When it comes to 3D printing, there are several different types of plastics that you can use to create objects. Each type has its own unique characteristics and benefits, making them suitable for specific applications. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the different types of plastics used in 3D printing and explore the various applications each one serves.
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
ABS is one of the most commonly used plastics in 3D printing. It’s strong and durable, making it a popular choice for functional prototypes and end-use parts. ABS also allows for post-processing, allowing for sanding, painting, and chemical smoothing to achieve a smooth surface finish.
PLA (Polylactic Acid)
PLA is another popular choice for 3D printing, especially in the hobbyist community. It comes from renewable resources like sugarcane and corn starch, so it’s an environmentally friendly option for those seeking sustainable efforts. There are many benefits of using PLA plastic, but many gravitate to this choice due to its environmentally positive impacts.
PLA has a lower melting point compared to other plastics, making it easier to print with. However, it’s not as strong as ABS and may not serve all applications.
PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol)
PETG is a combination of PET (the plastic used in water bottles) and glycol. It has similar properties to ABS but with added flexibility and transparency. This makes it a popular choice for printing objects that require both strength and transparency, such as phone cases or protective covers.
Nylon is a highly versatile plastic used in various industries, including 3D printing. Many people choose it for its strength, flexibility, and durability. Additionally, you can easily dye nylon to achieve different colors, and it has a low friction coefficient, making it suitable for moving parts.
Polycarbonate is a strong, impact-resistant plastic that can withstand high temperatures. You’ll often see it used in industrial applications, but it has also gained popularity in 3D printing due to its strength and transparency. However, it can be challenging to print with and may require specialized equipment.
TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane)
TPU is a flexible plastic commonly used for printing soft and elastic objects, such as phone cases, shoe soles, and gaskets. It’s also resistant to abrasion and chemicals, making it suitable for functional parts.
There are a range of different plastics used in 3D printing, from nylon to naturally sourced variations and everything in between. Choosing the right plastic can make or break a project, so understanding the various types and their primary applications is essential. There’s an amazing future ahead for 3D printing, and these plastics are just the beginning.