When selecting a material to use for your 3D printing project, there are many options to choose from, and this can be a daunting experience. As each of the materials has its own unique features, strengths, and weaknesses, the best 3D printing material depends on your specific project and what kind of printer you have.
Before reading on, we suggest you learn more about the different types of 3D printers available on the market, in Emona's previous article, Everything You Need to Know About Emona's Top 3D Printer Brands. Emona Instruments offers industry-leading additive manufacturing products and materials, trust us – we know 3D printing. So, let us help you find the best material for your next 3D printing projects based on your type of printer.
Standard Filaments for 3D Printers
A filament material is a thermoplastic and is the most common material used in 3D printing. For best application, it is best practice to store filaments in an airtight container in order to reduce humidity damage from the air. Filaments have endless amounts of applications, with a filament to suit any task at hand, from functional objects like industrial tools and medical prosthetics, to fun hobbyist objects like jewellery and figurines.
Most standard 3D machines utilize Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), where the 3D Printer melts the plastic, and via a nozzle, the desired object is formed layer by layer. At Emona, we sell Nylon White FFF Filament by Markforged. Nylon is the most common plastic material; as a synthetic thermoplastic, nylon is popular for its high-quality flexibility, chemical resistance and strength. A good choice for a wide range of applications from engineering to the arts, offering excellent mechanical strength. Nylon prints have a rough surface and should be polished smooth.
More advanced machines use a Continuous Filament Fabrication (CFF), a process solely developed by Markforged, working in addition to FFF printers. In CFF, the printer has a second nozzle that lays continuous strands of composite fibres inside a convention FFF thermoplastic parts.
At Emona Instruments, we supply:
- Markforged's Carbon Fibre CFF Filament, which has the highest power-to-weight ratio of any fibre cartridges. It is six times stronger and eighteen times stiffer than Onyx alone. Most commonly used for parts to replace machined aluminium.
- Markforged's Fibreglass CFF Filament, is a high-quality specialist 3D printing material capable of making parts ten times stronger than ABS and is more affordable than carbon fibre.
- Markforged's Kevlar CFF Filament is lightweight but possesses excellent durability and has the most flexible fibre material in the range. Making it the best-suited material for parts that experience repeated and sudden loading, often used in gripper technology.
- Markforged's Onyx FFF Filament is the flagship Composite base material, offering high toughness and chemical resistance. Applications are quite varied, from plastic part replacements, housing, sensor mounts and cosmetic prototypes.
HSHT Fibreglass CFF Filament for 3D Printers
High Strength, High Temperature (HSHT) Fibreglass by Markforged is a material designed uniquely for users who need to print hard-wearing objects for higher temperature environments (over 105°C, with a heat deflection point of 140°C). This type of 3D printing material is most widely used for the automotive and aerospace industries, because load-bearing parts are continually expected to withstand higher temperatures.
Onyx ESD Filament for 3D Printers
The Onyx ESD Filament by Markforged is the most advanced polymer on the market, most suited for professional engineers. Onyx ESD is best suited for tooling, jigs, and fixtures that must be ESD-safe and for parts that cause processing difficulties when charge builds up. Some examples include assembly fixtures, test fixtures, custom hand tools, enclosures, component trays, and robotic end-of-arm grippers.
Resin for 3D Printers
Resin or Photopolymers are a range of 3D printable liquids that solidify when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. The 3D Printer uses light to form the desired object as the resin congeals layer by layer to create the solid outcome. Resin is the best choice for producing functional prototypes and small-scale concept models for a cost-effective means.
Resin is a popular 3D material, mainly because SLA printers require resin. Still, resin is a very high-quality material that produces large objects with a high degree of detail in a short time, obtaining excellent speed and accuracy. However, these amazing benefits come at a cost and are one of the more expensive printing materials.
At Emona, we have an extensive range of resin cartridges available in various colours and prices, proudly supplied by Formlabs, used for SLA printers.
Metals for 3D Printers
Metal 3D printing materials are suited to industrial applications in the prototyping and production of end-use metal parts. Unlike Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) technology – which melts and fuses material powder together by either a laser or electron beam – Markforged uses Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing (ADAM) technology which fuses metal powder bound in a plastic matrix, eliminating the safety risks associated with powder handling in the PBF process. ADAM metal materials also enable new features like closed-cell infill for reduced part weight and cost.
3D Printer Copper by Markforged is greater than 99.8% pure copper, and it is the first metal material with excellent thermal and electrical conductivity and high ductility. Copper is mostly recommended for low-volume production parts, tooling and functional prototypes.
The 17-4PH Stainless Steel by Markforged is a multipurpose steel used for industrial applications. Heat-treatable to 36 HRC and possessing 95% wrought strength, Markforged 17-4 PH enables you to print high-strength, robust metal parts for a wide variety of applications. Some examples of applications include end-of-arm tools, lightweight brackets & more.
H13 tool steel is an extremely versatile material to work with; it is stronger than 17-4 PH Stainless Steel and capable of maintaining material properties at high temperatures. Used by Markforged customers for tool bodies, brazing fixtures, mould inserts, wear-resistant tools and other parts where hardness or heat resistance are required.
Markforged Metal Ceramic Support Material for 3D Printers
The ceramic support material is used as a support material when 3D printing with metals on the Markforged Metal X; you can easily separate the component from the support material after sintering. This material is only compatible with a Markforged Metal X 3D printer.
Sourcing 3D Printers and 3D Printing Materials at Emona
The potential of 3D printing is still in its infancy; in the coming years, almost all industries and companies will use the technology to enhance their manufacturing and supply chains. Be an early adopter of 3D printing with a state-of-the-art 3D printer and high-quality 3D printing materials from Emona Instruments.