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Overview of common materials we use for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing.(Please click links below)

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ABS
ABS
Description
ABS (Acrylonitrite Butadine Styrene) is general purpose rigid Thermoplastic with a combination of properties that make it ideal for the widest range of applications.
Characteristics
Easy machining, Smooth finish, High impact strength, Tough and strong, High Stiffness, Good Dimensional Stability
Applications
General Household items, Toys, Automotive Parts, kitchen Appliances, Computer Parts, Laboratory Equipment, Phone/Fax machine parts, Electrical/Electronic enclosures, Aircraft and automotive interior trims
Finish Available
Machine Finish, Smooth Finish, Polished Finish, Painted or Grey Primered, Electroplated
Remarks
Natural raw material is available in Cream White colour. Large and complex parts with undercuts can be easily made in sections and glued. Economical option for prototypes.
Weaknesses
Not suitable for Petroleum-based oils, paints and solvents. Moderate heat, moisture and chemical, weathering resistance. Can easily scratch. Flammable with high smoke generation.
PC
PC
Description
Unfilled PolyCarbonate (PC) is a tough and durable, transparent engineering thermoplastic notable for its high impact resistance, temperature resistance and optical properties.
Characteristics
High Impact resistance, Good Dimensional Stability, Excellent strength retention at elevated temperatures, Low coefficient of thermal expansion, Good Dimensional Stability. Good electrical insulator and having Heat resistant and Flame retardant properties.
Applications
Automotive headlamp Lenses and Safety Shields, Medical/Healthcare apparatus, Automotive Applications, Construction Industry, Sporting Goods, Appliances, Casing and housings, Electrical/Electronic components, Connectors, Compact Discs, Telecommunication Hardware.
Finish Available
Machine Finish, Smooth Finish, Highly Polished Finish to achieve transparency, Translucent finish (Foggy look like Lamp Shade), Painted or Grey Primered
Remarks
Typically parts have translucent look after machining but transparency can be achieved by highly polishing. It's strength, durability, impact resistance and transparency make it an ideal material for certain structural applications. Large and complex parts with undercuts can be made in sections and glued.
Weaknesses
Subject to cracking due to stress, Moderate resistance to Chemicals, Low scratch-resistance.
ACETAL
ACETAL
Description
Acetal also known as POM (PolyOxyMethylene) is an engineering Thermoplastic often used for precision components that require high stiffness, low friction and excellent dimensional stability. Generally two grades of Acetal available: Acetal Copolymer and Acetal Homopolymer which is made by the DuPont Company under the trade name Delrin
Characteristics
Excellent abrasion resistant Good working temperature, Glossy appearance, Excellent durability Self-lubricant Good stiffness, strength & Hardness. Wide range Chemical resistance (including many solvents). Good Electrical and Dielectric properties.
Applications
Gears, Bearings, Screws, Pump parts, Electronic components, Insulators, Medical parts, Furniture hardware, Valve bodies, Zippers, Underwater applications.
Finish Available
Machine finish, Smooth Finish, Polished finish
Remarks
Easy to machine but very difficult to bond. Good appearance with gloss finish. Acetals often compete with Nylons for many of the same applications but dimensionally stable than Nylon under wet and humid conditions.
Weaknesses
Very difficult to bond, Poor resistance to acids, Flammable and High Specific Gravity. Difficult to paint. Large and thin parts with irregular wall section are prone to warpage.
ACRYLIC
ACRYLIC
Description
Also known as PMMA (PolyMethyl-MetaAcrylate) is an amorphous thermoplastic material with very good optical properties. Acrylic is often used as a glass substitute. Acrylic is hard and stiff but brittle and notch sensitive.
Characteristics
Excellent optical clarity, Good Abrasion Resistance, Excellent environmental stability, Good Heat Resistance, Good Chemical Resistance. Flammable but low smoke emission.
Applications
Automotive light covers, Lighting fixtures, Clear Bottles and Container prototypes, Lenses, Shop-fittings, Aircraft glazing, Novelty display cases, Signs, Appliances, Modern furniture, Jewelry items, Medical/Healthcare Applications. PMMA has a good degree of compatibility with human tissues.
Finish Available
Machine Finish, Smooth Finish, Translucent Finish, Highly Polished to get full Clarity. Painted or Tinted finish
Remarks
PMMA is an economical alternative to Polycarbonate (PC) when extreme strength is not necessary. Common trade names of Acrylic include Plexiglas, Lucite and Perspex. Large and difficult parts can be easily glued.
Weaknesses
Poor impact resistance, Subject to stress cracking, Not suitable for use with chlorinated or aromatic hydrocarbons. Brittle nature, PMMA swells and dissolves in many organic solvents.
NYLON
NYLON
Description
Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers known generically as PA PolyAmides. Nylons (Polyamides) comprise the largest family of engineering plastics with a very wide range of applications. Nylons are generally Strong, Tough and Wear Resistant.
Characteristics
Excellent abrasion resistance, High elongation, Good resistance to fuels, oils and solvents but is affected by acids and strong bases. Good Toughness, High Tensile Strength, High Impact Resistance, Good Dimensional Stability.
Applications
Ideal for wear applications such as Bearings and Gears, Sporting Goods, Fishing line, Automotive Parts, Tanks, Engineering Parts, Power Tools, Intake Manifolds.
Finish Available
Machine Finish, Smooth Finish.
Remarks
Nylons are commonly used in textiles, automotive, carpet and sportswear due to their extreme durability and strength. Nylon has better wear-resistance than Acetal, but do not have good moisture resistance which makes it unsuitable to high-humidity.
Weaknesses
High Moisture absorptivity degrades electrical and mechanical properties. Attacked by strong Acids, Bases, Oxidizing agents. High Notch sensitivity.
PP
PP
Description
PolyPropylene is semi-opaque thermoplastic widely used in variety of applications. Polypropylene has good resistance to fatigue. PP offers a combination of outstanding physical, chemical, mechanical, thermal and electrical properties.
Characteristics
Excellent resistance to fatigue. Lightweight with good combination of toughness and flexibility. Resists most alkaline and Acids. Low moisture Absorption and Non-Toxic. Good Impact Resistance. Retains stiffness and flex. Food Contact Acceptable. Excellent resistance to organic solvents, degreasing agents. High Stiffness.
Applications
Appliance housings, Food Packaging, Medical and Laboratory applications because it can withstand the heat in an autoclave, Pump Components, Casings with Living Hinges, Automotive parts, Food Containers, Industrial Applications, Loudspeaker drive units, Household Goods.
Finish Available
Machine Finish, Smooth Finish
Remarks
Polypropylene is one of the lightest plastics available. Easy to machine and provide smooth finish. Since PP is resistant to fatigue, makes it suitable for most of plastic living hinged parts, such as flip-top bottle caps.
Weaknesses
Hard to Glue. Degraded by UV radiation, Attacked by chlorinated solvents and aromatics. Large and thin wall sectioned parts are prone to deformation or warpage after machining.
ALUMINIUM
ALUMINIUM
Description
Aluminium is the most widely used non-ferrous metal. Aluminium is a soft, Durable, Lightweight, Ductile and Malleable metal with appearance ranging from Silvery to Dull Grey, depending on the surface roughness. Aluminium naturally generates a protective oxide coating and is highly corrosion resistant.
Characteristics
Aluminium is an Excellent Heat and Electricity conductor, Excellent Corrosion resistance, Non-Magnetic and Non-Sparking. Aluminium is 100% recyclable without any loss of its natural qualities. Aluminium is a good reflector of visible Light and Heat.
Applications
Large number of components for Automobiles, Aircraft, Trucks, Trains. Packaging application like beverage cans, foils. Construction industry, Wide range of household items, Consumer Electronics, Heat sinks for electronic appliances.
Finish Available
Machine finish, Polished finish, Mirror Polished finish, Bead Blast Finish (To give a Matt textured finish), Anodising, Painting, Powder Coating.
Remarks
Aluminium is a very light metal with a specific weight of 2.7 g/cm3, about a third that of steel. We use Aluminium 6061 and Aluminium 5083 grades for machining.
Weaknesses
Unlike steels, Aluminium alloys have no well-defined fatigue limit, meaning that fatigue failure eventually occurs, under even very small cyclic loadings. Subject to internal stresses following heating operations such as welding and casting due to low melting point.

Disclaimer: The information contained herein are guidelines, purely intended for Rapid Prototyping reference purposes only. We would NOT recommend to use this information for Product Designing or Engineering decision making purpose as data is collected from various resources. Users should contact specific material manufacturers for detailed information.

Common Rapid Prototyping Materials:

ABS: Suitable for general purpose plastic prototyping with smooth finish.
PC (Polycarbonate): Strong and robust prototypes in clear or translucent finish.
PP (PolyPropylene): Good for Clips and snap featured prototypes.
ACRYLIC (PMMA): Good for clear fully transparent prototypes like Glass.
NYLON (PA6): Excellent abrasion resistance, good for Gears, Bearings.
ACETAL (DELRIN): Excellent durability, Self-lubricant, Good stiffness.
MORE PROTOTYPING MATERIALS: Check material overview link.

Need Help?

Have a question or need help selecting suitable RP materials? You can find answers in our Help section - or feel free to contact us.
Contact Support:
+61 3 9764.2749
or help@cncprotos.com.au

CncProtos is an Arptech Rapid Prototyping division, providing one stop solution for all your prototyping needs.