With its unique manufacturing technology, 3D printing allows us to produce unprecedented types of items. However, the real advantage of 3D printing technology lies in its printing materials. Only by developing more new materials can the application fields of 3D printing technology be expanded. At present, 3D printing materials mainly include engineering plastics, photosensitive resins, rubber materials, metal materials, and ceramic materials. In addition, food materials such as colored plaster materials, artificial bone meal, cellular biological materials, and sugar can also be used in the field of 3D printing.

What kind of polymer materials can be used in 3D Printing?

Engineering plastics
Engineering plastics refer to industrial plastics used as industrial parts or housing materials. They have the advantages of high strength, impact resistance, heat resistance, high hardness, and aging resistance. The normal deformation temperature can exceed 90°C and they can be painted and electroplated mechanically. Engineering plastics are currently the most widely used type of 3D printing materials. Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene copolymer (ABS), polyamide (PA), polycarbonate (PC), polyphenylsulfone (PPSF), and Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) are most commonly seen ones.

Bioplastics
3D printing bioplastics mainly include polylactic acid (PLA, CAS 26023-30-3), polyethylene terephthalate-1,4-cyclohexanedimethanol (PETG), poly-hydroxybutyrate (PHB), and Poly-hydroxyvalerate (PHBV), polybutanediol succinate (PBS), polycaprolactone (PCL), etc. All have good biodegradability.

Thermosetting polymers
Thermosetting plastics are made of thermosetting resin as the main component, combined with various necessary additives. Through the cross-linking and curing process, a plastic product is formed. Thermosetting plastics can soften and flow when heated for the first time. When heated to a certain temperature, a chemical reaction occurs and cross-linking reaction will solidify and harden. This change is irreversible. After that, when heated again, it can no longer soften and flow. It is precisely with this characteristic that the molding process is performed, and the plasticizing flow during the first heating is used to fill the cavity under pressure, and then solidify into a product of a certain shape and size.

Photosensitive resin
Light-curing resin, also known as photosensitive resin, is an oligomer that can quickly undergo physical and chemical changes within a short period of time after being irradiated by light, and then cross-link and cure. Light-curing composite resin is currently a commonly used filling and restorative material in dentistry. Because of its beautiful color and certain compressive strength, it plays an important role in clinical applications and is used to repair various defects and cavities of anterior teeth to achieve satisfactory results.

Photosensitive resin is composed of polymer monomers and prepolymers. Due to its good liquid fluidity and instant light curing characteristics, liquid photosensitive resin has become the first choice for 3D printing consumables for high-precision product printing. The photosensitive resin has fast curing speed and excellent surface dry performance. The appearance of the product after molding is smooth, and it can be transparent or semi-transparent in a frosted state. The photosensitive resin has the characteristics of low odor and low irritating ingredients, which is very suitable for personal desktop 3D printing systems.

Polymer gel
Polymer gel materials such as sodium alginate, cellulose, animal and vegetable glues, peptone, and polyacrylic acid are used for 3D printing. Under a certain temperature and under the action of initiators and crosslinking agents after polymerization, a special network polymer gel product is formed. When subjected to changes in ionic strength, temperature, electric field and chemical substances, the volume of the gel will also change accordingly, which is used for shape memory materials. The gel swells or shrinks and undergoes volume conversion, which is used for sensing materials. The controllability of the gel mesh can be used for smart drug release materials.

Author's Bio: 

Alfa Chemistry Materials is a professional supplier of wide choices of 3D printing materials for customers worldwide. The materials it offered for 3D printing are diverse, including glass materials, fiber materials, durable nylon materials, gypsum materials, aluminum materials, titanium alloys, stainless steel, silver plating, gold plating, rubber materials and many more.