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Exploring the Best MJF 3D Printing Materials: PA11 vs. PA12 at Printing Portal

Updated: Mar 5

Introduction:


At Printing Portal, we're dedicated to offering top-tier MJF 3D printing solutions, including two rigid materials: PA11 and PA12. With just a single Carbon atom difference, both chemically & physically they are comparable. Understanding the nuances between these options is crucial for optimizing your projects. Let's delve into the specifics to help you make informed decisions for your MJF printing needs.



A fan casing 3D printed with HP MJF machines.  It is grey in colour.  It has been made with PA12 Material.

Enhanced Toughness with PA11:


When it comes to mechanical toughness, PA11 stands out as the superior choice. It's resilience against impact makes it ideal for applications where durability is paramount. Through our MJF technology, we ensure that your PA11 prints maintain structural integrity, even in challenging environments. When looking at the material datasheet the value that illustrates this the 'Izod impact test'. This is a test of how well a material can absorb energy from an impact without shattering.



A table showing the Izod impact values for PA11 (4.5-5kJ/m^2) vs PA12 (3.5kJ/m^2)


Optimal Ductility:


In general materials that are tougher also tend to be more ductile, the MJF Printed Nylons also follow this trend. PA11 has higher ductility than PA12 meaning it can bend or stretch further before breaking. The datasheet point that best illustrates this is the 'Elongation at break' where a higher % value means the material is more ductile.



A table showing Elongation at break test values for PA11 (35-50%) vs PA12 (20%)


Environmental Sustainability:


PA11 is often touted as the more environmentally friendly option, derived from castor bean oil, contrasting with PA12 primarily sourced from petroleum products. However, the environmental implications are more nuanced.


In MJF, unused powder from the printing process is reclaimed and mixed with new (virgin) powder. While PA12 requires only a 20% virgin material mix ratio, PA11 mandates at least 30%. This translates to a greater requirement for new powder in printing PA11 parts.


Regarding recycling, neither material sees widespread recycling, although it remains feasible for both. Recycling efforts necessitate meticulous material handling to prevent cross-contamination, including avoiding substances like paint and glue—a standard practice in plastics recycling and traditional manufacturing methods.


HP has showcased the potential for recycling MJF Nylon 12 in a compelling case study, demonstrating its transformation into pellets used for injection molding. This underscores the feasibility and importance of sustainable practices in the MJF industry.






Colour:


In their natural state, both PA12 and PA11 present a grey hue, with PA11 boasting a slightly deeper shade. However, the versatility of MJF 3D printing allows for seamless customisation. Whether you opt for PA12 or PA11, both materials can undergo dyeing or painting processes to achieve your desired colour palette.


Curious to witness the nuanced differences first-hand? Our sample pack offers the perfect opportunity. Featuring example parts 3D printed in both MJF PA12 and PA11, you can explore their unique characteristics without any additional coloring. Request your sample pack today to delve into the world of MJF printing: [Sample Pack Request Link]



A photo showing two 3D Printed hinge parts.  The one at the front is light grey as it is printed with PA12 material.  The one at the back is dark grey because it is printed with PA11 material.


Cost-Effectiveness:


In the majority of scenarios, printing MJF PA11 tends to be more costly. This can be attributed primarily to three key factors:


  1. The higher cost of PA11 powder supplied to us, likely reflecting elevated production expenses.

  2. The relatively lower demand for PA11, resulting in less efficient scheduling and nesting of MJF builds across our five machines.

  3. PA11 necessitates a greater proportion of virgin powder in the mix, further contributing to its overall expense.



Three rows of generic 3D printed parts, printed with HP MJF.  They have all been dyed black.  This image is to show repeate production of similar parts.


Conclusion:


Making Informed Choices with Printing Portal Choosing between PA11 and PA12 for your MJF 3D printing projects requires careful consideration of various factors, including mechanical properties, environmental impact, thermal performance, and cost-effectiveness. At Printing Portal, we empower you with the information and resources needed to make informed decisions that align with your project goals. Explore the possibilities of MJF printing with Printing Portal today.


Overall you can't go wrong with either choice & it is extremely easy to compare the price with our instant quote tool right here: [MJF Instant Quote Page]





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