FDM Material Guide


ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is a commonly used engineering thermoplastic within the industry. It is a good allrounder, with a good balance between being ductile and durable, with great temperature and impact resistance. Its ideal for low cost iterative prototyping for testing and proof of concept. In its FDM 3D printing form its only drawbacks are; it becomes difficult to print on larger and thin parts due to high shrinkage. It is also not UV stable. Finishing wise, it has a matt texture and is great at being finished both mechanically and chemically.

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ASA (Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate) is often overlooked by many. But for those in the know, its one of the best all round engineering thermoplastics and 3D printing filaments out there. It has all the benefits of ABS, but in addition it is UV stable, weather resistant, has low shrinkage and is resistant to more chemicals than others. Also it has better elasticity and impact strength. If we could print one material all day long it would be this one. Finishing wise; its is semi-matt in nature and can be treated both mechanically and with select chemicals.

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ABS/PC (90/10)

This ABS blend, irons out a few of the downfalls with straight ABS. The addition of 10% PC (Polycarbonate) increases the hardness, impact resistance, elasticity and more importantly reduces the shrinkage, so this material is better for larger parts. It is not UV stable and weather resistant. Finishing wise; this is semi-matt in nature and like ABS can be treated well both mechanically and chemically.

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HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene) is a light weight engineering thermoplastic. With higher elasticity then other materials, which makes it good for prototyping and functional testing. It also has a low shrinkage rate, making it ideal for larger parts. Finishing wise; it semi-matt in nature and produces excellent looking parts that are near production levels. It also finishes well by mechanical means.

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PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol-modified) is a highly recyclable, food grade thermoplastic that is widely used in the manufacturing of food containers and drinks bottles in the industry. Its has high impact resistance, tensile strength and elasticity. Finishing wise; its gloss in nature and is more difficult to finish than other plastics. 

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Polylactic acid (PLA) is a biodegradable and bioactive thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources, such as corn starch, cassava roots, chips, starch, or sugarcane. Great for non functional parts with a good glossy visual quality. This material is stiff but has very little elongation before breaking, resulting in poor impact resistance.

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Polycarbonate is widely used in industry from riot shields, phone cases, sunglasses to CD's. It has excellent strength, toughness with a high temperature and impact resistance. The filament has good chemical/solvent resistance. In its FDM form, colours are limited to black or white, and has a gloss finish.

Stiffer >       |     < Flexible

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