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Fun Facts about 3D Printing

Already familiar with 3D printing?


Prepare to be amazed by these incredible insights into additive manufacturing! Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or just getting started, these amazing 3D printing facts will inspire you to embark on your own creative projects.

 

The Surprising History of 3D Printing: Older Than You Think

Many people view 3D printing as a cutting-edge or emerging technology, but it actually has a longer history than most realize. 3D printing originated in the mid-1980s with the invention of the stereolithography process by Chuck Hull. This makes 3D printing older than the internet and nearly as old as the first CDs. Remarkably, the first 3D printer was operational even before Nintendo released the Gameboy!

 

For context, Fried Vancraen, CEO of Materialise, was already crafting his own non-computerized FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) models in 1985. Just five years later, he founded Materialise, becoming a pioneer in the 3D printing industry.

It serves purposes beyond just prototyping


3D printing has expanded beyond its original role of prototyping to become a cost-effective solution for mass production. Its affordability has enabled many companies to integrate it into their production lines, manufacturing diverse products such as custom insoles and intricate metal components.

 

Moreover, 3D printing is not restricted to large corporations. Independent designers and small businesses can also utilize this technology to realize their creative visions.

The Evolution of 3D-Printed Fashion

3D printing has revolutionized the fashion industry, showcasing stunning designs in fashion shows and streetwear collections. Fashion designers leverage 3D printing technology to craft a wide range of creations, from intricate handbags to full dresses, unlocking unparalleled creative possibilities.

It’s in Space

Did you know that NASA transformed space missions by employing 3D printing aboard the International Space Station? This innovation enables them to fabricate tools and parts on-demand, significantly enhancing capabilities for space exploration.

It helps save lives

3D printing plays a crucial role in medicine, particularly in surgery. Surgeons utilize 3D-printed guides and practice on lifelike models to enhance precision and tailor healthcare to individual needs. Despite stringent regulatory oversight mandating professional handling, its applications continue to inspire, potentially saving lives.

Desktop 3D Printing: Global Boom in Q4 2023

Did you know? In Q4 2023, nearly one million desktop 3D printers, each costing less than $2,500, were shipped worldwide.

 

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Rubber-Like Resin

Rubber-like resin has a low tensile modulus and high elongation at break, making it well-suited for objects that will be bent or compressed.

Suitable for: SLA

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): –
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 7.9
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): –
  • Elongation(%): 255.1
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): –
  • Hardness Shore D: 60-75

ABS-Like Resin

ABS-like resin excels in high precision, providing a smooth surface quality with exquisite detail features. Known for its superior forming dimensional stability, this resin is ideal for the assembly and testing of various engineering models. Achieving a perfect balance between tensile strength and hardness, it prevents brittleness with its high elongation at break, ensuring resistance to breaking.

Suitable for: SLA

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.05-1.13
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 42-62
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 60-80
  • Elongation(%): 11-21
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): –
  • Hardness Shore D: 75-80

Nylon-Like Resin

Nylon-like resin is a high-strength material known for its excellent durability and long-term stability. It also boasts exceptional toughness and impact resistance.

Suitable for: SLA

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.05-1.15
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 68
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 35
  • Elongation(%): 15
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): –
  • Hardness Shore D: 75

Hard-Tough Resin

This hard resin boasts higher toughness and impact resistance compared to standard ABS-like resin, making it exceptionally well-suited for mechanical prototypes.

Suitable for: SLA

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.08-1.12
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 30-60
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 30-75
  • Elongation(%): 35-52
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 60
  • Hardness Shore D: 75-81

High Temp. Resin

High Temp Resin is characterized by high hardness, strength, modulus, and precision. It exhibits resistance to prolonged heating at 120°C or boiling at 100°C, showcasing excellent mechanical properties, weather resistance, and temperature resistance.

Suitable for: SLA

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: NO

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.09-1.10
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 70-85
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 95-105
  • Elongation(%): 35-40
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 100.5
  • Hardness Shore D: 82-84

General Resin

General resin, known for its high rigidity, proves to be a versatile material ideal for both functional testing and rapid prototype.

Suitable for: SLA

Application

  • Prototype

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: NO
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: NO
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: NO
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.08-1.13
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 46-67
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 46-72
  • Elongation(%): 28-36
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): –
  • Hardness Shore D: 78-82

PEI (Polyetherimide)

PEI is a high-performance industrial-grade thermoplastic known for its strength, durability, and low flammability. This versatile material finds applications in various industries, including automotive, aerospace, medicine, and dentistry.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: NO
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: NO
  • Education Community: NO

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.34
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 54
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 2170
  • Elongation(%): 3
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 158
  • Hardness Shore D: –

PEEK (Polyether ether ketone)

PEEK (polyetheretherketone) is a high-performance semi-crystalline industrial thermoplastic known for its exceptional resistance to harsh chemicals, minimal moisture absorption, excellent fire performance, superior mechanical strength over a wide temperature range, and reliable dimensional stability.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.29
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 100
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 4200
  • Elongation(%): 40
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 140
  • Hardness Shore D: –

PET-CF (Carbon fiber reinforced polyethylene terephthalate)

PET-CF emerges as a superior choice over nylon for printing functional parts in high-humidity environments. Its high-temperature resistance and minimal warping make it ideal for crafting mechanical assembly parts, including automotive accessories and fixtures. In comparison to PETG-CF, PET-CF contains a higher concentration of carbon fibre, resulting in significantly greater strength and high temperature resistance.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.29
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 131
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 5320
  • Elongation(%): 1.2
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 205
  • Hardness Shore D: –

PAHT-CF (High temperature polyamide carbon fiber reinforced)

A composite of PA and carbon fibre, merges the low water absorption advantage of PA with the high-performance attributes of carbon fibre. This combination yields excellent mechanical and thermal properties that remain robust even in wet conditions. PA+CF is prized for its outstanding chemical resistance, low moisture absorption, and versatile processing capabilities.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.06
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 125
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 4230
  • Elongation(%): 1.8
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 194
  • Hardness Shore D: –

PLA-CF (Carbon fiber reinforced polylactic acid)

Carbon fibber reinforced PLA, stands out for its remarkable increase in stiffness and strength. This cutting-edge bio-polymer, when combined with recycled carbon fibber reinforcement, results in a higher mechanical properties

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.22
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 89
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 3950
  • Elongation(%): 3.2
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 55
  • Hardness Shore D: –

ESD-safe (Electrostatic discharge)

It exhibits excellent antistatic performance, making it particularly suitable for fields that require ESD protection.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.08-1.11
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 35-37
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 1300-1500
  • Elongation(%): 5-7
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 98
  • Surface Resistance: 107 and 109 ohms Ω

UL 94-V0

It possesses higher mechanical properties and is halogen-free, environmentally friendly, and flame retardant, achieving a UL94V-0 level flame retardancy. This makes the product more fireproof and safer.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: NO
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.05
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 45
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 2400
  • Elongation(%): 30
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 85
  • Hardness Shore D: –

ASA (Acrylonitrile styrene acrylate)

ASA shares excellent mechanical properties with ABS but offers additional benefits. It is more resistant to ultraviolet rays and harsh weather conditions, making it particularly suitable for outdoor use. ASA boasts strong toughness, rigidity, and high impact resistance.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: NO
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: NO
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 50
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 4300
  • Elongation(%): 30
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 88
  • Hardness Shore D: –

PC (Polycarbonates)

PC is a high-performance material known for its toughness, heat resistance, dimensional stability, and high optical clarity. It exhibits excellent mechanical properties, high toughness, and impact resistance, making it stable and durable. Additionally, PC offers impressive temperature resistance, with a heat distortion temperature up to 80 ℃.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.21
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 54
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 1073
  • Elongation(%): 150
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 80
  • Hardness Shore D: –

Nylon / PA (Polyamide)

Nylon is a versatile material known for its good flexibility, wear resistance, and high strength-to-weight ratio. PA12, in particular, exhibits high toughness and impact resistance.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.21
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 50
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 659
  • Elongation(%): 165
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 100
  • Hardness Shore D: –

TPU (Thermoplastic polyurethane)

TPU material is renowned for its excellent flexibility, high elasticity, tear resistance, wear resistance, cut resistance, sturdiness, and durability.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: NO
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: NO
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.21
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 35
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): –
  • Elongation(%): ≥800
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): –
  • Hardness Shore D: 95A

PETG (Polyethylene terephthalate glycol)

PETG is a robust material known for its odor neutrality and ease of printing. These characteristics, combined with high impact strength, flexibility, low shrinkage, water resistance, chemical resistance, and high toughness, make PETG an excellent choice for a variety of applications.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: NO
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: YES
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.27
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 52
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 1073
  • Elongation(%): 83
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 64
  • Hardness Shore D: –

ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)

ABS is a lightweight material known for its high impact resistance. These characteristics, coupled with a high heat deflection temperature, render ABS suitable for a wide range of applications and environments.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype
  • End-User part

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: YES
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: YES
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: NO
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.06
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 40
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 1203
  • Elongation(%): 30
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 73
  • Hardness Shore D: –

PLA (Polylactic acid)

PLA is an environmentally friendly biopolymer-based material that is both stiff and easy to print. It is available in a wide variety of colours.

Suitable for: FDM

Application

  • Prototype

Application Fields

  • Aerospace: NO
  • Automotive: YES
  • Industrial Machinery: NO
  • Consumer Electronics: YES
  • Automation: YES
  • Medical: NO
  • Education Community: YES

Material Property

  • Density(g/cm3): 1.23
  • Tensile Strength(MPa): 60
  • Flex Modulus(MPa): 1973
  • Elongation(%): 20
  • Heat Distortion Temp(°C): 53
  • Hardness Shore D: –