We recently attended a webinar online (like most things these days) about 3D-printing regarding various materials available for Ultimaker 3D-printers. (We’ll soon have some newly acquired Ultimaker S3s, so the webinar was useful for us to glean various intel about the printers.)
The webinar was pretty straightforward, with some interesting highlights.
We mostly & primarily use PLA (polylactic acid) in the QC Makerspace, but will soon be adding PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) to our material range, which is used to provide PLA prints with dissolvable supports.
PLA can still be used for breakaway supports, illuminated by this slide:
The Ultimaker line of machines are of course capable of multi-material such as CPE+, PC, PP, TPU, etc. We typically do not use these materials in the QC Makerspace but their properties are good to know about and understand. The following chart shows the various property ranges of various materials; we typically stick with PLA because it has a much more narrow spectrum of properties and is as the chart indicates “easy” to print with:
Various materials are of course better applicable for various purposes – and the Ultimaker team included some slides to illustrate these concepts. Examples shown include ABS, Tough PLA, and Nylon:
So while we more or less exclusively stick to PLA for learning and production purposes in the QC Makerspace, there are many materials out there to choose from – and even more materials emerging and being developed every year! (PVA, mentioned above, is a great example – it wasn’t available when 3D-printing broke onto the scene, but now it’s incredibly useful for printing interior, dissolvable supports.)