Stiff and strong materials:A beginner's guide

A material’s strength refers to the maximum stress it can be put under before its failure. Its stiffness refers to how much it will deform when pulled or bent. Materials with high stiffness often also have high strength. In the Ultimaker portfolio, this includes materials such as PLA, Tough PLA, and PC.

Why are stiffness and strength important?

Stiffness is an extremely important material quality. This knowledge enables you to choose from very flexible materials such as TPU and PP, and very stiff materials, such as PLA and PC. Strength, meanwhile, is important in knowing which materials should be able to bear a sufficient load for your application. 

Ford uses stiff and strong 3D printing materials to create tools, jigs, and fixtures for use on its assembly lines

Common uses of stiff and strong materials

Stiff and strong materials – especially composites – can be used to create jigs and fixtures materials that can potentially replace those created via CNC out of materials such as aluminum and other “weaker” metals.

What else should you know?

Strength is measured in MPa. An MPa, or megapascal, equals one million pascals (Pa). A pascal – the standard unit used to quantify internal pressure – is one newton of force per square meter.

Stiffness is measured in GPa. A GPa, or gigapascal, equals one billion pascals.

Orientation matters. Orientation of your part is important, as fiber reinforcement of a composite material will only work on the XY (flat) plane. In the Z direction, however, the strength comes only from the polymer – not the the fibers. The Teton Smart Slicer plugin for Ultimaker Cura is a great way to help correctly orient your print. It will be available as part of Ultimaker Essentials.

“Teton’s Smart Slice brings engineering-grade part simulation to Ultimaker Cura as an exclusive marketplace plugin for Ultimaker Essentials users. Using the integration options of our open and pluggable platform, it will make sure parts still meet their engineering criteria, but need less material and therefore saving valuable time and costs,” Paul Heijmans, Senior VP Software at Ultimaker, said. “The cooperation with Teton and the integration of their innovative solution are a prime example of how we will be continuously adding value for our professional customers.”

Our stiff and strong material partners DSM

DSM Novamid 1030 CF 10 can print parts with properties close to what is achievable through injection molding – at the same speed as unreinforced plastics. 

“Novamid ID1030-CF10 will allow for printing with a carbon fibre like it is an unfilled Polyamide. The addition of the carbon fibre will open up a broad range of applications. Allowing for the engineer to design for strength, design robust parts,” Danielle Glasbergen-Benning, Application Development Specialist Sports & Lifestyle at DSM Additive Manufacturing, said. “To use their structural parts in applications, at elevated temperatures in the industry of automotive, electronics to orthotics & prosthetics, as well as being able to bring additive manufacturing to the work floor in industries such as manufacturing.”


LUVOCOM® 3F PET CF 9780 BK is the easiest carbon fiber-filled PET material to print on the market, with excellent mechanical properties, including high Z-layer strength.

LUVOCOM 3F PAHT® CF 9891 BK is a high-temperature, carbon fiber-reinforced, polyamide-based material. It provides high strength, stiffness, and minimized water uptake.

A customized multipurpose jig printed

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