May 25, 2016

Fiber-Reinforced Nylon as Strong as Aluminium

3D Hubs is the first 3D printing service to offer fiber-reinforced nylon, which makes printed objects even stronger than aluminum!

The worldwide 3D printer network 3D Hubs is branching out into a new service, offering a series of nylon materials reinforced by kevlar, carbon fiber and fiberglass for super tough 3D printing.

This material is designed to print parts with the strength of metal but with the price tag of plastic. How strong? These parts have a higher strength-to-weight ratio than 6061-T6 Aluminum, and are up to 27x stiffer and 24x stronger than ABS. Impressive!

For this new project, 3D Hubs have partnered up with Markforged to leverage their industrial expertise for this material group.

If you’re wondering what you could possibly use fibre-reinforced nylon for, 3D Hubs suggests that engineering parts such as jigs, fixtures and tooling would be the ideal application.

But if you’re hoping to print small, intricate parts that take advantage of this added strength, you may be disappointed. The material is less suitable for small or detailed components, and there are some strict design rules to follow.

What Makes Fiber-Reinforced Nylon so Strong?

The process that Markforged developed to create such strong plastic is called Continuous Filament Fabrication (CFF).

CFF is based on the common fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology; a filament of nylon is melted and extruded through a heated nozzle, and printed as a layer on a heated bed, whereupon it cools down and solidifies.

However, the difference with CFF is a secondary stage, where a second print head reinforces the printed nylon by embedding a continuous strand of carbon fiber, kevlar or fiberglass within the layers.

For this 3D printing process, an expert operator is required to be present while running the machine. It is extremely complex to add the fibers during a print — so do not try this at home.

3D Hubs is confident that their network of service providers are able to deliver the required expertise for each project; already there are 17 certified providers based across Europe, the US and Oceania which are shipping fiber-reinforced nylon prints to wherever you are in the world.

Visit the 3D Hubs website to learn more about this exciting new material… and don’t forget to check out their design rules before you submit a project!

License: The text of "Fiber-Reinforced Nylon as Strong as Aluminium" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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