3D Printing Filament Guide

Filament 3D Printers, also known as FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) 3D Printers, can print a wide range of material. From fast printing, hassle free PLA, to fun flexible filaments, find out what cool materials that can be printed on printers near and far!

Each brand and product will use slightly different settings, but the list below gives an overview of the most common 3D printing materials. This list is constantly being expanded as the world of 3D printing grows. Explore all of these 3D printer filament types below.

Table of Contents

Standard 3D Printer Filaments

PLA Filament

The standard 3D printing filament known as PLA became the go-to for beginners due to its easy nature. Quality PLA will print at extremely fast speeds, and with the correct settings, can stop warping with relatively easy adjustments. PLA is easy to use and due to its widespread demand, many colors and variations are available.

Another great thing about PLA is the low cost. It’s one of the lowest priced 3D filaments available. PLA has an unexpectedly high tensile strength. It is stiff and rigid and can resist pressure without breaking; however, PLA is not intended for high impact uses despite its high tensile strength.

PLA can be printed on basically any FDM 3D printer. Because of its price, accessibility, and ease of use, PLA is a prime choice for quick prototypes, smooth prints and inexperienced users.

PLA Properties:

  • Print Temperature: 180 - 230°C
  • Print Bed Temperature: Room Temperature - 60°C
  • Experience Required: Beginner
  • Cost: Low
  • Durability: Medium
  • Stiffness: Rigid

Explore PLA Filament

ABS Filament

ABS is the next step up from PLA. It has some similar features as PLA, but it requires a little more effort. ABS is stronger than PLA and is just about as rigid.

Since ABS shrinks slightly when cooled, it can warp and lift off the print bed as it cools. So, a heated print bed is needed to keep it from warping and allow it to cool evenly. While not required, an enclosure or heated chamber helps mitigate warping by keeping heat in the printer and regulating the temperature of the overall print.

Those looking to print with ABS should also be mindful of the strong odor and potentially hazardous fumes ABS can emit when printed. An enclosure with a HEPA and active carbon filter are often recommended when printing with ABS to limit these gasses escaping into the 3D printer’s surroundings.

ABS Properties:

  • Print Temperature: 220 - 260°C
  • Print Bed Temperature: Up to 110°C
  • Experience Required: Beginner - Intermediate
  • Cost: Low - Medium
  • Durability: Medium - High
  • Stiffness: Rigid

Explore ABS Filament

PETG, PET, & PETT Filament

PETG, PET, and PETT are some of the most common 3D printing filaments available. They are also some of the most widely used plastics in the world and can be found in things such as water bottles and packaging.

PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) or polyester is a strong, clear, lightweight plastic. PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol) and PETT (Polyethylene CoTrimethylene Terephthalate) are very similar plastics and are more common in 3D printing.

PETG is widely used in 3D printing because of its strength, slight flexibility, impact and heat resistance, and its beautiful clear and translucent colors. PETG is also very easy to print with, making it perfect to use in functional objects.

It can be a little difficult to get PETG to stick to the build plate, so a heated build plate is a must for PETG. It can also be helpful to turn off your part cooling fan for the first few layers to ensure bed adhesion. One other thing to know about PETG is that it is hygroscopic, and if left out in a humid environment for too long will have a negative effect on the printability, physical properties, and appearance of the finished object.

PETG, PET, & PETT Properties:

  • Print Temperature: 220 - 250°C
  • Print Bed Temperature: 60 - 90°C
  • Experience Required: Beginner
  • Cost: Low
  • Durability: High
  • Stiffness: Rigid with Slight Flexibility

Explore PETG (PET & PETT) Filament

TPE, TPU, TPC (Flexible) Filaments

Flexible filaments, as the name implies, are fantastic for printing strong but flexible objects with your 3D printer. The most common types of flexible 3D filaments are TPEs (Thermoplastic Elastomers). TPC (Thermoplastic Copolyester) and TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) are the 2 most common forms of TPEs used in filament 3D printing.

Flexible filaments are available in a wide range of colors and levels of flexibility. They are usually quite durable as well because they will flex and stretch much more than filaments such as PLA or ABS.

Generally, slower printing speeds are required for flexible filaments. The more flexible a filament is, the harder it likely is to print with. Some flexible filaments require direct drive extruders to decrease the distance between the extruder motor and the hot-end and nozzle.

TPE, TPC, and TPU (Flexible) Properties:

  • Print Temperature: 220 - 240°C
  • Print Bed Temperature: 40 - 70°C
  • Experience Required: Beginner - Intermediate
  • Cost: Medium
  • Durability: High
  • Stiffness: Semi-Flexible - Flexible

Explore TPC & TPU (Flexible) Filament

Nylon Filament (PA)

This increasingly popular 3D filament, Nylon, is a great choice for printed outputs that need strength. Nylon filaments are some of the strongest filaments available for desktop printers and are extremely durable. Nylon is not only strong, but it can also be re-enforced to be more rigid. Carbon fiber re-enforced Nylon is a very strong and rigid filament.

Nylon filament can also be referred to as PA or Polyamide. This comes from Nylon's molecular structure. Polyamides are known for being a high-performance thermo-plastic with uses in engineering due to its good balance of physical properties.

While there are a few Nylons that can be printed as low as 230 degrees Celsius, generally 250 degrees and up is needed to print nylon. Nylon filaments are also extremely hygroscopic, meaning they can absorb water extremely fast and will ruin a print if it has absorbed too much moisture. A sign of Nylon not being dry is the filament steaming and crackling as it extrudes from the nozzle. The best way to dry Nylon is using a filament dryer such as the PrintDry Filament Dryer Pro. This specific dryer also allows the filament to stay in the dryer while the 3D printer works on a print.

Overall, Nylon’s properties are amazing, but it is very important to have the correct set up and resources (such as a filament dryer) to print successfully. Otherwise, Nylon will warp in a manner that could potentially pull itself off the print bed.

In some cases, Nylon can be printed without a heated bed. With or without a heated print bed, a form of glue or bed adhesion, and a bed material that supports Nylon will all help stop warping. Most importantly, an enclosure will raise the chances of printing Nylon successfully.

Nylon (PA) Properties:

  • Print Temperature: 230 - 300°C
  • Print Bed Temperature: Up to 110°C
  • Experience Required: Intermediate - Expert
  • Cost: Medium - High
  • Durability: High
  • Stiffness: Rigid in thick layers, flexible when thin

Explore Nylon Filament (PA)

Polycarbonate Filament (PC)

Polycarbonate (PC) is a leading choice for temperature resistance and strength. Polycarbonate is one of the strongest filaments that can be printed on a desktop 3D printer.

It is also extremely impact and heat resistant and can withstand temperatures up to 110°C. Combining these physical properties with the fact that polycarbonate is naturally transparent shows why it is so widely used across a variety of industries. PC can be found in safety glasses, CDs & DVDs, and even airplane canopies!

Printing Polycarbonate can take a while to master. Polycarbonate filaments usually require extremely high print temperatures, and enclosure, and a very high bed temperature. Typically, the hotter you print PC, the better (within reason). Some of the hardest problems to overcome when printing PC includes poor layer adhesion and warping. Printing hotter will help with layer adhesion, and high print-bed temperatures combined with bed adhesion glues can help mitigate these problems.

Polycarbonate filaments can also be found in a wide variety of synthetic mixtures including carbon fiber & fiberglass re-enforced polycarbonate, ABS polycarbonate mixtures, and more.

Polycarbonate (PC) Properties:

  • Print Temperature: 270 - 350°C
  • Print Bed Temperature: 135 - 150°C
  • Experience Required: Expert
  • Cost: Medium - High
  • Durability: High
  • Stiffness: Semi-Flexible - Rigid

Explore Polycarbonate Filament (PC)