February 24, 2018

3D Printer Filament Common As They Go



PLA 3D printer filament has a lower printing temperature than ABS, and it doesn’t warp as easily, meaning it doesn’t require a heating bed (although it definitely helps).
Another benefit to using PLA is that it doesn’t give off an evil smell during printing. This filament is considered an odourless filament,
Finally, as a biodegradable thermoplastic, PLA is more environmentally friendly than most 3D printer filament types.This is made from annually renewable resources such as corn starch or sugar cane.

3D Printer Filament Properties: PLA

  • Strength: High | Flexibility: Low | Durability: Medium
  • Difficulty to use: Low
  • Print temperature: 180°C – 230°C
  • Print bed temperature: 20°C – 60°C (but not needed)
  • Shrinkage/warping: Minimal
  • Soluble: No
  • Food safety: Refer to manufacturer guidelines


When should I use PLA 3D printer filament?

Compared to any other 3D printer filament types, PLA is brittle, so avoid using it when making items that may be bent, twisted, or dropped repeatedly, such as phone cases, high-wear toys, or tool handles. You should also avoid using it with items that need higher temperatures, as PLA tends to malform around temperatures of 60°C or higher.





ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is actually moderately superior to PLA, despite being slightly more difficult to print with. Products made of ABS boast high durability and a capacity to withstand high temperatures.

Keep in mind the filament’s high printing temperature has a tendency to warp during cooling, and intense fumes. If you are using this type of filament it need to print with a heating bed, and in a well-ventilated space.


3D Printer Filament Properties: ABS

  • Strength: High | Flexibility: Medium | Durability: High
  • Difficulty to use: Medium
  • Print temperature: 210°C – 250°C
  • Print bed temperature: 80°C – 110°C
  • Shrinkage/warping: Considerable
  • Soluble: In esters, ketones, and acetone
  • Food safety: Not food safe

When should I use ABS

ABS is tough able to withstand high stress and temperature. It’s also moderately flexible. Together these properties make ABS a good general-purpose 3D printer filament, but where it really shines is with items that are frequently handled, dropped, or heated.





PETG is best known as the polymer used in water bottles, it is also found in clothing fibres and food containers.

‘G’ in PETG stands for “glycol-modified”, this makes the filament more clearer, less brittle, and most importantly it is more easier to use.

This is often considered a good middle ground between ABS and PLA, as it is more flexible and durable than PLA and easier to print than ABS.

When using PETG:

  • Make sure to store the 3D printer filament in a cool, dry place. “Why you ask?”, because PETG is hygroscopic, meaning it will absorbs moisture from the air, this will have a negative effect on printing.
  • This filament will become sticky during printing, making this a poor choice for support structures, but it’s good for layer adhesion. (Just be careful with the print bed!)
  • PETG will scratch more easily than ABS.


3D Printer Filament Properties: PETG

  • Strength: High | Flexibility: Medium | Durability: High
  • Difficulty to use: Low
  • Print temperature: 220°C – 250°C
  • Print bed temperature: 50°C – 75°C
  • Shrinkage/warping: Minimal
  • Soluble: No
  • Food safety: Refer to manufacturer guidelines


When should I use PETG

PETG is a good all-rounder due to its flexibility, strength, and temperature and impact resistance. This makes it an ideal 3D printer filament to use for objects, that can handle sustained or sudden stress, like mechanical parts, printer parts, and protective components.





Nylon a popular family of synthetic polymers, that are used in many industrial applications. Compared to most other 3D printer filament types.

This filament ranks as the number one contender when together considering strength, flexibility, and durability.

Another unique characteristic of Nylon is that you can dye it, either before or after the printing process. The negative side to this is that nylon is hygroscopic just like PETG, meaning it will absorbs moisture, so remember to store it in a cool, dry place.


3D Printer Filament Properties: Nylon

  • Strength: High | Flexibility: High | Durability: High
  • Difficulty to use: Medium
  • Print temperature: 240°C – 260°C
  • Print bed temperature: 70°C – 100°C
  • Shrinkage/warping: Considerable
  • Soluble: No
  • Food safety: Refer to manufacturer guidelines


When should I use Nylon

 Nylon is good for strength, flexibility, and durability you can use this filament type to create tools, functional prototypes, or mechanical parts (like hinges, buckles, or gears).



TPE, TPU, TPC (Flexible)


TPE thermoplastic elastomers) is plastics with rubber-like qualities, making them extremely flexible and durable. TPE is commonly found in automotive parts, household appliances. Soft and stretchable, these filaments can withstand punishment that neither ABS or PLA can to handle. On the other hand, TPE can be difficult to extrude not the easiest filament to use.

TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) is a particular variety of TPE. Compared to TPE, TPU is slightly more rigid, making it  more easier to print. It’s a little more durable and can better retain its elasticity in the cold.

TPC (thermoplastic copolyester) is not as commonly used as TPU. Similar in most respects to TPE, TPC’s main advantage is its higher resistance to chemical and UV exposure, it heats (up to 150°C).


3D Printer Filament Properties: Flexible

  • Strength: Medium | Flexibility: Very High | Durability: Very High
  • Difficulty to use: Medium (TPE, TPC); Low (TPU)
  • Print temperature: 210°C – 230°C
  • Print bed temperature: 30°C – 60°C (but not needed)
  • Shrinkage/warping: Minimal
  • Soluble: No
  • Food safety: Not food safe


When should I use TPE, TPU, or TPC 

Use TPE or TPU when printing objects that need to take a lot of wear. If you want your print to bend, stretch, or compress, these are the right 3D printer filaments for the job.

You may want to print for example toys, phone cases, or wearable’s (like wristbands), then TPU and TPE are great for this. TPC can be used in the same contexts, but does not do well in harsher environments, like the outdoors.





Polycarbonate is the strongest 3D printer filament presented in this list, ti is extremely durable and resistant to both physical impact and heat. PC is able to withstand temperatures of up to 110°C.

With it also being transparent, this explains why it is used in commercial items such as, bullet proof glass, scuba masks, and electronic display screens.

This filament shouldn’t be confused with acrylic or plexi-glass, which shatters or crack under stress. Unlike these two materials, PC is moderately flexible, allowing it to bend until eventually it deforms.

Polycarbonate filament is hygroscopic, this is allowing it to absorb water from the air, don’t forget to store it in a cool and dry place to ensure better quality prints.


3D Printer Filament Properties: PC

  • Strength: Very High | Flexibility: Medium | Durability: Very High
  • Difficulty to use: Medium
  • Print temperature: 270°C – 310°C
  • Print bed temperature: 90°C – 110°C
  • Shrinkage/warping: Considerable
  • Soluble: No
  • Food safety: Not food safe


When should I use PC?

Polycarbonate is an ideal 3D printer filament for parts that need strength, toughness, and shape in high-temperature environments, also try to take advantage of its optical clarity in lighting projects.


Why not take a look at our East 3D Gecko 3D Printer Review


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About lynne


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