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Replacing a traditional material with an additive polymer: Four questions you need to ask

One of the most common questions we get from customers looking to making an existing part with additive manufacturing is, “What’s the comparable additive material I can use to make sure my part will turn out the same?”

In some cases, material selection can be relatively straightforward.  Polyamide 12 (PA 12), for example, is used in injection molding and additive manufacturing, producing a virtually identical mechanical response with each technology.

Other additive polymers may be less familiar, at least in part because they were created specifically for industrial-grade 3D printing. Carbon®, for example, developed its elastomeric polymers (EPU 40 and 41) to enable unique mechanical responses particularly well suited to compliant lattice designs. These polymers aren’t a one-to-one equivalent to a specific traditional material. However, their modulus, strength, elongation, and maximum use temperature make them fitting replacements for various rubbers and elastomers in applications like foam replacement, gaskets, seals, or covers.

Additive manufacturing capabilities are constantly expanding, with new materials and production technologies coming to market at a dizzying pace. Here at Fast Radius, we’ve evaluated hundreds of materials for thousands of applications across industries as varied as medical devices, aerospace, automotive, consumer products, and industrial machinery.  We’ve additively manufactured end-use parts that meet countless physical, aesthetic, regulatory and mechanical specifications.

Based on our experience, we created a simple framework to help you identify additive polymers that can effectively replace the legacy materials you’ve been using. Defining your needs in terms of the four questions below will help identify the materials that could work for your application. Armed with this knowledge, an expert additive solutions provider like Fast Radius can guide you through a more granular analysis to choose an appropriate production-grade material.

Questions to ask when choosing an additive polymer

Want to learn more about additive materials? Download our white paper, “The Fast Radius Guide to Additive Polymers.” You can also connect with our additive experts to discuss your application in detail.