3D Printing Materials for Production Parts

Using additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, to fabricate production, end-use parts has become an increasingly mainstream operation. AM creates custom, complex production parts in low volumes faster than traditional manufacturing processes. 3D printing technology doesn’t require tooling and is capable of producing complex geometries. Ideal for small volumes of custom parts, AM can produce lightweight structures and components with complex internal features, with the same durable thermoplastics and metal materials available in traditional manufacturing methods. 

Wohler’s Report 2018 reported that companies use AM technology to produce functional parts more than any other application. When asked “How do your customers use the parts built on your AM systems?” the polled companies reported that 33.1% utilize 3D printing for functional, end-use parts.


3D printing materials

A lightweight, robust aerospace duct in ULTEM 9085

Types of AM Materials for Production Parts

Materials that fulfill end-use application requirements are key to successful AM production parts. These materials need to meet certifications and mechanical properties for industry-specific requirements, such as aerospace flame ratings, medical biocompatibility and energy chemical resistance. There are distinct durability, appearance and tolerance needs across industries.  
In this article, we break down categories of AM materials offered at Stratasys Direct for 3D printed production parts and discuss specific materials that have opened additional options for production applications.  

AM Thermoplastics

AM thermoplastics build tough, durable parts that are accurate, repeatable and stable over time. At Stratasys Direct we offer a range of thermoplastics with three additive technologies, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Laser Sintering (LS) and Multi Jet Fusion (MJF)

FDM offers 3D printing’s design freedom, coupled with strong engineering-grade thermoplastics, like ABS and ULTEM™, to create robust parts ideal for functional prototyping and production. Laser Sintering and Multi Jet Fusion create tough and geometrically complex components in nylon thermoplastic materials well-suited for low-volume production applications. 

 

Examples of Thermoplastics for Production Components

3d printing materials

 

Go here to see our entire catalogue of AM thermoplastic materials.

AM Metals

AM metal materials are continuing to make impressive inroads into final part production. Metals are well-suited to production applications because they offer similar mechanical properties to parts made with conventional processes with the ability to produce complex geometries in one fluid build. 

Metals and alloys used in Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS, a type of Direct Metal Laser Melting technology) are atomized powders, some of which have been specially formulated for applications that need special properties like biocompatibility or compatibility with liquid oxygen. DMLS accurately forms complex geometries not possible with traditional methods. The strong, dense metal parts are produced in less time than other manufacturing methods.

 

Examples of AM Metals for Production Applications

3d printing materials

 

Go here to see our entire catalogue of AM metal materials.

AM Material Highlights

FDM Antero 800NA is strong with excellent temperature, wear and chemical resistance. The material has ultra-low outgassing properties and has the highest chemical resistance available with FDM technology. Antero 800NA is perfect for quick delivery of parts to market, especially when there is uncertainty of demand, product lifespan, or when the design is in the early stages, and changes are needed.

FDM Nylon 12CF adds chopped carbon fiber reinforcement 35% by weight to enhance the mechanical properties of the Nylon 12 material. The resulting carbon fiber-filled thermoplastic delivers the highest strength and stiffness to weight ratios of any FDM plastic. The material is an excellent option for applications with high functional requirements, often being used as a replacement for metal applications.

Copper (C18150), a chromium zirconium copper alloy, is the latest metal material developed at Stratasys Direct Manufacturing for AM. With excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, additive C18150 was developed to fill the void in the AM market and the demand for additive copper. Stratasys Direct developed the process to produce additive C18150 and implemented controlled heat treat processes to optimize mechanical and material properties. Additive copper can be used for integrated regenerative cooling of rocket engines with internal conformal channels within a rocket nozzle or curved and angled heat pipes used in long-range space applications and small satellites.

 

Future of AM Materials for Production

Suppliers and developers of AM materials are steadily increasing what’s possible with existing AM technologies. At Stratasys Direct, years of experience with AM has led us to collaborate with customers on material development. As new market demands arise and companies expand their interest in utilizing AM in their production, new materials will continue to appear on the scene. 

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