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Materials we choose for our tools

Materials we choose for our tools

Choice of materials is a very important consideration during design and after. It determines properties like strength, toughness, flexibility, hardness and so forth. But when you use 3D printers for production (AM) there is a whole new range of options to manipulate product properties, just where and how you want it. Design for AM results in products that can look and feel very differently. In many cases products can be much lighter, even though parts can have bigger wall thicknesses or larger volumes. They can be hollow with all kinds of structures within, that can even vary depending on the properties you need at a certain point. Design and material have to be very much in line with the purpose that is intended.

In the graph here below, you see three important properties of materials we use in our print farm: Impact strength, Tensile strength and Tensile modulus. On the left and right are the same materials from two different suppliers. For comparison you see the properties of ABS when injection molded (IM) in the middle, which is a very common material used for injection molding.

Tensile strength is in many cases a very important property for material selection. Obviously impact strength gets more important for parts that are exposed to bigger impact forces. Lower resistance from the material to impact forces however, can also be compensated for, to an extend, in the design.

As you can see there can be big differences between the same materials from different suppliers. The tools from Ways Wonders are mostly made from RPLA from the supplier on the right. It’s the material with the highest tensile strength. It is also a bio-based plastic made from at least 70% recycled material (coming from industrial waste streams). All other plastics are oil-based plastics, but also recyclable and recycled.

This is the description for rPLA from one of our suppliers:

Short for polyactic acid, PLA is a bioplastic derived from plant-based sources. However, PLA production is depleting natural resources faster than they can be replenished. To address this issue, we have pioneered rPLA 3d printer filament, still boasting the same great PLA features such as; Low warping, limited smell and premium print quality – but with the added benefit of being produced from factory waste streams as opposed to virgin pellets. All users of rPLA can feel good about reducing environmental impact, whilst being confident that the print quality will still be one of the best on the market!

RPLA_FF is our preferred choice in most cases, it’s strong, tough and easy to work with, but off course sometimes there are reasons to choose otherwise.

More thoughts about the materials we use in our print farm will follow in future blogs.