3D Printing with Polycarbonate
Polycarbonate (PC) offers exceptional strength for a 3D printed thermoplastic. This engineering-grade plastic offers strong flame resistance, impact strength, and heat resistance.
- Strong impact resistance
- Bends without breaking at room temperature
- Very high dimensional stability
- Nozzle temperature: 270-310°C (518-590°F)
- Bed temperature: 80-150°C (176-302°F)
- Glass transition temperature: 150°C (302°F)
- Heat resistant up to 116°C (241°F)
- Excellent heat deflection and resistance
- Different filaments, such as Lexan, offer UL94 V-0 flame rating
- Strong resistance to most acids
- May be susceptible to solvent effects and stress-cracking from hydrocarbons
When to Use Polycarbonate for 3D Printing
The Translucent Thermoplastic
Some polycarbonate filaments offer translucency, which may be advantageous to certain applications or for aesthetic reasons.
Incredible Impact Strength
Its high impact resistance at room temperature and extremely low temperatures offers a versatile high-performance material option for any application.
Biocompatible & Sterilizable
There are grades of polycarbonate that are ideal for use in prosthetics due to their biocompatibility and potential for sterilization with gamma or ethylene oxide (ETO) sterilization.
Challenges with 3D Printing Polycarbonate
3D printers that offer fast retraction and travel speed are essential to preventing polycarbonate’s propensity to ooze from the nozzle. A well-tuned build profile, however, can allow for very fast print speeds.
Weak When Wet
Polycarbonate that is not properly dried prior to printing can result in print defects and substantially reduce the end part’s strength.
Low Temperatures = Layer Splitting
Enclosed, heated build chambers are necessary to avoid layer separation and maintain dimensional accuracy.