New Report Published on Threaded Inserts for 3D Printed Products

Leading 3D printing specialists, 3D People has published a report on the mechanical performance of threaded inserts to further support engineers throughout the design process.

Designers commonly use threaded inserts to optimise the repeatability, consistency and reliability of fastening elements within 3D printed parts. They help increase the lifetime of a product thanks to their durability, which enables repeated screwing and unscrewing of bolts without adversely affecting the component. And because inserts are available in metric thread sizes, they are compatible with off-the-shelf components, which reduces the time needed to prepare 3D files with threads.

3D People co-founder, Felix Manley said: “Our aim is to make 3D printing more accessible as a manufacturing process for end-use parts. Diving deeper into the use of fastening elements with our research was a logical step in helping engineers and designers improve their knowledge of the standardisation, integration and assembly of 3D printed products.”


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Threaded inserts performance


The study tested inserts with different metric designations in the 3D printed plastic materials the company offers. The pull, torque strength, and robustness of the inserts were measured using PA12 Nylon, Onyx, PLA and PETg and metric threads (M2 M2.5 M3 M4). The pull strength was tested using anchor testing equipment by measuring the axial force required to pull the insert out of the plastic component. To indicate the reliability of threaded inserts undergoing repeated loading over time, their robustness was measured by loading and unloading an installed insert. Torque strength was calculated by analysing the twisting force needed to break the insert out of position.



The findings


The study concluded that PLA (FDM) had the highest pull strength of all materials for all thread sizes, failing with a shear due to the brittle properties of the material. The other materials (PA12 Nylon, Onyx and PETg) are more ductile and durable, making them more suitable for end-use components. However, these properties allow the material to flex around the helical gear recesses, and the inserts pull out with less force. Generally, high performing left and right helical inserts demonstrated high performance in pull testing, insert robustness and torque strength testing.

Sasha Bruml, co-founder, added: “Knowing the limitations of a fastening element is essential for the designer to ensure their product will function within the parameters of their application. Our report informs the designer of the performance they should expect to see when incorporating threaded inserts into 3D printed products.”


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