3D printing is such a new process that it is only in its infancy of possibilities for consumers, manufacturers and inventors. In the same vein, 3D ink is still being optimized. For budding 3D printers and professional printers alike, preventing 3D ink failure is essential to getting the most out your printed products.

To make sure your 3D printer ink won’t fail, it is essential that you select the optimal ink for your project. Below, we have listed the most common materials that make up 3D printer ink and how they are best applied in the real world. Use the list as a reference to ensure that your 3D printer filaments won’t fail when creating or prototyping your product.

ABS Plastic

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is a polymer with thermoplastic and amorphous characteristics. At 221 degrees Fahrenheit, ABS plastic liquefies and can be molded. Unlike thermoset materials, it can be transformed into liquid again without burning, which makes it easily recyclable.

It is impressively resistant to corrosion and physical impact. However, because of its low melting point, it is not well-suited to applications that include high heat. ABS plastic is commonly used in plastic block toys, computer keyboards, and wall sockets.

PLA Plastic

Polylactic acid (PLA) plastic is made from renewable resources such as sugar or corn. It is biodegradable and shares characteristics with commonly used plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene.

Like ABS plastic, it can be reheated to a liquid and recycled. It carries the additional positive property of biodegradability. One of its chief uses in 3D printing is as a filler in an interior cavity. After the filler has been encased with another, more resilient 3D printer filament, the printer can melt out the PLA plastic, leaving a usable recess.

Epoxy Resin

Epoxy is a thermosetting polymer that, at a low molecular weight, can be used as a resin. It’s usually derived from petroleum, though it is possible to create it from plant sources.

Because it is thermosetting, it can be melted and cast only once before it will burn at high temperatures. However, it also yields incredibly lightweight and uncommonly strong products. It is anywhere from 10 to 20 times stiffer than other common 3d-printing polymers. Its strength makes it an ideal candidate for large-scale industrial use.

Nylon

Nylon is a common material in clothes manufacturing, but it is only recently gaining popularity among 3D printers. It has a high melting point at 240 degrees Celsius, and cannot be extruded at temperatures any lower. Such a property limits its widespread use, as it often needs a customized hot end, the extruding tool of the 3D printer, to work properly.

However, with the right setup, nylon is perfect for creating functional, movable parts. It is stronger than ABS or PLA plastics, but retains flexibility when kept thin. So far, printers have used nylon to create things like 3D printed garments, surfboard fins, and living hinges.

Powder

Powder is not so much a material as it is a delivery system. If a material can be powderized, a 3D printer can likely use it to print. If your printing demands materials such as copper, steel, ceramics, glass, or even gold, using a powdered form of your material may make your print possible.

However, ordinary 3D printers cannot harness the strength of powdered materials. With today’s 3D printing technology, powdered material is usually reserved for large manufacturers, especially those in technology, for printing electronic or large-scale parts in massive quantities.

Choose the best 3D printer filament for your use case to prevent product or prototype failure. Avomeen’s plastic and polymer testing services can help you understand the properties of your 3D printed product. Additionally, Avomeen can deformulate a competitor’s plastic product and determine the best method of manufacture for your business.