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 then you are on the right page.
2. Types of 3D Printer Filaments:
3. Comparision chart of 3D Printer Filaments:
3.1 ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene):
ABS is most popular 3D printer material. Best used for making durable parts that needs to withstand higher temperatures. In comparison to PLA filament, ABS plastic is less “brittle” and more “ductile.” For providing glossy finishing it can be post-processed with acetone. 3D printing with ABS filament a heated printing surface is recommended, as ABS plastic will contract when cooled leading to warped parts.
ABS filament is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm diameter sizes. It is also strong and slightly flexible, which makes it a good material for 3D printing.
ABS 3D Printing Filament Properties:
- ABS filament is strong, ductile material with wear resistance and heat tolerance.
- Common 3D prints with ABS are Interlocking parts like gears, parts exposed to UV and heat like a car cup holder, or prototyping.
- Printing tip: When considering ABS 3D printing filament wide selection of methods for excellent post-processing
- Print Temperature Range: 220°C–230°C
- Bed Temperature : 80°C–110°C
3.2 PLA (Polylactic Acid):
PLA is also one of the most commonly used desktop 3D printing filaments. PLA is biodegradable thermoplastic which is derived from renewable resources like cornstarch, sugar cane and potato starch.
PLA 3D printing filament is more eco friendly compared to other plastic materials. PLA is more preferable over ABS due to environment friendly and its low-toxicity features. And it is now the most popular 3D printing filament in the 3D printing community.
Outside of 3D printing, PLA plastic is often used in food containers, such as candy wrappers, and biodegradable medical implants, such as sutures. PLA filament for 3D Printing is available in a wide range of colors in both 1.75mm and 3mm.
PLA 3D Printing Filament Properties:
- PLA filament is a stiff but also brittle 3D printing material.
- It is best used for cosmetic prints, prototypes, desk toys and low-stress applications.
- Best 3D printer material for beginners due to ease of printing and minimal warp.
- Print Temperature Range: 180°C–200°C
- Bed Temperature : 60°C–80°C
3.3 Polycarbonate (PC) :
Polycarbonate is strong and very resistant to impact. This material can be used in making of bullet-proof glass. It is not only an extremely tough and durable thermoplastic material but also very resistant to temperature. It is able to withstand temperature of 110°C.
This material is malleable when cool and can bend without cracking. Polycarbonate is available in 1.75mm and 3mm.
PC 3D Printing Filament Properties:
- PC filament extremely high temperature resistant and impact resistant.
- Potential uses in printed RC parts or drone parts.
- Printing Temperature Range : 220°C–310°C
- Bed Temperature : 100°C–110°C
Nylon is an incredibly strong, durable, flexible, wear-resistant and versatile 3D printing material. Flexible when thin, but with very high inter-layer adhesion, nylon lends itself well to things like living hinges and other functional parts. Nylon filament prints as a bright natural white with a translucent surface, and can absorb color added post process with most common, acid-based clothing dyes or synthetic cloth specific dyes.
Nylon filament is extremely sensitive to moisture, so taking drying measures during storage and immediately prior to printing (using desiccant, vacuum, or elevated temperature) is highly recommended for best results. Nylon is a popular synthetic that is also used in many industrial applications.
Nylon 3D Printing Filament Properties:
- Nylon filament is strong yet flexible making it tough to break and shatter resistant.
- Commonly used for living hinges, functionally strong parts.
- Must be dried before printing for strength and a glossy finish.
- Print Temperature Range: 240°C – 260°C
- Bed Temperature : 60°C–80°C
3.5 HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene):
HIPS is biodegradable and have a bright white color It is very similar to ABS. The main difference is that HIPS plastic can be dissolved using Limonene as a solvent, therefore making it a great option as support material when printing ABS with dual extrusion printer. HIPS filament is as easy to 3D print with as ABS but is much less likely to warp.
It has no any adverse effect when it comes in close contact of human or pets. HIPS filament is available in 1.75mm and 3mm.
HIPS 3D Printing Support Filament Properties:
- HIPS filament is a rigid, support material that dissolves away in limonene.
- Best used for models with internal supports or supports for incredibly detailed models with many overhangs.
- Best 3D printer support material for ABS because of similar printing temperatures.
- Print Temperature Range: 210°C–230°C
- Bed Temperature : 110°C
3.6 Carbon Fiber:
Carbon fiber can be used with PLA and ABS filament. 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. It is ideal for mechanical parts, protective casings, shells and high durability applications.
Carbon Fiber 3D Printing Filament Properties:
- It is a strong, ductile material with wear resistance and heat tolerance.
- Best used for drone bodies, propellers, and RC car frames.
- Carbon fiber provides rigidity.
- Printing Temperature Range: 195°C–220°C
- Bed Temperature : 45°C-55°C
Wood filaments are the 3D printer materials that give 3D printed objects the look and feel of fiberboard. Wood Filament contains a mixture of recycling wood with binding polymer.
Wood filaments use PLA as their base, and mix other materials (usually in powder form) into them. The PLA gives the 3D printer compatibility and ease of use while the material contributes to the look, feel, and properties of the filament. With Wood fill, LAYWOO-D3, and Timberfill, you get the color and texture of real wood with your finished prints.
Wood PLA 3D Printing Filament Properties:
- Wood filaments look and feels similar to actual wood with printing properties of PLA.
- Best used for wooden busts, sculptures. Anything really complex to chisel.
- Different extruder temperatures produce different colors i.e. the hotter, the darker.
- Print Temperature Range: 200°C–230°C
- Bed Temperature : 90°C–110°C
It is another interesting 3D printer filament. Metal filament contains PLA combined with metallic powder. By using this type of filament we can produce 3D printer material which look likes that it is made of bronze, copper or brass. And it is also perfect for printing jewelry, props, costumes, figurines, and robots.
3D Printing Filament Properties:
- These filaments print like PLA but slower, with finished prints being hard and heavy.
- Best used for cosmetic prints of busts, jewelry, or sculptures.
- Best results can be achieved by rock tumbling, polishing, or wet sanding to achieve a super smooth surface finish.
- Print Temperature Range: 190°C–230°C
- Bed Temperature : Not Required
As the name suggest, the luminous filament glow 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 a decorative purpose. Since this is a type of PLA and PLA is biodegradable and environment friendly, this is safe for everyone, including children.
3D Printing Filament Properties:
- Durable, not soluble and has low shrinkage during cooling
- Does not require heated bed as well
- Similar to the standard PLA, printing is easy
- Print Temperature Range: 210°C-240°C
- Bed Temperature : 30°C-50°C
Conductive filaments are modified from PLA filaments, which are designed for low voltage and current circuitry. This conductive PLA filament will print objects that are more flexible than normal PLA but have less layer adhesion. In addition, this filament works with all PLA compatible 3D printers. Conductive PLA filament is available in 1.75mm and 3mm.
Conductive 3D Printing Filament Properties:
- It is slightly flexible and conductive to low power circuitry.
- Best used for functional prototypes, integrated circuitry, complex electronic wiring.
- Best printed in a dual extrusion printer, as it sticks really well to regular PLA
- Printing Temperature : 225°C-260°C
- Bed Temperature : 90°C-110°C