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3D Printing Materials

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3D Printing Materials

Additive Manufacturing Material

Additive manufacturing (AM) or additive layer manufacturing is a method of manufacturing that creates durable and lightweight parts. Additive manufacturing uses computer-aided-design (CAD) or a 3D model to direct hardware to build an object in successive layers. The CAD drawing acts as a set of instructions or blueprints, illustrating all the intricacies of the product being made. These blueprints instruct the machine where and when to place the material. Complex objects can be produced in this manner without the need to join together separate parts. Some examples of products made using additive manufacturing technologies include surgical implants, parts for aerospace and defense industries, automotive parts and rapid prototypes. Additive manufacturing is used by a vastly different industries because there are is a wide variety of materials to choose from.

Three primary types of materials can be used for additive manufacturing: polymers, metals and ceramics. These materials are commonly available in powder form or wire feedstock. Additional materials include paper, adhesive papers, chocolates/food and polymer/adhesive sheets for LOM. It is possible to print nearly any material using the additive manufacturing method of layering. However, the process can alter the material’s microstructure due to the high heat and pressure used during AM. The material can also affect the finish. Therefore, the material’s characteristics may not be the same pre-manufacture and post-manufacture.

Polymers

Polymers are common plastics, which include acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polycarbonate (PC). This category also contains waxes, epoxy-based resins and structural polymers. When heated, polymers can become soft and will regain firmness after they are cooled. Polymer powders can be mixed with polymers or other materials to create alloys that have different structural and aesthetic properties. Polymers used in AM include:

  • ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)
  • PLA (Polylactide), soft PLA
  • PC (Polycarbonate)
  • Polyamide (Nylon)
  • Nylon 12 (Tensile strength 45 MPA)
  • Epoxy resin
  • Wax
  • Photopolymer resins

Metals

Different metals can be used for additive manufacturing. Metal for additive manufacturing begins in two forms: powder and filament. Parts made retain superior mechanical properties. Metals used in AM include:

  • Aluminum alloys
  • Cobalt based alloys
  • Tool steels
  • Nickel based alloys
  • Stainless steels
  • Titanium Alloys
  • Precious metals (gold, silver)
  • Copper Alloys

Ceramics

Using ceramic materials for additive manufacturing is an evolving process. Ceramic can be used in AM to create sculptures, models and more.

  • Porcelain
  • Silicone-carbide
  • Silica/glass

Additive Manufacturing Parts and Images

Additive Manufacturing Materials by Technology

Fathom offers an ample mix of materials for additive manufacturing. Selecting the best medium for your unique part is critical to producing a viable product. Fathom offers six AM technologies that have each been matched with a diverse range of material options.

PolyJet Materials

PolyJet technology is capable of creating smooth surfaces, thin walls and complex geometries with accuracy as high as 0.1 mm—the one and only technology that supports a wide selection of materials with properties that range from rubber to rigid and transparent to opaque. It is also possible to 3D print with multiple materials in a single build to achieve combinations of colors and characteristics (e.g., parts made of rigid and flexible materials).

How does the technology work? PolyJet is a photopolymer-based jetting process that distributes material droplets layer by layer onto a build platform (immediately cured by a flash of UV light). At the end of the build process, the object is fully cured and can be handled immediately without post-curing. This technology includes use of a gel-like support material, designed to enable complicated geometries (removed by soaking and/or water jetting).

PolyJet 3D Printed Parts and Images

 

PolyJet Materials

TYPE MATERIALS DESCRIPTION
Digital Materials
  • Wide range of flexibility, from Shore A 27 to Shore A 95
  • Rigid materials ranging from simulated standard plastics to the toughness and temperature resistance of Digital ABS Plus TM
  • Vibrant colors in rigid or flexible materials, with over 500,000 colors options on the Stratasys J750
  • Available on PolyJet multi-jetting 3D printers
Simulated ABS Digital ABS Plus (Ivory)
  • Simulates ABS plastics by combining strength with high temperature resistance
  • Digital ABS PlusTM offers enhanced dimensional stability for thin-walled parts
  • Ideal for functional prototypes, snap-fit parts for high or low temperature usage, electrical parts, castings, mobile telephone casings and engine parts and covers
Transparent Vero Clear
  • Print clear and tinted parts and prototypes with VeroClearTM and RGD720
  • Combine with color materials for stunning transparent shades
  • Ideal for form and fit testing of see-through parts, like glass, consumer products, eyewear, light covers and cases, visualization of liquid flow, medical applications, artistic and exhibition modeling
Rigid Opaque Vero Pure White, Vero Black Plus, Vero White Plus, Vero Yellow, Vero Cyan, Vero Magenta, Vero Blue
  • Brilliant color options for unprecedented design freedom
  • Combine with rubber-like materials for overmolding, soft touch handles and more
  • Ideal for fit and form testing, moving and assembled parts, sales, marketing and exhibition models, assembly of electronic components and silicone molding
Simulated Polypropylene Rigur (White)
  • Simulates the appearance and functionality of polypropylene
  • Ideal for prototyping containers and packaging, flexible snap-fit applications and living hinges, toys, battery cases, laboratory equipment, loudspeakers and automotive components
Rubber-like Agilus30 (Clear)
  • Offers various levels of elastomer characteristics
  • Combine with rigid materials for a variety of Shore A values, from Shore A 27 to Shore A 95
  • Ideal for rubber surrounds and overmolding, soft-touch coatings and nonslip surfaces, knobs, grips, pulls, handles, gaskets, seals, hoses, footwear and exhibition and communication models

*Parts over 250mm in any dimension require quote review.

For additional flexible 3D printing options // TPU 92A for FDM, TPU 88A for SLS & Urethane Casting
Order Material Samples // Keychains & Kits

Stereolithography (SLA) Material

This technology is ideal for high-resolution finishes regarding medium- to large-sized parts—it is an extremely cost-effective solution for creating durable, aesthetically pleasing parts of considerable size on a tight deadline. SLA resins with extremely high heat deflection are available and are great candidates for molds or inserts.

How does the stereolithography technology work? SLA cures photopolymer resin with an ultraviolet laser. The laser traces a shape dictated by the original file across the surface of the resin bath. The resin touched by the laser hardens, then the build platform descends in the resin bath and the process is repeated until the entire part is complete.

SLA offers a combination of high-quality resolution and surface finish at large volume. SLA is also very effective at faithfully capturing the intricacies of even the most complex parts and clear SLA resins can achieve colorless clarity with additional post processing to mimic clear plastics. Consistently used for trade show models, aesthetic parts and snap fits/functional assemblies, SLA specializes in creating parts that are highly cost-intensive to produce using any other method of manufacturing.

SLA 3D Printed Parts and Images

 

Stereolithography Materials

STANDARD
SLA MATERIALS
LEAD TIME OPTIMAL
QUANTITY
MAXIMUM DIMENSIONS SUGGESTED MINIMUM
WALL THICKNESS
FINISH
& APPEARANCE
ADVANTAGES
& CONSIDERATIONS
Accura 25 1-3 Days* 1-10 parts 650 x 750 x 550 mm 1mm
  • High resolution
  • Detailed & complex parts
  • Smooth surface finish
  • Can be painted, plated or vacuum metalized
  • Often used for aesthetic models, complex geometries & high-quality finishes
  • Highly cost-effective for medium- to large-sized parts
  • Exceptionally tough & durable
  • Great for snap fits, assemblies & master patterns for casting
  • SLA is one of the most versatile technologies for post processing
  • Limited color
Watershed (clear) 254 x 254 x 254 mm
ADVANCED
SLA MATERIALS
LEAD TIME OPTIMAL
QUANTITY
MAXIMUM DIMENSIONS SUGGESTED MINIMUM
WALL THICKNESS
FINISH
& APPEARANCE
ADVANTAGES
& CONSIDERATIONS
Accura Black 3-5 Days* 1-10 parts 254 x 254 x 254 mm 1mm
  • High resolution
  • Detailed & complex parts
  • Smooth surface finish
  • Can be painted, plated or vacuum metalized
  • Often used for aesthetic models, complex geometries & high-quality finishes
  • Highly cost-effective for medium- to large-sized parts
  • SLA is one of the most versatile technologies for post processing
  • Limited color

*Parts over 250mm in any dimension require quote review.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Materials

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is ideal when you need to build concept models, functional prototypes and end-use parts using standard, engineering-grade and high-performance thermoplastics. As you consider the many material options available for FDM versus other additive manufacturing technologies, remember that this process uses the same types of raw materials used in the injection molding process.

How does the FDM technology work? FDM is a filament-based additive technology distributed by a moving print head that extrudes a heated thermoplastic material in a pattern layer by layer onto a build platform. This technology includes use of a support material to create supportive structures that are removed by force or solution.

The FDM technology was invented by Stratasys founder Scott Crump nearly 30 years ago. Using the same production-grade thermoplastics found in traditional manufacturing processes. Ideal for applications that require tight tolerances, toughness and environmental stability—material options also meet application needs involving specialized properties like electrostatic dissipation, translucence, biocompatibility, VO flammability or FST ratings.

FDM 3D Printed Parts and Images

 

FDM Materials

MATERIALS DESCRIPTION
TPU
(thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer)
  • Accurate elastomer parts with high elongation
  • Superior toughness and abrasion resistance
  • Wide variety of applications including flexible hoses, tubes, air ducts and vibration dampeners
Antero™ 800NA
(polyetherketoneketone)
  • High heat and chemical resistance
  • Low outgassing and high dimensional stability
  • Excellent strength, toughness and wear-resistant properties
ULTEM™ 1010 resin
(polyetherimide)
  • Food safety and bio-compatibility certification
  • Highest heat resistance, chemical resistance and tensile strength
  • Outstanding strength and thermal stability
ULTEM 9085 resin
(polyetherimide)
  • FST (flame, smoke, toxicity)-certified thermoplastic
  • High heat and chemical resistance; highest flexural strength
  • Ideal for commercial transportation applications such as airplanes, buses, trains and boats
FDM Nylon 12™
(polyamide 12)
  • The toughest nylon in additive manufacturing
  • Excellent for repetitive snap fits, press fit inserts and fatigue-resistance applications
  • Simple, clean process – free of powders
FDM Nylon 12CF™
(polyamide 12CF)
  • Carbon-filled thermoplastic with excellent structural characteristics
  • Highest flexural strength
  • Highest stiffness-to-weight ratio
PC
(polycarbonate)
  • Most widely used industrial thermoplastic with superior mechanical properties and heat resistance
  • Accurate, durable and stable for strong parts, patterns for metal bending and composite work
  • Great for demanding prototyping needs, tooling and fixtures
PC-ISO™
(polycarbonate – ISO 10993 USP Class VI biocompatible)
  • Biocompatible (ISO 10993 USP Class VI)1 material
  • Sterilizable using gamma radiation or ethylene oxide (EtO) sterilization methods
  • Best fit for applications requiring higher strength and sterilization
PC-ABS
(polycarbonate – acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)
  • Features high dimensional stability and colorless transparency
  • Has five medical approvals including cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, delayed type hypersensitivity, irritation and USP plastic class VI
  • Ideal for applications requiring prolonged skin contact of more than 30 days and short-term mucosalmembrane contact of up to 24 hours
ASA
(acrylonitrile styrene acrylate)
  • Build UV-stable parts with the best aesthetics of any FDM material
  • Ideal for production parts for outdoor infrastructure and commercial use, outdoor functional prototyping and automotive parts and accessory prototypes
ABS-ESD7™
(acrylonitrile butadiene styrene – static dissipative)
  • Static-dissipative with target surface resistance of 104 ohms (typical range 105 – 103 ohms)2
  • Makes great assembly tools for electronic and static-sensitive products
  • Widely used for functional prototypes of cases, enclosures and packaging
ABS-M30™
(acrylonitrile butadiene styrene)
  • Versatile material: good for form, fit and functional applications
  • Familiar production material for accurate prototyping
  • 005 inch (0.127 mm) layer thickness not available for Stratasys F900.
  • See individual material spec sheets for testing details.
  • Annealed
  • Actual surface resistance may range from 109 to 106 ohms, depending upon geometry, build style and finishing techniques.
  • Available only on the Stratasys F370

For more material options, download FDM Material Specification PDF and consult a Fathom specialist for details.

For additional flexible 3D printing options // TPU 88A for SLS, PolyJet & Urethane Casting
Order Material Samples // Keychains & Kits

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) Material

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a commonly used powder-based additive technology to create models, prototypes and end-use parts in durable, engineering-grade thermoplastics. Consider SLS technology for applications that involve high-complexity and organic geometries, as well as parts requiring durability. SLS nests in the z direction which allows for short-run production and efficient builds. The technology is also capable of producing parts with finer details than most processes that use high-strength plastics. The composition is one of the more isotropic available from additive manufacturing.

How does SLS technology work?

SLS uses a blade to spread a thin layer of powder over the build volume. A laser sinters the cross-section of the part, fusing the powder together. The z stage then drops one layer and the process begins again until the build is finished. Parts are then excavated from the build powder-cake and bead blasted. The un-used powder in the build envelope acts as the support structures, so no support removal is necessary.

SLS 3D Printed Parts and Images

 

SLS Material

Specifications

SLS MATERIALS LEAD TIME OPTIMAL QUANTITY MAXIMUM DIMENSIONS SUGGESTED MINIMUM WALL THICKNESS FINISH & APPEARANCE ADVANTAGES & CONSIDERATIONS
TPU 88A 2+ Days Prototypes, Low-Volume, Short-Run Production 320mm x 320mm x 610mm 1mm Standard Color: White
Medium/High Resolution
High Detail & Complexity
Dye Available (Black, Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow and Pink)
High elasticity, rebound and resistance to fatigue
Water-tight down to 0.6mm wall thickness
High burst pressure
True thermoplastic polyurethane providing excellent flexibility and durability
Nylon PA12 (White) 2+ Days Prototypes, Low-Volume, Short-Run Production 320mm x 320mm x 610mm 1mm Standard Color: White
Medium/High Resolution
High Detail & Complexity
Dye Available (Black, Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow and Pink)
Nearly Isotropic
Parts Built Without Supports, Allowing for Complex Geometries
Durable Production Quality Thermoplastic
PA 12 Glass Bead 3+ Days Prototypes, Low-Volume, Short-Run Production 320mm x 320mm x 610mm 1mm Standard Color: Off White
Medium/High Resolution
High Detail & Complexity
Dye Available** (Black, Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow and Pink)
High rigidity
Resistant To Wear & Tear
Thermally Resilient
PA 11 3+ Days Prototypes, Low-Volume, Short-Run Production 320mm x 320mm x 610mm 1mm Standard Color: White
Medium/High Resolution
High Detail & Complexity
Dye Available (Black, Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow and Pink)
High Impact Resistance & Elongation At Break
Higher Temperature Resistance Than PA 12
Does Not Splinter Under Load
PA 11 Fire Retardant 4+ Days Prototypes, Low-Volume, Short-Run Production 320mm x 320mm x 610mm 1mm Standard Color: White High Ductility Combined With Strength
Flame-Retardant Properties Are Similar To ULTEMTM Filament
Carbon-Filled Nylon 11 4+ Days Prototypes, Low-Volume, Short-Run Production 320mm x 320mm x 610mm 1mm Standard Color: Dark Grey High Strength Combined With Increased Impact Resistance & Elongation At Break Electrostatically Dissipative

*Geometry Dependent
**Filled Nylons Can Have Inconsistent Color When Dyed

For additional flexible 3D printing options // TPU 92A for FDM, PolyJet & Urethane Casting
Order Material Samples // Keychains & Kits

MJF Material

Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) is quickly becoming a popular choice for 3D printing prototypes and production parts. Ideal uses for MJF are enclosures, electronics housings, complex ducts, lattice structures and functional assemblies. The technology is capable of 3D printing parts with high detail, as well as suitable for applications that require durability (e.g. snap fits). It is common for designers and engineers to choose this material for short production runs because the MJF process allows for nesting in the z direction. Offering this technology further expands Fathom’s already comprehensive 3D printing and additive manufacturing services. To learn more about MJF, read a featured FAQ blog post by a Fathom Applications Engineer.

How does it work? MJF technology builds parts by laying down a thin layer of powder on a print bed over and over. The inkjet array in the print carriage sweeps over the print bed, jetting two agents downward—a fusing agent, printed where the powder will fuse together and a detailing agent that is used to reduce fusing at the part boundary to achieve greater detail.

Nylon 12 is a commonly used thermoplastic that is strong enough for functional prototyping and production parts, small to medium in size—ideal for complex assemblies, housings, enclosures and watertight applications. Achieve smooth surfaces ansd fine details with this durable material. It provides excellent chemical resistance to oils, greases, aliphatic hydrocarbons and alkalies. Parts produced are a non-uniform light gray and can be dyed a darker color for a uniform appearance.

MJF Material

STANDARD
MJF MATERIAL
LEAD TIME OPTIMAL
QUANTITY
MAXIMUM DIMENSIONS SUGGESTED MINIMUM
WALL THICKNESS
FINISH
& APPEARANCE
ADVANTAGES
& CONSIDERATIONS
Nylon 12 (Gray or Dyed Black) 2+ Days Prototypes, Low-Volume, Short-Run Production 274mm x 370mm x 360mm 1mm
  • Medium/High Resolution
  • Very High Detail & Complexity
  • Minimal Layer Visibility
  • Paint, Plate, Metalize, Polish, Tumble
  • Nearly Isotropic
  • Very High XY Plane Resolution
  • Durable Production Quality Thermo

 

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) 3D Material

Streamline your manufacturing with precision metal prototypes and low-volume metal production parts that would be impractical or cost prohibitive to machine. We create metal parts using a fiber laser fired onto a metal plate, repeatedly adding layers of powdered metal and fusing them to previous layers. Although the resulting part is accurate with excellent surface quality and mechanical properties, additional post-processing is also available.

Metal 3D printing, also known as direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) and direct metal laser melting (DMLM) is an additive layer technology. A metal 3D printer utilizes a laser beam to melt 20-60 micron layers of metal powder on top of each other. Powdered metal is spread across the entire build platform and selectively melted to previous layers. This additive process allows metal parts to be grown out of a bed of powdered metal. The process is like other polymer based 3D printers that use powder bed fusion.

Benefits of Metal Prototypes

  • Precision
  • High-Quality
  • Low-Volume
  • Strength

In-House Post-Processing

  • Support removal
  • CNC secondary machining (critical dimension and re-qualification)
  • Tapping, threading and helicoils
  • Vibratory polishing and surface treatment
  • Annealing and age hardening
  • Painting and finishing

Fathom uses EOS and SLM build platforms.

  • The build volume for the SLM is 11 x 11 x 13.8 inches
  • The build volume for the EOS is 9.85 x 9.85 x 8.5 inches

Materials include / /

  • Stainless steel
  • Maraging steel
  • Inconel
  • Aluminum
  • Titanium
  • Other materials available on demand

Metal 3D Printing Materials & Specifications

Material Alloy Designation Layers Hardness Advantages Applications
Stainless Steel (PH1) 15-5 PH, DIN 1.4540 and UNS S15500 20 or 40 Micron Layers 30-35 HRC Built, Post Hardened to 40 HRC High Hardness & Strength Prototype / Production Parts
Stainless Steel (GP1) 17-4, European 1.4542, German X5CrNiCuNb16-4 20 or 40 Micron Layers 230 ± 20 HV1 Built, Ground & Polished to 250-400 HV1 High Toughness & Ductility Engineering Applications
Cobalt Chrome (MP1) ISO 5832-4 and ASTM F75 20, 40 or 50 Micron Layers 35-45 HRC Built High Temperature Resistance Turbines & Engine Parts
Maraging Steel (MS1) 18% Ni Maraging 300, European 1.2709, German X3NiCoMoTi 18-9-5 20 or 40 Micron Layers 33-37 HRC Built, Post Hardened to 50-56 HRC Easily Machinable & Excellent Polishability Injection Molding, Tooling, Conformal Cooling
Aluminium AlSi10Mg Typical Casting Alloy 30 Micron Layers Approx 119 ± 5 HBW Low Weight, Good Thermal Properties Automotive, Racing
NickelAlloy IN718 UNS N07718, AMS 5662, AMS 5664, W.Nr 2.4668, DIN NiCr19Fe19NbMo3 40 Micron Layers 30 HRC Built, Post Hardened 47 HRC Heat & Corrosion Resistant Turbines, Rockets, Aerospace
Stainless Steel (316L) ASTM F138 20 Micron Layers 85 HRB Corrosion & Pitting Resitant Surgical Tools, Food & Chemical Plants
Titanium Ti-64 * ASTM F2924 30 or 60 Micron Layers 320 ± 15 HV5 Light Weight, High Strength, Corrosion Resistance Aerospace, Motorsport Racing
Titanium Ti-64 ELI * ASTM F136 Properties 30 or 60 Micron Layers 320 ± 15 HV5 Corrosion Resistance, Biocompatibility Medical, Biomedical, Implants

3D Printing Material Finishes

A part made using additive manufacturing can have the same look, feel and finish as a product made using traditional manufacturing. Any finishing that may be required depends on the kind of additive manufacturing method used. Finishing may include:

  • Support removal: This may include the use of a water jet, removing the support by hand, a chemical bath, or digging. Support removal varies by the technology used.
  • Sanding: Once the support is removed, the part may be sanded by hand or using a machine. Sanding is necessary if there are any traces of the support structures.
  • Mass finishing: The parts are placed inside a tub filled with sanding/polishing media. The parts are tumbled inside the tub and the movement works to remove imperfections from the surface of the part. This method is not suitable for objects with delicate features. Mass finishing may be used if sanding by hand is too time-consuming.
  • Painting: Parts may be dyed or painted. Some parts may be sprayed with a specialty paint that gives the object a different texture. Painting is necessary when a designer would like to change the color or texture of a part.
  • Electroplating: The part is immersed in a solution of water and metal salts. An electrical current is passed through it, which allows metalcations to form around the part. If a thicker layer is desired, several layers may be applied. Electroplating increases the strength of the part by adding an exoskeleton. The electroplating process may be used to give an object the look of higher quality material.
  • Bonding: Bonding may include solvent bonding, super gluing, epoxies, hot air welding, or ultrasonic spot welding. Bonding is necessary when a part is printed in small pieces that must be assembled to form a larger product.
  • Infiltration: Infiltration uses an epoxy resin which is brushed onto the part’s surface. The resin sinks into the pores within the material. The part is then cured inside an oven. Infiltration adds strength, water tightness and chemical resistance to an object and may be used if a 3D printed part is fragile.
  • Bead blasting: Plastic or glass beads are sprayed over a part using a blaster gun, giving the part a uniform matte finish. This is particularly useful for parts made using SLS as it removes any unsintered powder that may be stuck to the surface. Bead blasting preps the part for painting.

Get a 3D Printing Quote

Fathom has worked with companies of all sizes, from medical to consumer products, electronics, automotive, aerospace and more. We have worked with 9 of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies. Receive instant quotes and project cost calculation for rapid turnaround projects.

Comprehensive Capabilities for Rapid Manufacturing

At Fathom we offer a unique advantage of speed and agility-our experts help companies go from concept to prototype to manufacturing in ways not previously possible. 

3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing
90+ Machines  
SLS / / Two-day  SLA / / Next-day 
FDM / / Next-day DMLS / / Three-day 
PolyJet / / Same-day MJF / / Two-day
Injection Molding

30 Second Quotes

Prototype Tool / / As soon as 10 days

10K Parts / / 10 days

Production Tool / / As soon as 3 weeks

CNC Machining

3 & 5 Axis Milling & Turning
(Plastics, Composites and Metals)

Tolerance Accuracy Range
from +/-0.001″ to 0.005″

Urethane Casting

Injection Molding Adjacent
without High Costs of Metal Tools

Most Commonly Used for High-Volume
Prototyping & Bridge to Production

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Fathom is driven by advanced technologies and methods that enhance and accelerate today’s product development and production processes.

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