Once you've chosen a 3D printer, you'll need to pick a type of filament intended for your project. The filament is the raw material used in 3D printers that will be heated at a high temperature to turn it into a semi-solid state. While in this phase, the printer can easily generate the appropriate design layers and print the entirety of the 3D CAD model onto the printing plate.
However, when you venture through various 3D printer filaments, you’ll hear about numerous materials that could only add up to the challenge of picking the right choice for you. This is particularly true for folks who are just starting to explore the world of the 3D printing process.
While most of us are not new to PLA and ABS, there are other filament materials that you should know such as HIPS, PET, PETG, TPE, TPU, TPC, and several more. And to get a better idea about them, here are some of the most typical types of 3D printer filaments available in the market.
Types of 3D Printer Filaments
Within the world of industrial 3D printing, Polylactic Acid (PLA) reigns. Three-dimensional printing is so simple with PLA. It has a temperature on the printing plate that is lower, so it doesn't need a heating bed and thus has fewer warping issues.
It is widely used in prototyping like printing low-wear toys, prototype parts, and containers. Notice that it cannot be used for something that has a temperature rating of 60°C or above since it deforms at 60°C. For all other purposes, PLA is fine for a general 3D printer.
ABS (also known as Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is the second most commonly used 3D printing filament. In general, ABS can handle high levels of stress and high temperatures. Thus, making it good for most applications. It excels at objects that are often treated, dropped, or heated. Such as mobile phone cases, high-wear products, automotive trim components, and electronic hutches.
Nylon is the preferred synthetic polymeric family for many industries, and one of them is professional 3D printing. Concerning the other forms of filament, it has the best characteristics, efficiency, versatility, and longevity. Given the strength and versatility of nylon, this type of 3D printer filament can be used to make hinges, buckles, or gears, as well as workable prototypes.
PET (G) Filament
The most widely used plastic in the world is Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). It is best known as a water bottle filament, but it is also used in clothing fibers as well as food containers. Though PET is typically used in 3D printing, its modified version PETG is becoming increasingly prevalent.
The G in PET stands for “Glycol“, and the outcome is a filament that is more transparent, less likely to crack, and more convenient for use. PETG is versatile but outshines many forms of 3D printer filaments for its strength and the inability to reach high temperatures or survive high effect. Undergoing the following makes it an excellent option for 3D printing filament for practical parts like mechanical parts, printer parts, and safety materials.
TPE, TPU, TPC Filament
Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPE) is a flexible and robust plastic, like a rubber. Furthermore, TPE is primarily used to manufacture automobile parts and household appliances.
TPU (Thermoplastic Polyether E) is a specific form of TPE, and it is very common among high-quality 3D printers. Compared to ordinary TPE, TPU is significantly extra flexible, hence it allows for greater control during printing.
Moreover, TPC (Thermoplastic Copolyester) is also another form of TPE that isn't as widely used as TPU. TPC's key benefit over TPE is its greater resistance to chemical and UV exposure, as well as heat (up to 150°C).
If you have to create items that need a lot of wear, use TPE or TPU because these filaments are using 3D-printed filaments that are vulnerable to being deformed. Products such as toys, mobile phone cases, or wearable items like wristbands might be some of its example applications. On the other side, TPC works well for comparable applications but excels in tougher settings, including the outdoor environment.
It is not technically wood, because it contains wood-fiber in an enhanced PLA. Generally speaking, wood products are valued for their natural beauty, rather than their practical benefits. When printing items for desks, tables, or shelves, it is a good idea to use wood 3D-printing material. Any of the example applications include bowls, figurines, and trophies. Moreover, it is truly innovative use for 3D printers that are often utilized to produce models of real-life buildings, structures, or trees.
Metal Infused Filament
Like wood filament, it is not 100% metal. In particular, it is made up of powder made of metal and one of the following materials is either PLA or ABS. Yet, the effects also have a metal-like aesthetic appeal. Metal Infused can be printed for both decorative and practical purposes. Figurines, prototypes, toys, including tokens, can all be 3D printed in metal and give a great appearance. You can also use metal 3D printer filament for making pieces, such as tools or finishing components in light applications.
Biodegradable (bioFila) Filament
The purpose of this biodegradable 3D printer filament is to diminish the effect of the entire plastic waste in the atmosphere. Despite their original purpose for being ecologically responsible, the biodegradable 3D filament could still produce quality printed pieces. Choose this bioFila if you have no particular strength, versatility, or endurance requirements. In projects that require prototypes, you can also take advantage of these guilt-free prints in filaments that can be biodegraded responsibly.
It's a kind of 3D material with conductive carbon particles in it. It's ideal for Arduino-based open-source electronics ventures. You'll want to look into this filament if you want to make circuits, LEDs, sensors, and other low-voltage projects.
Magnetic iron PLA filament has magnetic properties, as the name implies. This one-of-a-kind filament is made of PLA material that has been infused with a powdered iron. It is ideal for making custom fridge magnets and other decorative products. Also, it can be used for several DIY designs, sensors, and educational resources, and the like.
Top Five Best 3D Printer Filaments
Getting access to a 3D printer creates a whole new world of creative printing. There are several purposes and hobbies that 3D printing serves, but they all rely on one raw material, a 3D printer filament.
While it is a good idea to use unique materials for your prints in order to print sturdy and impressive models, you need to pick the right material according to your 3D printer needs. You also need to consider the quality and attributes of the filament. With this, finding the right 3D filament is no picnic.
In view of this, we sought the advice of tech-gadget experts and 3D printer enthusiasts to find the top-to-market 3D printing filaments. And to give you a clearer picture of their major features and specifications, we have conducted a detailed analysis to provide a better description of what filament you should pair with your 3D printer. Also, do not forget to click on the buttons below to get their best deals on Amazon!
1. HATCHBOX ABS 3D Printer Filament
Heated Bed Temperature
55°C – 85 °C
HATCHBOX ABS 3D Printer Filament is a tough, impact-resistant filament that runs at a higher temperature than other filaments. It fits well for prototypes and can be polished with vapors, making it an excellent alternative for both professional engineers and enthusiasts. It offers an affordable product without dropping its consistency with its super brilliant finish. This has the same quality as a more expensive material, which makes it a highly pretty pick. And factually, it is now considered one of the world's best-reviewed ABS printing filaments.
2. OVERTURE PETG Filament
Heated Bed Temperature
80°C - 90°C
The OVERTURE 3D filaments were created and engineered with a patented clog-free system to provide a constant and effortless printing process. Designed to support the OVERTURE filaments, each PETG spool includes one piece of 200 x 200 mm high-quality build surface. Moreover, with its sizable inner spool, the diameter ensures feeding consistency and quality printing. This 3D-printing filament has amazing print accuracy and compatibility yet comes at a lower cost compared to most PETG filaments. It is simple to use and has a precise control system.
3. HATCHBOX PLA 3D Printer Filament
Heated Bed Temperature
Citing Polylactic Acid (PLA) as an ideal material with most thermoplastic printing applications, Hatchbox PLA 3D Printer Filament is proud to provide the materials you need to evolve in your personal and professional printing life. This PLA filament will assist you in developing your ideas with the best 3D printing materials to do your projects. This non-toxic, low-odor material is made from plant-based materials and polymers and does not demand the use of a heated bed. 3D printing can be a pleasurable and error-free experience with Hatchbox PLA 3D Printer Filament, which saves your time and effort each time you print!
4. MIKA3D Silk Metallic Filament
Heated Bed Temperature
50ºC - 60℃
.05 kilogram per spool (3 spools per pack)
Are you a fan of printed 3D metal mesh parts with metallic silk? Then, it's safe to say, Silk Metallic 3D Filament is the finest material to use! It's more of a package deal, as you get not one, but three separate spools in one package. Because of its glossy silky finish on the outside, this printing filament is quite distinctive. These filaments are available in a variety of colors, giving you plenty of choices. The 3D-printed objects made from these filaments have a gleam, making them appealing. The spools are designed to work with all FDM 3D printers commercially available. It also melts well at temperatures between 205°C - 230°C, allowing it to be fed smoothly and uniformly.
5. ISANMATE Wood Filament
20% Wood Flour, 80% PLA
Heated Bed Temperature
0ºC - 50 ºC
ISANMATE Wood Filament is a great choice if you're looking for a filament that can make items with a wooden appearance. It is a one-of-a-kind 3D printing filament that differs from generic filaments. It has unique wooden prints that are ideal for artistic decoration and simulation. It is made up of 20% wood and 80% PLA material and gives printed items a beautiful wooden finish. Such a wooden finish allows you to add a natural touch to almost every design by creating a wooden texture. With a diameter of 1.75 mm and a temperature range of 190-225°C, this filament also has a similarly tight tolerance range of +/- 0.0 03 mm, which is fairly consistent around the spool.
Best 3D Printer Filaments - Buyer's Guide
PLA, ABS, and wood filaments are commonly used in 3D printing. Keep in mind that these various types of materials present a rare and distinctive outcome. Additionally, there are a variety of finish options to choose from, such as a satin or a gloss finish. How you want your product to look is one of the key considerations you should remember when deciding on the filament.
3D printers work by heating the filament and allowing it to cool to generate a model printing intended for various materials ranges. As a result, to create the ideal 3D model, your printer must be able to hit the filament's suggested heating temperature. Bear in mind that the temperature range varies depending on the type of filament you use.
Filaments come in a variety of price ranges. This is because different brands employ numerous manufacturing processes. You'll probably get the most quality filament if you choose the premium product. Take into account that you should not invest additional money on filament material for which you don’t need.
Lastly, determine the type of application for your 3D print design before purchasing filament. Changing the application design means having to use different filament forms. And, for instance, a functional 3D model must be constructed out of a material capable of supporting a certain load with no deterioration. Decorative subjects on the other hand can be rendered without problems by using wood or PLA materials.
Best 3D Printer Filaments - FAQs
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene). It is excellent for making tough parts that can withstand extreme temperatures. ABS plastic is a little less brittle and more ductile compared with PLA filament.
PLA filament print is technically safe for food. There are however other issues that could lead to problems in PLA 3D printing like it is not possible that a 3D printed cup is waterproof.
No, it does not. 1 kg. of filament can be purchased for around $20-$30, depending on the material.
Some types of 3D printers use resin instead of filaments to print models. However, this process requires more work and could be messy since resin are known to have a sticky nature.