Nylon 11 and Nylon 12 are polyamides that we offer in our broad selection of materials here at HLH. While both polyamides are nylon materials, they are developed differently. PA12 is derived mostly from petroleum sources. On the other hand, PA11 is entirely derived from vegetable oil, making it one of the rare bio-based thermoplastics available.
Nylon 12 is developed to replace most of the functions of Nylon 11, so most of its properties are consistent. Both PA11 and PA12 are commonly used in powder bed fusion processes like selective laser sintering (SLS) and multi-jet fusion (MJF) — both of which are some of the fastest 3D printing technologies. They offer strong resistance to chemicals including fuels, bases, and salts, have excellent resolution, and have the ability to recycle around 70% of unfused powder after a build.
Chemically speaking, PA11 and PA12 are very similar polymers, differing only by one carbon in the polymer backbone. However, that single carbon atom makes a tremendous difference in how the polymer arranges itself to form three-dimensional objects.
While both Nylon 11 and Nylon 12 have uses in both prototyping and end-use applications, Nylon PA11 has the edge over PA12 in flexibility, strength, and impact resistance. These qualities make it the preferred material for more demanding applications.
PA11 nylon printed prosthetics image by adobestock
Nylon PA12 has superior UV and heat resistance and an excellent ability to stay constant despite drastic temperature changes. The material is characterized by high strength, stiffness, strong resistance to cracking under stress, and an excellent long-term constant behavior.
PA12 nylon prototype image by @hlhrapid
Both of these polyamides are excellent materials and can be used to fulfil a vast range of prototyping and end-use application goals. Although they share many similarities, there are distinct differences that make each material better suited for different applications.
PA11 is more flexible, less brittle, and better for printing thin walls and lattice structures. It is ideal for making mechanically loaded functional parts and also a great choice if you want to make quality products without leaving a carbon footprint on the environment. In comparison, PA12 is stiff, cheaper, has better heat resistance, and has excellent long-term-constant behavior. It is preferred for making components exposed to drastic temperature changes and for day-to-day rapid prototyping.
It is essential you understand the underlying differences between the two materials to really improve your 3D printing goals and have favorable outcomes every time. Not sure if you should use PA11 or PA12 for your project? Get in touch with our team of experts at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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