Polycarbonate Material For 3D Printing – Properties Guide

Polycarbonate material is high strength intended for tough environments and engineering applications.

This guide discusses its material properties and applications

Polycarbonate Material Overviews

Polycarbonate (PC) material is very strong for applications made to endure stress. It maintains its structural integrity up to the temperature that is fireproof and will not catch on fire.

As far as its tensile strength goes, it is stiff and impact resistant with a very high strength to weight ratio. Polycarbonate material can be used for many protective gears and it can be easily molded, thermoformed, and can be FDM 3D printed, CNC machined & injection molded.

PLA Material Properties

  • Density – 1.2 g/cm3
  • Coefficient of Thermal Expansion – 69 µm/m-°C
  • Extruder Temperature – 260 – 310°C
  • Bed Temperature – 80- 120°C
  • Tensile Strength – 59 MPa
  • Flexural Strength – 93 MPa
  • Young’s modulus – 2 – 2.4 GPa
  • Price (per kg) – $40 – $74

Areas Of Strength

  • Impact resistant (Can be bulletproof)
  • Resistant to UV light
  • High heat resistant (Will not catch on fire)
  • Heat up and cool down without degradation
  • Can bend without breaking
  • Stronger than glass
  • Easy to machine
  • Lightweight
  • Can insulate

Areas Of Weakness

  • Tendency to oozing
  • Prone to wrap
  • Can expand to induce dimensional errors
  • Not scratch proof
  • Absorbs moisture that can cause print defects (hygroscopic)
  • Expensive

Common Applications For Polycarbonate

  • CDs
  • Protective gear
  • Plastic lenses in eye wear
  • Baby feeding bottles
  • Safety glazing
  • Bicycle sheds
  • Basketball backboards
  • Greenhouse covering (Insulate very well)

Which 3D Printers Can Print Polycarbonate

Please make sure your FDM 3D printer has the following capability:

  • Extruder temperature – 260 – 310 °C (Very hot temperature required)
  • All metal hot end required
  • Heated bed – 80 – 120°C
  • Enclosed Chamber to maintain temperature
  • Build surface – PEI, Commercial adhesive, Glue stick
  • Cooling fan is NOT required

Best Practices Using Polycarbonate Material In 3D Printing

Prevent Moisture

  • Lower print temperature to 280°C or below to prevent bubbles and other artifacts
  • Store filament pool in air tight container and ensure no moisture in the printing environment

Fine Tune Retraction To Prevent Oozing

  • Dial retraction setting to prevent filament over flow at the end of a print segment at high extruder temperature.
  • Try speed up the XY travel speed to reduce time for oozing
  • Use printers features coasting ability to reduce nozzle pressure before the end of a segment to avoid oozing

Use PEI Build Surface

  • PEI sheets can hold on to polycarbonate at 110°C without adhering to the part permanently
  • Other print sheet like blue tape or glue stick will break down at high temperature to print polycarbonate

Calibrate Bridging Setting

  • Slowly print solid infill layers as support materials because high print temperature causes extruded filament to droop if it’s unsupported

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