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3D Printer - Which Material Can Be Used For Printing and Which May Not?

Despite the fact that 3D printing has already become extremely popular worldwide, majority of people associate this technology with desktop 3D printers able to fabricate object with use of synthetic polymers commonly known as plastics.
    NEW YORK, NY, December 08, 2017 /24-7PressRelease/ -- In fact, this is quite descent overview of 3D printing idea and most common applications but generally 3D printing is much wider topic and variety of materials that can be used to create your model goes far beyond ordinary plastics. Read this article and find out which material can be used for 3D printing and which may not.

Desktop 3D printer - what material can you use for your models?

Even simple 3D printer like RepRap can actually offer a wide choice of available materials to print with. Usually they are being sold in form of filaments spools which are long threads of specific material. Let's start with the most popular ones - ABS and PLA. Both of them are common thermoplastic polymers and are deep-rooted into the world of home 3D printing. Most of desktop 3D printers are adapted to use them since everything that they need is to increase temperature to approximately 200 degree C (~200 degree C for PLA and ~230 degree C for ABS) and deposit melted plastic in a proper way to form your desired shape. Another example of the materials that most desktop 3D printers are capable to print with are thermoplastic elastomers. These are simply speaking polymers which remain elastic after being formed and cooled down. Giving them a try will enable you to print really amazing, useful things like customized phone casings or bath ducks!

What materials are used in the industry?

In contrast to desktop 3D printers, requirements applied to industrial ones are much stricter. There are many standards that have to be met by printed object in order to be accepted as a fully-fledged industrial product, these including dimensional quality, durability and repeatability. As a result, materials used in these processes are usually different than ordinary ABS or PLA. Of course, they are used in the industrial 3D printing as well, but in most cases, there are significant differences in quality and price. Once again, the standards matter. Another very important example of materials used in industrial devices are metals. This term is not very precise but the truth is that there are hundreds of different metal types used to fabricate industrial 3D printed parts. Some of these materials are aluminium alloys, titanium, silver, stainless steel and much more. They are usually formed with use of different sintering processes that allow metal powders to merge and create and uniform structure. One more example of material that can be used in the industry is glass. The process is very similar to metal 3D printing, the biggest difference is raw material which is silicon dioxide.

That's all?

Of course, there are much more materials used in the 3D printing processes nowadays. They are usually not that common as ones mentioned earlier because they are either studied in research labs or quite innovative and not so widespread yet. Some examples of them are stem cells that are used to create human organs giving us a great chance to save people lives by replace damaged ones. Another interesting material is concrete mixture that have been successfully used to fabricate a whole house just a few months ago! Last, but not least and surely most pleasurable materials are sugar and chocolate. They have been used in confectionery production forever but with help of 3D printers filled with these ingredients we can now create a real work of arts that you will enjoy twice: looking at them and tasting them.

Is there actually any material I cannot use for 3D printing?

3D printing is spreading out into almost every area of our lives. Different materials are introduced and researched every day creating countless range of possible choices. Unfortunately, there are some materials that cannot be used for 3D printing purposes. These including ones that can't be formed into desired shape or merged together to form an actual object. It's quite obvious that you won't be able to print with water (assuming that it won't turn into ice) or wood. The good news is that there are materials able to imitate ones that we cannot use for printing. As an example, simply google "woodfill filaments" and discover how amazing 3D printing could be!


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Cezary Glijer
K2 Media

Warsaw, Mazowieckie
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