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Resources3D Printing DesignAll About Nylon 3D Printing Filament: Materials, Properties, Definition
Nylon spools. Image Credit: Shutterstock.com/Andrey Sasin

All About Nylon 3D Printing Filament: Materials, Properties, Definition

Learn about nylon 3D printing filament and how to use it for your manufacturing needs.

Xomety X
By Team Xometry
September 19, 2022
 8 min read
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Nylon is a semicrystalline thermoplastic. It is used primarily as a textile, but it is also used for a wide range of mechanical applications like zip ties, plastic buckles, and gears. Nylon was first discovered in 1935 by Wallace H. Carothers, a researcher at DuPont who was attempting to create the world's first fully synthetic fiber. Nylon is often used in 3D printing despite its reputation as a difficult material to work with. The addition of carbon fiber to nylon eliminates most of these difficulties while simultaneously improving its mechanical properties. Nylon's printing difficulty can be attributed to its tendency to warp and absorb moisture. The main advantages of 3D printing in nylon are its excellent impact resistance, toughness, good resistance against organic chemicals like fuel and oil, and excellent abrasion resistance. This article will discuss what nylon 3D printing is, the composition of nylon filament, its properties, applications, and how it compares to other filaments.

What is Nylon 3D Printing?

Nylon 3D printing filament is a popular material due to its excellent toughness, abrasion resistance, and impact resistance. Therefore, it is ideal for use in hard-wearing applications like gears, fasteners, and cable ties. Nylons have excellent resistance to alkalis and organic chemicals like oils and fuels but are degraded by halogens and inorganic acids. For more information, see our everything about 3D printing guide.

A typical nylon part is shown in Figure 1 below:

Slide 1 of 1
nylon cog and gear wheels
nylon cog and gear wheels
nylon cog and gear wheels

Nylon cog and gear wheels in a printer.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com/Paulpixs

What is the Composition of Nylon Filament?

Nylons are a family of semicrystalline thermoplastic polyamides with similar compositions. Nylon is generally synthesized through a process known as condensation polymerization. During this process, two different monomeric starting materials, a diamine, and a diacid are reacted together to form the polymer and a byproduct molecule such as water or HCl. For example, Nylon 66 is made by condensation reaction from two common raw materials, hexamethylenediamine, and adipic acid. An alternative processing method, called ring-opening polymerization, uses caprolactam as a feedstock to produce Nylon 6.

Nylon is often combined with carbon and glass fibers to improve its mechanical and thermal properties. Up to 25% of the filament volume can be one of these fillers.

What Are the Properties of Nylon Filament?

Listed below are some common properties of nylon 3D printing filament:

  1. Nylon has excellent flexibility & toughness and can be used in applications that are exposed to harsh loading conditions. 
  2. Nylon has good abrasion resistance and is often used for pulley sheaves.
  3. Nylon has excellent resistance to oils, fuel, and organic solvents.
  4. Nylon has excellent impact resistance when compared to common engineering plastics like ABS.

For more information, see our guide on what is nylon.

Comparison of Nylon Filament Properties

The properties of some common 3D printing filaments compared to nylon are listed in Table 1 below:

Table 1: Comparison of Nylon vs ABS vs PETG vs PP
PropertyNylonABSPETGPP
Property

Tensile Modulus (MPa)

Nylon

2300 ± 64

ABS

1699 ± 113

PETG

1711 ± 45

PP

234 ± 16

Property

Tensile Stress @ Yield (MPa)

Nylon

63.1 ± 1.1 (XY)

ABS

38.1 ± 0.3 (XY)

PETG

46.2 ± 0.8 (XY)

PP

8.6 ± 0.4

Property

Elongation @ Yield (%)

Nylon

6.1 ± 0.2 (XY)

ABS

4.1 ± 0.1 (XY)

PETG

5.9 ± 0.1 (XY)

PP

18.7 ± 3.0

Property

Flexural Modulus (MPa)

Nylon

1060 ± 58

ABS

1317 ± 28

PETG

1489 ± 25

PP

250 ± 9

Property

Flexural Strength (MPa)

Nylon

36.6 ± 3.0

ABS

21.5 ± 1.8

PETG

50 ± 3.5

PP

9.4 ± 0.3

Property

Charpy Impact Strength (kJ/m2)

Nylon

13.7 ± 1.2 (Notched)

ABS

1.5 ± 0.1 (Hinge)

PETG

7.9 ± 0.6 (Notched)

PP

49.1 ± 3.2 (Notched)

Property

Hardness (Shore D)

Nylon

81

ABS

76

PETG

76

PP

42

Property

Heat Deflection Temperature (0.455 MPa)

Nylon

89.2 ± 5.6 

ABS

86.6 ± 0.4

PETG

76.2 ± 0.8

PP

64.1 ± 3.6

Property

Glass Transition Temperature (°C)

Nylon

55.1 

ABS

100.5

PETG

77.4

PP

-20

Property

Melting Temperature (°C)

Nylon

188.4

ABS

200

PETG

260

PP

130.6

Table Credit: Comparison of Nylon vs ABS vs PETG vs PP

What Are the Limitations of 3D Printing with Nylon?

Printing with nylon has some downsides, as listed below:

  1. Nylon tends to warp during printing and can detach from the print bed. 
  2. Nylon easily absorbs moisture both before and after printing. Moisture absorption by the filament material often results in defects in the printed part.
  3. Nylon is not as strong as other printable materials such as PETG and ABS.

Some of the benefits of nylon 3D printing filament are listed below:

  1. Nylon has excellent abrasion resistance and is ideal for pulley sheaves and gears.
  2. Nylon has excellent impact resistance compared to other engineering thermoplastics like PETG or ABS.
  3. Nylon is more UV resistant than PLA or ABS and can be used in dry outdoor environments. Its UV resistance can be further improved by adding UV stabilizers to the raw material.

Why is Nylon Used in 3D Printing?

Nylon is used in 3D printing due to its toughness, chemical resistance, and abrasion resistance. It is a difficult material to work with but can be used to print functional parts. Nylon carbon fiber filament is a popular material that is made by mixing short carbon fiber strands into nylon before extruding it into a filament. These fibers stabilize the material, preventing warping during printing, increasing mechanical strength, and improving thermal properties. 

How to Use Nylon in 3D Printing

Nylon 3D printing filament is difficult to print due to its tendency to warp and absorb moisture. However, if the correct printer settings are used there is no reason why excellent results can’t be achieved. Listed below are some tips for successfully printing nylon:

  1. Nylon easily absorbs moisture. This property can have a detrimental effect on the printed part due to porosity caused by expanding bubbles of boiling water as the moisture cooks off. It is therefore important to store filament material in an airtight container. Some containers can even store the filament during printing which is especially useful for long-duration prints.
  2. Nylon will warp during printing if the print environment is not maintained at around 45 °C. 

The above-listed tips for 3D printing with nylon are generally applicable to all nylon plastics. However, carbon fiber nylon filament and glass-filled nylon filament do not warp as easily.

What Are the Best Configuration Settings for Nylon 3D Printing?

The specific printer settings required when using nylon 3D printing filament depend on the specific nylon polymer formulation. However, Table 2 below lists some key printer settings for nylon filament:

Table 2: Nylon Filament 3D Printer Settings
Printer SettingsValue
Printer Settings

Extruder temperature

Value

230-260 °C

Printer Settings

Bed temperature

Value

60-70 °C

Printer Settings

Nozzle Temperature

Value

230-260 °C

Printer Settings

Infill Density

Value

20% with a triangular infill pattern

Printer Settings

Print Speed

Value

30 to 70 mm/s (50 mm/s is ideal for best results)

Printer Settings

Print Bed

Value

60 - 70 °C 

What is the Best Nylon 3D Print Speed?

Nylon can be printed at speeds between 30 and 70 mm/s but the optimal speed tends to be around 50 mm/s, especially if high levels of detail are required in the print. As with any 3D printing process, it may be necessary to try a few different speed settings until the optimal operating speed is determined. Every printer/material combination behaves slightly differently.  

What is the Melting Temperature of Nylon Filament?

The melting temperature of the nylon filament is 188.4 °C. Carbon or glass-filled nylon 3D printing filaments have melting temperatures equivalent to their base polymer melting temperatures. 

Is a Heated Printing Bed Required When Printing with Nylon?

Yes, a heated print bed is required when printing with nylon. Nylon is prone to warping and can lift off the bed if it has not been sufficiently prepared with adhesives and heated. 

What is a Good Wall Thickness for 3D Printing Nylon?

The optimal wall thickness for 3D printing of nylon depends on the end use of the part being printed. However, in general, a wall thickness of 1.5 mm will be ideal for most applications. 

What is a Good Wall Density for 3D Printing Nylon?

The optimal infill density for a nonfunctional prototype nylon 3D printed part is 20%. However, this density must be adjusted depending on the intended application. Load-bearing applications may require between 50 and 80% infill density. The standard triangle-type infill will be sufficient for the majority of applications. 

Is Nylon Biodegradable?

No, like most other commodities and engineering-grade thermoplastics, nylon is not biodegradable. 

Is Nylon Recyclable?

Yes, nylon is recyclable in industrial recycling facilities. Nylon 6 is more recyclable than nylon 66 as it is made from a single molecule. It can be easily polymerized, whereas nylon 6,6 is made from two molecules which makes it very difficult to separate.

Is Nylon Hygroscopic?

Yes, nylon is hygroscopic and readily absorbs moisture. It is therefore recommended to keep nylon filament material in a moisture-free enclosure.

What is the Difference Between Nylon and PLA in 3D Printing?

PLA is a rigid and brittle material that has poor fatigue resistance. Nylon, on the other hand, is tougher, more flexible, and has better fatigue resistance under cyclic loading. 

What is the Difference Between Nylon and ABS in 3D Printing?

Like nylon, ABS is a difficult material to print. However, it is easier to use than nylon. ABS also has better tensile strength. However, Nylon is significantly more impact resistant than ABS.

What is the Difference Between Nylon and PETG in 3D Printing?

PETG is not as impact resistant as nylon> However, it is much easier to print with and is  cheaper than Nylon. 

Summary

This article presented nylon 3D printing filament, explained what it is, and discussed what to consider when using it in 3D printing. To learn more about nylon 3D printing filament, contact a Xometry representative.

Xometry provides a wide range of manufacturing capabilities, including 3D printing and other value-added services for all of your prototyping and production needs. Visit our website to learn more or to request a free, no-obligation quote.

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Xomety X
Team Xometry
This article was written by various Xometry contributors. Xometry is a leading resource on manufacturing with CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, 3D printing, injection molding, urethane casting, and more.