3D Printers are one of the most futuristic, modern and sophisticated technology out there. But without its 3D Printing Material, it’s rendered useless. Consider the texture, color, durability and other physical properties you want your product to have while choosing the material you want to 3D Print in. Choosing the material for 3D Print is not an easy task… One has weighed their personal project demands against price, efficiency, and precision. Walking this tight rope can be extremely difficult, however, this article could help you objectively choose which 3D printing materials are best for YOUR personal needs.
Different 3D Printing Materials
PLA (Poly-Lactic Acid) – Most Environment-Friendly 3D Printing Material
PLA is the most environmentally conscious 3D Printing material. It is completely made out of renewable sources, making it biodegradable. This property, when combined with its non-toxicity makes it the go-to choice for doctors when it comes to medical sutures and implants. PLA is the easiest material to 3D print in and has quickly become the choice of several companies and clothing brands. However, PLA tends to attract and absorb water making it corrode at an alarming rate. It’s variety in color and low/safe printing temperatures makes it ideal for kids and schools.
PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate): 3D Printing Materials
PVA is used as a supporting plastic to print 3D printed objects. Some 3D printed designs have no support underneath some of their layers. If not for the support PVA provides such objects that would fully collapse. PVA replaces the empty spaces in the design to temporarily provide support to an object while it’s being printed. After the object is printed it is put in water. The water completely dissolves the PVA thanks to its water solubility. This process frees the 3D printed object of its support structure. It is this application of PVA that makes it the ideal choice for an artist. Moreover, it is the only material that makes dynamic, complex and geometrically intricate shapes. However, it is important to note that PVA is extremely expensive and hard to find.
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
The most popular and reliable plastic used in 3D Printing. From cars to mobile cases to pipes, ABS plastic can be found everywhere. ABS is durable, stable and heat resistant. Being the most affordable and accessible material in the market, ABS is suitable for large products of all varieties. However, there are several downsides to using ABS too. ABS’ high melting points results in tons of fumes which can be extremely harmful to your body. Moreover, its physical properties make it shrink and corrode over time. Due to this, artists choose to not use ABS plastic.
Polycarbonate is one of the strongest and reliable 3D printing filament. Popularised by its engineering application, this filament is used widely in civil engineering. It’s slower print speeds and higher temperatures make it one of hardest materials to learn 3D Printing with. However, once you get the hang of it, using polycarbonate can actually be quite simple.
PET is non-toxic and the most food-safe material for 3D Printing. Even though it has a beautiful delicate glass-like look, PET is both, durable and chemically strong. Moreover, it doesn’t produce any odor and/or fumes while printing… making it the safest 3D Printing material.
Now that you know more about different 3D printing materials used for printing, you can be more confident while using it. However, remember, balance is key. Choose a material that is durable, reliable, safe and yet, cost-effective.