How does nylon filament have made its place in 3D printing? Get your answers with relatable facts and reasons.
How does smooth engineering of nylon filament change the equation of 3D printing?
Known among the most versatile 3D filament options, Nylon was first discovered in 1935 by Wallace Carothers, a chemist. Since its discovery, the material has shown the feature of diversity in use and suitability for many applications. Three years after its inception, it was marketed in the form of toothbrushes. Later, in 1940, the textile industry adopted it to make women’s stockings, and from there, Nylon filament never stopped showing its usability for the human world.
Manufacturers, as well as scientists, are working to bring more innovation to this field. 3D printing filaments are the base of the creations; only the most versatile options make their place. Nylon filament is widely used in the industry across the globe for its rich features only. However, like any other filament type such as PLA, ABS, TPU, etc., Nylon has its strengths and weaknesses. Intelligent humans use these materials creatively according to their strengths for numberless manufacturing requirements.
What is nylon filament?
Nylon filament is a synthetic plastic with various mechanical properties. It is hygroscopic, which means it quickly absorbs moisture from the atmosphere and is thus always stored in dry, air-tight boxes. It has high chemical resistance and friction properties, making it the first choice for many manufacturers.
Composition of nylon filament
Nylon is not a naturally available material. It must be made from organic chemicals in natural materials such as petroleum or coal. It is essential to understand the chemical composition of nylon. Nylon is made from a group of plastics called polyamides. These polyamides are hard, in fact, rigid semi-crystalline materials. Nylon polymer is the result of a reaction between two large molecules heated moderately at 285°C or 545°F. Pressure is given in an autoclave, a reaction vessel resembling an industrial-strength kettle. When the two molecules combine, they make a bigger molecule and give off water through a chemical reaction called condensation polymerization.
The usually found variants of nylon are Nylon 6, Nylon 6-6, and Nylon 12. It is a type of thermoplastic that is flexible and can be transformed into varied shapes when heated. The mechanical and chemical properties of nylon do not change much while heating and cooling multiple times. It can be mixed with many other plastics to enhance its performance.
- Properties of nylon as the filament in 3D printing –
As we have discussed the composition above, it is the best time to discuss the properties. Have a look at the table below.
|Flexural Modulus||1,700 MPa||250,000 psi|
|Tensile Strength at yield||66 MPa||9500 psi|
|Strain at Yield – Elongation (%)||>10%||>10%|
Applications of Nylon filament
Nylon has the feature of diversity when it comes to its applications. Yes, the nylon filament is versatile and can satisfy the manufacturing needs of every industry in some way or another. It will be interesting to know its uses below and understand how creatively varied businesses use it for commercial purposes.
Nylon proved a good choice for clothing
After experimenting with nylon in making women’s stockings in 1939 for the first time, clothing companies realized its versatility. Gradually it became a ubiquitous choice replacing silk and cotton. Initially, nylon was used to make ponchos, ropes, tents, and military supplies. Today, it is used to make shirts, lingerie, cycling wear, underwear, swimwear, and raincoats. Today’s fashion and textile industry may not imagine even a day without nylon.
Fishnets are durable when made from nylon
Nylon filament is strong and has good tensile strength, which means it can bear a lot of weight without breaking. It is a lightweight and strong material, thus used across the world for creating fishnet stockings, gloves, tights, and body stockings. The feature of elasticity in this material makes fishnets handy for fishermen. Usually, nylon-6 is used to make fishnets because it has all the qualities required in the fishing industry.
Nylon filament is a perfect choice for making machine parts
Resistance to chemicals and heat makes nylon filament the first choice for many manufacturers to make machine parts like bolts, nuts, screws, circuit boards, electrical boards, etc. The filament has a low coefficient of friction which is why it is used for the mechanisms that slide or rotate. The electronic industry can exploit this feature quite liberally to create desired results in varied products. Nylon also has abrasion resistance, which gives durability to the products.
Strengths and limitations of Nylon filament in 3D printing
Not everything in this world is perfect, but it always has some qualities. Nylon filament is widely popular due to its features and benefits, but it also has some weaknesses. To be more specific, no defects precisely, but some of its qualities may not fit a particular type of manufacturing need. We already know that nylon is not a natural material and is human-created, so whatever strengths and weaknesses it has are also human-created. Let us delve into how it reacts to varied industrial needs favorably and unfavorably.
|High impact resistance makes nylon a good choice for structures that constantly band together or may get dropped.||Nylon filament is hygroscopic and can absorb moisture from the atmosphere relatively quickly. While manufacturing, the structure may get deformed easily if not handled properly.|
|Nylon is highly flexible and can be transformed into detailed geometries without getting fractured.||Warping is another weakness the filament has; this weakness relates to the limitation of being hygroscopic. Only professionally skilled people can handle the filament.|
|Excellent abrasion resistance is another feature that nylon has, and it can be used liberally in applications with constantly moving parts.||Pre-drying is necessary for this filament to 3D print to avoid extra moisture. The process of drying takes spare time, effort, and equipment.|
|It takes any color quickly, which is why multi-colored products can be created using this filament.||Nylon is not environment-friendly because it is not easily bio-degradable. Its human-made structure may take years to destroy when dumped as garbage.|
Nylon filament is among the smartest choices of manufacturers for 3D printing. Its flexibility to be used for multiple applications inspire scientist to experiment and innovate new possibilities in its use. Every piece of information given above describes only one thing every 3D print filament has its importance.
Besides this, you will also realize that there is no actual weakness of nylon filament because of the same acts as the strength for some other purpose. For example, nylon is prone to warping, but at the same time, it is flexible and can be used for multiple applications. Isn’t it a positive contradiction? Well, if you are looking forward to using nylon filament for your manufacturing needs, you should know that it is already a popular choice worldwide. Exploit its properties and give speed to your business because the filament is also known for its durability.