A Quick History of Printing

What Types of Plastics are Used for 3D Printing?

In the past several years, we’ve seen how 3D printing technology has evolved from fashion to technology. It is just a sight to behold on how things changed during those years. On top of remarkable design possibilities that can be acquired via 3D printing, the level of engineering that’s used for printing fabric-like materials are just astonishing.

While it is true that we are widely using metal, sugar, Styrofoam or ceramic materials to build anything from 3D, still we can’t deny how it all began, in plastics. Whether you believe it or not, up to this day, plastics play a significant role in 3D printing. In the next paragraphs, we will discuss the major types of plastic that’s used in the textile industry.

Number 1. PLA – called also as Polylactic Acid, this is a bioplastic that is now dominating the 3D printing world. Basically, it has been sourced from renewable organic resources including sugarcane or cornstarch. In textile industry, PLA-based filaments have shown remarkable adhesion to PLA plastics. Due to the fact that it is possible to reinforce it to all types of materials, it is usually seen in producing smart fabric that helps to improve functionality of textile products.

Number 2. ABS – this is otherwise known as Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene that’s basically a terpolymer made by acrylonitrile and polymerizing styrene with polybutadiene. This is again another kind of bioplastic that is widely used for 3D printing purposes. It has the capacity to form filaments and aside from that, it’s strong, durable, heat resistant, cost effective and flexible.

On the other hand, one possible drawback of ABS is the fact that it could create a bit of unpleasant smell when it’s heated and the vapor has nasty chemicals. For this reason, anyone who intends to use this material should have a well ventilated area in order for the fumes to be eliminated.

Number 3. PVA – it’s a water soluble synthetic polymer that stands for Polyvinyl Alcohol. In reality, it is a new type of 3D printing material that is being used to support hold of 3D objects in place. Don’t mistake it for being used in finished product but it is made to create support certain parts of the product. Right after the products are finished, it can now be submerged into water and the PVA support structures will begin to dissolve leaving the insoluble prints. In the world of 3D printing, this act as a glue, packaging film or thickener.

Despite the fact that the range of materials being used in 3D printing technology could evolve as time passes by and with the growing interests among people, these are the 3 major plastic materials that is used for majority of 3D printing application.

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