Everyone using a 3D printer today is familiar with many of the different filaments available for printing. PLA and ABS are the two most common materials. They are widely available around the world from manufacturers, local producers, specialty houses and even hobbyists.
If you print with PLA , while it’s fairly strong, it’s also very brittle. Parts that are used in the outdoors cannot be left in temperatures above 100F.
ABS is more robust than PLA, but ABS parts lack the sheer strength needed for functional 3D printed parts. This is where Nylon 12 Filament comes in to play.
Nylon 12 is a very versatile, durable and strong material to use for 3D printing. Nylon 12 can be printed thin allowing for great flexibility. It has tremendous very high inter-layer adhesion thus lending itself to the manufacturing of highly functional parts, snap fits and living hinges as seen in the life changing prosthetic hands being made for individuals. It is also great for printing straps or belting that can easily bend for locking items in place.
Because of its chemical composition it can take a lot more abuse and withstand much more pressure than other materials. It is UV resistant and hold up much better to chemical attacks as compared to more standard use materials. As a 3D printing material, it has low warp characteristics and can easily be printed on glass or aluminum (the most commonly used 3d printer bed materials) with proper bed temperature, and glue substrate.
Nylon 12’s physical properties make it well suited for use in: metal coatings, cosmetics, packaging materials in the food and pharmaceutical industries, automotive applications, sports equipment, hoses, cable ties, wire insulation, nozzles, cogwheels, gaskets, sealing rings, medical catheters, ski boots as well as other industries and now 3D Printing.
Characteristics of Nylon 12
Nylon 12 is a polymer containing “long-chain” hydrocarbons thus giving it dimensional stability, chemical resistance, insensitivity to stress cracking and a wide range of other properties. From a financial standpoint using Nylon 12 provides a good cost-to-performance ratio.
It is a thermoplastic and as such has the special ability to be fully melted and re-cured time and again. For this reason, Nylon 12 is very well suited for use in a 3D printer. The thermal stability of Nylon 12 is up to 120 °C (248°F). The melting point of nylon 12 is just under 181° C (357°F).
This material has the lowest absorption ratio of any of the Nylons. At saturation levels and 23°C is will absorb only 1.4% moisture by weight. This % is much lower than the 9% absorption rate by Nylon 6 at the same saturation levels.
Because of these characteristics Nylon 12 is more stable and flexible over a wider range of conditions. Even when temperatures dip below freezing Nylon 12 will retain excellent non-impact and impact strength.
What are some of the Benefits of 3D Printing with Nylon 12
There are definitely major advantages of 3D printing with Nylon 12. This material creates a much tougher and stronger part. You’ll find that you can achieve better flexibility and therefore will be more pliable producing a more functional end product.
Typically nylon parts will not break or scratch so if you are assembling parts there is a lower risk of damaging or ruining the parts. They can be drilled, tapped, used for good snap fit assemblies, gasketing and a multitude of “hard use” requirements. Because of this you can explore different finishing techniques and produce a well-made, good-looking final part.
Nylon is considered to be lightweight as compared to other traditional filaments used for 3d printing. Its low friction coefficient and high melting temperature make it an excellent choice for printed gears, pulleys, wear plates and parts wherever pieces need a good fit but will glide easily over on another.
Building parts using Nylon 12 Filament create some of the toughest parts in the business. They exhibit 100-300 percent better elongation at break. Their superior fatigue resistance and highest layer-to-layer adhesion is the leader over other additive manufacturing technology. Nylon 12 is the best choice for so many “every day” and “specialty” items.