The open source large FFF 3D printer producer German RepRap is adding Nylon 6, also known as PA6, to its already wide range of filament materials in an effort to conquer a larger chunk of the professional 3D printing sector.
Since PA6 is an extremely strong material, with good damping characteristics and high shock resistance even at low temperature, it is already widely used in the automotive industry for gears, bearing and fittings. It is more durable than ABS and has an excellent cost/performance ratio.
So far the Nylon-PA6 has been tested by German RepRap only on its large X400 3D printer, which has a print volume of 56 liters (400 x 400 x 350 mm) and retails for 2,973.81 euro. The company reports that adhesion to the printing bed covered with Kapton tape was excellent, and actually increased with the extrusion temperature. Best results were measured at 260°C.
The printed models proved so strong that they could only be destroyed using a side cutter; the E-module strength was measured at 2800 MPa. All German RepRap filaments are produced in Germany though base materials and dyes are selected according to both FDA and European regulations.
The company assures that they guarantee sufficient accuracy and quality standards to produce intricate professional models, a trend that is starting to involve more RepRap models as the quality and size of the products they are able to print increases exponentially. It remains to be seen whether this will turn out to be a challenge or an opportunity to accelerate development for the current industrial grade 3D printer producers. Either way 3D printer users will come out on top.