May 23, 2016 | By Tess

As we well know, advancements in 3D printing technologies are dependent on advancements in 3D printing materials. On an industrial level, there are now many options for metal, plastic, and other material-based 3D printing, though for FFF printing technologies, options have remained relatively limited to different types of plastic. Excitingly, and to advance materials used for FFF additive manufacturing, 3D Hubs has partnered with 3D printer company Markforged to launch a new series nylon materials reinforced with Kevlar, Fiberglass, and Carbon.

The new and innovative materials have been designed for the purpose of creating 3D printed parts with the strength of metal but with the price of plastic. In fact, the new fiber-reinforced materials will offer a higher strength-to-weight ratio than 6061-T6 Aluminum, and be up to 27 times stiffer and 24 times stronger than ABS parts.

The extra-strength materials, which will be offered through 17 of 3D Hubs’ certified providers across Europe, the US, and Canada, are ideal for engineering parts, functional prototyping and testing, as well as for the creation of custom end-use production parts, structural parts, and jigs, fixtures and other toolings. As 3D Hubs specifies, however, the materials are less useful for the creation of small, highly-detailed parts.

As mentioned, 3D Hubs has partnered with 3D printer company Markforged for the launch of the new materials, as the company’s Mark Two Industrial Strength 3D printer and patent-pending Continuous Filament Fabrication (CFF) system, which works alongside an FFF print head, are equipped to print with the fiber-reinforced nylon materials. As a press release by 3D Hubs explains, “Adding fibres during the 3D printing process is complex and needs an expert operator running the machine. Through our network of nearby 3D printing service providers we’re able to deliver this expertise for each project, making this technology accessible for all professionals.”

Of course, the three new materials do differ slightly. The Carbon-Reinforced Nylon, as mentioned, offers a higher strength-to-weight ratio than 6061 Aluminum and possesses the highest thermal conductivity of the three. The Kevlar-Reinforced Nylon, for its part, offers the highest abrasion resistance and is the most flexible of the materials, making it ideal for durable and impact resistant parts. The Fiberglass-Reinforced Nylon is perhaps the most cost-effective of the three, and offers the same strength as the Carbon-Reinforced Nylon. It is, however, 60% less stiff than the latter and twice as heavy.

3D Hubs has also offered a few tips for those designing parts to be made from the advanced fiber-reinforced nylons. First, as we already said, the materials are not designed for the manufacturing of small, intricate parts and should have a minimum detail size of 0.8mm. The minimum feature size for reinforced parts should be 3mm, while for pure nylon parts that is reduced to 1.6mm.

For the additive manufacturing of moving or interlocking parts (which is possible with the Fiber-Reinforced Nylons in a single print), make sure to keep at least 0.5mm of clearance space so that the parts can come loose once printed. In terms of wall thickness, the measurements are the same as those for minimum feature size, that is, for reinforced-nylon you will require a wall thickness of at least 3mm, while for pure nylon, only 1.6mm are required.

The technology required to print with the FIber-Reinforced Nylons, Continuous Filament Fabrication or CFF, is based on FDM 3D printing technology, but integrates a second print head which simultaneously reinforces the printed nylon by “embedding a continuous strand Carbon Fiber, Kevlar or Fiberglass within the layers.” As 3D Hubs’ adds on their website, “These long, continuous strands carry load down the entire object, resulting in astonishingly robust parts leveraging the properties of composite materials.”

To get a quote for a 3D printed part made from 3D Hubs and Markforged’s new Fiber-Reinforced Nylon, consult the 3D Hubs website here.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Materials

 

 

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