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3D printer filament types reviews – all you need to know

Anycubic 3D printer

A 3D printer plastic, also known as the filament for 3D printing, serves as the 3D printer ink. It is heated and extruded in a hot liquid form whereas it solidifies and is welded into layers on layers to form all sorts of objects. 3D printer filaments come in different types and your filament choice might depend on the object that you are trying to build.

ABS – the filament is the most popular or commonly used 3D printer filament. It is used in a wide variety of applications because it is tough and high impact-resistant. Uses: ABS is the best 3D printer filament for moving parts, automotive parts, electronic housing, and toys. ABS filament is also used in pipes, automotive components, electronic assemblies, and protective headgear like bicycle helmets, music instruments, kitchen appliances, LEGO bricks, and more.

PROS:

+Strong

+Durability

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+Heat resistance

+Clean finish

+Impact resistance

 

CONS:

-Low flexibility

-Toxic fumes are expelled and require a mandatory enclosure.

-Cannot withstand heat and will melt at high temperatures.

-Non-biodegradable plastic

 

AMPHORA: High strength and very high toughness, FDA food contact compliance, odor neutral processing, Styrene free formulation. Uses are for desktop items, Mechanical Parts.

CONS:

+ Heat bed and nozzle temperature must be set precisely.

+ High printing temperature at around 250 C to 270 C.

 

PROS:

+Impact strength

+Flexible

+Heat resistance

+Impact resistance

+ Produces smooth surface finish.

 

ASA- ASA is compared to an improved ABS filament. There is a wide application of usage such as electrical fixtures, sporting equipment, and outdoor applications. ASA is great for outdoor usage due to weather and UV resistance. include reduction in warping, speed, reduced toxicity.

 

PROS:

+ Temperature resistance

+ Tough

+ Absorbs ultraviolet light (UV resistant)

+ Can be left outdoors

+ Polish-able with acetone vapor

+ Chemical resistance

+ Flexibility

 

CONS:

– Poor layer adhesion can occur if there is no equipment set up like heated chamber with no cooling

 

 

BRASS PLA- This composite filament is a refined combination of copper and zinc. The brass has a similar appearance to bronze. It is a metallic filament that’s less prone to warping, dense, and has a high thermal mass.

CONS:

– Not very good self support

– Abrasive to nozzle

– Cannot withstand or impact or stress

 

PROS:

+ Feels dense

+ Genuine look of brass

+ Numerous finishing options

 

 

BRONZE PLA- Bronze PLA is a composite filament composed of bronze fill particles combined in PLA. This filament can be made to resemble real metal parts and it does not require much post-processing to look appealing. It has many applications such as jewelry, functional prototypes, replicas, and more

 

CONS:

– Rigid and brittle

-Can wear down nozzle

-Combined with abrasive particles

 

PROS:

+ Visually appealing

+ Numerous finishing options

+ Does not have tendency to warp

+ Nice heavy feeling

 

 

CARBON FIBER- Carbon fiber is a material good for prints that are light and also strong. The print’s dimensions are stable, highly durable, soluble, low warpage, good layer adhesion. Uses are in frames, supports, propellers, tools, mechanical parts, protective casings, shells, high durability applications.

PROS:

+Dimensions have accuracy

+Light weight

+Strong

 

CONS:

-Abrasive

-Wear and tear on the printer nozzle

-Can require modification of a steel nozzle to avoid affecting machine

-Prone to clogging

 

CF NYLON (Carbon Fiber NYLON)- Carbon fiber filaments are composite materials formed by infusing fragments of carbon fiber in a polymer base

CF filaments are composite materials made with carbon fiber fragments in a polymer base. CF nylon can be used in many industries such as automotive and it is great for manufacturing parts.

CONS:

-Abrasive during extrusion,

-Wear and tear of nozzle,

-Frequent clogging occurs

-Requires additional hardware such as hardened nozzle, humidity controlled storage, heat dispenser

 

PROS:

+ Impact resistant,

+ Heating chamber not necessary

+ Lightweight

+ Does not warp like normal nylon

+ Flexible

+ Rigidity & strength.

 

CLEANING FILAMENT- Special polymer designed for nozzle cleaning and pushing carbonized plastic and particles out. When used proactively to maintain, it will not damage the nozzle.

PROS:

+ Extend the life of your extruder,

+ Non abrasive,

+ Removes residue,

+ Removes filament contaminants

 

CONS:

– Cannot unlock full clogs

– Additional processes needed for full clogs

 

 

CONDUCTIVE PLA- This material is a unique filament that is capable of conducting electricity. It prints similar to PLA and users can create circuits without additional wires. It is highly durable, soluble, Low warpage, good layer adhesion. Uses low-voltage circuitry.

PROS:

+ Ability to print unique models such as touch sensors, LED’s etc

+ Does not require a heated bed

 

CONS:

+ Expensive

+ Brittle (if bending) and no longer conducts electricity when broken.

+ Leftover filament is difficult to prevent contaminating next print.

 

COPPER PLA- Copper PLA is combined with copper particles and Polylactic Acid (PLA) filament. With sanding and polishing, it gives a smooth shiny look and feels like real copper. Copper is similar to brass, and bronze PLA by how they are embedded with PLA. Copper PLA is good for aesthetics and attractive finishes to metal-like objects, functional models, replicas, and other prints handled with low stress.

CONS:

-expensive

-abrasive

-can be brittle when printing,

 

PROS:

+Genuine look of copper

+does not feel cheap and light

+doesn’t easily warp

+heated print bed not necessary

 

FLEXIBLE TPE- Flexible 3D printing material. It has excellent abrasion resistance, smooth feeding properties, durability is very high. Uses are in making Toys, novelty items, wearable, phone cases, visual products, Applications with touch sensor projects.

CONS:

-Certain printers require extruder or printer modification

-prone to clogging

 

PROS:

+High elasticity

+Abrasion resistance

+Durable

 

 

GLOW IN THE DARK- Minimal warping, glow in the dark properties, and durable, not soluble, low shrinkage during cooling. Uses are in children’s toys, novelty items, wearable items, phone cases visual aid products.

CONS:

– Rough surface and brittle due to glowing powder

– Requires thick walls to make glow effect last

– Sometimes abrasive and requires hard nozzle

 

PROS:

+ Unique modelling options available

+ Heat bed not required

+ Does not easily warp

 

HIPS (HIGH IMPACT POLYSTYRENE)- HIPS is a low cost and easy to print filament. It can be found in television parts, computer housing, toys and it’s food safe. It has dimension stability and acts as an excellent support material.

PROS:

+ Easy to print

+ Handles overhangs well

+ Great for support material

+ Dimension stability

 

CONS:

– Odor

– High printing temperature

– Warping can occur without heating bed or not completely cooled off

 

MAGNETIC IRON PLA- High Durability, Magnetic Look, Magnetic properties. Uses are in refrigerator magnets, sensors, actuators, magnetic stirrers, and educational, DIY projects.

CONS:

– Extensive post-processing

– Expensive

– Not very flexible

 

PROS:

+ Does not easily warp

+ Strong and durable

 

MARBLE PLA- Marble PLA can create the appearance of genuine marble. Marble PLA contains particles of marble within in a combination of PLA . This filament is easy to work with and a good choice for beginners.

PROS:

+ Authentic feel and look of marble, + Easy to work with

+ Does not easily warp

+ Good layer adhesion,

+ Heat resistance

 

CONS:

– Not as durable as pure PLA,

– Prone to stringing

– Missing features of real marble.

 

METAL- Metal has several types of available filament and some popular materials are brass, copper, bronze, steel. Filaments with elements of real metal are labeled with composite of metal-fill. Metal is a highly durable, not soluble, little shrinkage during cooling. Uses are in making Jewelry, statues, home hardware, and artifact replicas.

PROS:

+High temperature which allows heat heat treatment.

strong parts

+ Intricate detail and excellent surface finish

+ Wide range of materials

 

CONS:

– Hardened nozzle is mandatory with any metal filament

– Expensive

Part failure

– Extensive post-processing steps

 

 

NYLON- Strong, lightweight, durable, flexible, wear-resistant, 100% thermoplastic. Uses are in machine parts, mechanical components, structural parts, gears and bearings, dynamic load, containers, tools, consumer products, and toys.

PROS:

+Very strong and durable

+ Can handle abrasion

+ Wide usability

+ Very good for high end professional prototype

+ Impact resistant

+ Great temperature stability

+Easy to work with and post-process

 

CONS:

– Hygroscopic

– Flexible

– High-temperature printing

– Prone to warping

 

 

PEEK- PEEK is a high-performance material reinforced with properties to withstand extreme industrial environments. The high performance of PEEK can be highlighted in its mechanical, thermal, and chemical resistance. It is suitable for harsh conditions

 

CONS:

– High temperature to print

– Difficult to print

 

PROS

+ Flame resistance,

+ Chemical resistance

+ High strength

+ Abrasion resistance,

+ Stability in extreme environments

 

PEKK- PEKK is a high-performance polymer that is comparable to the strength of PEEK and ULTEM. PEKK can be found to be used in aerospace, medicine, and many other industrial applications. This is partly due to its feature of chemical resistance for industrial parts.

CONS:

– High Temperature

 

PROS

+ Easy to print

+ Good layer adhesion

+ less prone to warping than PEEK +chemical resistance

+temperature resistance

+high-strength

 

PET- FDA approved for food containers and tools used for food consumption, barely warps, no odors or fumes when printed. Uses are in phone cases and mechanical parts that require flexibility and impact resistance, jewelry, props, and electronics.

CONS:

– Hygroscopic

– Fragile

 

PROS:

+All purpose usage

+ Easy to print

+ Food safe

+ Impact resistant

 

PETG – Extremely durable and prints without odor. Has superior impact resistance that is superior to PET. PETG has a Low shrinkage, no warping, and is not brittle. Uses are in Protective components like phone cases and mechanical parts that require flexibility. Food containers like cups and plates.

CONS:

-Flexible but Brittle (if bending)

– Thin strings can arise at overhangs

 

PROS:

+ Flexible

+ Strength

+ Heat-resistance

+ Liquid/chemical resistance

+ Withstands impacts better than PLA

 

PETT- Biodegradable, Great 3D Support material, low-cost, use costumes, models, miniature figurines, prototyping and supporting other plastic with dual- head printers.

PROS:

+flexibility

+does not warp easily

+not brittle

 

CONS:

– Uses slow speeds for better printing

-Heated printing bed needed

-prone to clogging

 

PLA- Odorless, Low-warp, Eco-Friendly, Less energy to process. Uses are in Food containers, such as candy wrappers, and biodegradable medical implants, models, prototype parts. It needs to treat the bed with Blue painter’s tape/ Hairspray for keeping it stuck to the bed while printing.

PROS:

+ Strong

+ Durable,

+ Food safe

+ Easy to work with

 

CONS:

-Softens at low temperatures (heat tolerance is low)

– Brittle(if bending)

– Not chemical/water resistant

 

 

POLYCARBONATE – Polycarbonate is regarded as the strongest filament for 3D printing. The strength is complemented with flexibility so it can be bent without shattering. It has wide application in automotive, electrical and mechanical parts. Polycarbonate also withstands high temperatures and only begins to deform at about 60 C.

CONS:

-Hygroscopic

– Needs high hot end at least 275 C and a bed over 110C ,

-Needs long minimum layer time

 

PROS:

+Temperature resistance up to 135 C +Flexible

+ Impact resistance,

+ Transparent

 

 

POLYPROPYLENE (PP)- PP is lightweight, strong, and widely used in many applications. It is considered to be the second-most widely used commodity plastic in the world. It is great for storage boxes, wearables, things that can take impact, resist chemicals, or contain liquid.

PROS:

+ Long lasting

+ Heat resistance,

+ Chemical resistance,

+ Flexible, tough and impact resistance,

+ Recyclable, food safe,

+ Poor bed adhesion

 

CONS:

– Prone to warping

– Poor adhesion

 

PPSU POLYPHENYLSULFONE- PPSU is a high-strength thermoplastic used in many applications such as medical, automotive, aerospace, and much more. PPSU is one of the strongest and durable thermoplastics.

CONS:

– High temperature to print

 

PROS:

+ Strong

+ High print-ability

+ Chemical resistance

+ Heat resistance

+ Radiation resistance

 

PVA- Non-harmful, non-toxic, and environment friendly, easily be dissolved in water under normal temperature, easily stripping. Uses paper adhesive, thickener, packaging film, in feminine hygiene, adult incontinence products, in children’s play putty or slime, freshwater sports fishing.

PROS:

+ Durable

+ Food safe

+ Flexible

+ Water soluble and can allow for complex parts to be created

 

CONS:

-Toxic fumes are expelled and require a mandatory enclosure.

-Cannot withstand heat and will melt at high temperatures.

-Difficult to print

 

 

SANDSTONE- No plastic feeling, printed objects can be colored and easily ground, sticks well on the print bed, no heated bed necessary, near-zero warp. Use in Architecture models, landscapes.

CONS:

– Wear and tear of nozzle

– Brittle and can snap if not careful

 

PROS:

+ Sandstone finishing aesthetic

+ Does not warp or shrink during cooling

+ Does not require heat bed

 

TAULMAN’S ALLOY 910- Alloy 910 is a highly durable and very strong nylon- based material. The strength of it is close to polycarbonate. It is also heat resistant and easy to print.

 

CONS:

– Hygroscopic

 

PROS

+ Abrasion resistance

+ Chemical resistance,

+ Strength and durability

+ Low rate of water absorption

 

 

ULTEM 1010- POLYTHERMIDE 1010- (PEI) – Ultem 1010 is a high- performance material that can be used in industrial applications such as aerospace and automobiles. It is also a faster and cheaper alternative molding tool to steel molds. Ultem 1010 also has a greater heat and chemical resistance than Ultem 9085.

PROS:

+ Among the highest tensile strength for 3D printing

+ Chemical resistance

+ Among the highest heat resistance for 3D printing,

+ Stiff and rigid

+ Structural stability at high temperatures.

 

CONS:

– Layer adhesion,

– Limited by heat chamber

– High temperature to print

 

 

ULTEM 9085-POLYTHERMIDE (PEI)- Ultem is certified to be used as a replacement for metal for aerospace and most airplane interiors are made of it. Ultem is self-extinguishing and used heavily in the aerospace industry due to its safety features in interior and electronics parts used in light fixtures, door handles, interior parts, electronics. Ultem has high tensile strength used also in industrial applications, machining tools, and more. Ultem can be compared with PEEK but much cheaper.

CONS:

– Very high extruder and bed temperature required

– Prone to warping

-Difficult to print

 

PROS:

+ Very strong,

+ Structural stability maintained at very high temperatures

+ Impact resistance

+ Does not output smoke when burnt + Radiation resistant,

+ UL94V0FST rating self extinguishing for flames

+ Highly resistant to moisture deformation

 

 

WOOD- Wood is a very versatile material to print. The material gives a Wood-like appearance and real wood scent, durability and contains real wood fibers. Uses are in a wooden box, a wooden figurine, tables, chairs, cups, and more.

CONS:

– Lacks strength, and durability.

-Wears the nozzle and extruder can be clogged

– Flexibility

 

PROS:

+ Authentic feel and smell of wood

+ Sanding can achieve different effects

 

More about 3D printer filament overview

 

ABS: filament is the most popular or commonly used 3D printer filament. In fact, it is used in a wide variety of applications because it is tough and high impact-resistant. Uses: ABS is the best 3D printer filament for moving parts, automotive parts, electronic housing, and toys. ABS filament is also used in pipes, automotive components, electronic assemblies, and protective headgear like bicycle helmets, music instruments, kitchen appliances, LEGO bricks, and more.

 

Amphora: High strength and very high toughness, FDA food contact compliance, Odor Neutral processing, Styrene free formulation. Uses are for desktop items, Mechanical Parts.

 

Carbon Fiber: Highly Durable, Soluble, Low Warpage, Good layer adhesion. Uses are in frames, supports, propellers, tools, mechanical parts, protective casings, shells, high durability applications.

 

Conductive PLA: Highly Durable, Soluble, Low Warpage, Good layer adhesion. Uses low-voltage circuitry

 

Flexible TPE: Flexible 3D printing material. It has excellent abrasion resistance, smooth feeding properties, Durability is very high. Uses are in making Toys, novelty items, wearable, phone cases, visual products, Applications with touch sensor projects.

 

GLOW In the Dark: Minimal Warping, Glow in the Dark properties, and durable, not soluble, low shrinkage during cooling. Uses are in children’s toys, novelty items, wearable items, phone cases visual aid products.

 

Magnetic Iron PLA: High Durability, Magnetic Look, Magnetic properties. Uses are in refrigerator magnets, sensors, actuators, magnetic stirrers, and educational, DIY projects.

 

Metal: highly durable, not soluble, little shrinkage during cooling. Uses are in making Jewelry, statues, home hardware, and artifact replicas.

 

Nylon: strong, lightweight, durable, flexible, wear-resistant, 100% thermoplastic. Uses are in machine parts, mechanical components, structural parts, gears and bearings, dynamic load, containers, tools, consumer products, and toys.

 

PET: FDA approved for food containers and tools used for food consumption, barely warps, no odors or fumes when printed. Uses are in phone cases and mechanical parts that require flexibility and impact resistance, jewelry, props, and electronics.

 

PETG: Extremely durable and prints without odor. Has superior impact resistance that is superior to PET. PETG has a Low shrinkage, no warping, and is not brittle. Uses are in Protective components like phone cases and mechanical parts that require flexibility. Food containers like cups and plates.

 

PETT: Biodegradable, Great 3D Support material, low-cost, use costumes, models, miniature figurines, prototyping and supporting other plastic with dual head printers.

 

PLA: Odorless, Low-warp, Eco-Friendly, Less energy to process. Uses are in Food containers, such as candy wrappers, and biodegradable medical implants, models, prototype parts. It needs to treat the bed with Blue painter’s tape/ Hairspray for keeping it stuck to the bed while printing.

 

PVA: Non-harmful, non-toxic, and environment friendly, Easily be dissolved in water under normal temperature, Easily stripping. Uses paper adhesive, thickener, packaging film, in feminine hygiene, adult incontinence products, in children’s play putty or slime, freshwater sports fishing,

 

Sandstone: No plastic feeling, Printed objects can be colored and easily ground, Sticks well on the print bed, No heated bed necessary, Near-zero warp. Use in Architecture models, landscapes.

 

WOOD: Versatility, Real wood scent, Durability, contain real wood fibers. Uses are in a wooden box, a wooden figurine, tables, chairs, cups and more.

 

For sure this is only scratching the universe in materials for 3d printers. We know they are using concrete to print outbuilding structures. And plastic engineers are developing top security lines for all sorts of industrial and Space travel research.

 

NASA Astronaut Barry (Butch) Wilmore holds a ratchet wrench created in 2014 with the 3D printer aboard the International Space Station using a design file transmitted from the ground.

 

 

These items are a few of what I have designed and printed with my 3d printers.

I the coronavirus mask I changed how the straps and how the filter is installed. The fishing floats are of my father’s design.  But I had to change how the string is held inside because of the limits of what it could print. Saturn fishing bobber. https://www.ebay.com/itm/334042034802   This was made in the 1970’s.

 

The blades on drowning are ABS I designed the hubs and added blades using Matterhackers software. The tiny Seek thermal camera is encased in flexible plastic I designed this because it slipped and fell into 3parts.  The bobbers are ABS. The mask is made flexible.

https://www.thingiverse.com/ is a great place to find things for your 3d printer.

 

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