#1 Guide on 3D Printer Filament Types

3D filaments are materials used for 3D printing. 3D filaments come in different types and your filament choice might depend on the object that you are trying to build. If you want to learn the different types of 3D printer filaments on the market, their purposes and edges against each other you are on the right page. Read further to learn more about 3D filaments.

What is 3D Filament

3D filaments are plastic filaments that are used to make 3D prints. In 3D printing, the most popular filaments are ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) and PLA (Polylactic Acid). However, there are more filaments out there other than these two that you often read or hear. Check out the next passage to learn the different types of 3D filament on the market.

Types of 3D Printing Filament

Here’s a list of the different types of 3D printing filament that you can choose from:

ABS 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: nagaseamerica.com
IMG Source: nagaseamerica.com

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene a.k.a. ABS was the most popular 3D printer filament. In fact, it is used in a wide variety of applications due to its toughness and impact-resistance abilities. It is also strong and slightly flexible, which makes it a good material for 3D printing. In addition, ABS can be easily extruded, which makes it very easy to operate in 3D printing.

Print Temperature Range: 210°C – 250°C

Applications

ABS is ideal for moving parts, automotive parts, electronic housing, and toys. In fact, it is used in pipes, automotive components, electronic assemblies, protective headgear like bicycle helmets, music instruments, kitchen appliances, LEGO bricks and more.

Pros

IMG Source: www.progressiveinc.ca
IMG Source: http://www.progressiveinc.ca

ABS is very durable, strong, lightweight and slightly flexible, which makes it the top choice in the manufacturing industry. Aside from this, ABS is the cheapest thermoplastic on the market, which makes it the favorite material in the 3D printing communities.

Cons

Although ABS is the top choice in the 3D printing community, it has its own set of drawbacks. ABS is petroleum-based non-biodegradable plastic. It requires a high temperature to reach a melting point that usually ranges from 210°C – 250°C. It also contracts when cooled, making warps another concern. Aside from this, it creates mild fumes, which may irritate users or the people in the surrounding. Thus, it is recommended that when using ABS, you should install it in a well ventilated area.

There are several variants of ABS filament on the market, check it out here.

 

PLA 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: bigcommerce.com
IMG Source: bigcommerce.com

Polylactic acid or PLA is another popular filament that is often compared against ABS. PLA is biodegradable thermoplastic that is derived from renewable resources like cornstarch, sugar cane, tapioca roots and potato starch. This 3D printing filament is more environment friendly compared to other plastic materials. Due to this and its low-toxicity features, more and more prefer PLA over ABS and it is now the most popular 3D printing filament in the 3D printing community.

Unlike ABS, PLA filament doesn’t produce toxic stink during printing, so it is safer to use within the homes and classrooms. Moreover, the plastic doesn’t contract when cooling down, so there is no need for a heated bed for your 3D printer.

Print Temperature Range: 180°C – 230°C

Applications                                                                                                                            

PLA has the ability to degrade into inoffensive lactic acid in the body and due to this property, it is used in medical suturing and surgical implants. Surgically implanted screws, pins, rods or mesh naturally breaks down in the body within 6 months to 2 years.

Aside from this, PLA is considered safe. Thus, it is also used in food packaging, candy wrappers, disposable tableware, disposable garments, hygiene product and diapers to name a few.

Pros

IMG Source: voovo.co
IMG Source: voovo.co

PLA produces a sweet aroma that smells like waffles or candy when heated, making it better than ABS that produces fumes. Also, many find PLA the easiest material to work with, so this 3D printing filament will work well for beginners. In addition, it is less prone to warping compared to ABS. It is also available in most colors including translucent and glow-in-the dark variant.

Cons

PLA is better than ABS in several areas, but it is more prone to clogging or jamming the printer nozzle. In addition, this type of 3D filament attracts water molecules from the air, making it more brittle and at times, difficult to print. Water saturated PLA needs a higher extrusion temperature.

If you want to get a PLA 3D filament for your next project, you can get purchase it here.

PVA 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: gizmodorks.com
IMG Source: gizmodorks.com

Polylvinyl Alcohol better known as PVA is another great 3D filament. PVA is a special plastic that is water soluble. This type of filament is based on polyvinyl alcohol, so it has pretty good properties like being non-toxic and biodegradable. PVA is easy to print and they make a good support during a printing process for those models with overhangs that is impossible to print without a support.

Print Temperature Range: 180°C – 230°C

Applications

PVA are commonly used as a paper adhesive, thickener, packaging film, in feminine hygiene, adult incontinence products, in children’s play putty or slime. This material is also popular in freshwater sports fishing, where PVA bags filled with bait are thrown into the water. The bag rapidly dissolves and releases the bait to attract the fish.

Pros

IMG Source: rigid.ink
IMG Source: rigid.ink

PVA is non-toxic and biodegradable. It is soluble in water, has low flexibility and safe for food.

Cons

PVA is never easy to use because it attracts water so much. In addition, just like PLA, this 3D printing filament is also difficult to source and is quite costly compared to other materials.

If you need a PVA 3D printer filament, check it here.

PET 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: 3dprint.com
IMG Source: 3dprint.com

PolyEthylene Terephthalate or PET is another popular 3D filament from plastic bottles. This is a stable and harmless plastic. It does not produce any funky odors and is totally recyclable.PET filament in its original state is colorless and crystal clear. However, when exposed to heat or cold the material changes its transparency.

When you allow PET filament to cool down slowly after printing, it will have cyrstalline structure. PET has different versions, including PETG. This modification is a clear thermoplastic with a possibility to thermoform and mold the item after being printed. You can also polish this with flame.

Print Temperature Range: 220°C – 250°C

Applications: PET filament is ideal for packaging purposes because of its vapor barrier and strength. This 3D filament is often used in phone cases and mechanical parts that require flexibility and impact resistance.

Pros

IMG Source: 3dprintersuperstore.com.au
IMG Source: 3dprintersuperstore.com.au

PET is a nice and easy material for 3D printing because it is flexible. This 3D printing filament is more flexible than the widely popular materials ABS and PLA. In fact, it can cater with wide temperature range from 160c to 210C without any issues. Moreover, this 3D printer filament is hard and shockproof.

Cons

PET absorbs water from the air, so, it is recommended to store this properly.

If you want to get a PET 3D printer filament, you can purchase it here.

PETT 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: www.3ders.org
IMG Source: http://www.3ders.org

PolyEthylene coTrimethylene Terephthalate (PETT) marketed as T-Glase filament is another popular 3D printer filament. This material is colorless and water clear. It does not degrade to a color in multiple layers of applied thickness. This type of 3D printing filament is not biodegradable, but it is recyclable.

Print Temperature Range: 210°C – 230°C

Applications:

PETT is FDA approved polymers, making it safe for direct food contact. Most PETT applications include food containers like cups and utensils. Soda pop bottles are made of this material.

Pros

IMG Source: thingiverse.com
IMG Source: thingiverse.com

The best asset of PETT is its strength and biocompatibility. PETT is not brittle like PLA and it is neither prone to warp like ABS. This material is strong and flexible. It does not shrink, can be printed on glass without any glues, does not need a print cooling fan, does not absorb water or moisture from the air, and does not degrade in water. Moreover, this 3D printer filament is also FDA approved and is impressive in bridging. The prices for PETT are also coming down and some of its variants are already almost as cheap as ABS.

Cons

PETT is almost perfect when it comes to material, strength, durability, flexibility and maintenance. The only drawback of this 3D printer filament is the ease of use. PETT has a moderate printing difficulty, it requires fine-tuning of bed and nozzle temperature.

You can purchase your PETT filament here.

HIPS 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: 3dfizzr.wordpress.com
IMG Source: 3dfizzr.wordpress.com

High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) material is biodegradable and has a bright white color. It has no adverse effects when it comes in close contact with humans or pets. HIPS is very similar to ABS, only that it uses Limonene as a solvent. HIPS filament, just like PVA filament, is also a great 3D support material. In fact, HIPS would make a great support material when you print ABS with dual extrusion printer.

Print Temperature Range: 210°C – 250°C

Applications

HIPS filament’s specific application is not to fabricate the object itself. This 3D printer filament is popular as a secondary material in dual extrusion 3D printers to provide structural support to a complex object. HIP is well spread in the food industry for packaging. It is also used to pack CD disks and to produce medicinal tray.

Pros

IMG Source: LulzBot
IMG Source: LulzBot

HIPS 3D printer filament are as easy to 3D with as ABS but it is better in a way that it is much less likely to warp.

Cons

HIPS has curling and adhesion issues, so working with this material would be tricky, especially if you don’t have a heated bed.

If you need HIPS 3D printer filament, check it out here.

Nylon 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: drupa.com
IMG Source: drupa.com

Polyamide better known as Nylon is a popular synthetic polymer that is also used in many industrial applications. This 3D printer filament is a cost-effective plastic. It is strong, lightweight, flexible and wear-resistant. Nylon is a great choice for printing mechanical parts and functional parts due to its strength and high melting temperature.

Print Temperature Range: 210°C – 250°C

Applications

Due to Nylon’s strength, durability and flexibility are it used in a variety of applications. This material is ideal for machine parts, mechanical components, structural parts, gears and bearings, dynamic load, containers, tools, consumer products and toys.

Pros

IMG Source: Richard Horne
IMG Source: Richard Horne

The primary strength of this material is its high strength, durability, and flexibility. It is also less brittle than PLA or ABS. Moreover, Nylon is 100% thermoplastic. You can re-melt it and use it again and again without loosing its bonding properties.

Cons

Although having a high melting temperature is an advantage in some applications, it can also be a drawback at the same time. Nylon has a very high melting temperature of at least 240c. This is a problem because some hot-ends contain materials like PEEK and PTFE, which when heated will break down and emit toxic fumes.

Another weak spot about Nylon is its sensitivity to moisture. It can absorb moisture easily. In fact, it can absorb over 10% of its weight in just 24 hours, which is quite bad. So, you have to be very discreet when storing this. You must keep it dry for good prints by storing it in a sealed container with moisture remover or silica gel packets. Another issue with Nylon is adhesion.

If you need a Nylon 3D printer filament, worry no more because you can purchase it here.

Wood 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: all3dp.com
IMG Source: all3dp.com

If you are tired of producing plastics and want to see something new in your next 3D printing project, you can unleash your creativity with wood-like outputs by using FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) filament also known as Wood Filament.

Wood Filament contains a mixture of recycling wood with binding polymer. Thus, helping you produce a 3D object that looks and smells like wood. Due to its wooden nature, it’s difficult to tell that the object is 3D printed. Using Wood filament is similar to using a thermoplastic filament like ABS and PLA. However, with this material, you get this unrepeatable wooden-like appearance. When using this 3D printer filament, the temperature should be between175C and 250C.

Print Temperature Range: 195°C – 220°C

Applications

Wood filaments are often used in decors or materials that you want to achieve with a wooden nature. You can use it to print a wooden box, wooden figurine, tables, chairs, cups or the likes.

Pros

IMG Source: 3dprint.com
IMG Source: 3dprint.com

Wood filaments contain real wood fibers, so when printing objects with different temperature you can produce different shades of brown wooden-like surfaces. The higher the temperature when printing, the darker brown shade you will get. When you change the printing temperature during processing of your item, it will stimulate a tree’s growth ring effect, giving your product the same impression of the original wooden products. Moreover, it can be decorated and post-processed like other wooden objects. For instance, you can cut, grind and paint it.

Cons

Although producing wooden-like 3D prints are beautiful, there are some serious drawbacks in it. Wood filaments are softer and weaker compared to PLA. Your object will be subject to reduced flexibility and tensile length so it might break easily.

If you still wish to use a Wooden filament for your next 3D printing project, you can get it here.

Sandstone 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: makerstoolworks.com
IMG Source: makerstoolworks.com

Sandstone 3D printer filament is another great material that will give you a unique output. This material combines fine chalk powder with PLA to provide you the color and texture similar to a stone. With Sandstone 3D printer filament, you can produce different surface characteristics either smooth or rough by changing the extrusion temperature while 3D printing.

Print Temperature Range: 165°C – 210°C

Applications

This 3D printer is ideal for architectural, museum or landscape display and structural parts.

Pros

IMG Source: all3dp.com
IMG Source: all3dp.com

Among the benefits of sandstone filament are its unique sandstone finish and appearance. Apart from this, it does not require a heated bed and does not shrink during cooling, saving you from warp issues.

Cons

Sandstone 3D printer filament is designed for aesthetic. It exists to satisfy those who want to get a sandstone finish for their 3D printing objects. It also comes with several drawbacks. Sandstone 3D printer filaments are not durable and less flexible. It is also brittle and prone to snapping and breaking. Moreover, this material is not food safe.

Metal 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: smartprinting.co
IMG Source: smartprinting.co

Another interesting 3D printer filament that you should try is Metal PLA. This material is a category of PLA combined with actual metallic powder. By using this type of filament you will produce 3D printed materials that look and feel like there were made of bronze, brass or copper.

Print Temperature Range: 195°C – 220°C

Applications

Since metal PLA produce metal-like outputs, this 3D printer material works great for jewelry, statues, home hardware and artifact replicas.

Pros

IMG Source: 3dprint.com
IMG Source: 3dprint.com

Wood, sandstone and metal 3D printing filaments all produced objects that look naturally wooden, sandstone and metallic. However, unlike wood and sandstone 3D printer filaments, metal 3D printer filaments are highly durable, not soluble and has only very little shrinkage during cooling.

Cons

Although Metal PLA is great it also comes with a set of drawbacks. The difficulty of 3D printing with this filament is high because it requires fine-tuning of nozzle temperature, flow rate, and post-processing.

If you want a Metal PLA filament for your next 3D printing, you can get it here.

Magnetic Iron PLA 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: matterhackers.com
IMG Source: matterhackers.com

Magnetic Iron PLA is another great 3D printer filament that you will surely enjoy. This will be helpful if you want to 3D print magnet-like objects. This filament is just like magnets, it strongly attracts to magnets like neodymium iron boron (NdFeB) or samarium cobalt (SmCo) magnets. It has iron contents and is packed in a vacuum-sealed bag with a desiccant pack.

Print Temperature Range: 195°C – 220°C

Applications

This type of 3D printer filament is great for decors such as fridge magnets and the likes. This is also used to make sensors, actuators, magnetic stirrers, and educational and DIY projects.

Pros

IMG Source: lulzbot.com
IMG Source: lulzbot.com

One of the assets of magnetic 3D printer filament is its durability. Also, it is not soluble and has very little shrinkage during cooling.

Cons

Although magnet 3D printer filament is great, it has several weak spots. For instance, it is difficult to use in 3D printing, as it requires fine-tuning of nozzle temperature, flow rate, and post-processing. This 3D printer filament is not that flexible and depends on the structural design. You will need a heated bed for this. In addition, the material is not food safe and expensive.

If you need a magnetic filament, you can get it here.

Conductive PLA

IMG Source: 3dprinting.com
IMG Source: 3dprinting.com

Conductive PLA 3D printer filament opens up new opportunities for your next 3D printing project. This material includes a conductive carbon particulate to allow you to 3D print low-voltage electronic circuits for simple items like LEDs and sensors. You can couple this 3D printer filament with a standard PLA filament on a dual-extrusion machine to fabricate a basic circuit board straight from the print bed.

Print Temperature Range: 215°C – 230°C

Applications

This 3D printer filament is ideal for LEDs, sensors, circuits and low-voltage Arduino projects.

Pros

IMG Source: vexmatech.com
IMG Source: vexmatech.com

Allows you to 3D print low-voltage electronic circuits. It is not soluble and does not require a heated bed. However, for better results you can also use a heated bed.

Con

Although Conductive PLA 3D printer filament is very useful in its own terms, it is not durable and not so flexible. Bending the material repeatedly might break it. It also shrinks during cooling and not safe with food. In addition, the Conductive PLA 3D filament printer is a bit pricey.

If you need a Conductive PLA 3D filament printer, you can check it here.

Carbon Fiber 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: 3dprinting-blog.com
IMG Source: 3dprinting-blog.com

Carbon Fiber PLA contains small chopped carbon fiber strands. It offers impressive rigidity, structure, and layer adhesion. Processing this filament is comparable to a standard PLA. However, it has stiffer PLA with better dimensional stability for warp-free printing, excellent layer adhesion, and easy support removal.

Print Temperature Range: 195°C – 220°C

Application

This 3D printer filament is ideal for mechanical parts, protective casings, shells and high durability applications.

Pros

IMG Source: geeky-gadgets.com
IMG Source: geeky-gadgets.com

In most cases, Carbon Fiber PLA 3D printer filament prints really well. Moreover, this material is very durable and soluble. It also does not require a heated bed. It has very little shrinkage during cooling and does not warp.

Cons

The most common complaint about this material is it superior abrasiveness. Carbon Fiber PLA 3D printer filament is made of abrasive materials, which when finely ground may increase the wear and tear on your printer nozzle, especially if you have soft metal like brass nozzle. Your printer nozzle should be made or coated with a harder material. Otherwise, you have to replace it after prolonged use.

If you need a Carbon Fiber PLA filament, get one here.

Flexible/TPE 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: filaments.ca
IMG Source: filaments.ca

Every type of 3D printer filament has its own strengths and when it comes to flexibility, nothing would beat Flexible / TPE 3D printer filament. This item is made of thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) that make it super stretchable. The TPE material has high elastic characteristics that it feels like rubber. It bounces back and forth into shape. This material is good for FDM printers and can be used for ABS and PLA filaments. In addition, it can withstand tough environments that ABS and PLA can’t.

Print Temperature Range: 225°C – 235°C

Applications

Due to its extreme flexibility, Flexible/TPE finds a large application in the automotive and household appliance sector. It is also ideal for toys, novelty items, wearable, phone cases, and visual products.

Pros

IMG Source: matterhackers.com
IMG Source: matterhackers.com

This material has high elasticity and excellent abrasion resistance. It also comes with a consistent diameter, smooth feeding properties, and filaments that easily stick to build platform and bonds between layers allowing you to print high-quality objects. Aside from its high flexibility, Flexible 3D printer filament is also durable, has low shrinkage during cooling and does not require a heated bed.

Cons

TPE also comes with a few disadvantages. 3D printing with this material is very difficult. It requires fine-tuning of nozzle temperature and flow rate. Aside from this, the material itself has a frustrating tendency to squeeze out of your extruder in all directions except the nozzle.

 

Glow In The Dark

IMG Source: 3ders.org
IMG Source: 3ders.org

As the name suggests, this 3D printer filament glows in the dark. It is designed to glow brightly for an extended amount of time. However, you need to charge the object or exposed it to a light source to allow it to emit light. The Glow in the dark filament is a good choice for projects with a Halloween theme. Since this is a type of PLA and PLA is biodegradable and environmentally friendly, this is safe for everyone, including children.

Print Temperature Range: 215°C

Applications

This material is great for children’s toys, novelty items, wearables, phone cases or visual products. Glow in the dark 3D printer filament is also among the favorite materials for budding artists who want to bring a new dimension of arts in 3D printing.

You can also use this filament to print Glow in the dark light switches, so you can easily find the switch in the dark. This will also be a great material to design light-shades that will continue to glow after you turned off the lights to allow your children for an easy transition to sleeping at night.

Pros

IMG Source: 3ders.org
IMG Source: 3ders.org

Although Glow in the dark 3D printer filament seems to be designed for fun, it goes beyond that. This material is durable, not soluble and has low shrinkage during cooling. It does not require heated bed as well. Since this material is similar to the standard PLA, printing with this filament is easy.

Cons

Although this material is made from non-toxic, renewable resources, it is not food safe.

If you want to use a Glow in the dark PLA 3D printer filament for your next project, you can purchase it here.

Amphora 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: amazon.com
IMG Source: amazon.com

This material is a fancy 3D printer filament developed by the Eastman Chemical Company. It is an entirely new polymer than is specially designed for 3D printing unlike other categories of thermoplastic that are just repurposed for 3D printing. Although the difference is minimal it is important. This material will help you produce glossy, opaque, and bright object.

Print Temperature Range: 220°C – 250°C

Applications

Amphora is stiff, lightweight and impact resistance, making it ideal for mechanical parts.

Pros

IMG Source: 3ders.org
IMG Source: 3ders.org

One of the benefits of Amphora is that it produces little to no odors during printing. It also also very strong, has a higher melting point than PLA and has better layer adhesion for improved surface finish. Amphora also performs better when bridging gaps, has cleaner overhangs and has little to no warps. This material is also US FDA-approved for food contact.

Cons

Printing difficulty with amphora is not as easy as ABS or PLA. The process is moderately difficult because it requires fine-tuning of bed and nozzle temperature.

How To Choose The Right 3D Printer Filament

With all the different types of 3D printer filament on the market, choosing the best one will surely be challenging. However, to help you decide how to determine the best material for your next project, here are some tips for you.

IMG Source: 3dprint.com
IMG Source: 3dprint.com
  1. What are you building – If you want to build a glow in the dark object, you can go for Glow in the dark PLA 3D printer filament. If you want to produce wooden decors or objects, then get a Wood PLA filament. If you want sandstone, metallic or magnetic object, get the appropriate filament for each project. In cases, where you can’t choose between ABS and PLA, then you should examine your priority. Do you want a safer product or a cheaper material? Which do you prefer, the strength and flexibility of ABS or the wide range of available colors, translucencies and glossy feel of PLA? Decide for yourself.
  2. Diameter – 3D printer filament comes with different diameters. There are 3mm and 1.75mm. Between the two, 1.75mm is better. It is more common in the market and rotates out of the inventory faster, so you can expect to get a new material when you buy it. It also offers better extruding, retraction and flow of plastic. Regardless of the size you choose, the diameter should be consistent and round throughout.
  3. Moisture is another common issue concerning 3D printer filament. This problem is due to poor packaging or due to long exposure outside of the packaging. Plastic absorbs moisture from the atmosphere relative to the humidity and duration of exposure. You will notice this in the filament when it has splatter and spiting at the hot-end due to water very quickly turning to tiny expanding pockets of steam.
  4. Impurities – This is a major issue when selecting a 3D printer filament. Chemical impurities will turn your 3D printing experience into a nightmare. It leads to poor melted plastic viscocity with debris plugging up the extruder nozzle. This will cost you money and time. In addition, you have to clean the extruder. In view of this, don’t go for cheap There is a direct correlation between cheap filament and plugged nozzles. Save yourself from troubles and headaches by investing in a well-rated and decently priced filament.

 

Have you decided what 3D printer filament to get for your next project? Are you interested to try those materials you haven’t tried yet? If you have additional inputs, feel free to add it.

The post #1 Guide on 3D Printer Filament Types appeared first on All That 3D.

from All That 3D https://www.allthat3d.com/3d-printer-filament/

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