PA11 vs PA12 – one atom different

Victoria Malmgren3D-printer, Material2 Comments

One atom separates PA11 from PA12, but what are the differences between properties?

SLS 3D printing technology uses semi-crystalline polymers (plastics). Wematter’s printers primarily use polyamide (nylon), a plastic that was originally developed to produce the classic nylon stocking. The material’s applications increased over time, and, today, it is used in millions of products worldwide.

The two materials that dominate SLS technology are polyamide 11 (PA11) and polyamide 12 (PA12). One atom separates the materials. This one atom gives the materials very different properties, especially when looking at formability and impact strength. Let’s take a closer look at this.

Technical end products or functional prototypes

Although both materials are basically plastics, they are developed in different ways. PA11 is made entirely from vegetable oils, which in its development has had minimal impact on the environment, while PA12 is made from crude oil, which has a higher environmental impact.

Nylon 11 has, for most applications, superior mechanical performance in comparison to PA12. PA11 can, among other things, withstand more stretching and is generally stronger than PA12. PA11 is thus used for engineering end products; PA12 is often found in functional prototypes, where resistance is more important than durability. Fats, oils, and solvents are examples of environments in which a prototype’s resistance is critical.

When it comes to the final product, the biggest difference in materials is in formability, impact strength, and resistance to abrasion and fatigue. These criteria become decisive when selecting materials for the manufacture of parts for production, and PA11 wins out over PA12. 


In conclusion, the atom that separates the materials from each other gives different end results. As a manufacturer, you ultimately decide which material is best suited for your purpose during 3D printing production. We hope that this text can help you a bit in your decision. 

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2 Comments on “PA11 vs PA12 – one atom different”

  1. Pingback: SLS and FFF (also known as FDM), a comparison. -

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