Polymers for 3D Printing Applications

Currently there are several polymers which can be processed via 3D Printing. The selection of the material is mostly related to the requirements of the final object, application, processability of the filaments, warping effect, design of the printer, etc. Among the qualified polymers, PLA and PETG are some of the renamed materials processed by BigRep ONE currently.

PRO HT

The BigRep Pro HT is high temperature resistant filament for 3D Printer backed by extensive testing, application experts, and real-world 3D printing performance.

Pro HT delivers constant temperature resistance to 115°C, with very little warpage and shrinkage. Pro HT is incredibly easy to use even at moderate temperatures and higher speeds.

Pro HT is a thermoplastic material derived from organic compounds. It is biodegradable under most conditions. CO2 neutral and environmentally friendly, it has a much lower ecological impact than other thermoplastics derived from fossil fuels, like ABS. Pro HT also meets all requirements of EU Directives on food contact.

With 3D printers that have an open and unheated build chamber, such as the BigRep ONE, low printing temperature is the limiting factor when it comes to producing heat-resistant prints. With the BigRep Pro HT (HT = high temperature), we provided a high-performance filament as an ABS alternative that can easily be used in low-temperature printers.

The renewable and fully biodegradable raw materials used for the Pro HT demonstrate a very low “warp effect”, meaning the different cooling temperatures of the individual layers have almost no effect on the formation of the printed object.

With an optimized structure and chemical composition, the BigRep Pro HT responds to the most exacting requirements in the industrial sector.

Highlights:

  • Up to 115°C (239° F) heat resistance
  • Low warpage and shrinkage effect
  • Easy to print filament
  • Thermoplastic material derived from organic compounds
  • Compatibility: BigRep ONE and all FFF 2,85mm 3D Printers

BigRep Pro HT is an innovative and a biodegradable material that is weather impermeable thanks to its extreme UV and heat-resistant capabilities and its high strength properties.

Factsheet [PDF]
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PLA

PLA (Poly-Lactic Acid) is a thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from renewable sources, such as corn, cassava, sugarcane, cereals, or sugar beet. By being derived from biological resources, this type of thermoplastic can be biodegradable under the right conditions. Therefore PLA has a much lesser environmental impact than other thermoplastics derived from fossil fuels.

PLA can be processed by Extrusion, 3D Printing, Injection Molding, film and sheet casting, providing access to a wide range of materials with remarkable properties, which make it suitable for different applications. It is naturally transparent and it can be colored to various degrees of translucency and opacity.

PLA is an “easy to use” 3D printer filament, which is easy to print from low to moderate temperatures and higher speed rates via FFF/FDM in comparison to other polymers. The mechanical behavior, as well as other properties of the final object is widely dependent on the 3D printing conditions, such as extruder temperature, extrusion speed, cooling system, etc. PLA compared to other polymers produced via 3D demonstrates much less warping effect and for this reason is it possible to successfully print without a special cooling system.

PLA has a very good durability in several applications. The biodegradability of PLA occurs at mild conditions, in general humidity at or above 98% and a temperature at or above 60°C are required, depending on the material composition. For applications above 60°C, other polymers might be used, such as ABS, PETG and etc.

Once PLA responds differently to moisture, the filaments when stored for a long term, they shall remain sealed in order to prevent absorption of moisture from the air. High moisture content may harm the quality of the extrusion, leading to the clogging of the nozzles, as well as bubbles and spurting can be observed.

Factsheet [PDF]
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PVA

PVA Poly(vinyl alcohol) is a water-soluble synthetic polymer widely used in 3D Printing as support structure which can then be dissolved away. PVA is nontoxic, odorless and easy to extrude.

In 3D Printing, PVA is commonly used in printers with dual-extruders, BigRep ONE for instance, in order to provide a support to an object with overhang issues. Some complex prints involving lots of extended overhangs can be performed only by printing such a support structure. Otherwise, the printed structure would warp or simply collapse.

PVA presents high tensile strength and flexibility and it can be dissolved into water, freeing the object of the support structure produced via 3D Printing, without the need of any manual post-printing curing, nor tools, sanding, or grinding. At room-temperature, the water can begin to break the polymer within 20 minutes and warm water may also speed up the process.

Once the contact with water or moisture can dissolve PVA, it is highly recommended, during the storage for a long term, to keep the filaments dry and well-sealed. Even mild humidity can ruin an unsealed spool of filament.

PVA works properly together with PLA. PVA extrudes better between 190 and 200°C. Printing at temperatures higher than 200ºC is probably possible, but should be avoided, once the material can begin to degradate, leading to jams of the nozzles that are extremely difficult to remove.

Factsheet [PDF]
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PETG

PETG (Polyethylene terephthalate) is a thermoplastic material of the polyester family. PETG has excellent properties in terms of strength, toughness and temperature resistance, being an alternative polymer to PLA or ABS depending on the final application.

The amorphous phases of PETG has a very impressive transparency. PETG is an excellent water and moisture barrier material, therefore this material is widely used as soft-drink bottle

PETG can be also processed by 3D Printing, providing access to a wide range of transparent and lightweight materials. PETG is remarkable easy to handle via 3D Printing (FFF/FDM) and it has an excellent first layer adhesion to the heated print bed. The optimum print temperature is obtained between 190 and 240°C and dependent on the size of the printed object, PETG can be also printed at a high printing speed. Furthermore, PETG filament has minimal shrinkage and warping effect in compare to other polymers used via 3D Printing, as well as it presents an odorless processing.

Some cares need to be considered by handling the filaments of PETG, once some grades might be hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs water from its surroundings. The filaments, when stored for a long term, they shall remain sealed in order to prevent absorption of moisture from the air. High moisture content may harm the quality of the extrusion, leading to the clogging of the nozzles, as well as bubbles and spurting can be observed.

Factsheet [PDF]
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