The Scoop on FilamentEverything you need to know about PLA and ABS
With all of the different filaments out in the industry today, it can be hard to choose the correct one for your needs. Sometimes, the choice is easy—your printer my only run a specific type of filament. Other times, the choice is difficult—you need to choose the correct type of filament to make your project work. Makersome is here to help you make the right choice. By the end of this article, you will understand not only different types of filaments, but how they can be used to make your project a success.
Let’s start by laying the ground work on some different types of filaments.
PLA (polylactic acid)
PLA is one of the most used filaments on the market today because of its versatility; it can literally be used with any 3D printer. Unlike any other filament, your printer does not require special nozzles, or a heated bed to run it. It also comes in virtually any color, and is plant-derived, so it is biodegradable, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly. PLA also does not produce any harsh odors, with most users comparing its sweet aroma to that of waffles. Another characteristic that people like about PLA is its rigidity. It is often used in applications that require stiffness, such as bottle openers. When fit is critical, PLA is a great choice because of its low warp factor.
Processing Temperature: 160-220°C (320-428°F), 200°C (392°F) recommended starting point
Bed Temperature: although not required, ambient-60°C (ambient-140°F), ambient recommended starting point
Proper Storage: best when kept in a sealed, dry container
Filament Sizes: 1.75mm and 3.0mm
Print Surface: for best adhesion, cover print surface with painter’s tape or a Glass Bed Upgrade Kit non PET tape side covered with glue stick or Aqua Net® hairspray extra super hold. As a little note make sure to buy unscented or your work area will smell really bad once printing starts.
- Availability 100%
- Ease of Print 95%
- Printer Compatibility 100%
- Strength 85%
- Flexibility 30%
- Availability 95%
- Ease of Print 85%
- Printer Compatibility 75%
- Strength 80%
- Flexibility 45%
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadine Styrene)
Along with PLA, ABS is also one of the most commonly used filaments on the market. It comes in a wide variety of colors, and most printers support it. Unlike PLA, which can be brittle due to its rigidity, ABS has some give, while also being strong. It can be used in applications that require high temperatures and durability. If an application requires a glossy finish, a chemical like acetone can be used post-printing to achieve this look. ABS, can, however, be susceptible to water absorption. This can degrade its properties, causing it to print poorly. It can also produce an unpleasant odor, so is best used in a well ventilated area.
Processing Temperature: 215-250°C (419-482°F), 230°C (446°F) recommended starting point
Bed Temperature: 90-103°C (194-217.4°F), 110°C (230°F) recommended starting point
Proper Storage: best when kept in a sealed, dry container. Usage of desiccant recommended.
Filament Sizes: 1.75mm and 3.0mm
Print Surface: Kapton® or PET tape. A Glass Bed Upgrade Kit using the PET tape side with ABS juice (aka ABS slurry) is hard to beat for getting your prints to stick and not come up.