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Everything You Need to Know Is in Our Comprehensive 3D Printing Filament Guide

If you’re a new to 3D printing, it can be confusing to know which 3D printing filament to use with the number of options to choose from. Each 3D printing filament has its own characteristics, purposes, and printing methods; Thus, you have to know the strengths and weaknesses of each filament in order to get an accurate 3D print.

To help you out, we have published an extensive 3D printing filament guide to help you out. Due to the extensive 3D printing filaments out in the market, we have classified them into three kinds: the standards or those that are commonly used; the fun stuff or those that are used by designers and hobbyists; and the professionals or those used in commercial and industrial settings.

The Standards

ABS

Printing Temperature: 210°C – 250°C
Bed Temperature: 80°C – 110°C

  • Pros: The second most popular 3D printing filament, ABS is characterized by its high durability and longevity against high temperatures.
  • Cons: High printing temperature, suffocating fumes, and tendency to warp while cooling.
  • Uses: Tool handles, phone cases, toys, wedding rings, sports equipment, bicycle helmets, automotive trim components, and LEGO bricks.

PLA

Printing Temperature: 190°C – 230°C
Bed Temperature:60°C – 80°C

  • Pros: PLA is the number one 3D printing filament due to its ease of printing, pleasant candy odor, and biodegradable nature.
  • Cons: Brittle and low threshold for high temperature.
  • Uses: Base material for recreational filaments, dissolvable medical implants, food containers, and prototype parts.

PETG (PET and PETT)

Printing Temperature: 230-255 °C (PET)/210°C – 230°C (PETT)
Bed Temperature: 55 °C-70 °C (PET)/45 °C (PETT)

  • Pros: PETG is a popular 3D printing filament. It is like a lovechild of PLA and ABS with improved durability and flexibility than PLA and easier to print than ABS. Another PET variant, PETT is famed for its transparency and more rigid than PETG.
  • Cons: Gets scratched easily, sticky during the printing process, and absorbent.
  • Uses: Food containers, electronics, mechanical parts, and phone cases.

Flexibles (TPE, TPC, and TPU)

Printing Temperature: 210°C – 230°C
Bed Temperature: 30°C – 60°C

  • Pros: These flexible filaments are commonly used for commercial applications. TPE is extremely durable and flexible. Another form of TPE, TPC is highly resistant to UV and chemical exposure and heat. TPU is a popular type of TPE, which is a bit more rigid and durable.
  • Cons: TPE is tough to extrude.
  • Uses: Phone cases, wearables, and toys.

Nylon

Printing Temperature: 210°C – 250°C
Bed Temperature: 60 °C-80 °C

  • Pros: Nylon is the best 3D printing filament in terms of flexibility, strength, dyeability, and durability.
  • Cons: Absorbent
  • Uses: Functional prototypes, mechanical parts, tools, and toys.

Polycarbonate

Printing Temperature: 270°C – 310°C
Bed Temperature: 90°C – 110°C

  • Pros: PC is the strongest 3D printing filament. It is also super durable, physical impact- and heat-resistant, transparent, and has a high melting point.
  • Cons: Moderately flexible and absorbent
  • Uses: Automotive, mechanical, and electrical components, screens, and lighting.

The Fun Stuff

Wood

Printing Temperature: 200°C – 260°C
Bed Temperature: 90°C-110°C

  • Pros: Since wood has different finishes, there are plenty of varieties of wood 3D printing filaments.
  • Cons: Less strength and flexibility.
  • Uses: Ornaments, architecture models, and trophies.

Biodegradables

  • Pros: These biodegradable 3D printing filaments are environmentally friendly. Even if your print doesn’t turn out the way you want it to, you can easily discard it without worrying about your waste footprint.
  • Cons: Average flexibility, endurance, and strength.
  • Uses: Prototypes

Metal

Printing Temperature: 195-220 °C
Bed Temperature: 50 °C

  • Pros: The metal 3D printing filaments have a metal feel, look, and weight to them. It also has several varieties, such as copper, aluminum, brass, stainless steel, and bronze.
  • Cons: Increased nozzle wear.
  • Uses: Tokens, toys, models, figurines, finishing components, grates, and tools.

Magnetic

Printing Temperature: 185 °C
Bed Temperature: 20 °C-55 °C

  • Pros: The magnetic 3D printing filament features a grainy gunmetal finish and magnetic stickiness.
  • Cons: It doesn’t actually act like magnets. It sticks to magnets, but have no magnetic fields of its own.
  • Uses: Toys, tools, and ornaments.

Conductive

Printing Temperature: 225°C-260 °C
Bed Temperature: 90 °C-110 °C

  • Pros: These conductive 3D printing filaments allow for low-voltage circuitry.
  • Uses: Touch sensor projects and low-voltage electronics, such as LEDs, Raspberry PI, gaming controllers, and digital keyboards.

Glow in the Dark

Printing Temperature: 185°C-205 °C
Bed Temperature: 70 °C

  • Pros: Glow-in-the-dark 3D printing filaments are fun to play with. Phosphorescent materials are infused with an ABS or PLA base, which then allows the mixture to absorb and emit photons.
  • Cons: Not soluble.
  • Uses: Novelty items, wearables, phone cases, toys, and decors.

Color-Changing

  • Pros: These 3D printing filaments change color based on changes in temperature. They normally change from one color to another.
  • Cons: Just for aesthetic use.
  • Uses: Toys, containers, wearables, and phone cases.

The Professionals

Carbon Fiber

Printing Temperature: 195°C-220 °C
Bed Temperature: 50 °C

  • Pros: Carbon fiber is lightweight, stiff and rigid.
  • Cons: Wreaks havoc on printer nozzles.
  • Uses: Mechanical parts for model planes and cars.

Polycarbonate ABS (PC-ABS)

Printing Temperature: 260°C
Bed Temperature: 100°C

  • Pros: A combination of polycarbonate and ABS, this “PC-ABS”https://www.×3d.com.au/store/product/52528-zortrax-z-pcabs-ivory-0-8kg/ compound is heat-resistant, strong, and flexible.
  • Cons: Complex printing process because it is absorbent and has a high printing and bed temperature.
  • Uses: Electronics, automobile, and telecommunication components.

Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)

Printing Temperature: 180°C – 230°C
Bed Temperature: 45 °C

  • Pros: PVA is soluble in water. It also works great as a support material for other 3D printing filaments when using a dual extrusion printer.
  • Cons: Difficult printing process and absorbent.
  • Uses: Fishing bait bag, dishwasher detergent pods, paper adhesive, feminine hygiene products, play putty, and packaging film.

High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS)

Printing Temperature: 220-230 °C
Bed Temperature: 50 °C-60 °C

  • Pros: HIPS don’t lie in terms of toughness and flexibility. It is also a good support material for ABS.
  • Cons: It can’t be used with other 3D printing filaments aside from ABS, as its limonene content can be damaging.
  • Uses: Protective packaging and containers, models, miniatures, costumes, and prototyping.

Wax

  • Pros: It allows you to produce outputs that are made of real metal by creating a wax mold.
  • Cons: Softer than other types of 3D printing filaments.
  • Uses: Mold for the investment casting method.

Polypropylene (PP)

  • Pros: This 3D printing filament is lightweight, flexible, and tough. It is food-safe and chemically resistant as well.
  • Cons: Difficult to print with due to its poor layer adhesion and heavy warping.
  • Uses: Bank notes, textiles, engineering plastics, and food packaging.

Acrylonitrile styrene acrylate (ASA)

  • Pros: An improved version of the ABS, ASA is rigid, strong, and easy to use. It is also resistant to heat, chemical exposure, and changes in color and shape.
  • Cons: Easily cracks when the fan is too windy.
  • Uses: Automotive components, garden gnomes, and birdhouses

Acetal

  • Pros: Acetal (also known as POM and Delrin) is characterized by its rigidity, strength, wear-resistance, and low friction coefficiency.
  • Cons: A print bed is a must when printing using this as the first layer is non-stick.
  • Uses: Engineering plastic parts, including zippers, bearings, gears, ad camera-focusing mechanisms.

Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)

  • Pros: PMMA is an alternative to glass. It is impact-resistant, transparent, and rigid.
  • Cons: Inflexible and difficult printing process.
  • Uses: Window pane and toys.

Flexible polyester (FPE)

Printing Temperature: 205-250°C
Bed Temperature: 75°C

Pros: A mixture of soft and rigid polymers, FPE is somewhat similar to PLA except that the former is softer and more flexible. It also displays moderately high resistance to heat and a variety of chemical compounds and good layer-to-layer adhesion.
Cons: Not for the 3D printing novices as it has different printing settings.

Ceramic

Pros: The only non-plastic 3D printing filament in this list, the clay ceramic is produced by baking a raw substance. It is recyclable, water-tight, and food-safe.
Cons: Can’t be used on just any 3D printer as it needs a specific 3D printer.
Uses: Statues, figurines, cups, and plates.

Cleaning

Pros: Cleaning filaments are meant to do just what their name suggests. They clean 3D printer extruders, removing leftover debris in the hot end. It comes in handy when transitioning between materials.
Uses: To clean 3D printer extruders.

Although it may be overwhelming at first, please know that you don’t have to purchase all these filaments in order to pursue 3D printing. If you need further help with choosing the perfect 3D printing filament for your project or any 3D printing-related questions, email x3d@x3d.com.au.