Is 3d printing durable?

Table of Contents

To easily understand how 3D Printing works, just make a parallel with standard inkjet printers, which we use in our homes or the office. The first step is to have a digital file; it can be text, image, etc. The file is transferred to the printer on the computer, and with a click, the Printing happens.
Then, the printer throws the ink onto the paper and, after a single printing cycle, the result is the two-dimensional Printing of the digital file. The 3D printer works; similarly, the main differences are in the materials used and how the printing cycles happen.

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Is 3D printing durable
Is AWS machine learning certification worth it

What needs to be durable?

A promising and growing sector, 3D Printing brings a considerable gain in sustainable development by reducing energy needs by around 50% and those in materials by up to 90%. 3D Printing is a technology that remains expensive. The management of waste and materials used is not yet sufficiently taken into account, and the toxicity of emissions is not sufficiently known.


3D printers work in a similar but reverse fashion to CNC machine tools that work by removing material. They typically use three axes on which a printing nozzle moves in width, depth, and height. More sophisticated machines add axes for more precision, depending on the techniques used, but the superposition of layers remains the common point of 3D printers.

3D printers go further than the principle of simple 2D Printing. The goal is to convert a digital model into a solid 3D object.  3D printing recreates a virtual three-dimensional object by superimposing very thin layers on top of each other to form a 3D shape of the printed object.

In addition to 3D Printing, many experts insist on the emergence of robotics. The specialists and researchers in pedagogy recommend inculcating from an early age the understanding of programming by taking, for example, what the  Ecole Robots do.

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How is durability measured?

3D Printing is a dynamically developing manufacturing technology that has resulted in significant savings for many companies. In every company, it is possible to reduce the manufacturing costs of small series, instruments, and, above all, prototypes. In each activity, we can find areas where we can achieve measurable savings.

In principle, Calculating the cost of 3D Printing is very important for the 3D printing business. These calculators often adopt a variety of different parameters to calculate a competitive price and make it profitable.

Let’s examine the parameters that are often considered.

Material cost

However, there is the cost of filament. The starting point of each calculation is to see how much filament was used to make a part. So this part of the job is easy: if you bought a 1 kg spool of PLA filament for R $ 100 and used 100 g for Printing, then the material cost is R $ 10.

Printing time

Definitely another basic parameter that plays a vital role in calculating a 3D print price is Print Time. After all, 3D printing companies charge a certain amount per hour the printer is operational. Each 3D printing company sets its own hourly cost.


As you would expect, each 3D print requires at least some finishing to prepare it for the customer. Thus, the cost of finishing includes the usual methods, such as sanding the parts.

Still, there is much more manual work than just post-processing parts. 3D printing companies also need to pack the parts and send them to customers to include this in the manual work.

Percentage of additional profit

Generally, the last stage of calculating a 3D print price is to add a certain percentage to the price of the material, the printing time, and the combined manual work.

3D Printer

Want to use 3D Printing but don’t know how a 3D printer works? Or maybe you are already using this technology, but you want to better understand how these awesome machines work. That is why today, we choose to tell you a little more about these 3D printing systems.

How does a 3D printer work? Are there different types of 3D printers?

What is a 3D printer?

At first glance, 3D Printing has something a bit magical about it. We realize that technology such as this can print everything: whether it is a house or an object of everyday life. But how does the printing process work?

Let’s begin with the basics; what exactly is a 3D printer? From plastic to chocolate, additive manufacturing helps bring many projects to life. There is no one type of 3D machine, nor one single printing technique. There are different options available to you when you decide to turn to 3D Printing.

Here is the necessary printing process: first, you need to get a 3D file. The 3D design is required to start a 3D printing project; it is indeed the digital version of the project you want to manufacture in the physical world.

Next, you will need to choose a printing technology for your project, significantly depending on the material and mechanical properties you need. Each material has its properties, and your choice will necessarily depend on the nature of your project. Do you need a prototype or a finished product? Should your object be heat resistant or flexible? This choice will be an essential step in your project.

After all this, your 3D design will be ready to be sent to a 3D printer to create your object in three dimensions, thanks to an overlay of layers. But what are the different 3D printing techniques?

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Polycarbonate 3d printer

Polycarbonate (PC) filament is extremely strong, long-lasting, and impact resistant. Today it is one of the most extended thermoplastics in electronic devices, home appliance housings, CDs, toys, etc. One of the PC’s biggest barriers up to now to introduce in 3D printing FDM was its high melting point. However, with this Polycarbonate filament, you will be able to print at a temperature between 250 and 285ºC that makes it accessible to a multitude of 3D FDM printers.

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The PC is a very rigid and resistant thermoplastic, with high resistance to impacts, with good resistance to fire, which withstands considerable contact with oils, greases, and solvents, with low deformation, withstands temperatures of approximately 100ºC without deforming.

Besides, it has good transparency, is considered an excellent electrical insulator, and supports well being exposed to the outdoors and the sun’s rays.

High strength and toughness

Compared with ABS and PLA, parts printed with polycarbonate materials exhibit better mechanical strength. The tensile strength and flexural strength of polycarbonate parts are twice that of ABS and better than PLA.

The current superior mechanical properties of Polycarbonate are mainly manifested in its fracture toughness or impact resistance. It can make parts achieve excellent toughness, which is not attained by other 3D printing materials with similar stiffness. The toughness of Polycarbonate is much better than PLA and ABS.

Excellent mechanical strength and toughness make Polycarbonate an ideal material of choice for many engineering applications, workpieces, or printed components.

Polycarbonate material has good heat resistance. Compared with almost all other 3D printing consumables in the current market, polycarbonate 3D printing materials can bring better heat resistance and can withstand temperatures of up to 110°C.

High light transmittance

The polycarbonate material itself is transparent and can exhibit good light transmittance. This characteristic makes it one of the most popular materials in the lighting industry.

3d printing materials comparison

Comparison between the main plastics for 3D printing FDM by material characteristics so that you can find the best option for the use you decide to give it—materials such as PLA, ABS, PET, Nylon, TPU (flexible), and PC.


Choosing the best type of material to print any given object is becoming increasingly difficult since the 3D printing market keeps seeing the regular appearance of drastically new materials. In FDM type 3D printing, PLA and ABS have historically been the most widely used polymers, but its initial dominance was mostly haphazard, so there shouldn’t be any significant roadblocks to other polymers playing a key role in the future of FDM. We are now seeing new products becoming increasingly popular, both pure polymers and composite polymers. In this article, we focus on the main types of pure polymers currently on the market: PLA, ABS, PET, Nylon, TPU (flexible), and PC. We will summarize the key differences between their properties in the snapshot profiles so that users can make a quick decision on the best polymer depending on its intended use.  


Materials are generally classified into 3 categories: mechanical performance, visual quality, and process. In this case, we will further break down these categories to draw a clearer picture of the polymer’s properties. The choice of material really depends on what the user wants to print, so the key decision criteria needed to choose a material (other than cost and speed) are listed:


Each material has been classified using the following criteria on a scale from 1 (low) to 5 (high). These are the relative grades for the FDM process (they would look very different if other manufacturing technologies were taken into account). Using Optimatter data, the polymers have been classified along the various criteria considered:

Research results for the six polymers displayed in a graph.

3d Printer Filament

To perform the Printing of parts, you need filament for a 3D printer. This filament will generally come wound on a coil in a similar way to how you can find a coil of thread, but of course, of a greater thickness and size. The primary type of printing where the material is used in this way is in melt deposition printing.

The operation on which this type of printing through the filament is based is very simple. It basically consists of inserting the end of the filament into the extruder of the printer. This extruder will heat the filament, which will cause the material to go from solid to a semi-pasty state, thus allowing it to exit through the printer nozzle, printing layer after layer until the complete piece is built. Not all filaments are the same or have the same use and purpose. The filaments are made up of different chemical compounds that will make them acquire specific properties and characteristics depending on the type of material to which they must resemble.

In this way, the filaments have specific characteristics such as resistance, opacity, or being more flexible than other types of materials; therefore, these characteristics are essential that will largely determine the result that you want to achieve in the printing.

What must be taken into account to buy filament for a 3D printer?

As we have already mentioned above, the 3D printer filament will have characteristics that will make the final finish a replica of the imitating material. There are many types of filaments of different brands, colors, features. Next, you will be able to see some of the elements you have to look at to buy filament for your 3D printer.

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Metal 3D Printer

Metal additive manufacturing has become one of the most prominent developments in the industry in recent years. In 2018 the Wohlers Report reported that 80% more metal 3D printing solutions had been sold than the previous year, and this number continues to grow. It was 2018, the year that marked the beginning of this exponential growth in metal 3D Printing. More and more players are joining the development of new metal 3D printers, which have reduced costs, and new additive manufacturing technologies have emerged simultaneously.

More than 40 manufacturers of metal 3D printers have emerged in recent years, many with new technologies such as the Multi Jet Fusion from HP or the Inkjet from XJet. Simultaneously, classical metal technologies such as laser metal sintering have also evolved. This week we have prepared a list for you with the leading manufacturers of metal 3D printers currently on the market.

3D Systems, the giant in 3D Printing

3D Systems was the first company to enter the 3D printing market thanks to stereolithography in the 1980s. Since then, it has shown tremendous growth to over $ 600 million per year in revenue, mainly due to its multiple 3D printers with various technologies. In 2013, it bought the French printing brand Phenix Systems to expand into the metal market. Its metal 3D printers use technologies called Direct Metal Printing (DMP or Direct Metal Printing) to build parts from CAD files. They use a high-precision laser that is used to solidify the metal powder. Its range of 3D printers includes, among others, the ProX DMP 300, the ProX DMP 200, the DMP Factory 350, and 3D printers in the dental sector such as the DMP Dental 100. Iro3D is an American manufacturer that came to the industry in 2018 by unveiling its Iro3D 3D printer.

High Tensile strength 3d Printing

One of the fundamental properties of materials is tensile strength. It is one of the first that engineers look at, and it sits first on the property list of a datasheet. Together with sufficient ductility, tensile strength is also an indication of the toughness of the material. Some materials break very clearly on a defect in brittleness, while others, more ductile, like most plastics and metals, deform more or less. The tensile strength values ​​are generally supplemented by a stress/strain curve to understand this behavior fully.

Materials with high tensile strength are generally used to manufacture structural, mechanical, or static components, which must not break under any circumstances and are used in the construction, automotive, and aviation industries. Today, 3D Printing has reached such a stage of development that it can provide the same or even greater tensile strength than traditional injection molded plastics, such as polypropylene and ABS.

Young’s modulus, or flexural modulus, is a measure of the material’s stiffness under tensile stress. The higher the Young’s modulus, the more rigid the material. At the very top of the scale, Young’s modulus quantifies the material’s ability to hold its shape under load. Hence, this is one of the first properties you should look at when choosing a material for any structural or mechanical part that needs to support a load and stay within the specified geometric dimensions.

A low Young’s modulus, on the other hand, indicates that the material is elastic. Therefore, Young’s modulus at the very bottom of the scale will show the elasticity of a soft and flexible material. The amount of stretch at the time of failure of a material is called elongation. Defined as the ratio of the increase in length to the initial unloaded length elongation indicates the material’s ability to resist deformation without cracking.

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Common 3D Printing Materials

The FDM process (fused deposition modeling, or in a translation, fusion and deposition of material) is the most popular method of 3D Printing, mainly with the creation of the Rep Rap standard.

Printers with this technology use plastic materials, heating them to their melting point (almost like hot glue equipment), to later be deposited in a controlled manner, in a series of layers, which will be stacked until a model with three dimensions. If you have questions about how a 3D printer works, access the post “How a 3D printer works.”

3D Printing is rapidly conquering several market segments, such as engineering, gastronomy, fashion, and industries; this technology’s primary purpose is to assist in creating and prototypes of a project.

Below we separate the materials used in 3D Printing, but each one must be used in the printer able to receive the material.

Plastics are the best known and most accessible materials used in the FDM Printer, such as PLA (Polylactic Acid), ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), PETG (PET modified with Glycol), HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene), TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane- Flexible), PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) and Nylon (Polyamides), generally used for decorations, orthodontics, prototypes, among other pieces.

Metal, generally used for industrial-scale, spreads a layer of metal powder and then sprays the product with an agent to solidify it; after this process, the piece is taken to a high-temperature oven finishing. Aluminum, titanium, and steel can be used as raw materials.

Concrete, used for the development of blocks for engineering, architectural projects, among others. In Brazil, this machine’s design is being developed in some universities and preparing the market for the use of this new method. The United States and China already have technological advances capable of building residential structures using a 3D printer.

Polycarbonate Filament 

The very first question that should be answered is around using these materials, since they are usually more expensive than common filaments, such as PLA and ABS. Some of our customers commonly send questions about the best choice of filament type for a specific project. However, most of the time, PLA or ABS meet the need.

However, you may need these special filaments. Nylon and Petg, for example, have high mechanical resistance, much higher than common filaments. As the name says, flexibility can be the ideal solution in parts that need conformity, such as tires, insoles, and sealing rings. Polycarbonate is highly resistant, surpassing both PETG and Nylon, but needs a higher extrusion temperature.

That is, before buying any special filament, analyze the application. Do you need these characteristics, or can you use other filaments? This analysis can help you avoid spending more than you should and avoid being frustrated by a wrong choice.


To close our list of special filaments, we have Polycarbonate. This material is very resistant, above those previously shown! It is ideal for rigid parts and an alternative to glass. However, Printing is done at a very high temperature, close to 300ºC. This is already a limiter for conventional 3D printers.

The durability of the material is outstanding. An important observation is that the PC, or Polycarbonate, is a very hygroscopic material; it absorbs moisture quickly. If this happens, Printing can suffer several losses. So, ideally, you should always keep the filament conditioned when you are not using it.

Polycarbonate filament printing tips:

Regulate the speed: a good tip for working with Polycarbonate is to lower the rate. If you decline this parameter, you will be able to use lower extrusion temperatures;

Control the working temperature well: it is recommended to have a printer with a thermal camera. That is, not only to heat the table but to maintain a constant temperature for the piece.

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Luis Gillman
Luis Gillman

Hi, I Am Luis Gillman CA (SA), ACMA
I am a Chartered Accountant (SA) and CIMA (SA) and author of Due Diligence: A strategic and Financial Approach.

The book was published by Lexis Nexis on 2001. In 2010, I wrote the second edition. Much of this website is derived from these two books.

In addition I have published an article entitled the Link Between Due Diligence and Valautions.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.