There are several types of 3D printing available these days. Selective layer sintering (SLS) is known for sharp precision, complex geometry, detailed features, and highly finished parts. A leading SLS material is nylon, which has both tensile and flexural strength. Another popular, yet not as versatile, type of 3D printing is fused deposition modeling (FDM). This commonly uses the plastic Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS). Many manufacturers ask us which is better - SLS-printed nylon, or FDM-printed ABS plastic? Here’s why we recommend SLS-printed nylon every time.

finnovation pd 3d printed nylon

Higher Tensile Strength

Tensile strength is the resistance of a material to breaking under tension. Tensile strength is tested and measured carefully before materials are used in structural applications. Nylon performs well under tensile stress. A 3D Systems benchmark study compared the tensile strength of nylon to ABS plastic. It concluded that the average tensile strength for nylon is 152% higher than ABS parts made via the FDM process. That’s quite a difference, and since most manufacturers want their prototype or part to be strong, SLS-printed nylon is the winner here.

Better Ductility

Ductility refers to how much a material can be stretched without breaking or losing its strength. Elongation at break measures a material’s ductility. In the 3D Systems study, results showed a large difference in the elongation at break for the materials tested for tensile strength. The average elongation of SLS nylon was 7.7%, while FDM ABS samples only elongated 1.2% before breaking.

Higher Flexural Strength

Flexural strength measures the stress in a material just before it yields in a flexure test. To conduct this test, the sample material is supported on the ends and the load is applied downward. The study had dismal results for FDM ABS plastic. In fact, the flexural strength of the SLS nylon was twice that of the FDM ABS material!

Additional Benefits

Nylon is a versatile and capable material. In addition to the above performance advantages over FDM ABS plastic, nylon offers the following benefits when manufactured via SLS printing:

  • No support structure needed
  • Complex geometry capabilities
  • Better precision

To learn more about the advantages of SLS printing, talk to the professionals at Finnovation Product Development. We have many material options including nylon to create 3D printed parts with complex geometry, high precision, and superior strength. We’re also proud to offer some of the fastest turnaround times in the industry.

Contact us today for a no obligation consultation to see how we can help with your design process. We can be reached by calling 585-472-9932 or by emailing us through our contact page. We're located in Ontario, NY and serve clients in Western NY and throughout the United States.