The popularity of polyamide, commonly known as nylon, continues to grow. Once used mainly in the automotive, industrial and aviation industries, it now stands out with its increasing availability. It is one of the most durable materials used in 3D printing, which is why many industries are choosing to use the advantages of additive technologies and polyamide-based materials.

Nylon comes in several varieties. The most popular type of material used in FDM technology is PA6. It is a highly abrasion-resistant and durable material. Its properties can be modified by enriching the filament with reinforcing materials, such as glass balls or carbon fiber.

PA6 is a material ideal for the production of latches, hinges, wheels or toothed bars that work at elevated temperatures up to 150 degrees Celsius. The advantages of nylon, used in additive technology, are mainly used by the aviation and automotive industries, mainly due to its high flexibility. It is used to produce custom tools, instruments and fixtures, as well as all kinds of prototypes of internal panels, air inlets and antenna covers.

The most important parameters distinguishing it from other materials are high mechanical strength and durability. Thanks to its unique properties, nylon is used for a variety of applications, including creating parts of industrial machines. In which industries is it used?

AIRLINE INDUSTRY

Nylon is also often used in the aerospace industry. The American company Metro Aerospace related a project in which 3D printed nylon micrized, i.e. small aerodynamic elements, mounted on the fuselage, filled with glass fiber. This allowed to reduce air resistance during flight. 3D prints were made in SLS technology. Moreover, it allowed 3D Metro Aerospace to ensure better matching of components and obtaining approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Most of the popular plastics (PLA, PET-G, nylon or ABS) are available in a version reinforced with carbon fiber, the content of which is usually from several to 30 percent. The higher its content, the more difficult printing, but even filaments with a dozen or so percent admixture of fibers clog the head and cause its rapid wear.

MEDICAL INDUSTRY

In the medical industry, nylon is used to prototyping and creating educational anatomical models, as well as making parts for medical applications. BASF’s Polyamide 6- Ultramid has recently been used to manufacture custom 3D printed prostheses. It is a carbon fiber reinforced nylon for greater strength and weight reduction.

Due to the fact that prosthetic hoppers are subjected to high loads, they must show improved mechanical properties. Due to this fact, nylon turns out to be a suitable material for this type of application.

PRODUCTION OF CONSUMER GOODS

Moreover, nylon 3D printing is used not only in industry. Additive technologies are becoming more and more popular, and thus the range of 3D printing applications is expanding. As an example of 3D printing from polyamide, we can mention the additive manufacturing of mascara brushes for Chanel, which decided to 3D print, due to the fact that the technology allowed to bypass the limitations associated with the injection method used so far. In addition to reducing the time and cost of creating more than 100 prototypes, thanks to additive technologies, it was possible to develop a unique brush shape.

Nylon 3D printing offers many possibilities for designers and industrial engineers, creating elements with good mechanical properties that can be used both as prototypes and as elements of final use.

Patrycja Dubert
Biomedical engineer interested in unconventional and innovative approach to medicine and its connection with modern technology.

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