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January 31, 2021 3 min read

There are a wide variety of 3D Printing filament types that are suitable for particular jobs. Choosing the right filament for for your project should be determined by what you are trying to accomplish. When considering the type of filament to select for your project, you should be asking yourself the following questions:

“Does my project need to be durable?”

“Is the strength of the project more important?”

“Does your project require bending and flexibility?”

Below is a breakdown of 9 types of 3D printing filament characteristics that will help you decide which is the best filament to use for your next project.

PLA

Polylactic Acid is the most popular resin because of its ease of use, low printing temperature and its resistance to warping. Basically PLA is orderless and environmentally friendly as it can be made from renewable plant based resources.

Suggested print uses are prototype parts, low wear parts, toys or figurines and can be used for food containers. PLA is very resistant to the elements but is brittle as opposed to other resins and you should be careful of printing parts that would be exposed to hard wear such as phone cases or parts that require reliability.

ABS

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene is the second most popular filament for use in 3D printers. This is a common resin that is used for projects that require a more durable material. With a higher temperature resistance, it has a tendency to warp during cooling and has an intense odor.

ABS is a good resin for protective cases or other enclosure as well as parts or items such as hardware that require to be resilient to high wear.

Nylon

Nylon is a polyamide belonging to the class of high performance plastics. Because it’s durable, it’s strength and flexibility are used to print mechanical parts, working prototypes and tools.

Nylon is very sensitive to moisture so it should be stored in a cool dry place. Although many filaments must be dyed prior to manufacturing, nylon is flexible in that it can be dyed before or after it’s used for your printing project.

TPE

Thermoplastic elastomers is a type of polymer that is flexible with a rubber like property. TPE is very difficult to extrude in your printer. You will find TPE in 3D prints of medical supplies, footwear, and household goods.

TPE is usually used to create projects that require a lot of stretching and bending as it will stretch and return to its original shape at room temperature.

PETG

Polyethylene terephthalate glycol is a thermoplastic polyester that’s excellent for use in manufacturing. PETG is chemically resistant and durable.

Although PETG is common in single use applications such as drinking bottles or food storage containers, you will likely find it desirable for use in medical implants, pharmaceutical and medical device packaging.

PETT

Is more rigid than PETG and very desirable for transparent projects.

Additives for PLA & ABS

There are various additives that you can add for an exotic and unique look to your project.

WOOD

This is simply PLA infused with wood fiber. This is a great choice if your project requires an aesthetic appeal. Common fibers for this additive is Pine, Cedar and Birch.

METAL

Unlike wood additives, this isn’t really metal it’s a metal powder that’s added to your PLA or ABS.

This is basically an aesthetic additive. Common powders are stainless, copper, bronze or stainless.

GLOW-IN-THE-DARK

To create a glow-in-the-dark filament,Phosphorescent materials are added in different colors. Popular colors are green, yellow, red, blue and pink. These filaments are usually for toy, figurines and wearable projects.

Your project should dictate the type of filament you use, not what’s available or on sale. Selecting the proper filament is critical to producing a quality and desirable project. We hope this blog will help you determine the proper filament for your project.

If you have any further questions, drop me a line: mike@mofco3d.com

Mike Cipriani
Mike Cipriani


1 Response

Pete
Pete

March 15, 2021

You might want to change your description of PLA from “orderless” to “odorless”. I think you have to order it!

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