Applications and Examples

Application–Material Relationship

When it comes to 3D printing, the sky is (almost) the limit in terms of what materials you can use—and researchers are constantly making new 3D printable materials.

There are a few major types of materials used in 3D printing. Also popular are plastics that can vary from engineering grades, such as PEEK, to very easy-to-use plastics, such as PLA. Resin is another common material used with SLA printers. Composites are another type and as the name suggests, they are generated by combining two materials in order to obtain the best properties of product. Metals are the last major category of materials, which can only be printed using modern equipment.

Polymer

From realistic display models to functional prototypes, tooling, and end-use parts, the opportunities created by polymer 3D printing are immense. Did you know that some high-performance thermoplastics are even tougher than aluminum?

a) Polyamide (PA 6)

Method: Powder bed fusion Technology: SLS, MJF

Applications: Piping and media flow/storage parts; Fluid reservoirs; Multipurpose industrial goods Tensile strength (MPa): Ranging from 38 to 66 Elongation at break (%): Ranging from 1.6 to 16 Hardness: Object, print direction, and technology dependent

b) Polyamide (PA 11)

Method: Powder bed fusion Technology: SLS, MJF

Applications: Insoles; Living hinges; Prostheses; Snap fits Tensile strength (MPa): -50 Elongation at break (%): Ranging from 35 to 50 Hardness: -Shore D 80

c) Polyamide (PA 12)

Method: Powder bed fusion Technology: SLS, MJF

Applications: Connectors; Drones; Enclosures; Housings Tensile strength (MPa): Ranging from 41 to 48

Elongation at break (%): Ranging from 15 to 20 Hardness: ~Shore D 80

d) Glass Bead Filled Polyamide

Method: Powder bed fusion Technology: MJF

Applications: Fixtures; Tooling; Enclosures; Housings Tensile strength (MPa): ~30 Elongation at break (%): ~10 Hardness: ~Shore D 82

e) TPU

Method: Extrusion; Powder bed fusion Technology: FFF/FDM, SLS, MJF Applications: Footwear, hoses, and tubes; Sealings Tensile strength (MPa): ~10 Elongation at Break (%): ~250 Hardness: ~Shore A 90

f) Silicone

Method: Vat polymerization; Material jetting Technology: DLP, SLA, DOD Applications: Sealings, molds, medical devices Tensile strength (MPa): Ranging from 6 to 9 Elongation at break (%): Ranging from 160 to 800 Hardness: Ranging from Shore A 20 to 70

g) PEEK

Method: Extrusion; Powder bed fusion Technology: FFF/FDM. SLS Applications: Aerospace, medical, electrical Tensile strength (MPa): Ranging from 85 to 100 Elongation at break (%): Ranging from 2.6 to 3 Hardness: Object and technology dependent

h) PEI

Method: Extrusion Technology: FFF/FDM

Applications: Aerospace, automotive, electrical Tensile strength (MPa): Ranging from 70 to 80 Elongation at break (%): Ranging from 3 to 6 Hardness: Object and technology dependent

i) Polypropylene

Method: Extrusion; Powder bed fusion Technology: FFF/FDM. SLS

Applications: Low-friction mechanical parts and food packaging Tensile strength (MPa): Ranging from 20 to 25 Elongation at break (%): Ranging from 20 to 75 Hardness: ~Shore D 65

j) Polycarbonate

Method: Extrusion Technology: FFF/FDM Applications: Brackets, fixtures, clamps Tensile strength (MPa): ~57 Elongation at break (%): ~4.8 Hardness: ~ Rockwell R 115

k) ABS

Method: Extrusion Technology: FFF/FDM

Applications: Models, alignment jigs, light prototyping Tensile strength (MPa): Ranging from 33 to 41 Elongation at break (%): Ranging from 4 to 6 Hardness: ~Shore D 109

Metal

Some of the most difficult 3D printing materials are metals. They also deliver thermal properties and high strength. Most of those metals are suitable for various applications in several alloys.

a) Stainless Steel

Method: Extrusion; Binder jetting Technology: FFF/FDM, BJ

Applications: Tools, gears, jewelry, miniatures, molds Tensile strength (MPa): Ranging from 521 to 582 Elongation at break (%): Ranging from 36 to 55 Hardness: ~ Rockwell В 71

b) Aluminum

Method: Powder bed fusion

Technology: SLM. DMLS

Applications: Spare parts, functional components

Tensile strength (MPa): Ranging from 410 to 440

Elongation at break (%): Ranging from 4 to 6

Hardness: —Brinell HB 119

c) Titanium

Method: Powder bed fusion Technology: SLM. DMLS

Applications: Biomedical implants and tooling, jewelry Tensile strength (MPa): Ranging from 1000 to 1200 Elongation at break (%): Ranging from 7 to 11 Hardness: ~Rockwell В 40

d) Maraging Steel

Method: Powder bed fusion Technology: SLM

Applications: Furnace parts; Tooling Tensile strength (MPa): -1135 Elongation at break (%): ~11 Hardness: -Vickers HV10 373

e) Cobalt-Chrome

Method: Powder bed fusion Technology: SLM, DMLS

Applications: Engine parts; Furnace parts; Implants Tensile strength (MPa): Ranging from 1050 to 1450 Elongation at break (%): Ranging from 8 to 28 Hardness: -Rockwell C HRC: 35

f) Tungsten

Method: Powder bed fusion Technology: SLM

Applications: Balance weights, MRI

Tensile strength (MPa): N/A

Elongation at break (%): N/A

Hardness: Ranging from Vickers HV30 300 to 650

 
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