New Options for 3D Printing with Nylon Filament, Including Diran

NOTE 10/28/2019: See updated information regarding Diran extruder heads, below.

Does the idea of 3D printing parts in semi-aromatic polyamides (PA) sound intriguing? Too bad it has nothing to do with making nicely scented models – but it has everything to do with reaping the benefits of the Nylon family’s molecular ring structure. Nylon 6, Nylon 12, carbon-filled Nylon 12 and now a new, smoother Nylon material called Diran each offer material properties well-suited for additive manufacturing on industrial 3D printers.

Stratasys Nylon 12 Battery Box
3D printed Nylon 12 Battery Box. (Image courtesy Stratasys)

Quick chemistry lesson: in polyamides, amine sub-groups containing nitrogen link up with carbon, oxygen and hydrogen in a ring structure; most end up with a strongly connected, semi-crystalline layout that is key to their desirable behaviors. The number of carbon atoms per molecule is one way in which various Nylons (poly-amines) differentiate themselves, and gives rise to the naming process.

Now on to the good stuff. PA thermoplastics are known for strength, abrasion-resistance and chemical stability – useful material properties that have been exploited since Nylon’s discovery at Du Pont in 1935. The first commercial Nylon application came in 1938, when Dr. West’s Miracle Tuft Toothbrush closed the book on boar’s-hair bristle use and let humans gently brush their teeth with Nylon 6 (then called “Exton”) fibers.

Today’s Nylon characteristics translate well to filament-form for printing with Stratasys Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) production-grade systems. Here’s a look at properties and typical applications for Nylon 6, Nylon 12, Nylon 12 CF (carbon-fiber filled) and Diran (the newest in the Stratasys Nylon material family), as we see their use here at PADT.

When Flexibility Counts

Nylon 12 became the first Stratasys PA offering, filling a need for customized parts with high fatigue resistance, strong chemical resistance, and just enough “give” to support press (friction-fit) inserts and repetitive snap-fit closures. Users in aerospace, automotive and consumer-goods industries print Nylon 12 parts for everything from tooling, jigs and fixtures to container covers, side-panels and high vibration-load components.

3D Printed Nylon 12 bending example. (Image courtesy Stratasys)
3D Printed Nylon 12 bending example. (Image courtesy Stratasys)

Nylon 12 is the workhorse of the manufacturing world, supporting distortion without breaking and demonstrating a high elongation at break. Its ultimate tensile strength in XZ part orientation (the strongest orientation) is 6,650 psi (46 MPa), while elongation at break is 30 percent. Users can load Nylon 12 filament onto a Stratasys Fortus 380mc CF, 450mc or 900mc system.

As evidenced by the toothbrush renaissance, Nylon 6 has been a popular thermoplastic for more than 80 years. Combining very high strength with toughness, Nylon 6 is great for snap-fit parts (middle range of flexing/stiffness) and for impact resistance; it is commonly used for things that need to be assembled, offering a clean surface finish for part mating.

Nylon 6 displays an XZ ultimate tensile strength of 9,800 psi (67.6 MPa) and elongation at break of 38%; it is available on the F900 printer. PADT customer MTD Southwest has recently used Nylon 6 to prototype durable containers with highly curved geometries, for testing with gasoline/ethanol blends that would destroy most other plastics.

Prototype gas-tank made of Nylon 6, printed on a Stratasys system, using soluble support. (Image courtesy MTD Southwest)
Prototype gas-tank made of Nylon 6, printed on a Stratasys system, using soluble support. (Image courtesy MTD Southwest)

Both Nylon 12 and Nylon 6 come as black filament that prints in tandem with a soluble brown support material called SR-110. Soluble supports make a huge difference in allowing parts with internal structures and complicated overhangs to be easily 3D printed and post-processed.

Getting Stronger and Smoother

As with these first two PA versions, Nylon 12CF prints as a black filament and uses SR-110 soluble material for support; unlike those PAs, Nylon 12CF is loaded at 35 percent by weight with chopped carbon fibers averaging 150 microns in length. This fiber/resin combination produces a material with the highest flexural strength of all the FDM Nylons, as well as the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio.

Nylon 12 CF (carbon-filled) 3D printed part, designed as a test brake unit. (Image courtesy Stratasys)
Nylon 12 CF (carbon-fiber filled) 3D printed part, designed as a test brake unit. (Image courtesy Stratasys)

That strength shows up in Nylon 12 CF as a high ultimate XZ tensile strength of 10,960 psi (75.6 MPa), however, similar to other fiber-reinforced materials, the elongation at break is lower than for its unfilled counterpart (1.9 percent). Since the material doesn’t yield, just snaps, the compressive strength is given as the ultimate value, at 9,670 psi (67 MPa).

Nylon 12 CF’s strength and stiffness make it a great choice for lightweight fixtures. It also offers electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection properties better than that of Stratasys’ ABS ESD7, yet is still not quite conductive, if that is important for the part’s end-use. (For more details on printing with Nylon 12 CF, see Seven Tips for 3D Printing with Nylon 12 CF.) The material runs on the Fortus 380mc CF, 450mc or 900mc systems.

Just announced this month, Stratasys’ Diran filament (officially Diran 410MF07) is another black Nylon-based material; it, too, features an infill but not of fibers – instead there is a mineral component listed at seven percent by weight. This filler produces a material whose smooth, lubricious surface offers low sliding resistance (new vocabulary word: lubricious, meaning slippery, with reduced friction; think “lube job” or lubricant).

Robot-arm end printed in Diran, a smooth Nylon-based filament. (Image courtesy Stratasys)
Robot-arm end printed in Diran, a smooth Nylon-based filament. (Image courtesy Stratasys)

This smooth surface makes Diran parts perfect for applications needing a non-marring interface between a tool and a workpiece; for example, a jig or fixture that requires a part to be slid into place rather than just set down. It resists hydrocarbon-based chemicals, displays an ultimate tensile strength of 5,860 psi (40 MPa), and has a 12 percent elongation at break.

Close-up of Diran's smooth surface finish. (Image courtesy Stratasys)
Close-up of Diran’s smooth surface finish. (Image courtesy Stratasys)

(Revised) For the first time, Diran also brings the benefits of Nylon to users of the Stratasys office-environment, plug-and-play F370 printer. The system works with the new material using the same extruder heads as for ABS, ASA and PC-ABS, with just a few material-specific requirements. 

To keep thermal expansion consistent across a model and any necessary supports, parts set up for Diran automatically use model material as support. A new, breakaway SUP4000B material comes into play as an interface layer, simplifying support removal. The higher operating temperature also requires a different build tray, but the material’s lubricious properties (just had to use that word again) make for easy part removal and allow that tray to be reused dozens of times.

Read more about this intriguing material on the Diran datasheet:

and contact PADT to request a sample part of Diran or any of these useful Nylon materials.

PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys printers and materials, contact us at info@padtinc.com.

3D Printing with Stratasys to Improve Workflow Efficiency

As advancements in R&D continue to expand hardware innovation in almost every industry, 3D printing is playing an increasingly larger role. For a long time, companies developed prototypes via fabrication in a machine shop or outsourced to a third party contractor. This process proved to be costly and slow. With innovations like the Stratasys F123 series, industrial-grade 3D printers, prototyping is becoming simpler, more cost-efficient, and faster. PADT is a reseller and support provider for the F123 series and has seen it used to great success in its customer’s hands.

“Our customers are finding the Stratasys F123 3D printers to be a great addition to their design floors,” said Rey Chu, co-founder and principal, PADT. “They have a very minimal learning curve, and a range of material options that provides flexibility for a wide variety of parts.”

As some of the most well-rounded 3D printers in the industry, the Stratasys F123 Series have won numerous awards. It’s easy to operate and maintain these machines, regardless of the user’s level of experience, and they are proficient at every stage of prototyping, from concept to validation, to functional performance.

The printers work with a range of materials – so users can produce complex parts with flexibility and accuracy. This includes advanced features like Fast Draft mode for truly rapid prototyping and soluble support to prevent design compromise and hands-on removal – All designed to shorten product development cycles and time to market.

All of these different characteristics allow for the F123 series to provide innovative solutions for manufacturers working with a wide variety of applications. This vast array of potential use is best seen in the assortment of companies that have purchased the Stratasys F370, the largest and most robust model in the F123 line of 3D printers; boasting a 14 x 10 x 14 in. build size, additional software integration, and access to a plethora of unique materials designed to help ensure prototyping success, all at an accessible price point. Companies that best represent the diversity of this machine include:

Juggernaut Design | Industrial Design Logo

Juggernaut Design

PADT client Juggernaut is an authority in rugged product design, bringing innovation and expertise to products to survive in challenging environments. Employing the latest tools and technology, this team of designers and engineers is always looking for the best way to meet their client’s ever-evolving requirements. 3D printing is one such tool a design firm like Juggernaut relies on. Covering everything from the development of prototypes and form studies, to ergonomic test rigs and even functional models, the need for quick turnaround is relevant at nearly every stage of the design process. Having physical parts to show to clients also helps to improve communication, allowing them to better visualize key design elements.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) focuses on advancing the science and engineering of energy efficiency, sustainable transportation, and renewable power technologies, including marine energy. When it comes to developing the components of a wave energy device that produce power from relative motion induced by the dynamics of ocean waves for example, NREL’s research requires extensive validation before it is ready for commercialization. This process often includes generating sub-scale components for numerical model validation, prototypes for proof of concept, and other visual representations to provide clarity throughout the entire manufacturing process. It’s also important to accurately validate research projects at a more manageable and cost-effective scale before moving beyond the prototype stage.

Recently, NREL has ventured into building parts with more complex geometries, such as 3D printing hydrodynamically accurate models that are able to effectively represent the intricacies of various geometry and mass properties at scale.

Sierra Nevada Corporation

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is a privately held, advanced technology company providing customer-focused innovative solutions in the areas of aerospace, aviation, electronics, and systems integration. SNC’s diverse technologies are used in applications including telemedicine, navigation and guidance systems, threat detection and security, commercial aviation, scientific research, and infrastructure protection, among others. SNC decided to purchase an F370 Stratasys 3D printer to help the company’s engineering team iterate faster on new application designs. This machine was specifically attractive due to the reasonable purchase and operational costs of Stratasys printers, as well as the reduced manufacturing times it provided.

These use cases provide an example of how the Stratasys F123 series is helping to replace traditional manufacturing to save costs and provide a more efficient in-house, rapid design solution. The Stratasys F123 printers, and specifically the power and size of its flagship model, the F370, are revolutionizing design team’s workflow by providing more flexibility and accessibility than ever before.

To learn more about the Stratasys F123 Series, and find the machine that is right for you, please visit PADT’s Stratasys product page here. And to talk to PADT’s sales staff about a demo, please call 1-800-293-PADT.