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Alyaa Elsaadany
7 Characteristics of Polymer for Additive Manufacturing to Consider

What is the best material for 3D printing? Is it ABS, PA12, PLA, IN718 or AlSi10Mg? Every additively manufactured part is different. It all depends on the individual material properties as it relates to the production output goals.

Material properties including tensile strength, tensile modulus, elongation at break, flexural strength, flexural modulus and density all help define and categorize materials. These properties are crucial for choosing the most ideal material for 3D printing. In this article, we’ll focus on each characteristic as it relates to additive manufacturing. 

1. Tensile Strength

The tensile strength of a material is the maximum amount of tensile stress that it can be subjected to before failure. The definition of failure can vary according to material type and design methodology.

Figure 1  Stress Vs. Strain from Admet.com

2. Ultimate tensile strength

Ultimate tensile strength is a measurement of the force required to pull something such as rope, wire, or a structural beam to the point where it breaks. The tensile strength of a material is the maximum amount of tensile stress that it can take before failure, for example breaking.

3. Tensile Modulus

Tensile Modulus is a mechanical property that measures the stiffness of a solid material. It defines the relationship between stress and strain in a material in the linear elasticity regime of a uniaxial deformation, or  slope of its stress–strain curve in the elastic deformation region. A stiffer material will have a higher elastic modulus.

4. Elongation at Break

Elongation at Break is also known as fracture strain or tensile elongation at break, is the ratio between increased length and initial length after breakage of the tested specimen at a controlled temperature. It is related to the ability of a plastic specimen to resist changes of shape without cracking.

Figure 2  Fracture graph for Tensile Modulus

5. Flexural Strength

The most common purpose of a flexure test is to measure flexural strength and flexural modulus. Flexural strength is defined as the maximum stress at the outermost fiber on either the compression or tension side of the specimen. Flexural modulus is calculated from the slope of the stress vs. strain deflection curve.

6. Flexural Modulus

Flexural Modulus or bending modulus is an intensive property that is computed as the ratio of stress to strain in flexural deformation, or the tendency for a material to resist bending. It is determined from the slope of a stress-strain curve produced by a flexural test (see image above for example of flexural test).

7. Density

Since mass is usually expressed in grams and volume in cubic centimeters, density is expressed in grams/cubic centimeter. We can calculate density using the formula: Density= Mass/Volume. Density is the mass contained within a unit volume.

All of these material properties can be used to define and categorize a material. Polymer materials tend to have a lower tensile modulus as compared to metals. Using Link3D’s  Material Recommendation System, users can customize their search using the properties in order to find the most suitable material for their 3D printing needs. Users can also identify some key characteristics about the material they need i.e: stiff, strong, or biocompatible which can help narrow down the search for the most suitable material for them.