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22 Different 3D Printer Filament Types Explained For Buyer

 22 Different 3D Printer Filament Types Explained For Buyer

Looking for the best 3D Printer Filament?

Wondering which 3d printing materials are ideal for your project?

If you don’t know what types of 3D Printer filaments are available on the market and what the positive and negative properties of each filament are.

In our 3d printer filament types explained will give you valuable information about the different 3D printing materials!

Table of Contents

1. PLA 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature180°C – 230°C
Print bed temperature20°C – 60°C
Difficulty to useLow

What is PLA 3D Printing Materials?

PLA (Poly Lactic Acid) is popular for amateurs and professionals alike, also is one of the two most commonly used desktop 3D printing filaments (with the other being ABS filament).

It’s a special type of thermoplastic made from organic materials, namely cornstarch and sugarcane

The main benefits of PLA are that it’s safer and easier to use, and with no toxic fumes to worry about.

The Pros:

  • Safer and easier to use, and with no toxic fumes to worry about.
  • Suitable for all common 3D printers
  • Wide variety of colors/styles
  • No heated printing bed necessary
  • Available in special effects like glow-in-the-dark colors and translucency
  • Ideal for children, hobbyists and schools

The Cons:

  • Susceptible to clogging the printer nozzle
  • Can attract moisture that makes it potentially brittle and more difficult to print
  • Higher heating temperature with water-saturated PLA
  • Melts at 60° Celsius
  • Lower strength than ABS

Relate: 2021 Best Free 3D Printing Software For Beginner (Mac & Windows)

2. ABS 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature210°C – 250°C
Print bed temperature80°C – 110°C
Difficulty to useMedium

What is ABS 3D Printing Materials?

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is another commonly used 3D printer material.

Best used for making durable parts that need to withstand higher temperatures.

ABS is actually moderately superior to PLA, despite being slightly more difficult to print with.

It’s for this reason that ABS is a great choice for printing plastic automotive parts, moving parts, musical instruments, kitchen appliances, electronic housings, and various toys, like LEGO.

The Pros:

  • Strong, ductile material with wear resistance and heat tolerance
  • Universal filament for many applications
  • Quite flexible and lightweight
  • Cheapest thermoplastic available at the time of writing
  • Most favored material among professional 3D printers and keen armatures
  • Common 3D prints with ABS are Interlocking parts like gears, parts exposed to UV and heat like a car cup holder, or prototyping.
  • Wide selection of methods for excellent post-processing.

The Cons:

  • ABS is petroleum-based, making it a non-biodegradable material
  • Needs a high temperature (80 to 100° Celsius) to reach its melting point
  • Creates unpleasant fumes, most notable in poorly ventilated spaces
  • Not biodegradable
  • Considerable warping
  • Considerable shrinkage
  • Not food-safe

Relate: STL File Format For 3D Printing: Everything You Need to Know

3. PETG (PET,PETT) 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature220°C – 250°C
Print bed temperature50°C – 75°C
Difficulty to useLow

What is PETG 3D Printing Materials?

PolyEthylene Terephthalate (PET) is a popular 3D material.

Best known as the polymer used in water bottles, it is also found in clothing fibers and food containers.

PETT is on a list of FDA approved polymers.

This makes it completely ‘food safe’, meaning it’s safe for products like cups, and plates, etc.

Needless to say, common applications for PETT filament include food containers and various kitchen utensils.

The Pros:

  • Strong, flexible, and with biocompatibility
  • no warping when cooling down
  • Does not warp
  • Does not shrink
  • Does not absorb moisture from the air
  • Does not degrade in water
  • available in different colours
  • FDA approved, food safe
  • Prices for PETT are falling

The Cons:

  •  Not an easy material for beginners to work with
  •  Nozzle and printer bed temperatures needs fine-tuning for best results

4. TPE, TPU, TPC (Flexible) 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature210°C – 230°C
Print bed temperature30°C – 60°C
Difficulty to useMedium

What is TPE 3D Printing Materials?

Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) 3D printer filament is easily the most flexible of all the printer materials.

It has such high elasticity properties that it feels like real rubber, easily springing back into shape like an elastic band.

TPE is great to use with most FDM 3D printers. If your 3D printed part will bend, stretch, or compress, these 3D printer filaments should be up for the task.

The Pros:

  • Durable and flexible 3d printing material with a glossy finish and is impact and heat resistant.
  • Smooth consistent diameter
  • Best used for mechanical parts and snap fit enclosures.
  • Sticks incredibly well to blue painters tape.
  • Bonds well between layers (vital for high-quality)objects)
  • Durable material with little shrinkage during the cooling process
  • No heated bed needed

The Cons:

  •  3D printing with TPE is difficult for the inexperienced
  •  Print nozzle needs fine-tuning for optimal performance
  •  Can extrude from nozzle inconsistently

Relate: Can 3D Printer Print An Anime Figure?

5. Nylon 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature240°C – 260°C
Print bed temperature70°C – 100°C
Difficulty to useMedium

What is Nylon 3D Printing Materials?

Nylon filament, also called polyamide, is another popular choice.

Compared to most other types of 3D printer filament, it ranks as the number one contender when together considering strength, flexibility, and durability.

It’s particularly suited for various consumer products, tools, mechanical components, machine parts, structural parts, containers, and a much more.

The Pros:

  • Strong, durable and flexible
  • Enormous mechanical load capacity
  • Less brittle than ABS and PLA
  • 100% thermoplastic material
  • Filament can be re-melted and used again without any loss of bonding
  • Low weight
  • Available in different colors
  • Subsequent coloring possible
  • High resistance to chemicals, alcohols and solvents
  • No odour development during 3D printing

The Cons:

  • Needs a high melting temperature
  • Breaks down and emits toxic fumes when heated
  • Absorbs moisture easily—proper storage is essential
  • Slow printing required
  • Medium printability

6. PC (Polycarbonate) 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature270°C – 310°C
Print bed temperature90°C – 110°C
Difficulty to useMedium

What is PC 3D Printing Materials?

Polycarbonate (PC) Polycarbonate is strong and very resistant to impact – this material is used when making bullet-proof glass.

Not only is polycarbonate an extremely tough and durable thermoplastic material it is also very resistant to temperature.

PC 3D printer filament is able to absorb water from the air, so remember to store it in a cool, dry place to ensure better quality prints.

The Pros:

  • Extremely high strength
  • Can bend 3D prints made from PC even when hardened
  • High temperatures of up to 110° Celsius cannot damage PC prints.
  • Highly resistant to shocks and impacts
  • Reasonably flexible and bends before deformation

The Cons:

  • Should store PC filament in a dry and cool place
  • Tends to deform and shrink
  • Warping
  • Printing temperature must be very high
  • Not food-safe

7. PVA 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature180°C – 230°C
Print bed temperature45°C – 55°C
Difficulty to useDifficult

What is PVA 3D Printing Materials?

Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is soluble in water, and that’s exactly what commercial applications take advantage of.

PVA is a good 3D filament that’s typical use is as a support material when printing with ABS or PLA Sandstone Filament (PLA + Brick)

As a support material, PVA works best with printers that have duel extruders.

All popular desktop FDM printers can use PVA with a heated build platform as this prevents warping during the build process.

The Pros:

  • A biodegradable, non-toxic material
  • Water soluble
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Support material
  • Food safe
  • Good durability
  • Suitable for ABS, PLA and Nylon
  • Makes otherwise difficult printing easy

The Cons:

  • Attracts water easily
  • Difficult printing
  • Can be difficult to source compared to other materials
  • High cost compared to other 3D filaments

8. Wood 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature220°C – 250°C
Print bed temperature30°C – 40°C
Difficulty to useMedium

What is Wood 3D Printing Materials?

3D wood filaments are very real. It’s a great material for anyone who wants or needs to be more creative with their 3D printed projects.

These filaments contain a careful mixture of recycled woods with a special binding polymer.

Consider using wood 3D printer filament when printing objects that are displayed on a desk, table, or shelf.

You can choose between different types of wood like willow, cedar, birch and pine. PLA is also mixed with fibers of bamboo, ebony, cherry, cork oak, olive and coconut.

The Pros:

  • Wood filaments looks and feels similar to actual wood with printing properties of PLA.
  • Best used for wooden busts, sculptures, or tikis. Anything really complexes to chisel.
  • Different extruder temperatures produce different colors; the hotter, the darker.
  • Not only look natural, but also have the typical smell of wood.

The Cons:

  • Printing temperature cannot set too hot (175 and 250° Celsius).
  • Printing with wood-containing material is not for beginners
  • The wood particles often clog small nozzles.

9. Metal 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature205°C – 220°C
Print bed temperature50°C – 60°C
Difficulty to useDifficult

What is metal 3D Printing Materials?

Like wood 3D printer filament, metal filament isn’t fully made from metal.

The materials consist of PLA or ABS combined with a higher percentage of fine metallic powders.

The 3D printed parts look and feel just as they would if they had been made of 100% metals.

Popular choices include aluminum, brass, bronze, copper, and stainless steel.

The Pros:

  • Provides metallic look
  • Ideal for both aesthetic and functional models
  • Extremely durable
  • Not soluble
  • Little to no shrinkage while cooling
  • No heated print bed needed

The Cons:

  • Difficult to print
  • highly abrasive to print nozzle
  • Need to regulate flow rate

10. HIPS 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature230°C – 250°C
Print bed temperature110°C – 120°C
Difficulty to useMedium

What is HIPS 3D Printing Materials?

High Impact Polystyrene, HIPS for short, is a bright, white colored 3D biodegradable material.

High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) is very similar to ABS.

This 3D printer filament is a secondary material in double-extrusion 3D printers and has a supporting function.

It’s safe to use, meaning it has no harmful effects for users who are in close contact with the filament. It’s safe with pets too.

The Pros:

  • Acts as an easily removable ABS support material
  • When paired with ABS, HIPS is a great dual extrusion support structure
  • Environmentally friendly
  • After printing, you can simply melt away this supporting material.
  • Non-toxic at close range

The Cons:

  • Some issues with adhesion and curling
  • Not easy to work with without a heated bed
  • HIPS is only compatible with ABS
  • Tends to form waves

11. Magnetic Iron PLA 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature205°C – 220°C
Print bed temperature40°C – 55°C
Difficulty to useDifficult

What is Magnetic 3D Printing Materials?

Magnetic Iron PLA filament is truly one of a kind. Because of the iron powder blended into the PLA filament, this Iron filament is magnetic.

The objects will also stick to magnets, something that could be useful on various creative projects.

It’s a specialist material that few will have a need for, but those who do work with it find PLA iron filament invaluable.

The Pros:

  • Very strong and extremely durable
  • Material is not soluble
  • Best used for cosmetic prints of busts, accessories, or aged-metal props.
  • Little to no shrinkage during the cooling down process

The Cons:

  • Nozzle temperature needs fine-tuning
  • Print slow
  • Inflexible
  • Heated bed not needed
  • Material is expensive compared to other popular filaments

12. Conductive PLA 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature220°C – 230°C
Print bed temperature60°C – 75°C
Difficulty to useEasy

What is Conductive PLA 3D Printing Materials?

It’s a special type of 3D material that includes a conductive carbon particulate.

Enter conductive 3D printer filaments — filament that does as its name implies: conduct electricity. Time for electrical and computer engineers to join the fun!

With the addition of conductive carbon particulates to PLA or ABS, it’s easy to actualize hobbyist projects by printing low-voltage electronic circuits.

The Pros:

  • Ideal for electronics projects
  • Suitable for low voltage electronic circuits
  • No heated bed required, but recommended
  • Insoluble

The Cons:

  • Limited selection
  • Short life span
  • Not particularly flexible
  • Material can be damaged by repeated bending
  • Shrinkage behaviour
  • Not food-safe
  • Expensive
  • Experience necessary

13. Carbon Fiber 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature220°C – 230°C
Print bed temperature50°C – 60°C
Difficulty to useMedium

What is Carbon Fiber 3D Printing Materials?

When types of 3D printer filament like PLA, ABS, PETG, and nylon are reinforced with carbon fiber, the result is an extremely stiff and rigid material with relatively little weight.

The Pros:

  • Strong and lightweight material
  • Ideal for functional applications
  • Warp-free printing
  • Soluble and durable
  • No heated bed needed

The Cons:

  • Causes wear and tear on 3D printer nozzle
  • Material contains abrasive strands

14. Glow in the Dark 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature205°C – 220°C
Print bed temperature40°C – 55°C
Difficulty to useEasy

What is Glow in the Dark 3D Printing Materials?

Glow in the dark 3D printer filament – pretty self-explanatory.

Your prints will shine brightest immediately after turning out the lights, but dim quickly to a soft glow in the night. Use your normal print settings for PLA or ABS (depending on which is the base filament), but add more perimeters to your prints.

The Pros:

  • Durable
  • Insoluble
  • Environmentally friendly, safe to use, biodegradable
  • No heated printing bed necessary
  • Only low shrinkage behaviour
  • Spectacular look
  • Various colors
  • Biodegradable, if base is PLA
  • Non-toxic if base is PLA
  • Childproof, if the base is PLA
  • Similar to regular PLA, which makes printing easy
  • Used for light switch covers, ceiling stars, and novelty decorations.
  • Available in PLA, ABS, and TPU based filament

The Cons:

  • Not food safe
  • Must be charged before the light source is lit
  • 3D object should be thick-walled
  • Limited mechanical properties

15. Amphora 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature205°C – 220°C
Print bed temperature40°C – 55°C
Difficulty to useEasy

What is Amphora 3D Printing Materials?

Amphora is a great filament for anyone who wants to produce objects which are lustrous, bright, and opaque.

The Eastman Chemical Company created this fancy material specifically for 3D printing. Most common thermoplastics have uses other than 3D printing technologies, but not this one.

The Pros:

  • Shining surface
  • Opaque and bright appearance
  • Enormous stiffness
  • Lightweight, impact-resistant
  • Excellent strength, highly flexible, and durable
  • Higher melting point than PLA
  • Heat resistant
  • Excellent coating adhesion
  • Very good surface quality
  • Clean overhangs
  • Little if any distortion
  • Food safe
  • Transparent or available in 16 colours

The Cons:

  • Not an easy material to print with
  • Printer nozzle and bed need fine tuning for best results

16. Sandstone 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature205°C – 220°C
Print bed temperature40°C – 55°C
Difficulty to useMedium

What is Sandstone 3D Printing Materials?

Sandstone filaments offer a unique finish to your 3D printed parts. This is a PLA material that includes a fine chalk powder to produce a stone-like color and texture.

3D sandstone material is a brick filament offered by various suppliers under different product names. The most well-known right now is LayBrick.

The Pros:

  • Unmistakable sandstone appearance and finish
  • No heated bed needed to print
  • No warping or shrinking during the cooling process

The Cons:

  • Not a particularly durable or flexible material
  • Parts can be brittle making them more prone to breaking and snapping
  • Not food-safe
  • Short life span

17. FPE 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature230°C – 250°C
Print bed temperature110°C – 120°C
Difficulty to useMedium

What is FPE 3D Printing Materials?

Flexible polyester (FPE) refers to 3D printer filaments that bond both soft and hard polymers.

These materials for 3D printers can be compared in some ways to PLA, but they are both more flexible and softer.

The specific flexibility depends on the mixing ratio of hard and soft polymers.

The Pros:

  • Easy to print
  • Provides flexibility
  • High strength

The Cons:

  • Requires high nozzle temperature
  • Low printing speed

18. PolyPropylene (PP) 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature220°C – 230°C
Print bed temperature80°C – 90°C
Difficulty to useDifficult

What is PolyPropylene (PP) 3D Printing Materials?

PolyPropylene filament (PP) has a number of uses as a 3D printing material. Its best use is for engineering plastics, food packaging, textiles and bank notes.

The Pros:

  • Tough
  • Flexible
  • Light
  • Chemically resistant
  • Food-safe

The Cons:

  • Difficult to print with
  • Prone to warping
  • Poor layer adhesion

19. ASA 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature240°C – 250°C
Print bed temperature100°C – 110°C
Difficulty to useMedium

What is ASA?

Acrylonitrile styrene acrylate (ASA) was developed as an alternative to ABS.

With a number of additional features, like improved weather resistance and resistance to yellowing from UVs, making it an excellent choice for parts or prints meant for outdoor use.

The Pros:

  • Less warps
  • Great for functional applications
  • Especially automotive parts
  • Best used for outdoor clips, planters, fixtures, other outdoor parts.

The Cons:

  • Prints made of ABS have a tendency to denature and yellow if left outdoors
  • Susceptible to cracking during the printing process

20. Cleaning 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature215°C – 280°C
Print bed temperature80°C – 90°C
Difficulty to useEasy

What is Cleaning Filament ?

Unlike the other filaments in this list, cleaning 3D printer filament is not used to print objects, but to clean 3D printer extruders.

Its purpose is to remove any material in the hot end that might have been left over from previous prints.

Though a good general practice, using cleaning 3D printer filament is especially useful when transitioning between materials that have different print temperatures or colors.

The Pros:

  • Cleans the print head when changing the filament
  • Keeps HotEnd in good shape

The Cons:

  • Extension of the printing process
  • Manual work required
  • Only limited use

21. Wax 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature140°C – 150°C
Print bed temperature80°C – 90°C
Difficulty to useEasy

What is Wax ?

If you want to print with real tin, brass or bronze, but this is not possible with your home 3D printer, you can use a tried and tested method.

The process is called “lost-wax” or “investment” casting, and it more-or-less works like this:

  1. First you create a positive mold from wax.
  2. Now dip the finished wax mold in plaster.
  3. Put the wax-plaster object in an oven

The Pros:

  • Create molds with your 3D printer
  • Ideal solution if you want to make complex objects from metal.

The Cons:

  • Requires modifications to extruder and print bed
  • Limited applications

22. Color Changing 3D Printer Filament

Print temperature205°C – 220°C
Print bed temperature40°C – 55°C
Difficulty to useMedium

What is Color Changing?

Remember those T-shirts from the 80s, the ones that would change color based on body temperature?

The same technique is used for color changing 3D printer filament. The color depends on the temperature.

Normally these 3D materials are able to switch between two colors.

The basis of color-changing material is either ABS or PLA.

The Pros:

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Can be used to detect heat and other environmental elements
  • Ideal for 3D printing of cell phone covers, bracelets, rings, containers and toys.

The Cons:

  • Limited mechanical properties

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