it in half. Hence, you can rely on nitinol in making strong and flexible 3D objects.
Now, you have an idea how much material a 3D printer uses and you’re ready to choose the material you like. Don’t forget that not all materials are suitable for your 3D printer. Before you buy and use a material, check if it’s compatible with the printer.