The world of 3D printing services is a very dynamic line of business. As a matter of fact, it keeps on getting more amazing every single day. With this cutting-edge printing technology, we are given that level of flexibility that was once thought can only be seen in the movies.
Sometimes referred to as “additive manufacturing”, 3D printing technology has allowed people to get more out of their creative juices and be able to create virtually almost anything their wild imagination could conceive. This is the only printing technology that makes use of an array of material in order for it to print out an object, from ceramic to metal, from sugar down to styrofoam.
And your guess is right, plastic is the foremost substance that initially made it possible to 3d print anything. From the time that the use and practical applications for 3D printing was first and formally introduced to the international community, plastic became the primary material of choice in this method of printing. Up until today, it still remains as a favorite and versatile type of material used in 3D printing.
We listed below 3 of the most frequently used plastics in 3D printing and all of which has significantly contributed to spurring its amazing evolution:
Polylactic Acid (PLA)
It is not surprising to see that one of the most widely used bioplastics in the world is also going to dominate the world of 3D printing. Thermoplastic aliphatic polyester or PLA is made from renewable resources such as starch, corn, and sugarcane.
This type of plastic is most commonly used in making materials intended for packaging food, implants, and biodegradable medical devices. One reason why it works as a great material to use in 3D printing is because of the fact that it is easy to work with, available in a wide array of colors, will not put the environment in harm’s way, and can be utilized either as a filament or resin.
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)
ABS is another kind of plastic that is commonly utilized in 3D printing. This plastic material is a favorite among those who are just beginners in 3D printing because they are easy to use in their filament form. Aside from which, ABS is also heat-resistant, strong, durable, cost-effective and flexible.
One drawback to this type of plastic is that it is petroleum-based and also not biodegradable too.
Hence, it is slowly losing its popularity among 3D hobbyists who naturally prefer to use PLA primarily due to its eco-friendly nature.
In addition to this, when it is heated in the 3D printer during a fabrication process, its natural tendency is to produce fumes that could be irritating to some.
Polyvinyl Alcohol Plastic (PVA)
PVA is a type of plastic that is water-soluble. Most of the time, this type of plastic is used as a packaging film, thickener, or glue. But this plastic is not the best material to use in making your finished product but is rather utilized in creating a support structure. It is incorporated during the printing process itself.
There are 3D printing machines that come with 2 or more extruders. The user here may employ one or more extruders, creating a PVA support structure while the others are preoccupied in creating the actual product itself, out of other materials. The moment that printing is done and complete, you can now dunk the cured product in water or until it dissolves away the PVA support structure.
The array of materials that are good to use in 3D printing services will continue to increase and expand. As the years pass by, it will continue to evolve and develop, together with its applications and processes. But plastic will remain in line with the array of amazing developments in manufacturing.