Types of 3D Printing Materials From Plastics, Papers To Food

Are you wondering what types of materials you can use for 3D printing? Do you want to know the different types of 3D printing materials?

If you do, then you are just on the right page because I’ll be sharing with you the different materials that you can use for your project. You would probably be surprised because some of these are not as popular as plastics when you look for materials for 3D printing.

3D printing is a growing industry and the materials available for 3D printing has also changed over the years. If you are a fan of 3D printing, there is a wide variety of materials that you can choose from to create a 3D object and we will be covering that here.

Here are some of the 3D printing materials that you should check out:

Plastics

pla filament storage

Plastics are one of the most common 3D printing materials that designers use and you probably know this already. But do you know that there are still many types of plastics for 3D printing?

Here are the two most popular plastic filament for 3D printing.

ABS

ABS is among the most common plastic materials for 3D printing. This is widely used in entry-level FDM 3D printers in filament form.

ABS is a very strong plastic and comes in a variety of colors. This material can easily be brought in a filament form from non-proprietary sources making it very popular.

PLA

PLA is biodegradable, which makes it a great choice for environmental advocates who want to engage in 3D printing. PLA can be utilized in resin format for Digital Light Processing (DLP) and Stereolithography.

This plastic can also be used in filament form for the FDM process. Just like ABS, PLA is available in different colors. However, it is not as durable.

📌Benefits: ABA and PLA are ideal for low-cost prototyping, developing mechanical parts, cases, holders, adapters, toys, and scale models. However, they are not recommended for objects that require intricate designs.
3D-material-Nylon-for-CubePro
IMG Source:designnews.com

Other Types of Plastics

Once you use plastic other than ABS and PLA for 3D printing, you are already using a specialized plastic with specific properties rather than for general 3D printing. Here are some of them.

Nylon

nylon

Nylon or polyamide is commonly used in powder form with sintering process or in filament form with FDM process. This material is strong, flexible and durable. Nylon is naturally white in color, but it can be colored for pre or post-printing.

Nylon in powder form can be combined with powdered aluminum to produce Alumide, another common 3D printing material for sintering. Nylon is reliable for 3D printing.

However, it is more costly than PLA or ABS because it is used for specific material properties (resistance to specific chemicals) or due to the FDA approved materials.

📌 Nylon is ideal for functional products, complex models with intricate design, moving and assembled parts, cases, holders, and adapters. However, nylon is not good for cavities with design.

HIPS

HIPS Filament

High Impact Polystyrene or HIPS are plastic filaments used for dissolvable support structures in FDM printers. HIPS have similar characteristics with ABS, only that it is completely soluble in liquid hydrocarbon called limonene.

If you are using an FDM printer with more than one print head you can extrude ABS in one head and HIPS in another head as a support material. HIPS will dissolve away, leaving ABS behind for a cleaner output.

LayBrick and LayWood

laybrick

📌LayBrick and LayWood may vary in appearance depending on the temperature at which they are printed. For instance, LayBrick can be as smooth as ceramic or rough as sandstone just by increasing the heat of extrusion.

You can achieve a smooth result in this material by printing at a low temperature from 165O C to 190O. Meanwhile, increasing the temperature from the said temperature to around 210OC will render a rougher result.

On the other hand, for LayWood, the difference in appearance is not on the texture but in the color. When you increase the temperature, it will result in darker wood grain. If you have a printer that supports variable temperature in a single print, you can get different colors in a single print using LayWood.

T-Glase

T-Glase is the brand name for filament composed of Polyethylene terephthalate. This material is the most glass-like compared to other 3D printer filaments.

📌T-Glase prints at around 221OC on a heated bed. This material is very stable, light-transmissive and curing-resistant.
Materials_3dprinting
IMG source:businessinsider.com

Metal

metal

Aside from plastics, metal is popular in 3D printing. Check out the metal powder used in the craft below.

steelStainless Steel – Stainless Steel in powder form are used in sintering/melting/EBM processes. This material is naturally silver, but it can be plated with other materials to achieve a gold or bronze effect.

gold and silverGold / Silver – These materials are considered in 3D printing in 2011. They are very useful in the jewelry sector. These materials are very strong and just like the stainless steel, gold and silver are processed in powder form.

titaniumTitanium – this material is one of the strongest metal materials you can find in the market for 3D printing industrial applications. Just like the others, Titanium is supplied in powder form.

Other Metals – Aside from the aforementioned metals, maraging steel, Inconel – In718, Inconel – In625, cobalt chrome, and copper are also used in 3D printing.

📌Benefits: Industrial metals are ideal for functional prototypes and end-use parts, mechanical parts, and moving and assembled parts. It is also great for complex designs with intricate details. Just like nylon, these materials are not recommended for cavities with design.

Ceramics

ceramics

📌Ceramic is a new material in 3D printing that is more durable than metal and plastic. Ceramic can withstand extreme heat and pressure without warping or breaking. Ceramics don’t rust like metals or wear away like plastic.
📌However, ceramics are difficult to process. In fact, it requires a tremendous amount of temperature to melt.

Ceramics are great material for tablewares like cups, bowls, egg cups and coasters. It is also perfect for candle holders, tiles, vases, arts, and more items.

Papers

paper

Papers are popular for 2D printing, but mind you, they are also great materials for 3D printing. In fact, you can use Standard A4 copier paper as your 3D printing material.

📌Using paper as your 3D printing material offers a number of advantages, it results in a full-color model, very cheap compared to other material, easy to acquire and recyclable.

Mcor Arke can 3D print a variety of sturdy objects that look almost like everyday life even if they are only made of paper. If you are looking for a 3D printer that uses paper, check that one out.

Bio Materials

3d material-sneakers

IMG Source:all3dp.com

Biomaterials are synthetic or natural material that can be used for constructing artificial organs, prostheses, bones or tissue. This material can now be used in 3D printing for a number of medical soma applications.

In fact, several studies are examining living tissues with the goal of developing applications to print human organs for transplant and external tissues for body parts where replacement is needed. Another 3D printing area using biomaterials concentrates on developing food like meat.

Food

Chocolate

The arts of 3D printing have no limitations. In fact, there are 3D printers design to use food as printing materials.

📌The most common and desirable materials for 3D printing is chocolate. However, aside from this, other printers work with sugar, candy, pancake batter and some with pasta and meat. Some can also 3D print using paste-type ingredients like tomato sauce, chocolate sauce, salad sauce.

There are already many food 3D printers. These 3D printers are useful for bakeries as they are designed to print food that’s why they use food as materials.

Any food with ingredients that can be puréed can be 3D printed. Some of the foods that you can 3D print are gingerbread, hamburgers, chocolates, pancakes, pizzas and more.

Here’s an overview of how 3D printing works.

3d printed pizza

Conclusion

3D printing is very flexible and it continues to improve. As this craft grows, more and more materials will be compatible with 3D printers. In due time, any material you could think of might probably be applicable in 3D printing, so keep yourself updated!

What’s your favorite 3D printing material? Do you find it in the list?

For those who want to learn more about 3D printers, please check our homepage.