There are countless types of 3D printer filament. Different types of 3D printer filament have got different advantages. In this article, we will get to know different types of filaments their characteristics, and their pros and cons. We will also get an idea about when and where to use a particular filament type.
List of 3d printer filament and their pros and cons
PLA (PolyLactic Acid)
It is the most popular filament in the market and is a highly strong material with low flexibility. Over the years it has taken the place of ABS and is mostly used for hobby printing. It is very cheap and available in a wide variety of colors. PLA filament is fairly tough but can be made more durable by the process of annealing. The temperature range for the nozzle should be 180 – 200 Celsius.
Pros of PLA
- PLA is easy to print.
- It functions at a relatively low temperature and does not require a heated bed or enclosures it is a go-to start kind of plastic.
- Since it is so popular this material is available in a range of colors and at a cheap price.
- Shrinking in PLA is minimal.
- It is recyclable and biodegradable but in an industrial composure and it is renewable.
- PLA is made from natural materials that is corn starch and sugarcane instead of harmful petrochemicals.
Cons of PLA
- PLA changes its shape and structure by keeping it in prolonged sunlight.
- Sustained contact with water also damages the print.
- Over time parts change their shape not good for long term use and are not put on continuous load
More to PLA
- PLA+ or PLA pro is an improvement to PLA it has got better durability to heat after print.
- HTPLA is heated in the oven at 160 celsius after a print by this it can bear the hot sun and does not distort
- SILK PLA is extremely smooth with a great finish and is more brittle than the normal PLA, especially around the print lines
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
ABS Filament is the second most popular filament but is not used much recently. ABS has got a good blend of strength and flexibility, if you bend it will going to give a lot before it finally breaks. The best nozzle temperature for ABS to print is 210 – 260 Celsius. It also requires a heated bed for printing.
Pros of ABS
- It is soluble in certain solutions and hence can be chemically welded together to make objects.
- ABS materials are easy to post-process in various ways such as sanding vapor polishing, and solvent welding.
- ABS materials have got a combination of strength and flexibility.
Cons of ABS
- In ABS there is shrinkage.
- It requires an enclosure to achieve good quality print results.
- The worst thing about using ABS is that while printing ABS gives a lot of fumes which are actually very harmful.
PETG (PET, PETT)
Polyethylene terephthalate glycol is the full form of PETG. PET and PETT are also commonly referred to as PETG. It is usually translucent in color. Due to its wide acceptance, lots of modifications are available in PETG now. It’s quickly taking the place of ABS. For a good print, the optimum temperature for the nozzle should be around 225 – 260 Celsius. A heated bed of around 60 – 70 celsius is required to help with the fusion.
Pros of PETG
- In terms of characteristics, PETG can be considered a blend of ABS and PLA. It has the strength and durability of ABS.
- PETG is more flexible than PLA.
- Unlike ABS, PETG does not emit harmful fumes while printing.
- It does not necessarily require an enclosure
Cons of PETG
- PETG is hygroscopic, it absorbs moisture from the air and should be kept in a dry box once it is open.
- PETG boogers, its filament sticks to the nozzle, hence requires very careful tuning for printing
TPE stands for Thermoplastic Elastomers. All TPU, TPC, and TPE come under the bucket of TPE. It is also commonly known as flexible plastic due to its flexible nature. It is printed best in a direct drive setup. It does not require a high temperature to print, it prints well around 210 – 230 Celcius and is not the strongest material out there. The extruder needs to be modified before the printing process.
Pros of TPE
- It does not shrink much after printing so it does not require an enclosure.
- TPE’S have got high resistance to UV and heat.
- A heated bed can help but is not needed
- TPE materials are impact resistant.
- Rubber can not be reused but TPE can be reused
Cons of TPE
- They are not very temperature resistant and will lose their shape in hot temp like the PLA.
- Printed at a slow speed to prevent the stretchy filament from winding around the extruded.
Printed materials from nylon filament are strong, flexible, and durable. Nylon is a commonly used material in the powder fusion method but can be get in filament form as well. It prints well at a nozzle temperature around 240 – 260 Celcius. Nylon also requires a heated bed of around 70 – 100 Celsius.
Pros of Nylon
- Nylon provides strength and a bit of flexibility to its prints.
- Due to its durability, it is great for tools and functional and mechanical parts.
- Nylon can be used with different fillers to get different characteristics
- For example, if you add carbon fiber you get it UV resistant and hence improves surface finish
- You can trade of different quality for different filler
Cons of Nylon
- Nylon filament shrinks and warps so the printer should be enclosed
- It is hygroscopic so it has to be kept in a dry box
PC is the strongest filament on the list. Prints from PC are transparent and durable. It requires a very high temperature to print 270 – 310 Celcius.
Pros of PC
- Due to its strength, it is also used in bulletproof glass.
- It is used in display screens due to its transparent nature.
- PC has got good chemical resistance
Cons of PC
- It is also hygroscopic so it is to be stored in the dry box as it absorbs moisture from the air.
- Its high print temperature makes it difficult for the most stock printer, the only solution is to replace the hot end but it is also not that feasible.
- It warps easily so requires an enclosure
It is not used to print an object but is used to clean out the hot end from the previously used filament.
Glow In The Dark Filament
- It is the most exotic filament.
- Using it regularly will cause the nozzle to change regularly as it wears down the nozzle.
- It is available in different glowing colors.
Thermo Chromic Filament
- Thermo is for temperature and Chromic is for Color. Thermo Chromic Filament changes color with the temperature
- It has got one color when it is coming out of the heated nozzle and another color when it finally gets printed and cools.
- Its color can also be changed by keeping it in ice and hot water.
- If we overheat such a filament it might not change its color at all and lose its characteristics.
Soluble PVA PVOH
- It is mostly used in the dual extruding machines in which one filament becomes the regular and the other becomes water-soluble.
- The soluble filament is used to print supports of the prints.
- After the object gets printed it is put in a bath for the supports to dissolve easily with no clipping and trimming.
- It saves lots of time and cleaning work.
- It is very hygroscopic and absorbs all the moisture so it is not solely used to print supports.
Used in working circuits
- ASA has got ABS characteristics but does not get yellow when kept outside
- Printed objects can be put outside without getting degraded.
- PVB can be smooth with isopropyl alcohol and has very smooth prints with very less post-processing requirements
- PVB is not very resistant to heat
- It can be stringy if it is not dry
- Printed objects are very strong.
- Prints are highly temperature resistant.
- PEEK is very expensive 5 times more than PLA hence it is not used widely.
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