We understand that the technology of 3D printing is new to a lot of people so we put together this FAQ to answer any questions you may have. We’re also happy to answer any other questions you have about our services or 3D printing in general.
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- Tough glass
Flexible filament is a ‘soft’ PLA and is used to print rubber like parts that have more flex than other plastics.
Laybrick gives models the look and feel of stone while maintaining plastic like properties. Laybrick can be sanded as well as painted like other plastics and can have different effects depending on melting temperatures, creating a smoother stone effect or a more sandstone-like texture.
Laywood filament is a wood like material for 3D printing that gives the objects the look and feel of wood. It can also give these parts other wood-like properties such as the ability to be cut, painted and sanded.
Nylon is a very versatile material which prints as a bright white with a translucent surface and has a very high impact strength, is lighter than ABS and can easily absorb colour post-printing. Also commonly used for stringed instruments as well as composites in clothing.
Polylactic Acid or PLA is one of the two most common 3D printing materials. It’s considered to be one of the more eco-friendly options as it is made from corn starch and requires less resources to produce than other petroleum based plastics. It can be used for a broad range of applications since it is strong and durable, as well as having low warp and odour properties. PLA is also commonly used in medical applications for plates, rods and mesh.
- PLA is a plastic made of renewable starches such as corn and sugarcane.
- It is biodegradable and does not emit a lot of ultra fines particles (UFCs).
- It produces a barely noticeable, but quite pleasant, sugary smell when extruding.
- Depending on the specifications and the color, extrusion temperature can vary between 160 and 220 °C.
- Parts printed using PLA are more rigid than ABS parts (ABS is more flexible).
- In general, parts printed using PLA have a slightly glossy finish.
- PLA is less prone to warping during print and is ‘stickier’ than ABS.
- PLA starts to become malleable (heat deflection point) at around 60 °C.
- PLA requires a bit more force to be extruded as it has a higher coefficient of friction than ABS.
- PLA is a bit more recent in the history of FDM 3D printers and has a promising future.
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is the other most common 3D printing material although unlike PLA is a petroleum based product. It can be used to make similarly durable products as PLA but which can withstand higher temperatures and are less brittle. ABS can also be processes after production with acetone to smooth the surface and give a gloss like finish.
- ABS is a common thermoplastic (LEGO blocks are made of ABS) that is essentially pretroleum based.
- ABS is more prone to producing UFCs when compared to PLA. Good ventilation is recommended.
- It produces a slight ‘burnt plastic’ smell when extruding.
- Depending on the specifications and the color, extrusion temperature can vary between 220 and 260 degrees Celsius.
- Parts printed using ABS have a “bend” to them and are less brittle than PLA.
- In general, parts printed using ABS have a glossier finish than PLA parts.
- ABS starts to become malleable (heat deflection point) at around 100 °C (which makes it more heat resistant than PLA).
- ABS has a lower coefficient of friction than PLA and requires slightly less force to be extruded than PLA.
- ABS can be considered the “legacy” type of filament since it was used for 3D printing before PLA.
Polytvinyl alcohol or PVA prints translucent and is used primarily in 3D printing as a structural support material for overhanging features. It is water-soluble and is most widely known and used outside of 3D printing applications as a glue.