Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) and Polylactic acid or polylactide (PLA) is commonly used in Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) technologies. It is currently dominating most of the general 3D printing industry.
PA6 (Nylon 6) and PA12 (Nylon 12) which belong to Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) printing technology is a good option for working parts.
Resin is a material which are used by Stereolithography (SLA) or Digital Light Processing (DLP)
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)
ABS is a strong polymer plastic with slight flexibility. This characteristic allows interlocking parts and connections easier to work with. On top of its natural glossy finishing, it can also withstand a higher operating temperature as compare to PLA. Unlike PLA, ABS will bend if stress limits are exceeded. This material is ideal for structural application where heat and impact resistance is needed.
Polylactic acid or polylactide (PLA)
PLA is a biodegradable plastic produced organically from raw products like sugarcane, tapioca roots or corn starch. PLA can be easily printed to any height and volume with consistent fusing between layers. Equally strong, it is also rigid as opposed to ABS and will shear if stress limits are exceeded. Due to the nature of the material, it is capable of delivering great details and is the favorite choice by most designers and artists. PLA has a lower operating temperature as compared to ABS and it is not recommended if the final product is going to be exposed to high heat for a long duration. However, this shortfall can be countered during the post-production phase. PLA also has an extensive range of colors and exotic composite materials available. Wood, copper, iron, Ultra Violet(UV) reactive, Glow in dark, etc., to name a few examples.
Depending on your usage and application, the choice of material is also critical to the durability of your printed object. For example, if you want to 3D print something to use in your car, say a phone holder or a cute toy, ABS will be better suited to withstand our hot tropical climate. On the other hand, if you want finer details, PLA would be the better option.
PA6 (Nylon 6) and PA12 (Nylon 12)
PA (Nylon) has a good mechanical strength and high temperature deflection. It is suitable for working parts and outdoor use. The raw material come in a form of powder and laser is used to bind it in place which defined by the 3D model. The unbind powder also act as support material for overhang design during the sintering. Finishing of printed parts are usually rough but consistent throughout all axis. Fiberglass filled Nylon material are also available if more strength is needed for your printed part.
The raw material is liquid form, UV light or Laser are used to transform it into solid. Due to the high resolution in printing, the finishing is usually smooth and can easily perform post-production without much preparation. There are currently many different types of resin available for different applications. Most resin do not have good mechanical strength or high temperature deflection. However there are also a few specially formulated resin which has good mechanical properties, high temperature deflection and suitable for denture or medical application.