3D Printing Plastic

Stampa 3D plastica

3D Printing Plastic

3D printing is a technological revolution taking off globally, opening the door to new possibilities. It is a form of direct manufacturing in which objects are created from digital files printed using plastic materials. The rapid evolution of technology has allowed for the increasingly precise and detailed creation of prototypes and finished articles with swift turnaround times and the economical use of raw materials. We examine the benefits of this advanced industrial methodology and some guidelines on how best to use it. In addition to analysing cost-effectiveness, you will discover how 3D printing can become a valuable, sustainable and environmentally friendly tool that can significantly reduce environmental impact compared to the methodologies traditionally used in modern manufacturing.

3D Printing Plastic: how does it work?

3D Plastic printing technology is one of the most advanced technologies in producing three-dimensional objects. Plastic 3D printing works using a material deposition process, formatted and structured using sophisticated CAD systems. These systems allow 3D models to be created by installing two-dimensional models, which are then transformed into three-dimensional models through a computerised design process. Once the model has been made, it is printed on a flat plate with a filament extruder that releases the material in a defined shape. Subsequently, the material is heated to a specific temperature to ensure continuous surface formation. The material can be passed through the filament extruder several times until the desired shape is achieved. Once the model is ready, the part can be air-cooled and applied to any project requiring plastic 3D printing.

3D Printing Plastic: what are the materials

Today, there are numerous materials for 3D printing, each with its specific characteristics and suitable for certain uses. To identify the appropriate material for particular needs, one must first be informed about the main types of plastics and 3D printing processes. More specifically, plastics are divided into two categories: thermoplastics and thermosets.

The former are undoubtedly the most widespread and most widely used. These materials lend themselves to being heated and moulded appropriately until the desired shape is achieved. In any case, the process is reversible, as it does not involve any chemical bonding, so thermoplastics can always be recycled, melted and given a new life at any time. To understand the phenomenon, one need only think of butter, which, once melted, can be brought to a solid state and then melted again. The raw material’s properties are slightly modified at the end of each cycle.

As far as thermosetting plastics are concerned, these are characterised by the fact that they remain in a solid state permanently following polymerisation. In this regard, it should be noted that the polymers of thermosetting materials can create cross-links during polymerisation, a process induced by heat and light or radiation of a certain intensity. When heated, thermosetting plastics do not decompose, melt or reform once they are cooled. This means that thermosetting plastics cannot be recycled, like cooked cake mixes, which cannot be melted back into the raw compound.

The processes of 3D printing plastic

Customers requiring plastic 3D printing services can opt for fused deposition modelling (FDM), stereolithography (SLA) or selective laser sintering (SLS). The choice of the various technologies is closely linked to specific needs, which is why a personalised consultation can always be requested. Here, it is good to know that FDM 3D printing is the most popular one, especially among hobbyists who wish to complete rapid prototyping of simple parts while facing affordable costs.

FDM 3D printing produces impeccable finishes, and the most commonly used materials include nylon, polylactic acid, thermoplastic polyurethane, polyvinyl alcohol and many other carbon fibre and glass or Kevlar-based compounds.SLA 3D printing, on the other hand, ensures better resolution than the previous ones, i.e. precise details and smoother finishes, which is why the technique is recommended for detailed prototypes. It is a reasonably versatile print, as it is based on resins that boast thermal and mechanical properties similar to thermoplastics.

Clear and draft resins, dental and medical resins used in the jewellery industry, with a degree of flexibility similar to rubber, resistant to high temperatures, or sanded down to complete transparency, are just some of the materials used for this service. Printing through selective laser sintering (SLS), i.e., ideal for creating robust parts, proves suitable for numerous applications, including rapid prototyping or producing small batches and custom-made parts. This technique is also recommended when the need arises to create elaborate and complex geometries, thin walls, details and undercuts. The individual SLS parts are characterised by their slightly rough surfaces due to dust particles, but the lines of the various layers remain almost entirely invisible. The materials used to ensure maximum strength are the same as those used for injection moulding. Nylon powder, TPU, and other nylon-based compounds reinforced with glass, carbon fibre, and aluminium are selected for the SLS printing service.

Comparison of plastic 3D printing materials and processes

As you can easily imagine, no single 3D printing process or material is better than another because it all depends on the desired result. Techniques and raw materials have advantages and disadvantages depending on the customer’s specific application. Generally speaking, FDM printing is a good solution for low-cost devices and products with little detail, while the SLA technique offers greater precision with a convincing price-performance ratio. The latter, however, is sensitive to prolonged exposure to UV radiation. As far as selective laser sintering is concerned, it offers ample freedom in producing durable parts. As for materials, standard thermoplastics such as ABS, PLA, or their compounds ensure good overall performance and durability. The resin varieties are flexible and often also demonstrate high heat resistance. Finally, nylon-based thermoplastics and elastomers such as PTU allow customised production and the creation of functional prototypes.

The advantages of plastic 3D printing

Plastic 3D printing offers significant advantages over conventional production methods. 3D printing can create complex parts with unique geometries faster and with fewer resources. In addition, plastic 3D printing can produce slightly more vital parts than other processes. This printing method is also significantly cheaper than traditional processes, as it makes it possible to reduce prototyping costs. Printed parts have no surface defects, making them ideal for the automotive, electronics and medical industries. In addition, 3D printing is particularly suitable for producing intricate parts, such as low-cost circuit boards. Once the tools for plastic 3D printing have been purchased, the cost of making the parts is minimised. Finally, plastic 3D printing is much faster than conventional production systems because it allows anyone to change operations quickly.

Some examples of plastic 3D printing applications

Plastic 3D printing is a versatile technology with numerous applications in different sectors. In the prototype production sector, for example, mechanical and industrial designers widely use plastic 3D printing to make functional prototypes and prove the capabilities of their designs without investing money in building moulds and tooling.

It is also a great way to make minor adjustments to a design before proceeding with a final version. In addition to prototypes, plastic 3D printing can be used effectively to produce slightly more complex parts and accessories such as containers, sleeves, protective cases, buttons, and more. This technology can also be used to create customised models and specialised parts on a large scale. In the healthcare field, 3D technology can be used to print customised surgical guides to be applied to specific patients.

To meet the demands of the medical sector, companies have developed specific plastic 3D printers to produce customised medical parts with biodegradable and non-toxic polymers. In the automotive industry, plastic 3D printers can produce lightweight parts that require high dimensional accuracy. Finally, plastic 3D printing can offer high-end production solutions for specialised purposes, such as producing high-precision technical parts containing sensors or mechanical devices such as levers or separators.

What can be 3D printed

Plastic 3D printing has been very successful in recent years as it is a flexible solution encompassing many materials. Contrary to what one might think, this type of printing, which is also in demand in the industrial sector, allows highly professional and fully customised results to be achieved.

It must also be considered that plastic 3D printing took off in the 1980s, but nowadays, it is no longer as slow and expensive as it once was, as technological developments have enabled great strides to be made. Let us see below what is possible to print.

Fama 3D

In any case, the plastic 3D printing service available to individuals and companies will never disappoint the expectations of the most demanding, as it is fast, convenient and precise. The Fama 3D company has a long experience in the sector and deals with industrial production, proposing the most suitable solutions and the best value for money. To determine the costs involved and obtain a no-obligation quote, you can always try the instant online quote or fill in the form with all the required data to receive technical support.

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