Nylon 3D Printing: Materials and Technologies

Written by Abigail    2022-07-19

Nylon is a strong and compact material that delivers comprehensive method to different 3D Printing technologies. Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers composed of polyamides (repeating units linked by amide links). Nylon is a type pf thermoplastic which is generally made from petroleum. It can be melted and fused into fibers, films, or shapes. Nylon can be 3D printed as nylon powders or nylon filaments. Nylon 3D Printing creates durable parts with high strength and good toughness features. In this article, we will learn about how nylon works with FDM, SLS and MJF. Let's get started!nylon, nylon powders, nylon filaments, nylon 3d printing

Image Source: Formlabs

Part 1. Nylon Attributes

First, it is necessary to know the material properties of 3D Printing nylon. Two major reasons that it is tricky to print and process 3D nylon is the physical and chemical properties. Presenting durable, strong, and compact, nylon becomes a versatile and popular choice. Besides, nylon is being able to produce flexible parts if it is printed with thin thickness (not to warping limits) and with good toughness. Nylon is also suitable for making mobile parts and functional end-use products.

However, nylon has high melting point and is tend to absorb moisture, which means it requires relative high-end technologies to produce the products. While because of moisture absorb tendency, it delivers high adhesion ability to the surface in the printing process. But absorbing moisture from the air will affect the performance of the final part.

Different 3D Printing technologies processes nylon distinctively, let’s see how nylon performs in FDM, SLS, and MJF.3d printing nylon, 3d nylon, fdm, sls, mjf

Image Source: MatterHackers

Part 2. Technologies

1. FDM

It is common to 3D print nylon with SLS or MJF technologies which will be discussed in the following sections, while FDM can also be one option to create nylon parts. But it is relatively harder than that of SLS or MJF, which means the printer should be set carefully before printing. Printing nylon with FDM cost much lower cost if you own a FDM printer, as SLS or MJF printers are expensive, but please keep in mind that the quality of nylon parts that made by FDM is not as ideal as SLS or MJF printed parts and it is not an easy task. There are tips to print nylon by FDM:

1. It requires a high quality and all metal hot end, and make sure that it can handle temperatures over 250 Celsius degrees.

2. As FMD prints filaments, nylon filament choices are not in a wide range. The most common types are PA6 and PA66 as they deliver high strength, abrasion resistance, and low coefficient of friction. But remember that storage of the material is critical, as high moisture absorption will cause degradation.

3. Keep the nylon filaments in a storage unit with humidity control, and the filaments can be sent into the extruder as well.

4. Check carefully the printer manufacturer’s recommended settings before printing and follow the guidelines.

5. Make sure that the nozzle temperature is between 240 and 290 Celsius degrees, while the bed temperature should be up to 65 Celsius degrees.

6. PVA glue stick, Magigoo, Garolite and 3DLac are suitable for bed surface.

7. Printing speed can be set as 25 to 50 mm/s.3d print nylon, fdm, nylon filaments

Image Source: ProTek Models

2. SLS

3D Printing in nylon is more suited with SLS compared with FDM. SLS utilizes a high energy laser to sinter nylon powders and fused them together layer by layer. The most common nylon powders of SLS printers are PA11 and PA12. Besides, nylon composite powders which mix with glass, carbon fiber, or aluminum can generate parts with higher mechanical properties. During printing process, as SLS is sintering the selective areas, so the unsintered powder can be the support of the parts, which means SLS is being able to print parts with complex geometries without any supports. Moreover, the unsintered powder can be recycled and used in the next printing task.

Nylon works with SLS can create high quality parts which is close to end-use quality. If you want to make functional parts with complex structures, printing nylon powders with SLS is highly suitable. However, buying an industrial SLS 3D printer would be a large investment. But we can see there are some desktop SLS printers are emerging in the marker, Formlabs Fuse 1, for instance. Also, you can find online SLS 3D Printing services from various manufacturing services providers, such as Wenext, Hubs, Xometry, and CraftCloud, etc.

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3. MJF

Another powder bed fusion 3D Printing technology, MJF, also prints nylon powders successfully. MJF is invented by HP and first introduced to the market in 2016. Different from SLS, MJF distributes a thin layer of powder on the printing bed and deposits detailing and fusing agents onto the layer, then the high-power infrared light generate heat source to melt and fuse the materials together. Therefore, the printing speed of MJF is much faster than both FDM and SLS.

Compared with SLS, MJF produces nylon parts with detailed and smooth surface finish, while less warping will happen. The residual nylon powders after printing can be recycled too. However, MJF printer prices are relative higher than that of most of SLS printers. There is an option of buying online MJF 3D Printing services.

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Part 3. Online 3D Printing Nylon Products at Wenext

Nylon products can be created by FDM, SLS, and MJF, user can choose the technology to print parts accordingly. There is another option rather than buying an expensive 3D printer, that is searching online 3D Printing services. Wenext provides nylon 3D Printing services, and the technologies are SLS and MJF. SLS allows the construction of complex design and parts printed can work well as functional parts; while MJF provides high quality surface finish parts and consistent mechanical properties which is ideal for professional usage. Customers can pick the solution based on their requirements, and get their nylon products in a short lead time efficiently. Try instant quoting or contact us at hello@wenext.com if you are interested.


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