3D Printing Materials Guide

There are so many materials you can choose from when it comes to 3D printing that it’s often tough to decide on the right one. But do not fear! Tinkercad’s Materials Guide is here! Our easy-to-read guide will help you select the perfect material based on a few important factors, like type, minimum thickness, texture and the all-important cost. Whether you’re looking to 3D print a prototype or a unique 3D gift, our Materials Guide will help guide you through the process!


NYLON: (Polyamide)

  • Also called White, strong & flexible / Durable plastic / White plastic
  • Strong and flexible plastic
  • 1mm minimum wall thickness
  • Naturally white, but you can get it colored
  • About 10 layers per 1mm
  • Made from powder
  • Alumide = Polyamide + Aluminum
  • Interlocking, moving parts possible (chain)

ABS: (Home printers)

  • Strong plastic like legos are
  • Made from spaghetti like filament
  • Many color options
  • About 3 layers per 1mm
  • 1mm minimum wall thickness

RESIN: (Multiple options)

  • Also called White-, Black-, Transparent detail / White detail resin / High detail-, Transparent-, Paintable Resin
  • Rigid and a bit delicate
  • Liquid Photopolymer cured with UV light
  • White, black & transparent most typical colors
  • About 10 layers per 1mm
  • 1mm minimum wall thickness

STAINLESS STEEL:

  • Very strong material
  • Made with multiple steps or from powder directly
  • Coloring options like gold and bronze plating
  • About 6 layers per 1mm
  • 3mm minimum wall thickness

GOLD & SILVER:

  • Strong materials
  • Made from wax and then casted
  • About 10 layers per 1mm
  • 0.5mm minimum wall thickness

TITANIUM:

  • Strongest material
  • Direct metal laser sintering
  • About 30 layers per 1mm
  • 0.2mm minimum wall thickness

CERAMIC:

  • Rigid & delicate
  • First ceramic is printed then surface is glazed
  • Ceramic white, glaze typically white
  • About 6 layers per 1mm
  • 3mm minimum wall thickness

GYPSUM:

  • Also called Sandstone / Rainbow ceramics / Multicolor
  • Rigid & delicateMade from powder
  • Naturally white, but you can get it with colors
  • About 10 layers per 1mm
  • 2mm minimum wall thickness

Download the Tinkercad Materials Guide.


Is there a material you’d like to see in the Tinkercad Materials Guide?
Let us know: team@tinkercad.com.

44 comments

  1. this is awesome. thanks! next step is adding entries for laser cutting with the .svg files

  2. I’d like to know which materials are toxic, eg not suitable for toys or dishware.

    1. salokannel · · Reply

      @Tina: That’s a good question. I would suggest to make toys from PLA or ABS, because both are filament based. It’s like spaghetti which is melted + legos for example are made from ABS. PLA is corn based, so that would make it even better. If you have access to some “home printer”, these are also the most affordable options. Nylon probably would be otherwise fine, but it’s made from powder. When product is made from powder, it will loose some tiny powder pieces when used. Ceramic is the only food-safe material, but on the other hand not safe as a toy.
      This material guide is just to get some basic understanding about the most used 3D printable materials. If you want to know more details, I’d suggest to check from 3D printing service material guides more:
      Shapeways: http://www.shapeways.com/materials
      i.Materialise: http://i.materialise.com/materials

    2. Peregrine · · Reply

      ABS isn’t bad, but if you’re worried about making toys for someone that might put it in their mouth you MUST MUST MUST put it through an acetone vapor bath first to prevent and delamination. My left hand is printed ABS, and the one finger that we forgot to put through the bath started peeling apart after a while.

      PLA is less toxic (corn starch based) but more prone to breaking in thin areas. I couldn’t say one way or another on how easily it delaminates or not.

      Resin I think depends on the type. Some might be toxic, others they use in dentistry. (my two front teeth are half plastic)

  3. Actually, I’ve just got my Replicator2 in january in since than it’s been printing continuously:) I guess that the FDM technology is getting better every week, with the new desktop 3D printers you can print with a layer height of less than 0.1mm which produces beautiful and smooth curved surfaces as well. Check out my blog about my experiments and timelapse videos about my 3D printing experiences and parametric design;)
    Btw I’m having some issues updating my Firmware to the new one. I’ve already installed MakerWare 2.0, but when I want to update my Firmware from the Makerware menu, I always get the message “Error: task failed”. Any suggestions?

  4. Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just your
    articles? I mean, what you say is fundamental and all.
    Nevertheless think of if you added some great images or video
    clips to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and clips,
    this blog could certainly be one of the very best in its niche.
    Very good blog!

  5. Can your files be exported or migrated to be made into an injection mold format. Say, if something we made could be produced by Protomold.com? Thank you.

    1. Hi Wade –
      It looks like Protomold can work with an STL file – which you can export from Tinkercad. I’d check with Protomold for more specifics.

      1. Only First Cut can work with an .STL file. Protomold needs .igs, .stp, sldprt, .prt, sat,.dwg We are trying to send to both 3d printing then send the same object to protomold. It would be nice to see a design before sending out for injection.

  6. Just wondering … can you print with Gold or Silver for custom jewelry?

    1. Hi Robert,
      Check out Shapeways or Sculpteo – I know they print in silver, and may do gold.

  7. What about PLA/PVA? ABS stinks like all out.

  8. Ken Hecker · · Reply

    Just what I was thinking. How about printing a mold, using PVA (which dissolves in water), and then pouring in whatever would work, such as rubber or possibly even metal. I just got this little book – “How to Cast Small Metal and Rubber Parts”, and although it deals mainly with traditional mold-making techniques, it lists some materials that would work with PVA I would think.

    Since PVA has a low enough melting point to allow it to be 3D printed, I would suspect that some sort of air curing material would be in order.

  9. mathgrrl · · Reply

    Hello, do you have a Tinkercad tool (or plans to make one) that will take a solid object and give you a hollow shell of that object, for printing with Shapeways or other powder printers? I get how to do that with a cube, etc, but for more complex, non-convex shapes I can’t figure out how to do this.
    -Laura

    1. Hi Laura,

      We don’t have a hollow function in Tinkercad – we want to keep it light and fast. You can, however take your model into A3DP; our 3D print utility, available at http://apps.123dapp.com/3dprint/install.html

      You can also get to it through 123D Design.

      Let me know if that helps!
      Andrew

      1. Laura Taalman · ·

        Thank you very much, that was very helpful! However A3DP doesn’t let me put a hole in the object to let printing powder from Shapeways come out – it would be great to have a “make ready for Shapeways” button that would hollow to the minimum thickness and then make escape holes. Long story of trying unsuccessfully to use Tinkercad, MeshLab, 123D Design online and desktop, and Sketchup to add that hole but such a simple thing… arrgh! :)

        I like to print things on my own filament-deposition machine but for the really good models I want to be able to send them to Shapeways.

      2. Thanks Laura,

        That’s a great point – I’ll forward it as a feature suggestion. Meanwhile, I’ve spent the last 10 minutes staring into space trying to figure out how you could do it..! I’ll keep you posted.

        Andrew

  10. WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for
    concrete molds testing

  11. Terry Weymouth · · Reply

    in TinkerCAD, can’t one just create a small cylender hole a little longer then the surfae thickness,, and combine it with the surface where a hole is desired. Or am I missing something.

    1. You can, but Tinkercad sometimes converts a hollow model to a solid one. So you make the hole like you said but now there is no “thickness”, just a solid model! Very frustrating. I would love to have a button in Tinkercad that takes a solid model and returns a shell of it, to whatever thickness you specify – and then we could just punch cylinder holes as needed.

  12. […] the 3D printing history, the speaker was introducing the audience to different types of machines, materials and made a point that the costs of printing are already getting closer to the average user – […]

  13. Gang JIang · · Reply

    Hi, Where can we get the metal powders for 3 D printings?

    1. Hi Jiang,

      I think that metal powders are still only available at an industrial scale. Google would probably get you more results, sorry..!

  14. WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by looking for
    concrete forms testing

  15. 3D printing is really the future. They are even able to build a house frame in concrete!

  16. 3D printing is really the future. They are even able to build a house frame in concrete! http://nusteel.com.au/3d-printing/

  17. Highly deѕϲriptive post, I loνed that bit. Will there be a part 2?

  18. Hi there, just wanted to tell you, I loved this blog post.

    It was practical. Keep on posting!

  19. simon williams · · Reply

    Hi, buying a 3d printer for the first time next month, dont want to spend a fortune as a first time user, any reccommendations?? I have seen that Da Vinci 2.0, this seemed a good one because fo dual printing, but I am dubious about how much material is going to be used, with this printer you have to go to the supplier of the product, would I not be better getting a printer that I can use a spool of material?? Sorry about long question :-)

  20. George Morgan · · Reply

    I also find this material http://www.3d2print.net/shop/3d-printer-filament/elastic-filament/ a very promising one. I’ve been utilizing plastic ABS, PLA and nylon in my prototyping projects, but this rubber-like elastic filament is one of a kind. It’s considered as highly flexible however, more challenging to print with.

  21. LarryPage · · Reply

    This is a really good post. Very helpful to us people who dont really understand the process behind 3D printing. This helps me realize that I can use any kind of brother toner cartridge in printing my output. This is a good technological advancement in the printing industry.

    Source: http://www.inkjetsuperstore.com

  22. Thanks for share, your information is really helpful for us

  23. Scotty · · Reply

    I use http://www.cheap3dfilaments.com they have good PLA and ABS for cheap with free shipping too.

  24. Good post, what stands out is who will win the battle as FDM and SLA is quite different in terms of price and working ways.

  25. Jeshvin · · Reply

    For making an I Phone holder for cars which material you would suggest and why?

    1. Any of the resin- based materials would be fine. Super durable.

    2. Edit: Some of the resins would be super durable. ABS is always a safe bet, though.

  26. What material would be the best theoretically for 3D printing Dice? Since they’re going to be handled, tumbled, and basically whacked several times. Excluding metals as an option here. Which of the plastic-like materials would be best?

    1. ABS or PLA would be fine, though they wouldn’t have much weight. The Resin-based materials would give a little more heft, and could even be a little flexible so that they bounce.

  27. I would consider HIPS natural. I’ve printed thick, solid items with this material, and they’ve come out smooth and no sign of deformation. If you want to emboss the spots, I would indent them. Using a transparent material would also be interesting.

  28. I’m not suee exactly why but this site is loading very sllw for
    me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a issue on my end?
    I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

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