3D Printing Materials

When 3D printing filaments it is very important to follow the manufacture’s guidelines for your 3D printer hot end temperature and speed, fan and heated table usage and settings. These setting will make the difference between a good-quality print versus a failed print.

This list is a guide to the filaments that are commonly used for 3D printing; however, many new filaments are made every day. This list constantly grows.

 

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS): A thermoplastic and stronger than PLA. ABS can withstand higher temperatures. ABS contracts when cooled and requires a heated printing surface. It is a commonly used 3D printer material. Best used for making durable parts that need to withstand higher temperatures. In comparison to PLA, ABS plastic is less ‘brittle.’ It can also be post-processed with acetone to provide a glossy finish. When 3D printing with ABS filament a heated printing surface is recommended, as ABS plastic will contract when cooled leading to warped parts.

Conductive ABS: A modified version of standard ABS filament, which has a resistance of 1200 ohm/cm. This filament works with all ABS compatible 3D printers.

Bendlay: An extremely translucent (91% of light passes through) and flexible thermoplastic. Bendlay is an exciting new filament and also is quite flexible. This extremely translucent material will allow you to print nearly clear items, while at the same time being remarkably resilient and elastic. Bendlay is a modified Butadiene, which is safe for household and food products. Bendlay has a high interlayer adhesion, making it a really wonderful and easy-to-print filament. Compared to ABS it also absorbs far less moisture from the air and thus cuts down on warping significantly.

Carbon, Carbon-fiber:  A thermoplastic reinforced with carbon fibers. Carbon fiber reinforced PLA filament provides fabulous structural strength and layer adhesion with very low warpage. Due to the carbon fiber contained in the filament, it has increased rigidity, therefore increased structural support built right in. Carbon fiber filament is perfect for printing items that do not bend, such as: frames, supports, propellers, and tools.  Drone builders and RC hobbyists love this stuff, and it is made in the USA! The carbon fiber in the filament is specifically designed to be small enough to fit through the nozzles, but long enough to provide the extra rigidity that makes this reinforced PLA so special.

CPE or PET or (polyethylene terephalate): Also called UPET. PET is a thermoplastic with excellent wear resistance, low coefficient of friction, high flexural modulus, and superior dimensional stability. PET is an industrial strength filament with several great features. Its strength is much higher than PLA. It is FDA approved for food containers and tools used for food consumption.  It barely warps and produces no odors or fumes when printed. PET filament is not biodegradable, but it is 100% reclaimable. PET 3D printer filament is known for its clarity and is also very good at bridging.

PETG is an exciting new filament that boasts great strength and flexibility. PETG can be used by any 3D printer as long as you can print around 240C. There is no heated bed necessary when printing with PETG filament. PETG has excellent impact resistance and durability. It is similar to ABS in strength but is much easier to print and has virtually no warp or smell. PETG is a copolyester and has properties very similar or identical to MadeSolid PET+, Colorfabb XT, ColorFabb nGen, and Taulman T-Glase.

High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS):  A thermoplastic that is very similar to ABS. HIPS is solvable in limonene. It is 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.

LayBrick: A 3D printing material that gives parts the look and feel of grey stone while retaining the resiliency of plastic, making it ideal for landscape and architectural designs. Anything made with LayBrick can be painted and sanded. In the lower range of 165°C to 190°C, the print will come out mostly smooth, whereas with higher temperatures it will begin to have a more pitted, sandstone-like texture.

LayCeramic: Exactly what it sounds like – clay engineered for 3D printers that can be used to make ceramic objects. LayCeramic has all the capabilities of normal clay including the ability to be fired to give it a nice glossy look and increase strength. 3D printing with LayCeramic will require a few additional pieces to your printer including a full metal hot end, filament warmer (LayCeramic is brittle), and kiln which is not necessary, but nice to have access to.

LayWood-D3: A wood-like 3D printer material that gives 3D printed objects the look and feel of fiberboard. It also imbues parts with other wood-like attributes, such as the ability to be cut, painted, and sanded. LayWood-D3 is made from a combination of recycled wood particles combined with polymer binders allowing it to be melted and extruded through your 3D printer. It is possible to give parts printed in LayWood-D3 a simulated alternating light/dark wood-grain appearance by varying the extruder temperature during printing. Similar LayWood filaments also come in many different wood types like bamboo, rosewood, cherry-wood.

Steel PLA: As easy to print as Standard PLA, but because of the steel fibers blended with the plastic, prints are heavier and thus, more authentic . Finished steel 3D prints can be polished and doctored to create beautiful and unique pieces. Unpolished, the stainless steel filament looks like cast metal fresh from a mold. With just a little finishing and polishing.  However, you can easily create any look that you desire. 3D printing steel is perfect for printing jewelry, props, costumes, figurines, and robots. Since it is so easy to print with, it is great not only for hobbyists, but serious designers as well. Similar metal filaments can also be found also mixed with PLA and ABS including: bronze, copper, aluminum, bismuth, tungsten, and stainless.

Nylon: A thermoplastic that prints as a bright natural to white with a translucent surface, and can absorb color added post process with clothing dyes. Nylon is an incredibly strong, durable, 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 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.

Polyamide: A strong and flexible thermoplastic that can take small impacts and resist some pressure while being bent. The surface has a sandy, granular look, and is slightly porous.

Polycarbonate (PC): A strong and very resistant to impact thermoplastic. Polycarbonate is notably used for making bullet proof glass. Polycarbonate is an extremely tough and durable thermoplastic material that is temperature resistant. This material is malleable while cold and can be bent without cracking.

Polycarbonate-Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (PC-ABS): A thermoplastic that offers the best features of two great FDM thermoplastics: the strength and heat resistance of PC and the flexibility of ABS.

Polylactic Acid (PLA): A thermoplastic that is made from renewable resources (corn-starch) and the ‘default’ recommended material for most 3D printers.  PLA is useful in a broad range of printing applications, has the virtue of being both odorless and low-warp, and does not require a heated bed. PLA plastic is also one of the more eco-friendly 3D printer materials available.  It is made from annually renewable resources (corn-starch) and requires less energy to process compared traditional (petroleum-based) plastics. Outside of 3D printing, PLA plastic is often used in food containers, such as candy wrappers, and biodegradable medical implants, such as sutures.

Polystyrene (PS): A clear, hard, and rather brittle thermoplastic. It is an inexpensive resin per unit weight. It is a rather poor barrier to oxygen and water vapor and has a relatively low melting point.

Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA): A thermoplastic that is characterized by its super absorbent quality, great durability and cleaning ability, and the super soft texture when moist. Compared to other sponge material such as PU and cellulose, the sponge products made from PVA are more durable and last longer. PVA prints translucent with a slightly yellow tint and is primarily used as a 3D printing support material because it is water-soluble, meaning that it will dissolve when exposed to water (and so MUST be kept dry prior to use). PVA is most often used with 3D printers capable of dual extrusion: one extruder printing a primary material (such as ABS or PLA) and the other printing this dissolvable filament to provide support for overhanging features.

Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE): TPE filament is a flexible 3D printing material that feels and acts much like flexible rubber. TPE filament can be used to make parts that can bend or must flex to fit their environment – stoppers, belts, springs, phone cases and more. This extremely flexible 3D printer material will allow you to create 3D prints that will have the properties of a soft rubber, making it even more flexible and elastic than soft PLA filament.

Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU): A 3D printing material with many properties, including elasticity, transparency, and resistance to oil, grease and abrasion. TPU is an elastic, oil/grease resistant, and abrasion-resistant material with a Shore Hardness of 95A. TPU plastic has several applicable uses including automotive instrument panels, caster wheels, power tools, sporting goods, medical devices, drive belts, footwear, inflatable rafts, and a variety of extruded film, sheet and profile applications. It is also commonly used in mobile phone cases.

Ultem: A thermoplastic that offers outstanding elevated thermal resistance, high strength and stiffness, and broad chemical resistance. ULTEM is available in transparent and opaque custom colors, as well as glass filled grades.

Wax: A malleable near ambient temperature 3D printing material that is insoluble in water but soluble in organic, nonpolar solvents.