3D Printing Best Fillers Guide - Why Choose Thermoplastic Composites As Your 3D Printing Material


A thermoplastic composite is a mixture of a thermoplastic polymer matrix and a functional filler material. the benefit of composite material is you're able to combine material classes, which yield unique properties, not achievable with either material individually. generally, composites tend to be high-performance materials with higher strength and stiffness at a lower density, but they can also solve problems like wear, temperature, creep, and impact resistance.  


What Are The Common Materials For Material Extrusion 3D Printing?

Common fillers include minerals like talc, hollow glass spheres, and chopped fibers: such as glass, pyramid, and carbon. fiber fillers are especially effective at increasing the strength and stiffness of polymers. the difference in stiffness between unfilled PET, glass fiber PET, and carbon fiber PET. this stiffening effect is achieved by transferring stress from the polar matrix to the fiber. the fiber reinforcement has tensile properties several orders of magnitude greater than the polymer matrix, so the properties of the resulting composite are somewhere in between the matrix and the fiber. 


What Is The Best Way To Utilize Fiber Fillers For 3d Printing?

The best way to utilize fiber fillers is to have a continuous thread aligned in the direction of the mechanical load. while some 3D printing services on the market can print continuous fiber parts. the cost and time it takes to print with this method are typically 10 times greater than a discontinuous fiber equivalent, making it impractical for everything but aerospace and exotic parts. chopped fiber reinforced thermoplastics, enable manufacturing at scale. because the material costs are much lower and the production speed is much higher by using conventional null processing equipment. 


What Are The Benefits Of Using Fiber Fillers For Material Extrusion 3d Printing?

These same benefits are realized for material extrusion 3d printing. maximum tensile properties are achieved with high fiber volume fractions, high aspect ratio fibers, above the critical fiber length, and high modulus fibers and matrices excellent interfacial surface chemistry for load transfer. 


Different kinds of fibers can impart a variety of properties to polymer composites. 

1. glass fiber reinforced plastics have an excellent price to performance ratio, along with good impact resistance, which makes them very popular for automotive components.

2. aramid fiber reinforced thermoplastics are not as common but tend to have outstanding wear and abrasion resistance, which makes them very useful for gears, bushings, and bearings. 

3. carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastics have the maximum performance for strength, stiffness, and weight reduction, which makes them popular for aerospace applications. for 3d printing, carbon fiber-filled materials are very popular. because they are less abrasive than glass fibers. the carbon has a negative coefficient of thermal expansion and higher thermal conductivity than glass, which helps to suppress warping and shrinkage in printed parts. 


One thing to keep in mind when printing with fiber-reinforced materials is the flow-induced fiber orientation. as the material is extruded from a nozzle, the fibers tend to align themselves in the direction of the flow. as a consequence, you will see a large difference in the strength and stiffness of parts, where the polymer traces are oriented perpendicular and orthogonal to the print direction. For example, a flex bar that was printed out of PET carbon fiber with the traces aligned parallel and transverse to the loading direction. the bar with transverse orientation has a much lower flexural modulus. this same effect is commonly observed for injection molded parts, and molders must take into account the machine direction and transverse direction, and isotropy of fiber-reinforced thermoplastics. 


At CNCLATHING, we have a full line of fiber-reinforced composites to meet your needs. one of our core capabilities is making multi-layer filament with an advanced coat extrusion process. with this technology, we've developed a 25% carbon fiber high-temperature nylon composite filament by encasing it in a tough outer layer that helps to spool and feed the material into the printer without snapping. the outer layer also reduces wear on your 3d printer feed section and nozzle. it gives parts a silky and matte finish. we love this material for its balance of stiffness and strength. it's perfect as a replacement for CNC aluminum parts, and for making injection molding tool.


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