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How to Select the Right Material for your Prototype?

Considering the mechanical properties, cosmetic appearance and manufacturability, it’s still possible to find an appropriate material for your prototype.


Posted on:  July 6, 2018, | By Vivi, WayKen Project Manager


So far as we know, the material for rapid prototyping is very limited for injection molding process. Considering the mechanical properties, cosmetic appearance and manufacturability, it’s still possible to find an appropriate material for your prototype project. WayKen provides a wide range choices for product prototyping.

Stereolithography (SLA)

Photosensitive resin is kind of material especially for SLA, with good performance in mechanical strength, storability and strong versatility. It usually used to produce durable, rigid, waterproof function parts.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

PA12 is the most regular material for SLS. It usually comes in white color, combines the properties of strength, durability and chemical resistance. It is great to produce strong, durable and end use prototype parts.

With the development of material, now PA12+GF, Aluminum, Ceramic are also available for SLS process.

CNC Milling

CNC milled prototype could be made with a wide variety of materials including plastic, metals and other composites material. It uses these materials in plastic prototype or metal prototype during the concept and engineering stage of your design which allows your design team to closely simulate the final product appearance and function, reflecting the rationality of physical dimension and the ease or complexity assembly work and giving the freedom to make design changes.

Six Mechanical Characteristics of Material

Compared with metal, plastics are complex materials, the main factors determining material selection include mechanical properties such as stress, heat resistance and elasticity of the part. Finding the right one for your specific application requires balancing multiple attributes. We’ll go through the six most essential mechanical characteristics you should consider when choosing material.


Elastic Modulus:


This is also known as Young's modulus, it is a quantity measuring an object or substance's resistance to being deformed elastically under stress. The tensile modulus of an object is defined as the slope of its stress–strain curve in the elastic deformation region. A stiffer material requires more force to deform compared to a soft material.


Elongation at Break:


Tensile elongation at break, it is the measure of the ductility of a material, telling you how much a material could stretch without breaking. Higher elongation means higher ductility. Better elongation is important for parts which need to bend.


Impact Strength:


Impact strength can directly reflect the evaluation or judgment of a material ability to resist impact, referring to a material’s reaction to sudden impacts. Such tough material, like PC and Nylon, could absorb energy and plastically deform before it fractures. Briefly speaking, the material which is dropped on the floor without breaking is with high impact strength.



Thermal Deformation:


Which is also known as Heat deflection temperature, its value expresses the relationship between heat exposure and deformation, indicating whether a material is suitable for high temperature applications.


Tensile Strength:


Tensile strength is the ability of a material to withstand a pulling force. A high tensile material resists breakage under tension or pulling apart. The ability to resist breaking under tensile stress is one of the most important and widely measured properties of materials used in structural applications. Material such as polypropylene and ABS perform better in tensile strength.




Any material could deform slowly over a long period of time under stress. Few factors affect its durability, such as time, stress and temperature. Choosing a material with better durability is very important to those parts which need to withstand high stress or temperatures and keep their shape over time.

Besides above 6 factors, another important consideration for prototyping is transparency. Due to the limit of option, if you need to make a transparent part, I’m afraid you either make it with polycarbonate or acrylic. Polycarbonate is used more for a functional prototype, while acrylic would be more suitable if you want a better appearance. Even for most automotive lighting, the final products are usually injected with polycarbonate, but at prototyping stage, the parts are produced with acrylic due to better polish effect.


Material Attributes Application
ABS · Cosmetic appearance

· Dimension Stability

· Impact resistance

· Automotive

· Laboratory equipment

· Aircraft interior trims

· General Household

PC · Dimension stability

· Impact resistance

· Automotive headlamps

· Safety shields

· Medical apparatus

PMMA · Optical clarity

· Rigidity

· Automotive light covers

·  Clear bottles

·  Jewelry

PP · Chemical resistance

· Solvent resistance

· Appliance housing

· Food packaging

· Medical and Laboratory



· Chemical resistance · Gears

· Bearings

· Pump parts

NYLON · Rigidity

· Strength

· Temperature resistance

· Automotive parts

· Power tools

· Engineering parts

PEEK · Chemical resistance

· Sterilizability

· Stiffness

· Strength

· Aerospace

· Autmotive

· Semiconductor product

· OA parts

HDPE · Durability

· Impact resistant

· Stiffness

· Engineering parts

· Medical

· Shield

PVC · Chemical resistance

· Corrosion resistance

· Flame resistance

· Electronics

· Socket

· Construction

Aluminum · Corrosion resistance

· High strength-to-weight ratio

· Temperature resistance

· Powertrain

· Electronics

Magnesium · Dimensional stability

· Weight reduction

· Automotive

· Military

· Aerospace

Titanium · Corrosion resistance

· Strength

· Temperature resistance

· Weight reduction

· Engine compressor parts

· Military

Stainless Steel · Corrosion resistance

·  Crack resistance

· Automotive

· Component

Brass · Chemical resistance

· Ductility

· Strength

· Valve

·  Joined pipe

Copper · Corrosion resistance

· Electrical conductivity

· Electronics

· Transformer

Low Carbon Steel · Soft · Component


Urethane Casting

Urethane casting exceeds your expectations from rapid prototyping to short-run production. Especially for soft rubber parts, this could not be achieved by any additive manufacturing process or CNC milling. General speaking, the material for urethane casting is polyurethane, with different formula, the properties could be similar to ABS, PC, PMMA, RUBBER etc., which gives you more possibilities before going to mass production.

Material Simulates Properties
UPX5210 PMMA · High transparency

· Easy polishing

· High reproduction accuracy

·  Good UV resistance

PX 223 ABS · Temperature resistance above 120°C

· Good impact and flexural resistance

PX527 ABS · Good impact and flexural resistance

· Easily coloured

PX 245 POM · High flexural modulus of elasticity

· High reproduction accuracy

PX 330 FR ABS · Self- extinguishing

· Good thermal properties

UP 5690 PP / HDPE · High elongation

· High impact resistance, no breakable

Hei-Cast 8751 PC · Excellent transparency

· Low viscosity

Hei-Cast 8150 ABS · Superior dimensional stability
UPX 8400 Rubber · Hardness is easily adjusted from Shore A 90 to 20

· Low chemical attack


Axson and Hei-Cast are the 2 brands that WayKen mostly uses. UPX5210 and PX223 are most used for automotive industry, especially for automotive lighting. UPX5210 is an excellent choice due to its transparency and properties.

Besides above mentioned material, WayKen also provides special material such as PBT+30%GF, ULTEM, PPSU upon request.



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