Choosing the right filament for your 3D printer
There is a wide variety of printer filaments available for the FDM 3D Printer, but which one is best for you?
In this article I am going to cover the pros and cons of using the big 2 filaments, PLA and ABS. Although there are many other types of filaments out there, I plan to cover these in another article.
For now I present to you PLA and ABS so you can form your own opinions on what filament is best for you..
PLA – Polylactic Acid
PLA is a popular choice for most FDM hobbyists. It’s a bio-polymer which means it is environmentally friendly and is made from renewable resources. A cheap and easy to use filament that is available in a large variety of colours.
- Mostly odourless, sometimes smells sweet like pancakes or waffles.
- Made from natural renewable resources, corn starch or Tapioca roots.
- Can be used in food based applications safely.
- Prints a lower temperature compared to ABS, 175-220 degrees Celsius.
- Does not require a heated bed to print, but sometimes recommended if you experience warping.
- Safe to work with, will not cause harm.
- May absorb moisture from the air causing the plastic to become brittle by nature.
- Higher chance of nozzle clogging compared to ABS.
ABS – Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene
ABS is an oil based thermoplastic, a very robust plastic used in everyday applications such as Lego, electronics equipment, car manufacture and more. ASB also comes in a wide variety of colours at a reasonable price.
- Stronger and more robust in comparison to PLA.
- Not as brittle in comparison to PLA, has a slight flex to it.
- Doesn’t suffer from nozzle clogging.
- Prints at a higher temperature compared to PLA, 220-260 degrees Celsius.
- Non Biodegradable.
- Not food safe.
- Not safe for aquatics.
- Requires heated bed to prevent warping.
- Fine dust may cause skin and respiratory problems, and are known to be carcinogenic.
- Fumes give an unpleasant smell of melting plastic, a well ventilated area is required.
Personally I prefer to use PLA as I find it more forgiving of the two plastics, little to no warping and is 100% safe to work with which makes it family friendly for applications around the house.
Tell me what you think, Do you agree or do you prefer an other kind of FDM printing filament? Let me know in the comments below.