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Understanding 3D Printing Technology

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, is the process of making 3-dimensional items from a digital file. The virtual design is made from Computer Aided Design (CAD) and then worked into a 3-dimensional file. That file is then delivered to the printer that then “prints” the item, often using thermoplastic resins or filament like those produced by TripTech Plastics. There are many applications for 3D printing, from industrial to home-hobbyists, with printers using a variety of technologies.

3D Printer Filaments Explained

ABS, PLA and Amphora filament types are among the most common used in 3D printing today. Each are thermoplastics that become soft and moldable when heated, and are then molded and formed into a solid state when cooled. Understanding the differences among them, including their chemical or physical makeup, scent, material properties, price and other characteristics will help determine which is best for your intended application.

ABS – Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

ABS filament is one of the easiest filaments to print with. Makers like to use ABS because it requires less force to extrude, and is great for small parts. It has a low density and is a softer plastic, which means it has a lower weight and lower cost when printing large pieces.

One of the best uses for ABS filament is mechanical designs or designs that have interlocking pieces. It also has a long lifespan and is more impact resistant.

While ABS prints with a matte finish you can easily smooth the surface out with a few drops of acetone, or achieve a high gloss finish by brushing or dipping the printed model in acetone. With a wide selection of ABS filament colors, like white, black, red, and blue let us help make your vision a reality.

Looking for a custom color or have more questions about our ABS filament? Fill out our contact form or call us directly at 844.870.9986.

PLA – Polylactic Acid

While PLA filament is one of the most popular types of 3D printing filament, there are many other reasons that make PLA an excellent choice for hobbyist and professionals alike. If you are looking for high accuracy as well as high resolution, PLA is the filament for you.

One of the reasons why PLA is so popular is that is does not require a heated base and it is a plant-based plastic that does not give off very much odor. In fact you will find as you are printing it will start to smell like waffles; how many plastics can say that. PLA filament also extrudes at lower temperatures, is harder than ABS filament, and has a low shrinkage rate (.3%).

If you are searching for filament that prints sharp corners, resulting in edges with a glossier look and feel; PLA is right for you. With a wide variety of colors including white, black, blue, green, and yellow, we also offer custom colors to help make your vision a reality.

To learn more about PLA call us at 844.870.9986 or go to our contact page and fill out our form.

ABS or PLA Filament for 3D Printing

ABS vs. PLA are the two types of 3D printer filament that have separated themselves as the most commonly used for most 3D printing and additive manufacturing applications.

Depending on the capabilities of your 3D printer, the types of parts you’re wanting to produce and the function those parts will ultimately perform, it would benefit you to have a basic understanding of the differences between these two thermoplastics.

We’ve taken care of the first part, transforming the thermoplastic raw material from tiny plastic pellets into a uniformly shaped, round, filled tube of filament. From there, when it’s used by your 3D printer as feedstock to produce a part, that’s where the individual properties of the thermoplastic start to separate.

ABS – Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene

ABS is generally known for its strength, despite being both light and durable. It’s popularly used in applications such as toys, tools, utensils and other mechanical uses. Its sturdiness gives it superior resistance to high temperatures.

As a byproduct of its heat resistance properties, ABS must be extruded at 260 degrees and printed onto a heated print bed, meaning the part and the machine itself will be extremely hot during the printing process. This raises a potential safety concern if certain protocols are not in place and strictly followed.

Further, your 3D printer must be of high quality when using ABS because of the need for consistency in temperature, as deviations could cause warped or ruined parts, particularly on parts with fine detail.

PLA – Polylactic Acid

PLA is best known as the organic choice of filament material, as it’s made from various plant products, including corn and sugar cane. PLA is generally less expensive than ABS, and it’s biodegradable and recyclable (ABS is recyclable, as well). It’s most commonly used by consumers and hobbyists for display or small household applications.

PLA is extruded at a lower temperature than ABS, which, while making it easier to work with, the material doesn’t tend to perform as well as ABS in high temperatures. While it is also strong like ABS, it’s less not as suitable for complicated, high-detail applications that lock or combine with other parts.

Contact Triptech Plastics to learn more about which filament is most applicable for your 3D print application.

The potential of 3D printing and additive manufacturing is astounding, representing new opportunities for manufacturing, healthcare, technology, education, and retail. And while the industry has made incredible advances in hardware and software, it’s now time for the industry to take advantage of better-performing materials…such as Eastman Amphora™ 3D polymer.