Skip to main content

Key Considerations when 3D Printing with Thermoplastics

Today, a majority of consumer products and production parts are made from thermoplastics. Thermoplastics are typically used in manufacturing techniques like injection moulding, compression molding and machining, but with the invention of 3D printing, they became available for additive extrusion and sintering processes. A new door to advanced manufacturing has opened with 3D printing materials similar to the conventional thermoplastics familiar to engineers and designers.

Thermoplastics are plastic materials, or polymers, that become pliable when heated to a specific temperature and solidify upon cooling. Types of thermoplastics include acrylic, ABS, Nylon, PLA, polycarbonate (PC), polyethylene and other specialty, high performance materials.

If your part requires strength, rigidity or high temperature tolerance, then thermoplastics are a great option to fabricate your production component or prototype. Using 3D printing, engineers can make parts with the most commonly used thermoplastics, such as ABS, polycarbonate, a variety of blends, as well as thermoplastics engineered for aerospace, medical, automotive and other specialty applications. There are two additive technologies at Objective3D Direct Manufacturing that utilize thermoplastics: Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling).

Selective Laser Sintering Nylons
Selective Laser Sintering’s Nylon 12 and specialty nylons present a range of characteristics, including strength, flexibility and color. Dependent on application, nylons can be used in a variety of environments and industries.

SLS builds with powdered nylons and a CO² laser that melts layers of material. The cake bed that envelopes the parts allows for complicated geometries with interior features, undercuts and negative draft. Parts can be thin and flexible or strong and thick dependent on design. The flexibility, high impact strength and high temperature capabilities, make SLS materials an excellent option for functional prototyping or production parts including ducting, brackets, clips and flight-certified parts.

SLS nylons have an average surface finish of 125-250 RMS finish, but parts can be hand sanded smoother. They accept most coatings, textures, printing or other special finishes. SLS materials are available in white and black without finishing and can be easily dyed to match desired color post-build.

FDM Thermoplastics
FDM offers a wider variety of polymers, from ABS to polyphenylsulfone (PPSF), in order to provide engineering-grade materials in a 3D printing process. FDM thermoplastics offer special qualities, such as electrostatic dissipation, translucence, biocompatibility, VO flammability and FST ratings. These robust materials make FDM a viable option for functional prototyping and production parts in aerospace, automotive and medical industries.

FDM builds by extruding molten thermoplastic layer by layer until a part is produced. Since FDM adds small amounts of molten material in a heated environment, warp and the deformation of vertical walls is best avoided by adding ribs to thin-walled sections of a part, similar to injection molding.

FDM materials differ from injection-molded thermoplastics since they are non-isotropic due to the build style of the technology at certain orientations. FDM can also affect a part’s elastic modulus, elongation at break and flexural strength. With careful design considerations, these differences may not be significant for some applications.

Each FDM material is dimensionally stable and durable enough for demanding applications. The easiest way to identify the right FDM thermoplastic would be to consider the part’s characteristics, support material type and color. Similar to conventional thermoplastics, finishing FDM parts depends on the chosen material. Some FDM thermoplastics have soluble supports and offer up to ten color choices.

Comparing FDM & SLS

Familiar & Fast
The ultimate benefit of using SLS or FDM to fabricate parts is the familiarity of the materials with the added advantages of 3D printing. SLS and FDM offer the ability to build low-volume parts with complicated geometries much faster and usually at lower cost than injection molding.

If you would like to build a 3D Part and need a quote, please contact Objective3D Direct Manufacturing at 03-9785 2333 (AUS) or 09 801 0380 (NZ) or email us at Alternatively, you may upload your files and get a quote on our online system.

Popular posts from this blog

Delivering High Quantities of Prototypes Fast

Objective3D Direct Manufacturing produces parts using a range of additive and conventional manufacturing technologies. We offer tailored solutions for your project’s needs. If your project requires larger quantities of small parts – fast, Laser Sintering is the best technological solution for you. Per-part pricing is reduced as quantities increase, but there are more advantages to using Laser Sintering for small prototypes than price alone.

Laser Sintering (LS) provides strong, versatile and geometrically intricate components made from filled and un-filled nylon materials that are ideal for fit and form verification and functional testing. Prototypes made with LS are created quickly and offer robust solutions for your project.
FAST Delivery Laser Sintering can provide sturdy, functional prototypes as little as 24 hours. Multi-component designs can be incorporated into single structures, allowing engineers to produce complex features and geometries in one print, and eliminating the need…

3D scanning and reverse engineering streamline original furniture design and production

MU Form Furniture Design is an Oakland-based company that designs, manufactures and distributes furniture products for the modern home and business. The company is never short of orders since good and original design is sought after by architects and interior designers.

The main material MU Form works with is high-quality bent ply, which is one of the most widely used materials in this industry due to its ability to create a variety of shapes for chairs, stools, and tables.

The company’s specialists seek to create great designs that pose a challenge for other manufacturers to copy or replicate.

“Our designers are tasked to develop furniture designs that require a significant amount of trial and error by developing physical prototypes of chairs and stools,” says Mark Leong, CEO of MU Form.

To produce a new original piece of furniture, MU Form would normally ship a physical prototype model to a factory overseas so they reverse engineer the model by using a router duplicator to create a …

Commodore Ute to US: 100,000 votes needed!

According to The Age Drive and an article by Barry Park, we are again set to export our Commodore Ute to the US.

The article is as follows:

US website rallies to GM's Twitter call of 'If you ask for an El Camino ute, we'll do it'.

An off-the-cuff quip from General Motors' newly appointed chief marketing officer could be just the thing to help Holden's cause to sell the Commodore ute in the US.

Joel Ewanick, who made the jump from Hyundai to the US car maker late last year, recently joined the social networking service Twitter. He soon started interacting with Chevrolet fans, with many of them asking for the car maker to re-introduce a vehicle based on a cross between a truck (ute) and a car.

In response to one passionate request for a new-age El Camino, Ewanick wrote: ''Well, we need you and 100,000 more of your best friends.''

Advertisement: Story continues below That was enough for US motoring website Jalopnik, which is now on a campaign to collect…