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Analysis: Overview of 3D printed materials and their applications

3D printing materials are an important material basis for 3D printing technology, and the types range mainly include polymer materials, metal materials, and ceramic materials. The article first briefly introduces the various common materials of 3D printing, and then introduces their characteristics, performance requirements and related applications. Finally, combined with the latest developments in research, we look forward to the new materials and their prospects for 3D printing.


Analysis: Overview of 3D printed materials and their applications


1, 3D printing


3D printing technology, also known as Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology, is an advanced manufacturing technology that originated in the 1980s with the integration of machinery, computers, CNC and materials. The basic principle of the technology is to create a two-dimensional cross-section information obtained by slicing a three-dimensional solid part, and to build the layer by line, line or surface as a basic unit, and finally obtain a solid part or prototype. Additive manufacturing differs from traditional subtractive materials (such as cutting) and other materials (such as forging) manufacturing methods, which can realize the manufacture of complex structural parts that cannot be achieved by conventional methods, and greatly reduce the number of processing steps and shorten the processing cycle. Therefore, it has received extensive attention from researchers all over the world.


3D printing technology was first used in the rapid manufacturing of various prototypes, so it was also called Rapid Prototyping (RP) in the early days. Due to the limitations of materials, early 3D printing technology mostly used organic polymer materials, and its mechanical and chemical properties were mostly difficult to meet the needs of practical applications. With the development of material technology and equipment technology, the application of this technology to the manufacture of terminal parts is becoming more and more urgent. Therefore, not only the 3D printing equipment is put forward higher requirements, but also the requirements for the performance of 3D printing materials are increasing. .


Analysis: Overview of 3D printed materials and their applications


3D printing materials are an important material basis for 3D printing technology, and its performance largely determines the overall performance of the formed parts. Up to now, the types of materials have been very rich, the main types include polymer materials, metal materials, ceramic materials and so on. This article will combine the recent advances in the research and application of several 3D printed materials to introduce polymer materials, metal materials and ceramic materials for 3D printing.


2, 3D printing polymer materials


The polymer materials for 3D printing mainly include photosensitive resins, thermoplastics, and hydrogels. Paper, starch, sugar, chocolate, etc. can also be included in the field of polymer materials. Some scholars and enterprises have carried out 3D printing research on them, but they are not introduced in the text.


Photosensitive resin is one of the earliest materials used in 3D printing. It is suitable for Stereolithography Apparatus (SLA). The main component is a small molecule resin (prepolymer, monomer) capable of polymerization, in which light is added. Additives such as agents, polymerization inhibitors, leveling agents, etc., can be polymerized under specific light (usually ultraviolet light) to achieve curing. Photosensitive resin is not a new material, and its similar photoresist, photocurable coating, photocurable ink, etc. have been widely used in electronics manufacturing, holographic imaging, adhesives, printing, medical and other fields. In the field of coatings, photocuring technology is considered to be an environmentally friendly green technology because of its fast curing speed, excellent curing performance, less pollution, and energy saving. However, the cured thickness of the resin applied to 3D printing (generally >25 μm) is significantly larger than the coating thickness of conventional coatings (generally <20 μm), which differs from conventional photocurable coatings and inks in formulation composition.


According to the division of the polymerization system, it can be divided into a radical polymerization and a cationic polymerization, and the polymerization mechanism and the reactive groups depending on each are different. The radical polymerization depends on the polymerization of the unsaturated double bond in the photosensitive resin, and the cationic polymerization is carried out by the epoxy group in the photosensitive resin. The free radical polymerization system has a fast curing speed and low raw material cost, but there is a certain degree of oxygen inhibition effect in the air, which will affect the curing performance and the performance of the part; the cationic polymerization system has an anaerobic inhibition effect, and the curing shrinkage is small or even no. Shrinkage, but sensitive to moisture, and high raw material costs, so the photosensitive resin used in 3D printing is mainly based on free radical polymerization system.


Analysis: Overview of 3D printed materials and their applications


The photosensitive resin for 3D printing mainly uses a radically polymerized acrylate system. There are many types of commercial acrylates that need to be adjusted to suit different needs. In general, the photosensitive resin for 3D printing has the following requirements:


(1) The performance is stable before curing, and generally does not require curing under visible light irradiation;


(2) The reaction speed is fast, and a higher reaction rate can achieve high-efficiency forming;


(3) moderate viscosity to match the recoating requirements of photocurable forming equipment;


(4) The curing shrinkage is small to reduce deformation and internal stress during forming;


(5) sufficient mechanical strength and chemical stability after curing;


(6) Toxicity and irritation are small to reduce damage to the environment and the human body.


In addition, there are some other requirements in some special applications, such as the application of photosensitive resin for casting requires low ash or even no ash, and the resin produced by applying dental orthosis or implant requires no human body. Poisonous or biodegradable properties. The variety of photosensitive resins currently on the market is diverse and can meet the needs of different fields.


Thermoplastic polymers are one of the most common 3D printing materials. Common thermoplastic polymers for 3D printing are acrylonitrile butadiene styrene plastic (ABS), polylactic acid (PLA), nylon (PA), polycarbonate. (PC), polystyrene (PS), polycaprolactone (PCL), polyphenylsulfone (PPSF), thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), polyetheretherketone (PEEK), and the like.


Depending on the 3D printing method, the form of the material is required to be different. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) uses wire, and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) uses powder. Since most of the polymer raw materials commonly used in the industry are mainly granules, the wire or powder is processed twice, which increases the cost of using 3D printing consumables. At present, some units have begun to develop 3D printing using granules as raw materials. equipment. Several representative materials are introduced below.


PLA and ABS are the most commonly used consumables for FDM and are very popular due to their low price. ABS is a common engineering plastic with good mechanical properties, but the 3D printing conditions are demanding, it is prone to warp deformation during printing, and it is prone to irritating odor. PLA is a biodegradable plastic with good printing performance. It is an ideal 3D printing thermoplastic polymer and has been widely used in education, medical, construction, mold design and other industries. In addition, PLA also has good biocompatibility, and the addition of hydroxyapatite modified PLA can be used in the manufacture of tissue engineering scaffolds.


Analysis: Overview of 3D printed materials and their applications


PA is a semi-crystalline polymer that is formed by SLS to provide high density and high strength parts. It is one of the main consumables of SLS. The PA used in SLS needs to have high sphericity and particle size uniformity, and is usually prepared by low temperature pulverization. PA composite powders can be prepared by adding inorganic materials such as glass beads, clay, aluminum powder, carbon fiber, etc. The addition of these inorganic fillers can significantly improve certain properties such as strength, heat resistance, electrical conductivity, etc., to meet different Application needs in the field.


PCL is a non-toxic, low-melting thermoplastic. PCL wire is mainly used as a consumable for children's 3D printing pens. It has high safety due to low forming temperature (80~100 °C). It is worth mentioning that PCL has excellent biocompatibility and degradability, and can be used as a material for tissue engineering scaffolds in biomedical applications. It can also improve mechanical properties and biocompatibility by doping materials such as nano hydroxyapatite. In addition, PCL materials have a certain shape memory effect and have certain potential in 4D printing.


TPU is a thermoplastic polymer with good elasticity. It has a wide and adjustable hardness range, and has certain wear resistance and oil resistance. It is suitable for the manufacture of shoe materials, consumer goods, industrial parts and so on. Combined with 3D printing technology, it can produce complex porous structures that are difficult to manufacture by traditional forming processes, so that the parts have unique and controllable mechanical properties. The elastic properties and strength of the porous structure TPU insole printed by the SLS process have reached market standards.


+86 13421471917  Billy Lau
 billy@flyinn-tech.com /  james@flyinn-tech.com

FlyInn Tech ZhongShan Co.,Ltd. Unit 1857, 18 floor, LiHe  commercial centre, ZhongShan city, GuangDong, China.


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