Webinar: Selecting the Right Material for 3D Printing

Join Proto Labs’ team of 3D printing application engineers as they share how to navigate the material selection process for three additive manufacturing processes: stereolithography (SL), selective laser sintering (SLS), and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS).

In order to help you understand every variable that goes into selecting the right 3D printing material, the presentation will share:

  • Material properties attainable with SL, SLS, and DMLS
  • When to use each process and common applications
  • 3D printing specifications at Proto Labs

TITLE: Selecting the Right Material for 3D Printing
DATE: Thursday, December 15 at 11 a.m. CST
REGISTER: Click here to sign up

The presentation will conclude with an open Q&A session, so bring your 3D printing questions! Also, please feel free to forward this invite if you have a colleague or friend that may be interested.

DESIGN TIP: Thermoplastic-like vs. Thermoplastic

Many factors come into play when comparing the material properties of thermoplastics found in injection molding versus “thermoplastic-like” materials used in a 3D printing technology like stereolithlography (SL). At Proto Labs, a thorough selection of thermoplastic-like materials are offered through SL, but what may surprise you is the versatility and range of potential applications for SL parts.

This month’s tip discusses:

  • heat deflection, tensile strength and other important properties of thermoplastic-like materials
  • how SL materials compare to similar injection-molded thermoplastics
  • the benefits and range of suitable applications for each SL material
  • the impact of light and moisture exposure on 3D-printed parts


Red, White and Blue

The young lads on Team USA have had a solid showing in the World Cup. Taco Bell now has an amazing breakfast menu. The bald eagle is even undergoing a dramatic resurgence in the lower 48. What more could you ask out of America?!?

Red, white, and blue samples of LSR injection molding materials.

Well, raise those sparklers high in the air (like you just don’t care). Proto Labs is getting into the spirit of all things America! in the only way that a quick-turn manufacturing company filled with engineers can — by releasing new red, white and blue liquid silicone rubber color options. Obviously. Continue reading

Big Year for Steel

Steel is having a very interesting year. A copy of Action Comics #1, which marked the first appearance of “the man of steel,” was found in the insulation of a home during renovation and sold at auction for $175,000. Then on June 13th Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures released Man of Steel for an opening weekend gross of $128 million. And, perhaps less widely known but at much more reasonable prices, Firstcut is now producing low-volume machined parts in four different types of steel.

“Why steel?” you might ask. Well, in Superman’s case, it was 1938, almost a decade into the Great Depression. Americans needed a hero, and that hero needed to be tough. Steel, which had made possible the growth of the Roaring Twenties culminating in skyscrapers like the Chrysler and Empire State buildings, was the toughest material known. And while Superman’s Kryptonian flesh is actually stronger than steel, the man-of-steel title reflected the respect that steel had earned. In the case of Firstcut, we’re offering steel because our customers asked for it.

That brings us to the matter of progress. In the case of superheroes one might question whether there has been any. Captain America first appeared in 1941, and one would think that, based on seniority alone, he should be Brigadier General America by now. But despite all his exploits he remains a captain. And what about Ironman? He was created in 1963, 25 years after Superman, and built by a technogeek industrialist, so why iron? Admittedly, steel was already taken, and Ozzy Osbourne would have sounded ridiculous growling “I am titanium man,” but the Iron Age ended somewhere around 500 A.D, folks!

The only possible explanation is that Tony Stark created the original Ironman suit out of scrap in the jungles of Vietnam and had to use what was available, but one would assume that in 50 years of seemingly annual model changes, our flying metal friend should have been renamed Vibranium Man or Adamantium Man or for some other form of unobtainium found only in the Marvel Universe. But despite their love of innovative special effects the fans remain traditionalists at heart.

Not so our fans at Firstcut. In the short time since introducing steel, we now offer stainless 304/304L, stainless 316/316L, steel alloy 4140, and mild low carbon CR1018. And to keep up with customer demand we plan to keep expanding our material offerings. But we don’t plan to machine kryptonite anytime soon, so don’t ask.