The rise of 3D printing has revolutionized many different industries. When you think about 3D printing, what usually comes on mind is printing plastics. However, with the power of science and technology, you’ll find that there are hundreds of different materials being used in a 3D printing machine, even human cells to print human tissues and body organs. Here are some of the materials used in 3D printing:
ABS or Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene is a type of thermoplastic material used for 3D printing that is petroleum based and could melt in the temperature 240°C or 464°F. ABS requires a heated build area or bed to stick to the build surface and keep steady. This type of material produces durable and extremely tough objects. Although they can sometimes still break, but they are actually really strong enough. They are even much stronger when combined with carbon fiber. ABS comes in a variation of colors, and they can be recycled or reformed. This printing material can smell like plastic when printing, that is why your printing area must be well-ventilated.
PLA or Polylactic acid is made from renewable sources such as sugar cane and cornstarch, but they are much more difficult to reuse and recycle than ABS. Its melting point is at 180°C or 356°F. Unlike ABS, PLA does not need any heated build area or heated bed. It is also available in different colors, including clear and translucent filament. PLA objects are not as strong as those made from ABS.
Nylon or Polyamide comes in many varieties, and one of the most common grades of nylon for 3D printing is Nylon 618. This material has a melting temperature of 242°C or 464°F. Similar to ABS, Nylon 618 cools faster at the edges, which can result in unsteadiness or instability. Although it does not emit any hazardous fumes, the printing area must still be well ventilated. Nylon printed objects have slippery surface and are much lighter that PLA and ABS.
The melting temperature of metals is more than 500°C or 1,000°F. Metal 3D printers are more costly and more dangerous if not used correctly. Metal powders are also quite costly themselves. Some of the metal powders that are commonly used in 3D printing are titanium alloys, aluminum, stainless, steel, metal alloys, and cobalt chrome alloys.
Other 3D Printing Materials
3D Printing is now possible using materials such as glass, ceramic, and even food and human cells. Many industries, including manufacturing, the food industry, and the medical industry, are taking advantage of the 3D printing technology. 3D printing chocolates, pizzas, and other foods are now happening. Clothes can even be printed in 3D printers today. Body parts and tissues are now being 3D printed as well, and scientists and doctors are continuously researching on how to better the technology.