Today, a majority of consumer products and production parts are made from thermoplastics. Thermoplastics are typically used in manufacturing techniques like injection molding, compression molding and machining, but with the invention of 3D printing, they became available for additive extrusion and sintering processes. A new door to advanced manufacturing has opened with 3D printing materials similar to the conventional thermoplastics familiar to engineers and designers.
Thermoplastics are plastic materials, or polymers, that become pliable when heated to a specific temperature and solidify upon cooling. Types of thermoplastics include acrylic, ABS, Nylon, PLA, polycarbonate (PC), polyethylene and other specialty, high performance materials.
If your part requires strength, rigidity or high temperature tolerance, then thermoplastics are a great option to fabricate your production component or prototype. Using 3D printing, engineers can make parts with the most commonly used thermoplastics, such as ABS, polycarbonate, a variety of blends, as well as thermoplastics engineered for aerospace, medical, automotive and other specialty applications. There are two additive technologies at Stratasys Direct Manufacturing that utilize thermoplastics: Laser Sintering (LS) and FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling).
There are many reasons for coating FDM parts. These include UV protection, sealing, shielding, or surface modification, but painting FDM parts for an aesthetically pleasing finish is the most common. Painting brings a product to life by adding depth, contrast and character. This is true for concept models, marketing samples, and finished goods. For product development and many production applications, paint completes the desired look and feel. With a little know-how and a touch of patience, models, prototypes, and parts can look like production parts.
The following instructions are for creating top-quality painted parts. For applications that do not require this level of finishing, skip any unneeded steps. A good paint finish traditionally starts with sanding and filling.