Which material is suitable for which additively manufactured application?

3D printing materials test: Polyamide PA12 (SLS) versus PA 11 (SAF)

Choosing the right 3D printing material for a project is often not easy. In the following blog-post you will find a comparison of polyamide 11 from the new additive manufacturing technology SAF with PA12 from SLS printing, which has been the most used material so far.

3D-Druck Bauteil Material PA11 und Material PA12

The polyamides PA11 and PA12 have similar properties. The plastics are robust and feature high strength and toughness, as well as excellent sliding and wear behaviour. PA11, which is derived from castor oil, is a more environmentally friendly 3D printing material than the conventionally produced PA12 plastic. PA11 also exhibits even better mechanical properties than PA12, which has been more commonly used in 3D printing. The ductility is higher and the impact strength (notched impact strength) as well as the abrasion and fatigue strengths are improved. In addition, the chemical resistance is stronger and the material has a higher isotropy. This stems from the fact that PA11 was explicitly developed to make additive manufacturing more economical, both compared to previous 3D printing processes and to conventional injection moulding. The polyamide PA11 is thus perfectly suited for use in mechanical engineering, among other things.

Picture right: PA 11 grey component, PA 12 white component

Prices of PA 11 and PA 12 components in comparison


If you compare the prices for a component made of the two plastics, series components with PA11 from the additive manufacturing technology Selective Absorption Fusion (SAF) are significantly cheaper, up to 30% depending on the design and number of parts. Single pieces or very small series, however, are cheaper with the material PA12 from Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printing. In this respect, depending on the intended use and required properties, it is also worth paying attention to this aspect.


For which applications are the 3D printing materials PA11 and PA12 suitable?

PA 12:

  • Prototypes
  • Mechanical engineering components such as hinges, gear wheels etc.
  • Applications in the food industry


PA 11:

  • Series components
  • Components with permanently moving components such as hinges
  • Automotive: Crash-relevant components in the interior (PA11 does not splinter)
  • Components with thin walls and grid structures

Comparison of the mechanical properties of SAF PA11 and SLS PA12





0.99 g/cm3

0.95 g/cm3

Tensile strength

48 MPa

48 MPa

Impact resistance (Izod notched)


4.4 J/m


1.60 Gpa

1.65 Gpa

Flexural strength


41 Mpa

Flexural modulus


1.5 Gpa

Heat deflection temperature @ 0.45 MPa

185 °C (ASTM D648)

180 °C (ASTM D648)

Elongation at break

45 %

20 %

Shore Hardness

75 D

75 D

What is the chemical difference between the polyamides PA12 and PA11?

The two polymers PA 11 and PA 12 are chemically very similar. The difference lies in the number of carbon atoms in the polymer backbone. PA11 has eleven of them, as the name suggests, and PA12 has twelve. The different number of atoms is the reason for the different properties. Moreover, PA12 is a chemically produced material, whereas PA11 is a bioplastic polyamide powder obtained from renewable castor oil (vegetable oil).


Do you still have questions about the application of these plastics?


If, despite the description, you still have questions about which material is more suitable, please contact one of our Solution Partners, we will be happy to advise you.

PS: The new material wizard on the platform is available to help you select the right material based on properties!

Your Jellypipe

Would you like to order a component directly?

View prices/delivery times for a part in PA11 / PA12:

Click on the link "Partner-Store", select a store on the corresponding page (your choice has no influence on the assortment), register and upload your 3D print file. Prices and delivery times will be displayed immediately:

Get advice:

Click on the link "Advice", select a partner and call or write an e-mail (your choice has no influence on the assortment, etc.).


Markus Grimm
Chief Virtual Printfactory

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