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FDM Materials Focus

We’re a bit in awe of our FDM printers.

If accuracy and repeatable parts are what you’re after, FDM technology is the best. Thanks to the engineering-grade theormopolymers these machines print with, parts produced on our FDM printers are also strong, durable and, importantly, dimensionally stable. Validation of prototypes? FDM is your best option. Concept modelling? Manufacturing tools? Production parts? Ditto.

The range of thermopolymers our FDM machines offer is another reason we’re so enamoured with this technology. And these materials are proven. The shape and dimensions of a printed part won’t change with ambient conditions. And they won’t change over time. Aside from the most commonly used thermopolymers such as ABS and polycarbonate, FDM also offers these materials for a range of specialist applications including aerospace, automotive, rail, electronics and medical.

We consider ourselves lucky. We have three FDM machines at our disposal, right here in our Lab. There’s our workhorse Stratasys F900; our large Stratasys Fortus 900mc and our smaller Stratasys Fortus 250mc. We talked a while back about our Fortus 900mc upgrade and the additional materials that enables us to provide (have a recap here). Working with Stratasys has massively expanded the range of materials we offer.

Since our upgrade, we’ve acquired our large F900 printer. Excitingly, this has expanded the list even further. Here's a selection of FDM materials we print with:

FDM Nylon 12 Carbon Fibre, FDM Nylon 6, FDM Nylon 12, Antero 800NA, Antero 840CN03, Ultem 1010, Ultem 9085, PPSF, ST-130, PC, PC-ISO, PC-ABS, ASA, ABS-ESD7, ABS-M30i, ABS-M30, ABSi...

For us, the following two materials really stand out and significantly enhance our offering: Antero 800 and Nylon 12 Carbon Fibre.

Antero 800NA

(polyetherketoneketone or PEKK)

In a nutshell? Excellent mechanical properties and chemical resistance.

This is one of the highest performing thermopolymers that Stratasys offer and is recommended for Aerospace and other high-performance vehicle manufacturers. It’s tough, wear-resistant and possesses excellent mechanical properties including high-strength, high dimensional stability (even for large parts), high heat resistance and high chemical resistance. Here's what Fluxaxis 3D Production Engineer, Simon Poon, had to say:

“It’s not just the materials - the Stratasys machines are unique in what they allow us to achieve. We can reach a size and geometry with Antero 800NA that other print systems using PEKK materials can’t - the print size of our F900 is a huge 914 x 610 x 914mm. The fact that the specialist support material breaks away cleanly lends itself to more intricate prints and complex geometries.”

So why is it so good for aerospace and the motor industry in particular? Well, that chemical resistance makes it ideal for components that are exposed to fuels, lubricants - and also many acids. Its high heat resistance means it can be used in engine compartments while its ultra-low outgassing means it can be used in confined spaces and sensitive environments.

Antero 800NA is a lighter alternative to steel and aluminium. As with all AM technology, parts can be printed on demand making it cost effective and less wasteful with no need for large inventories.

We also offer Antero 840CN03. This thermoplastic has the same outstanding combination of material properties as Antero 800NA, but with the addition of electrostatic dissipative (ESD) properties. It’s ideal for low-volume, highly customised production parts and functional prototypes that need to withstand more intemperate conditions. Parts printed in this material are especially useful to the electronics industry but have also been used to produce flight-worthy parts for space missions… take a look at this video from Stratasys.

Nylon 12CF

(polyamide 12 with carbon fibre)

In a nutshell? Design freedom with strength and stiffness.

Nylon 12 Carbon Fibre is the first reinforced FDM composite material from Stratasys. The high strength and stiffness-to-weight ratio of Nylon 12CF comes from the material’s combination of 35% chopped carbon fibres and Nylon 12. These fibres provide excellent structural characteristics, their directional orientation giving Nylon 12CF anisotropic properties, allowing it to be used in a similar way as a composite laminate. Did we mention it’s lightweight too?

Fluxaxis Production Manager, Jake Augur:

“These materials really take Fluxaxis to the next level. With the Nylon 12CF, we can make items such as jigs, fixtures and tools that are extremely rigid. Not only is this stiffness a valuable property in itself, but it also allows us to reduce the amount of material, making a product even thinner without compromising stiffness or strength.”

This material offers great potential for design freedom. Nylon 12CF has the highest specific modulus of any FDM material and its superior uniaxial stiffness overcomes many of the usual restrictions encountered when producing, for example, high-performance metal or composite prototypes. It removes many of the limitations you might encounter with traditional materials and processes. The support material is dissolvable too, making it easier to print parts that are detailed and intricate.

It is the strongest thermoplastic in FDM technology and is commonly used in the aerospace, transportation and general manufacturing industries. It’s ideal for highly functional, detailed parts and can be used in a wide range of manufacturing and tooling applications such as drill guides, end of arm tools, brackets, jigs and fixtures – anything that depends on strength and stiffness.

You can find out more on this video from Stratasys.

We’re particularly proud to be able to offer both Nylon 12CF and Antero 800NA. FDM materials enable the manufacture of an incredible range of functional parts and in some cases, might provide the only option. These materials are exciting to work with, but they’re also a great example of how Additive Manufacturing keeps pushing the limits of possibility.

And that’s what we at Fluxaxis love doing!

Do you have a project we could help with? Please get in touch.