Material Science Part 1: Polyamide (PA11) – Have You Ever Wondered What Nylons, Toothbrushes and 3D Printed Designs in SLS Have in Common?

In Archive by Dorothée Doepfer

Even it is not obvious, but yes they have something in common: they are all members of the same chemical family. Interested to learn more about the use of polyamide in 3D printing (classification, technical data, area of application)? Then read our new series on 3D printing materials here. We are looking forward to getting your feedback on FB, twitter or directly here. Any questions? Feel free to contact us. Enjoy reading!

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PA are milky white thermoplastics which can be dyed in every requested color. Many types are commercially available and general known as ‘nylon’. Most common are the types PA 6/6, PA 6/12, PA 11 and PA 12. This material is almost capable of everything: from wearing it on your legs to being part of a heavy used industrial vehicle. All nylons have the ability to absorb moisture from the air in common. This ability is in parts responsible for its toughness. Furthermore, nylon can be reinforced with either glass beads or carbon fiber to strengthen its performance and heat resistance (PA 12). To make it easier for you to choose the right PA for your 3D design, we will give you a short insight in the advantages, limitations and the use of PA 11 today.

Polyamide 11 (PA 11) –Heavy Duty & High Performance Choice


PA 11 is a whitish powder that has been continuously developed further over the last 50 years and is now supposed to be the gold standard for heavy-duty polyamide. It is a high-performance polymer that is manufactured from caster oil (100% renewable origin) and is extraordinarily qualified for Selective Laser Sintering. But compared to its ‘brother’ PA 12 it is quite new on the 3D printing material market and therefore not as affordable as PA 12. But why is PA 11 actually an option for your model. Find out here.

Advantages:

  • Very low density (3-6 times lighter than metal) therefore extreme flexibility
  • Good chemical and mechanical thermal resistance
  • Excellent burst strength (e.g. higher burst pressure of pipes compared to PA12 )
  • Good chemical resistance to fuel, gas, oil, water and solvents and especially hydrocarbons)
  • Low water absorbing – outstanding dimensional stability in wet and dry condition
  • High impact strength
  • Excellent long time survival
  • Wide operating range
  • Diverse possibilities for easy processing and construction

Limitations:

  • Relatively high cost compared to other nylons
  • Less heat resistant compared to PA 12
  • Less common than PA 12 in 3D printing industry

Application Area:
Markets with high demands such as:

  • Cable industry
  • Oil and gas industry
  • Electrical and industrial components
  • Automotive and industrial vehicles (inner parts close to the head)
  • Pneumatics and hydraulics
  • Aeronautics
  • Parts used in the medical field

Best Practice in 3D-Printing
PA 11 is ideally suited to processing technologies such as Laser sintering and extrusion due to the following characteristics:

  • Relatively low melting temperature
  • Good melt fluidity
  • High recrystallization rate
  • No support material unlike most other forms of 3D printing
  • Prints as a base in pure white and a translucent surface
  • Possibility of finishing technics e.g. add color with most acid based dyes. (paint finishes, solid color, metal look or high detail)
  •  Size 3mm Diameter +/- .1mm
  • Good for most parts at average printing speeds.

Preferred for models such as:

  • Prototypes that need to be mechanical reliable
  • Serial products which permanent flexible part and used in between – 40 °C bis + 130 °C.
  • Parts that need more stability
  • Parts bigger than a fist
  • Architectural Models
  • Complex Scale models

Read more about PA 12 and its ‘brothers’, glass bead filled PA 12 and flame retardant PA 12 to enhance physical properties, here on Tuesday!

In case you have suggestions for other material which are important to you, let us know on twitter, FB or here as a comment. We will gladly include it in our material series.


For more information on materials read here:
For more information on materials read here:
Material Science Part 2: Polyamide (PA 12) – A Boring Material or Actually a Game of Fire and Glass?
Material Science Part 3: Polyamide (PA 6) – PA 6- Some Polyamides Like It Hot to Get in Shape
Material Science Part 4: ABS – PLA – the Magnificent Two
Material Science Part 5: Alumide – the ‘Hot Dog’ in the Polyamide Family
Material Science Part 6: Silver – The most precious of them all
Material Science Part 7: Ceramics – Not Only for Fine Art

Written By

Dorothée Doepfer

Hey, I am Dora and passionate to work at the interface of academia and old and new economy. I have been writing for quite a while now but with a focus on academic writing. I am looking forward to writing in a fresher style here. Besides working as a research manager at trinckle 3D, I am a vintage vinyl enthusiast and road trip addict.

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