ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) plastic is one of the most popular materials ordered through T3NDER. The raw material is usually bought as a reel of coloured ABS. The filament of ABS is fed through to the printer head, at which point the plastic is melted. A thin layer of melted plastic is deposited along a set profile, it then sets hard and another layer is deposited on top. This continues until your 3D model is complete.
ABS is one of the cheaper materials available due to the availability and cost of the 3D printers. However because of the way the layers are built on top of one another without melting the layer below, the surface finish can be poor and may require hand finishing.
Duraform is produced using the Stereolithography (SLA) method of 3D printing. The raw material is supplied as a liquid resin which is contained in a vat. A UV laser traces a cross-section of the part pattern on the surface of the liquid resin. Exposure to the ultraviolet laser light solidifies the pattern traced on the resin and joins it to the layer below. The quality of the surface finish is much better than ABS plastic due to the smaller layer thicknesses used in the SLA method.
Duraform is available in two forms; Duraform PA and Durform GF. The PA version is basically Nylon, whereas the GF version is glass-filled offering increased stiffness and temperature resistance. Both versions are generally built in white although various colours are available.
PEEK is an advanced engineering thermoplastic. It is printed using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) process where a laser sinters the powdered PEEK material where required.It is the strongest and most durable of all the plastics available on T3NDER. It is often the go-to plastic for engineering applications where a metal part is unsuitable or too heavy. PEEK has good thermal and chemical resistance properties.
The lightest 3D printed metal available through T3NDER is Aluminium – AlSi10Mg. This is a casting grade of aluminium which is printed using the Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) process. Aluminium in powdered form is laid down layer-by-layer on the build platform, between each layer a laser scans across the required cross section, sintering the powder particles together to form a metal structure. 3D Models can be printed with a minimum wall thickness of 1.0mm. Geometry is critical to getting a good surface finish on the model as under-hanging surfaces can be rough. Parts can be polished, heat-treated, ultrasealed and even welded after printing.
Titanium Ti6Al4V is currently one of a number metals that can be printed using the process of Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS). Titanium is strong, light and corrosion resistant. It is mainly used for its strength in high-end engineering applications but it is also being used more and more for jewellery.
Inconel is a high-end engineering nickel super-alloy which can withstand temperatures over 900degreeC. Currently 625 and 718 grades are available to 3D print. Traditionally Inconel is cast, but with the latest DMLS technology parts can be printed, removing the need for expensive tooling. It is used extensively within aerospace, mainly for jet-engine turbine blades. Motorsport and high-end automotive companies are also using Inconel for exhaust and turbo applications. 3D Inconel models in either grade can be heat-treated, polished, hand finished and even welded into larger assemblies.
SLS carbon filled material is now available through T3NDER. It is essentially a nylon material that is filled with carbon particles to give it added strength, stiffness and temperature resistance. Windform is a popular brand of SLS carbon and is available in a few different grades. Due to the carbon filling 3D printed SLS carbon models are always black.
SLA Stereolithography ceramic lends itself to artistic or engineering related builds. SLA ceramic gives very good surface finish and can withstand temperatures above 500degC. Food-safe models are available (please state if you require food-safe versions on your quote request). Ceramic parts can be glazed or even metal plated after printing.
The softest, most flexible 3D printed material currently available is tango rubber. It can be printed to specific shore hardness if required. Tango rubber models are usually either clear or black with an achievable minimum thickness of 1.0mm.