Material Guide for those confusing material options

3D printers come in variety of sizes & capabilities. Meaning, they can produce tangible parts from your 3D models in more than a handful of material compositions. Follow our guide below to pick the right material for your needs.

Sturdy Functional Parts

1. ABS

Good for printing concept models and less functional models. Easier post process helps to finish the parts better than PLA.

Application

  • Architectural models
  • Electronic components
  • Models with moderate functional testing.

Design specifications

  • Minimum wall thickness: 1mm
  • Tolerance: 0.1mm

Rating

  • Surface quality (unprocessed) : 7/10 (sanded and vapour finished) : 8/10
  • Cost effectiveness: 9/10
  • Intricate designs and overhangs: 6/10
  • Strength: 9/10

2. PLA

Biodegradable plastic made of corn starch. Less warping when compared to ABS. post process is difficult and takes time to do the post process. More brittle than ABS. Less temperature resistance. Can be used upto 60 degree C over which the parts tend to loose its shape.

Application

  • Cups, water bottles
  • Wearable devices
  • Food safe products

Design specifications

  • Minimum wall thickness: 1mm
  • Tolerance: 0.1mm

Rating

  • Surface quality (unprocessed) : 7/10 (sanded and finished) : 7.5/10
  • Cost effectiveness: 9/10
  • Intricate designs and overhangs: 6/10
  • Strength: 9/10

3. HIPS

Material with outstanding resistance to warping during 3D printing process. absorbs light and reduces visibility of minor flaws, giving casings prototypes real commercial look.

Application

  • Architectural models
  • Electronic casings.
  • Form fit testing.

Design specifications

  • Minimum wall thickness: 1 mm
  • Tolerance: 0.1mm

Rating

  • Surface quality : 7.5/10
  • Cost effectiveness: 7/10
  • Intricate designs and overhangs: 6/10
  • Strength: 9/10

2. NYLON12 (polyamide)

Strongest materials available for 3d printing. Very high tensile strength compared to other materials. Can be used for snap fit, friction fit products. High quality products can be 3d printed.

Application

  • Automotive and Aerospace components
  • High load bearing products
  • Electronic covers
  • Medical devices.

Design specifications

  • Minimum wall thickness: 1mm
  • Tolerance: 0.1mm

Rating

  • Surface quality: 10/10
  • Cost effectiveness: 7/10
  • Intricate designs and overhangs: 10/10
  • Strength: 9/10
Highly Detailed Miniatures

RESIN

Photocuring polymer resin used in SLA technology to achieve higher detailed parts. Resins are classified into rigid, flexible, castable etc. Castable resins are used for making intricate patterns for investment casting in jewellery industry and automobile industry.

Application

  • Jewellery
  • Investment casting
  • prototyping small intricate components which needs high accuracy

Design specifications

  • Minimum wall thickness: 0.6 mm
  • Tolerance: 0.05 mm

Rating

  • Surface quality : 10/10
  • Cost effectiveness: 5/10
  • Intricate designs and overhangs: 9/10
  • Strength: (ranges depending on the material) : 6-8/10
Full Color HD Prints

Used for making multicolor 3d prints for display purposes. Made from gypsum powder using powder binding technology.

Application

  • Architectural modeling.
  • Demo models of packaging products.
  • figurines

Design specifications

  • Minimum wall thickness: 2 mm
  • Tolerance: 0.05 mm

Rating

  • Surface quality: 9/10
  • Cost effectiveness: 7/10
  • Intricate designs and overhangs: 9/10
  • Strength: (ranges depending on the material) : 4/10
For Industrial Casting

Sand based 3d printing helps casting industries eliminate the need for pattern manufacturing. The sand based 3d printing is used to manufacture high quality molds directly using zircon, silica or quartz sand.

Application

  • making sand mold
  • valve manufacturing
  • sand casting components

Design specifications

  • Minimum wall thickness: 2 mm
  • Tolerance: 0.1 mm

Rating

  • Surface quality: 9/10
  • Cost effectiveness: 3/10
  • Intricate designs and overhangs: 9/10
  • Strength: 7/10
Direct Metal parts

Very high tensile strength material made from SLS process. Used for prototyping auto, aerospace components.

Application

  • Aerospace and automobile industry.
  • Valve companies
  • Industrial component prototyping.

Design specifications

  • Minimum wall thickness:1 mm
  • Tolerance: 0.1mm

Rating

  • Surface quality : 8/10
  • Cost effectiveness: 5/10
  • Intricate designs and overhangs: 9/10
  • Strength: 10/10
Flexible Parts

FLEX

Elastic material with high yield strength. High shock absorption capacity and can be used for cushioning or shock absorption. Flexible and simple parts can be printed.

Application

  • Shoes, footwear
  • Phone cases
  • Rubber belts

Design specifications

  • Minimum wall thickness: 1.5 mm
  • Tolerance: 0.1mm

Rating

  • Surface quality: 6/10
  • Cost effectiveness: 7/10
  • Intricate designs and overhangs: 5/10
  • Strength: Flexible