Choose the Right SLS 3D Printing Material

Discover which of these popular materials for Selective Laser Sintering is right for your project.

In the evolving additive manufacturing landscape, Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a crucial technology for everything from prototyping to production.

Sure, the technology is known for its accuracy and speed. However, its unique materials, suited for various applications, set it apart from other polymer-based 3D printing technologies.

This guide delves into five popular PA materials used in SLS 3D printing: PA 11, PA 12, PA 12 Glass Filled (GF), PA 12 Aluminum-Filled, and PA 12 Flame Retardant. These materials have gained widespread acceptance and preference in diverse industries owing to their robust mechanical properties, customization potential, and suitability for complex geometries. You’ll learn about the properties, prices, and critical applications for each.

Also, to know exactly what material is best for your next project, we recommend checking out our interactive technology and material advisor tool.

PA 11

Key Features 

PA 11, a bio-based polymer, boasts exceptional mechanical properties. Its remarkable ductility and impact strength make it a compelling choice for functional components across various sectors, with the automotive industry being a notable beneficiary. PA 11 parts are also amenable to dyeing and exhibit biocompatibility, making them increasingly prevalent in orthotics for limited production runs and customized components.

Applications

PA 11 finds its niche in crafting interior components for the automotive realm and fabricating prosthetics, orthotic devices, and functional prototypes.

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PA 12

A prototype bicycle helmet made out of PA 12. The helmet was primed and painted after printing.

Key Features

PA 12, a polyamide (PA), serves as a standard Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) material renowned for its fusion of high strength and enduring stability. Beyond these attributes, PA 12 distinguishes itself through chemical resistance and biocompatibility, making it a favored material in the medical sector, where it finds diverse utility.

Applications

PA 12 typically assumes the role of choice for crafting fully functional prototypes and end-use parts.

PA 12 Glass Filled

Key Features

PA 12 GF stands as a polyamide enriched with glass beads, a composition that elevates it as a material tailored for prolonged serviceability. Its capacity to endure elevated thermal conditions couples with its high density and tensile strength to amplify its desirability.

Applications

PA 12 GF is the go-to material for producing fully functional prototypes. Additionally, it frequently fulfills the role of end-use components, mainly where exposure to high-temperature environments is commonplace.

PA 12 Aluminum-Filled

Key Features

PA 12 Al-filled represents a polyamide infused with aluminum (Al), yielding an aesthetic reminiscent of metal. Notable attributes include superb dimensional stability at high temperatures, coupled with the inherent lightweight nature of plastic.

Applications

Applications for PA 12 Al-filled encompass everything from fully functional prototypes to jigs and fixtures. It also serves capably in scenarios demanding high temperatures and substantial mechanical stress.

PA 12 Flame Retardant

Key Features

PA 12 FR, a polyamide embedded with specialized chemical flame retardants, emerges as an ideal choice for sectors necessitating flame resistance as a safety or regulatory prerequisite. Notably, it upholds robust tensile strength while embodying flame-resistant properties.

Applications

PA 12 FR secures approval for specific aerospace applications, notably gracing the interiors of aircraft with flame-resistant interior components. It further lends its capabilities to passive elements within electronic components.

PP

Key Features

Polypropylene offers chemical resistance, elasticity, and toughness. This thermoplastic polymer showcases impressive durability, even in environments subject to chemical exposure. Its low density translates to lightweight parts and offers excellent fatigue resistance.

Applications

Typical applications for PP include packaging, automotive components, containers, and hinges.

TPU

Key Features

TPU stands out with its exceptional flexibility, abrasion resistance, and ability to withstand impacts. This material offers a high degree of elasticity and durability. It can be processed at high speeds without compromising its quality, and its resistance to oils, greases, and various solvents makes it versatile.

Applications

TPU is widely used in the production of flexible parts. It is popular in the footwear industry for soles, other flexible components, and medical devices where flexibility and durability are paramount.

Nylon 6

Key Features

Nylon 6 is a tough, semi-crystalline thermoplastic with high impact strength and resistance to wear. It also has good thermal properties and is known for its durability.

Use Cases

Nylon 6 is typically used in applications that require high strength and stiffness. It is a popular choice for gears, bushings, and plastic bearings. Due to its wear resistance, it is also used for wear-resistant machinery parts.

Start Your SLS Project

SLS 3D printing offers a wide range of material options, each with unique properties. With the MakerVerse platform, you receive instant quotes to get your project started quickly. Our engineering experts can also help you select the best-fitting material.