Nylon is a broad family of synthetic thermoplastics based on aliphatic or semi-aromatic polyamides. It is often used for SLS 3D printing. Prints made from nylon powder have good surface finishes and great mechanical properties. Nylon or Polyamide (PA) has different variations which characterize the number and nature of chains in a material. This influences the properties of objects fabricated from nylon powder like resistance, stiffness, moisture absorption and flexibility. The common types are Nylon 6, Nylon 6/6 and Nylon 12. Another way of improving the material properties for specific applications is blending polyamide with add-ins to produce composite materials such as:
Glass-filled Nylon (PA GF) – compared to pure nylon, PA GF demonstrates better stiffness and higher heat resistance but is less flexible and has a natural (off-white) color. The composite is stable, so prints fit better, they are machinable, can be used for consumer goods and sports items, and perform well with complex parts.
Aluminum-filled Nylon (PA AF) – this composite is made by mixing PA with aluminum powder. As a result, objects have a metallic appearance and rigid structure after being printed. PA AF is easy to machine and post-process, less abrasion resistant, more substantial, has a rougher surface, more heat resistant and rigid.
Carbon Fiber filled Nylon (PA CF) – another composite with carbon fiber; its main advantage is electrostatically dissipative characteristics. PA CF features include resistant to temperature and wear, sturdy, lightweight, and has anthracite shade.
Fire-retardant Nylon – despite nylon and its improved versions being heat resistant, this blend can pass the burn test, which makes it an excellent choice for industries requiring fire-retardant parts. Main features include white color, tough, has good mechanical properties, passes smoke and toxicity tests as well.