Nylon is a synthetic polymer which is based on polyamides. It’s resilient, strong, durable and a tad bit flexible. Another property is that it’s hydroscopic. This means it absorbs liquids. This makes nylon a good choice when you need to dye your printed part in a certain color. It also means that nylon filament has a short shelf live and is difficult to store.
Functional 3D printed parts
Since nylon has such a unique durability to flexibility ratio, it is often used for functional parts. Think of prosthetics, medical equipment, connectors and living hinges.
Nylon has its own distinct pros and cons:
- Nylon is very resilient and durable.
- Excellent strength to flexibility ratio.
- Easily colored / dyed.
- UV resistant and higher chemical resistance than PLA or ABS.
- Nylon is very sensitive to moisture and must be kept dry.
- You’ll need to store nylon filament in a moisture free container or drybox.
- You might need to dry it in an oven prior to printing.
- First layers tends to warp.
- Most nylon brands have a shelf life of max. 12 months.
- Nylon can (potentially) shrink during cooling so printed parts may be less precise.
There are quite a few desktop printers that are capable of printing nylon filament. Due to it’s moisture absorption and being sensitive to temperature changes we recommend to use:
- A print chamber enclosure (temperature controlled would be even better).
- Heated bed not necessary for all nylon filaments (yet preferable).
- Some sort of adhesion spray or glue stick to prevent warping.