A quick comparison chart for different types of 3d printer filaments

 Stuart Ting
  Aug 23, 2017

Today the 3d printing industry is growing at a very fast pace and different types of 3d printer filaments are available in the market to meet different types of requirements. Each filament types comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to study the pros and cons of each filament type before deciding on the one that best meets your requirements and will give you the best return on your investment.

Below is a quick comparison chart of different types of 3d printer filaments available listing their features, pros, and cons that will help you make a well-informed decision.

1) Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

ABS is one of the most common 3d printer filaments available in the market today. Because of its impact-resistant qualities and toughness, ABS finds its applications in a number of different industries. Owing to the fact that offers great flexibility and is also strong at the same time, it is also a great raw material for 3d printing.

ABS is currently finding its way in a number of industries namely toys, electronics, automobiles and other kinds of moving parts. In addition to these, it is also used in headgears such as helmets, kitchenware and cookware, LEGOs and musical instruments.

Pros:

  • Offers great strength and durability

  • One of the cheapest 3d printer filaments in the market

  • One the most commonly used 3d printer filaments

  • Is highly flexible and light weight.

Cons:

  • Requires high temperatures to work with

  • Needs a well-ventilated area to work efficiently

  • Produces mild fumes that can be irritating for users

  • Uses non-biodegradable plastic, so it not environment friendly.

2) Polylactic acid (PLA)

The other type of filament that is in close competition to ABS is PLA owning to its biggest quality that it is biodegradable. PLA is a type of plastic derived from renewable sources such as sugar cane, potato starch, etc.

Pros:

  • Does not produce any harmful toxins

  • Easy to work with so perfect for beginners

  • Available in a variety of colours that glow in the dark too.

Cons:

  • Prone to becoming brittle at times

  • Can face difficulty with printing owing to its brittleness.

3) Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)

PVA is a special type of plastic 3d printer filament that is water soluble. This type of filament is commonly used in the packaging industry, as adhesives, in fishing and water sports equipment.

Pros:

  • Is environment-friendly as it is biodegradable and non-toxic

  • Is safe for food.

Cons:

  • Is expensive compared to other 3d printer filaments

  • Is difficult to store because of its affinity for water.

4) PolyEthylene Terephthalate (PET)

PET is another common type of 3d printer filament that is fully recyclable. Because of this property, PET finds its application in packaging and making of phone cases.

Pros:

  • Is extremely easy to use in 3d printing

  • Offers higher flexibility than PLA and ABS

  • Is shockproof and extremely hard.

Cons:

  • Can be hard to store.

5) Polyamide (Nylon)

Nylon is another popular 3d printer filament and is commonly used in big industrial applications. Nylon has a high melting point and because of this can be used for printing a large number of functional and mechanical parts.

Pros:

  • Offers great flexibility, strength, and durability

  • Fully thermoplastic

  • Can be used again after re-melting.

Cons:

  • Has a very high melting point that may be suitable for printing many objects

  • When heated, has the ability to emit toxic fumes

  • Is highly sensitive to water.

6) Wood

Wood 3d printer filaments use a combination of recycled wood and a binding polymer. However, the end product and the prototype produced using this combination look exactly like wood and give the model a wood-like appearance. As the name suggests, wood 3d printer filaments are primarily used in decors and other materials you want to look like wood – artifacts, statues, home ware, storage boxes, drink ware, chairs, tables, etc.

Pros:

  • Can render different shades of wood to the end product

  • The end product can be decorated, painted and post cut to for different outcomes.

Cons:

  • Is much weaker and softer to counterparts such as PLA and ABS

  • Can break very easily

  • Offers less tensile strength

  • Is less flexible.

7) Sandstone

If you are after a unique end product or model, you can also work with sandstone 3d printer filaments. This filament type uses a combination of PLA and chalks powder to provide the texture and color of stone to the prototype. This type of 3d printer filament is primarily used for landscaping, museums, and architectural displays, etc.

Pros:

  • Extremely durable with unique appearance and shine

  • Does not shrink.

Cons:

  • Offers less flexibility

  • Is not safe for food

  • Is highly prone to breaking.

Conclusion

So you must have got an idea about the different types of 3d printer filaments that are available in the market and how their usage differs from industry to industry because of their varied features, advantages, and disadvantages.

As said, the 3d printing industry is evolving rapidly and you may have a plethora of new filament types added to the market in days to come that will be easier to use and also cost effective at the same time.

A quick comparison chart for different types of 3d printer filaments

Stuart Ting

Stuart Ting, Owner of Infinity 3D Printing which is one of the largest suppliers of 3D printers and filaments across Australia. Infinity 3D Printing stocks a range of 3D printers that are high quality and efficient also transforms your idea.

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