Choosing the best 3D printing filament is essential once you start 3D printing. The choice of the right filament must be based on an informed decision.
When choosing a filament, you might have to consider a few factors, for example, how strong should your printed part be? In terms of accuracy and precision, what do you want? What level of flexibility do you need for your product? And so on. Here are a few common 3d printing filaments that you may find helpful for choosing the right one for your project.
3d printing products utilizing PLA are highly popular with consumers. In general, it is a very popular 3D printing filament. It comes in a variety of colors. Additionally, the material does not warp easily and is biodegradable.
● Easily printable
● Available in translucent and glow-in-the-dark colors
● Has a pleasing, sweet smell
● sometimes jams or clogs the printer nozzle
Polylactic acid is a common material for prototype parts, medical implants, food containers, low-wear toys, etc.
A popular 3D printing filament, ABS has high impact resistance and toughness. It is an excellent material for extrusion since it is flexible and strong.
● Durable and lightweight
● Suitable for both professionals and beginners
● Unpleasant fumes
● Highly flammable Since it is petroleum-based, it is not biodegradable
● Warps easily
● Melts under high temperatures
ABS is most commonly used in toys, electronic components, and moving parts. Additionally, it is used in bicycle helmets, automotive components, wedding rings, phone cases, and car phone mounts.
PETT (PETG, PET)
A common plastic type is PET (polyethylene terephthalate). This type of plastic is often used in food containers and plastic bottles. It is PETG, a variant of PET, that is used for 3d printing. Here, ‘G’ stands for ‘glycol-modified.’ This modification makes the filament easier to print and less brittle.
● Flexible and strong
● with high impact and temperature resistance
● Easily printable
● The product is hygroscopic (absorbs moisture from the air, so proper storage is necessary)
● The surface can be easily scratched.
In addition to phone cases, electronics, mechanical components, jewelry, and protective components, PET is also widely used in other items.
Plastics made of polyvinyl alcohol are biodegradable and non-toxic. PVA is not only easily 3d printed, but it also works well as a support material during 3d printing.
● Non-toxic and biodegradable
● Easily printable
● Material that is relatively expensive compared to other materials
● Not easily available
● Hygroscopic (absorbs moisture from the air)
PVA is commonly found in packaging films, paper adhesive thickeners, and children’s toys.
Plastics with rubber-like properties are thermoplastic elastomers (TPE). This makes them durable and flexible. Physical stress can be absorbed by TPE, since it is both stretchable and soft. It has the ability to withstand a considerable amount of wear as well as bending, compression, and stretching.
● High flexibility
● Good bending and compression resistance
● Slow print speed
● Not easy to print
It is actually PLA infused with wood fiber that is used in wood filaments. Combining these two allows you to print objects that feel and look like wood. It is possible to use willow, ebony, pine, birch, and so on, as PLA wood. Wood filaments can be used to make parts that are aesthetically superior to other materials, but they have lower strength and flexibility. In order to avoid damaging or burning wood, you’ll need to be cautious about the temperature. The nozzle of your printer can also wear down if the filament is wood.
In some cases, wood is better used with objects that are meant for good looks rather than complex functions. With wood filament, you can print decorations for tables, shelves, and desks. This filament can also be used to create scale models.
● Stunningly beautiful. Suitable for models
● for cutting and painting
● Weaker in strength
● Less flexibility
● The nozzle is more likely to wear out
Bulky and lustrous models can be created using metal filament. A metal filament is made from a mixture of ABS/PLA and metal powder. Because metal blends are denser than PLA and ABS, the final model weighs and looks like pure metal.
Depending on your commercial needs, you may be able to find filaments made with brass, aluminum, copper, bronze, and stainless steel. Metallic powder grains can degrade your nozzle’s efficiency, as they are also abrasive. If you want visual appeal and functionality, metal filaments are a great choice. Metallic filament is suitable for manufacturing tools, toys, models, and finishing components.
● Visual appeal, metallic look, and finish
● Minimal shrinkage and warping when cooled
● Too abrasive for nozzles
● Not easy to print
One of the most popular filaments for 3d printing is nylon, which is used in many industrial components. In terms of strength, durability, and flexibility, nylon makes sense as a material for 3D printing.
Another unique feature about nylon is its ability to be dyed before or after printing. Because of its strength and durability, Nylon is a great material to use when creating prototypes, tools, gears, buckles, hinges, etc.
● Flexibility, durability, and strength
● Can be used after remelting
● Less brittle than ABS and PLA
● When heated can emit toxic fumes
● High temperatures required for printing
Electrical current can flow through conducting filaments, making them unique in their ability to conduct electricity. PLA and ABS filaments with conductive carbon particles are called conductive filaments. Small electronic projects work well with these filaments. For instance, this filament is commonly used in digital keyboards, circuit boards, and gaming controllers.
● It does not require a heated bed
● Useful for projects involving electronics
● Warps/shrinks during cooling
● Not flexible
● Not durable
A large portion of the materials used in this industry consist of plastic. Clay is a very popular non-plastic option. Copper and clay are typically used to make clay filaments. Faux pottery is often made with this extremely brittle filament. This material can be used to print items that need to look like they are handmade.
● It has properties similar to clay.
● Can be fired in a kiln
● Parts can shrink/warp during cooling
A magnetic filament is created by mixing powdered iron with PLA or ABS. This material is ferromagnetically attracted to magnetic objects. There is also a gunmetal finish on the material. With this material, you can print toys and tools.
● Aesthetically appealing
● Strong and durable
● Will adhere to magnets
● Post-processing is a very specific process
● Needs a heated bed
The carbon fiber filament is made by reinforcing ABS, PLA, etc. with carbon fiber. It is relatively lightweight, rigid, and stiff. Printing carbon fiber materials frequently can wear down your printer’s nozzle since carbon fiber is widely used in structural applications.
Carbon fiber filaments can be printed in large quantities because of their low density and high structural strength.
● Enhanced structural properties
● Less shrinkage upon cooling
● It causes wear and tear on the printer’s nozzle.
Often used in plastic parts that require high precision, Acetal is also known as POM (polyoxymethylene). Zippers, gears, bearings, and camera focusing mechanisms can also be made of Acetal. Acetal is highly preferred in these applications due to its strength and rigidity. Moreover, its low coefficient of friction makes it desirable as a 3D printing material. When toughness and low friction are required in parts, Acetal is a good material to use.
● High strength and rigidity
● Resistant to chemicals and heat
● Perfect for functional uses
● The temperature of the print bed must be high.
● Adhesion of the first layer is difficult.
There are many uses for polypropylene (PP) because of its many favorable properties. In addition to being chemically resistant, the material is lightweight, flexible, and tough. These materials are frequently used in the textile, engineering plastic, and food packaging industries.
A problem with PP is that it is not a very user-friendly material for 3d printing. Warping and poor layer adhesion are common problems. Despite having some of the best chemical and structural properties, PP falls short of ABS and PLA. As a general rule, PP is best used for printing lightweight and strong materials.
- High strength and durability
- Resistant to chemicals
- Poor layer adhesion
- Not easy to print
- Can warp considerably
An investment casting material is wax. Metals such as tin, brass, and bronze can be represented using wax filaments. Compared to most other filaments, wax is softer. The extruder, however, needs some modification. Additionally, an adhesive may need to be applied to the print bed.
- Makes molds from your printer
- Limited applications
- require modification to your printer
Acrylonitrile styrene acrylate is often considered as a weather-resistant material. This filament is easy to print and relatively rigid and strong. In addition to its chemical resistance, ASA is also resistant to heat and chemicals. When exposed to heat and sunlight, ASA models do not denature and turn yellow like ABS models.
- Compared to ABS, it warps less
- Ideal for automotive parts
- Can crack during printing
The properties of HIPS (high impact polystyrene) combine the elasticity of rubber with the hardness of polystyrene. Often, it is used to produce protective packaging as it is a copolymer. Support materials are typically printed by using HIPS materials when printing 3D models. Overhang materials are held in place by supports.
- Stronger than PLA/ABS
- Less shrinkage/warping than ABS
- Can be painted easily
- Can only be used with ABS
- It has adhesion and curling problems