Material Science Part 3: Polyamide (PA 6) – PA 6- Some Polyamides Like It Hot to Get in Shape

In Archive by Dorothée Doepfer

Another Polyamide?  Are you asking yourself why you have never heard of polyamide 6 yet? Interested to learn more then?

Polyamide 6 (PA 6): The Rough Guy among the Nylons

Well, PA 6 is more common in other industries than the 3D printing industry. Moreover, it is similar to the better-known material ABS which we will introduce to you next Tuesday. Nevertheless, sometimes there is no other way then using cast nylon (PA 6), a kind of slippery and bendable plastic, or its extruded versions PA 6,6 resp. 6/9. When used in 3D printing, PA 6 is generally processed via FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) technology. Since this kind of polyamide absorbs water more likely than the others (e.g. PA 11 and PA 12), it is not typically preferred for wet applications, however there are grades and design methods that can make them work for specific applications. Nylon 6 is available in 1.75mm and 3mm diameter and the colors natural, white or black. Any 3D printer that is optimized for ABS/PLA materials can print nylon 6 if you are aware of the requested add-ons. The properties of PA 6 and PA 6/6 are very similar, and typically, they can be used interchangeably. However, there are some advantages and limitations of each material. All members of the PA 6 ‘family’ have the following points more or less in common:


Advantages:

  • High dimensional accuracy
  • High elasticity
  • Higher luster compared to normal ABS
  • Higher Durability compared to ABS
  • Wrinkle-proof
  • Highly resistant to abrasion
  • Highly resistant to chemicals (e.g. soft acids and alkalis)
  • High adhesion strength with extruding temperature

Limitations:

  • High level of moisture absorption
  • Lower tensile strength compared to other nylons
  • Not easy to access
  • Print bed needs to increase with higher extrusion temperature (app 320°C)
  • Dry storage is mandatory
  • Pricy

Application Area:

  • Automobile Industry ( e.g. plastic parts of gears, bearings, fittings etc)

Use in 3D printing:

  • For heavy duty components
  • Maker community

Preferred for:

  • Designs that need to be very strong
  • Need to have wear resistance
  • Need to have low coefficients of friction
  • Need to work in quiet operations

Extras:

Besides the ‘normal’ PA 6, there exist several ‘hybrid’ materials which are most likely a mixture of PA 6 and PA 6/6 or PA 6 and PA 6/9. Very new is the so-called Nylon “Bridge”, a new industrial high strength nylon that combines on PA 6/9 with the characteristics of PA 11 or 12 and therefore allows users to work with the flexibility of a PA 11/12 and the strength of PA 6. It is especially recommended for users that are focused on printing prosthetic designs.

See the advantages compared to normal PA 6 here:

Come back on Tuesday and find out more about the very common material ABS.

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.

Read more about other materials here:
For more information on materials read here:
Material Science Part 1: Polyamide (PA11) – Have You Ever Wondered What Nylons, Toothbrushes and 3D Printed Designs in SLS Have in Common?
Material Science Part 2: Polyamide (PA 12) – A Boring Material or Actually a Game of Fire and Glass?
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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