TIPS WITH TONY: Can 3D-Printed Parts Take the Heat?

Here’s a question that’s often asked: How do materials used in 3D printing compare to injection-molded thermoplastics when the temperature rises? To answer that, I’ll briefly dissect the materials used in stereolithography (SL) and selective laser sintering (SLS) processes as these are commonly compared to injection molding.

Stereolithography
SL involves a thermoset resin that is solidified by an ultraviolet laser, followed by a UV post-curing process to completely solidify the resin. As far as material properties, the big takeaway is that SL parts are built from thermoplastic-like resins, so they do break down over time in direct UV light.

SL uses materials that mimic ABS, polypropylene and glass-filled polycarbonate, and they offer an array of material properties still exist. But today we’re concerned with the thermal properties of the materials that are best suited to handle the heat — 3D Systems Acura 5530 and DSM Somos NanoTool. Both are offered in post-cured states and there’s an additional process for thermal post-curing that increases the operating temperatures.

The chart shows optimal heat deflections for SL materials. The other materials offered in SL have a much lower heat deflection ranging from 120˚F to 177˚F.

Material

UV Post-Cure

UV Post-Cure +
Thermal Post-Cure

3D Systems
Accura 5530

85˚C (185˚F)

250˚C (482˚F)

DSM Somos NanoTool

225˚C (437˚F)

263˚C (506˚F)

Selective Laser Sintering
SLS parts are built on a bed of thermoplastic nylon that offers some similarities, but also some distinct differences from nylon parts that are injection molded. SLS is offered in four nylon materials: PA 850, PA 650, PA 615-GS with 50 percent glass and DuraForm® HST Composite.

PA 615 offers great dimensional stability and mechanical stiffness as well as improved heat deflection under load when compared to PA 850 and PA 650. But surprisingly, PA 850 edges out the other two nylons with a slightly higher melting point of 392˚F.

DuraForm HST Composite is new material to Proto Labs, offering high stiffness and increased thermal resistance. DuraForm provides more consistent heat deflection than our current SLS nylon materials.

Note that in SLS, heat deflection can vary from XY and Z build orientations. If temperature resistance is major concern, you should evaluate each material data sheet for specifics as heat deflection in Z build orientations may be slightly lower than XY orientations.

The chart compares all four SLS materials for deflection under load and their melting points to similar injection-molded thermoplastics.

Additive Material

Heat Deflection
@ 0.45 MPa

Heat Deflection
@ 1.82 MPa

Melting Point

PA 850

188˚C (370˚F)

48˚C (118˚F)

200˚C (392˚F)

PA 650

177˚C (350˚F)

86˚C (186˚F)

181˚C (357˚F)

PA 615 (50% Glass)

179˚C (354˚F)

        134˚C (273˚F)

186˚C (366˚F)

DuraForm HST

184˚C (363˚F)

179°C (355°F)

-

Molded Material

Heat Deflection @0.45 MPa

Heat Deflection @1.82 MPa

Melting Point

PA Zytel 101L

200˚C (392˚F)

66˚C (149˚F)

262˚C (500˚F)

PA Zytel 103HSL

200˚C (392˚F)

66˚C (149˚F)

262˚C (500˚F)

PA Zytel 70G33HS1L

260˚C (500˚F)

248˚C (478˚F)

262˚C (500˚F)

For additional information on additive materials, you can explore full material data sheets online or speak with one of our knowledgeable experts at 877.479.3680 or customerservice@protolabs.com.

This entry was posted in Tips with Tony and tagged , , , by Tony Holtz. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tony Holtz

Tony is a technical specialist at Proto Labs with more than 10 years of experience ranging from CNC mill operator to mold designer to customer service engineer. While his formal education is in industrial machinery operations, he has extensive knowledge and experience in both traditional and advanced manufacturing processes and materials. Throughout his tenure at Proto Labs, Tony has worked with countless designers, engineers and product developers to improve the manufacturability of their parts.

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