3D Printer Filament Types Guide of 2017

Filaments are among the most important 3D printing materials as you cannot produce any object without this. A 3D filament or 3d printer ink may come in a plastic form or other materials. This page aims to help you understand 3D printing filaments even more.

 

Are you wondering what ink 3D printers use? If you do, then you will find an answer here.

A 3D printer plastic, also known as the filament, serves as the 3D printer ink.

3D printer filaments come in different types and your filament choice might depend on the object that you are trying to build.

If you want to learn the different types of 3D printer filaments on the market, their purposes and edges against each other you are on the right page! Read further to learn more about 3D filaments.

Check out below to find the best 3D filament materials for your 3D printer.

What is 3D Filament?

A 3D filament is a 3D printer plastic that is used to make three dimensional printing. In 3D printing, the most popular filaments are ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) and PLA (Polylactic Acid).

However, there are more filaments out there other than these two. Perhaps, you already read or hear some of them. Meanwhile, others might be new to you.

Check out the next sections to learn the different types of 3D printer filaments on the market.

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Types of 3D Printing Filament

Here’s a list of the different types of 3D printing filament that you can choose from:

1. ABS

abs

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene a.k.a. ABS was the most popular 3D printer filament. In fact, it is used in a wide variety of applications due to its toughness and impact-resistance abilities.

This 3D printer plastic is strong and slightly flexible, which makes it a good material for 3D printing. In addition, ABS can be easily extruded, which makes it very easy to operate.

Print Temperature Range: 210°C – 250°C

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Applications

ABS is ideal for moving parts, automotive parts, electronic housing, and toys. In fact, it is used in pipes, automotive components, electronic assemblies, protective headgear like bicycle helmets, music instruments, kitchen appliances, LEGO bricks and more.

  • Very durable and strong
  • Lightweight and slightly flexible
  • Cheapest thermoplastic on the market
  • Favorite material in 3D printing community
  • Petroleum-based non-biodegradable plastic
  • Requires a high temperature to reach a melting point (210°C – 250°C)
  • Creates mild fumes, which may irritate users or the people in the surrounding

When using ABS, you should install it in a well ventilated area.

Hatchbox ABS Filaments
3rDment ABS Filaments
MakerBot ABS Filaments

There are several variants of ABS filament on the market,

Check Price at Amazon

2. PLA

filament1

Polylactic acid or PLA is another popular filament that is often compared against ABS. PLA is biodegradable thermoplastic that is derived from renewable resources like cornstarch, sugar cane, tapioca roots and potato starch.

This 3D printing filament is more environment friendly compared to other plastic materials. Due to this and its low-toxicity features, more and more prefer PLA over ABS and it is now the most popular 3D printing filament in the 3D printing community.

Unlike ABS, PLA filament doesn’t produce toxic stink during printing, so it is safer to use within the homes and classrooms. Moreover, the plastic doesn’t contract when cooling down, so there is no need for a heated bed for your 3D printer.

Print Temperature Range: 180°C – 230°C

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Applications

PLA has the ability to degrade into inoffensive lactic acid in the body and due to this property, it is used in medical ativan suturing and surgical implants. Surgically implanted screws, pins, rods or mesh naturally breaks down in the body within 6 months to 2 years.

Aside from this, PLA is considered safe. Thus, it is also used in food packaging, candy wrappers, disposable tableware, disposable garments, hygiene product and diapers to name a few.

  • Produces a sweet aroma that smells like waffles or candy when heated
  • Easiest material to work with
  • Works well for beginners
  • Less prone to warping compared to ABS
  • Available in translucent and glow-in-the-dark colors
  • Prone to clogging or jamming the printer nozzle
  • Attracts water molecules, becoming brittle at times, difficult to print
  • Water saturated PLA needs a higher extrusion temperature

ColorFabb PLA Filaments
Ultimaker PLA Filaments
MakerBot PLA Filaments

If you want to get a PLA 3D filament for your next project, you can get purchase it here.

Check Price at Amazon

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3. PVA

pva-filament

Polylvinyl Alcohol better known as PVA is another great 3D filament. PVA is a special plastic that is water soluble. This type of filament is based on polyvinyl alcohol, so it has pretty good properties like being non-toxic and biodegradable.

PVA is easy to print and they make a good support during a printing process for those models with overhangs that is impossible to print without a support.

Print Temperature Range: 180°C – 230°C

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Applications

PVA is commonly used as a paper adhesive, thickener, packaging film, in feminine hygiene, adult incontinence products, in children’s play putty or slime. This material is also popular in freshwater sports fishing, where PVA bags filled with bait are thrown into the water. The bag rapidly dissolves and releases the bait to attract the fish.

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  • Non-toxic and biodegradable
  • Soluble in water
  • Low flexibility and safe for food

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  • Never easy to use as it attracts water so much
  • Difficult to source
  • Costly compared to other materials

eSUN PVA Filament
Gizmo Dorks PVA Filament Review
Rigid.Ink PVA Filament Review

If you need a PVA 3D printer filament, check it here.

Check Price at Amazon

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4. PET

IMG Source: 3dprint.com
IMG Source: 3dprint.com

PolyEthylene Terephthalate or PET is another popular 3D filament from plastic bottles. This is a stable and harmless plastic. It does not produce any funky odors and is totally recyclable.

PET filament in its original state is colorless and crystal clear. However, when exposed to heat or cold the material changes its transparency.

When you allow PET filament to cool down slowly after printing, it will have cyrstalline structure. PET has different versions, including PETG.

This modification is a clear thermoplastic with a possibility to thermoform and mold the item after being printed. You can also polish this with flame.

Print Temperature Range: 220°C – 250°C

Verbatim PET Filament
MadeSolid PET Filament
Innofil PET Filament

Applications

PET filament is ideal for packaging purposes because of its vapor barrier and strength. This 3D filament is often used in phone cases and mechanical parts that require flexibility and impact resistance.

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  • Easy material for 3D printing
  • Flexible than the widely popular materials ABS and PLA
  • Cater with wide temperature range from 160c to 210C without any issues
  • Hard and shockproof

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  • Absorbs water from the air (store this properly)

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If you want to get a PET 3D printer filament, you can purchase it here.

Check Price at Amazon

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5. PETT

PolyEthylene coTrimethylene Terephthalate (PETT) marketed as T-Glase filament is another popular 3D printer filament. This material is colorless and water clear.

It does not degrade to a color in multiple layers of applied thickness. This type of 3D printing filament is not biodegradable, but it is recyclable.

Print Temperature Range: 210°C – 230°C

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Application

PETT is FDA approved polymers, making it safe for direct food contact. Most PETT applications include food containers like cups and utensils. Soda pop bottles are made of this material.

Taulman T-glase pett

 

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  • Strength, flexible, and biocompatibility. Not brittle nor prone to warp.
  • Does not shrink, can be printed on glass without any glues
  • Do not absorb water or moisture from the air, does not degrade in water
  • FDA approved and impressive in bridging
  • Prices for PETT are also coming down with some as cheap as ABS

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  • Not easy to use
  • Requires fine-tuning of bed and nozzle temperature

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You can purchase your PETT filament here.

Check Price at Amazon

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6. HIPS

IMG Source: 3dfizzr.wordpress.com
IMG Source: 3dfizzr.wordpress.com

High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) material is biodegradable and has a bright white color. It has no adverse effects when it comes in close contact with humans or pets.

HIPS is very similar to ABS, only that it uses Limonene as a solvent. HIPS filament, just like PVA filament, is also a great 3D support material. In fact, HIPS would make a great support material when you print ABS with dual extrusion printer.

Print Temperature Range: 210°C – 250°C

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Applications

HIPS filament’s specific application is not to fabricate the object itself. This 3D printer filament is popular as a secondary material in dual extrusion 3D printers to provide structural support to a complex object. HIP is well spread in the food industry for packaging. It is also used to pack CD disks and to produce medicinal tray.

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Gizmo Dorks HIPS Filament
eSun HIPS Filament
Filament Outlet HIPS Filament

  • Better than ABS
  • Less likely to warp

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  • Has curling and adhesion issues
  • Working would be tricky, if you have no heated bed

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If you need HIPS 3D printer filament, check it out here.

Check Price at Amazon

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7. Nylon

nylonPolyamide better known as Nylon is a popular synthetic polymer that is also used in many industrial applications. This 3D printer filament is a cost-effective plastic. It is strong, lightweight, flexible and wear-resistant.

Nylon is a great choice for printing mechanical parts and functional parts due to its strength and high melting temperature.

Print Temperature Range: 210°C – 250°C

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Applications

Due to Nylon’s strength, durability and flexibility are it used in a variety of applications. This material is ideal for machine parts, mechanical components, structural parts, gears and bearings, dynamic load, containers, tools, consumer products and toys.

Gizmo Dorks Nylon Filaments
Filabot Nylon Filaments
Taulman Nylon Filaments

  • High strength, durability, and flexibility
  • Less brittle than PLA or ABS
  • 100% thermoplastic
  • Can re-melt and use again without loosing bonding properties

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  • Very high melting temperature of at least 240c
  • Hot-ends contain materials like PEEK and PTFE
  • When heated will break down and emit toxic fumes

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Another weak spot about Nylon is its sensitivity to moisture. It can absorb moisture easily. In fact, it can absorb over 10% of its weight in just 24 hours, which is quite bad. So, you have to be very discreet when storing this. You must keep it dry for good prints by storing it in a sealed container with moisture remover or silica gel packets. Another issue with Nylon is adhesion.

If you need a Nylon 3D printer filament, worry no more because you can purchase it here.

Check Price at Amazon

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8. Wood

IMG Source: all3dp.com
IMG Source: all3dp.com

If you are tired of producing plastics and want to see something new in your next 3D printing project, you can unleash your creativity with wood-like outputs by using FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) filament also known as Wood Filament.

Wood Filament contains a mixture of recycling wood with binding polymer. Thus, helping you produce a 3D object that looks and smells like wood.

Due to its wooden nature, it’s difficult to tell that the object is 3D printed. Using Wood filament is similar to using a thermoplastic filament like ABS and PLA.

However, with this material, you get this unrepeatable wooden-like appearance. When using this 3D printer filament, the temperature should be between175C and 250C.

Print Temperature Range: 195°C – 220°C

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Applications

Wood filaments are often used in decors or materials that you want to achieve with a wooden nature. You can use it to print a wooden box, wooden figurine, tables, chairs, cups or the likes.

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ColorFabb Wood Filaments
MG Chemicals Wood Filaments
Hatchbox Wood Filaments

  • Contain real wood fibers
  • Produce different shades of brown wooden-like surfaces
  • The higher the temperature the darker brown shade
  • Changing printing temperature stimulates tree’s growth ring effect
  • You decorate and post-process, like cut, grind and paint

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  • Softer and weaker compared to PLA
  • Reduced flexibility and tensile length
  • It can break easily

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If you still wish to use a Wooden filament for your next 3D printing project, you can get it here.

Check Price at Amazon

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9. Sandstone

yhst-136641646054229_2269_22322567
IMG Source: makergeeks.com

Sandstone 3D printer filament is another great material that will give you a unique output. This material combines fine chalk powder with PLA to provide you the color and texture similar to a stone.

With Sandstone 3D printer filament, you can produce different surface characteristics either smooth or rough by changing the extrusion temperature while 3D printing.

Print Temperature Range: 165°C – 210°C

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Applications

This 3D printer is ideal for architectural, museum or landscape display and structural parts.

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  • Unique sandstone finish and appearance
  • Does not require a heated bed
  • Does not shrink or warp during cooling

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  • Not durable and less flexible
  • Brittle and prone to snapping and breaking
  • Material is not food safe

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Check Price at Amazon

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10. Metal

IMG Source: smartprinting.co
IMG Source: smartprinting.co

Another interesting 3D printer filament that you should try is Metal PLA. This material is a category of PLA combined with actual metallic powder. By using this type of filament you will produce 3D printed materials that look and feel like there were made of bronze, brass or copper.

Print Temperature Range: 195°C – 220°C

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Applications

Since metal PLA produce metal-like outputs, this 3D printer material works great for jewelry, statues, home hardware and artifact replicas.

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  • Highly durable
  • Not soluble
  • Very little shrinkage during cooling

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  • Requires fine-tuning of nozzle temperature
  • Need to regulate flow rate and post-processing

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If you want a Metal PLA filament for your next 3D printing, you can get it here.

Check Price at Amazon

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11. Magnetic Iron

ProtoPasta_Magnetic_Iron_Printed_Objects_0
IMG Source: lulzbot.com

Magnetic Iron PLA is another great 3D printer filament that you will surely enjoy. This will be helpful if you want to 3D print magnet-like objects. This filament is just like magnets, it strongly attracts to magnets like neodymium iron boron (NdFeB) or samarium cobalt (SmCo) magnets. It has iron contents and is packed in a vacuum-sealed bag with a desiccant pack.

Print Temperature Range: 195°C – 220°C

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Applications

This type of 3D printer filament is great for decors such as fridge magnets and the likes. This is also used to make sensors, actuators, magnetic stirrers, and educational and DIY projects.

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  • Strong and durable
  • Not soluble
  • Very little shrinkage during cooling

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  • Requires fine-tuning of nozzle temperature, flow rate, and post-processing
  • Not that flexible and depends on the structural design
  • Need a heated bed
  • Not food safe
  • Material is expensive

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If you need a magnetic filament, you can get it here.

Check Price at Amazon

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12. Conductive PLA

IMG Source: 3dprinting.com
IMG Source: 3dprinting.com

Conductive PLA 3D printer filament opens up new opportunities for your next 3D printing project. This material includes a conductive carbon particulate to allow you to 3D print low-voltage electronic circuits for simple items like LEDs and sensors.

You can couple this 3D printer filament with a standard PLA filament on a dual-extrusion machine to fabricate a basic circuit board straight from the print bed.

Print Temperature Range: 215°C – 230°C

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Applications

This 3D printer filament is ideal for LEDs, sensors, circuits and low-voltage Arduino projects.

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  • Allows low-voltage electronic circuits
  • Not soluble and does not require a heated bed
  • For better results you can also use a heated bed

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  • Not durable and not so flexible
  • Bending the material repeatedly might break it
  • Shrinks during cooling
  • Not safe with food
  • Conductive PLA 3D filament printer is expensive

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If you need a Conductive PLA 3D filament printer, you can check it here.

Check Price at Amazon

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13. Carbon Fiber 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: 3dprinting-blog.com
IMG Source: 3dprinting-blog.com

Carbon Fiber PLA contains small chopped carbon fiber strands. It offers impressive rigidity, structure, and layer adhesion. Processing this filament is comparable to a standard PLA.

However, it has stiffer PLA with better dimensional stability for warp-free printing, excellent layer adhesion, and easy support removal.

Print Temperature Range: 195°C – 220°C

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Application

This 3D printer filament is ideal for mechanical parts, protective casings, shells and high durability applications.

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  • Prints really well
  • Very durable and soluble
  • Does not require a heated bed
  • Very little shrinkage and warping during cooling

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  • Material made of abrasive materials
  • When finely ground, increases the wear and tear on printer nozzle
  • Printer nozzle should be made or coated with a harder material

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If you need a Carbon Fiber PLA filament, get one here.

Check Price at Amazon 

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14. Flexible/TPE 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: filaments.ca
IMG Source: filaments.ca

Every type of 3D printer filament has its own strengths and when it comes to flexibility, nothing would beat Flexible / TPE 3D printer filament. This item is made of thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) that make it super stretchable.

The TPE material has high elastic characteristics that it feels like rubber. It bounces back and forth into shape. This material is good for FDM printers and can be used for ABS and PLA filaments. In addition, it can withstand tough environments that ABS and PLA can’t.

Print Temperature Range: 225°C – 235°C

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Applications

Due to its extreme flexibility, Flexible/TPE finds a large application in the automotive and household appliance sector. It is also ideal for toys, novelty items, wearable, phone cases, and visual products.

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  • High elasticity and excellent abrasion resistance
  • Consistent diameter, smooth feeding properties
  • Easily stick to build platform, bonds between layers for high-quality objects
  • Durable, low shrinkage during cooling
  • Does not require a heated bed

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  • 3D printing with this material is very difficult
  • Requires fine-tuning of nozzle temperature and flow rate
  • Tendency to squeeze out of extruder in all directions except nozzle

NinjaFlex TPE Filament
Robotjoy Flex 3D TPE Filament
eSUN eLastic TPE Flexible Filament

Check Price at Amazon

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15. Glow In The Dark

IMG Source: 3ders.org
IMG Source: 3ders.org

As the name suggests, this 3D printer filament glows in the dark. It is designed to glow brightly for an extended amount of time. However, you need to charge the object or exposed it to a light source to allow it to emit light.

The Glow in the dark filament is a good choice for projects with a Halloween theme. Since this is a type of PLA and PLA is biodegradable and environmentally friendly, this is safe for everyone, including children.

Print Temperature Range: 215°C

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Applications

This material is great for children’s toys, novelty items, wearables, phone cases or visual products. Glow in the dark 3D printer filament is also among the favorite materials for budding artists who want to bring a new dimension of arts in 3D printing.

You can also use this filament to print Glow in the dark light switches, so you can easily find the switch in the dark. This will also be a great material to design light-shades that will continue to glow after you turned off the lights to allow your children for an easy transition to sleeping at night.

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  • Durable, not soluble and has low shrinkage during cooling
  • Does not require heated bed as well
  • Similar to the standard PLA, printing is easy

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  • Not food safe

Hatcbox Glow
Gizmo Dorks Glow in the Dark Filaments
3D Solutech Glow in the Dark Filaments
If you want to use a Glow in the dark PLA 3D printer filament for your next project, you can purchase it here.

Check Price at Amazon

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16. Amphora 3D Printer Filament

IMG Source: fabbaloo.com
IMG Source: fabbaloo.com

This material is a fancy 3D printer filament developed by the Eastman Chemical Company. It is an entirely new polymer than is specially designed for 3D printing unlike other categories of thermoplastic that are just repurposed for 3D printing.

Although the difference is minimal it is important. This material will help you produce glossy, opaque, and bright object.

Print Temperature Range: 220°C – 250°C

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Applications

Amphora is stiff, lightweight and impact resistance, making it ideal for mechanical parts.

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  • Produces little to no odors during printing
  • Very strong, has a higher melting point than PLA
  • Has better layer adhesion for improved surface finish
  • Performs better when bridging gaps
  • Has cleaner overhangs and has little to no warps
  • Material is also US FDA-approved for food contact

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  • Printing difficulty with amphora is not as easy
  • Requires fine-tuning of bed and nozzle temperature

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If you need Amphora, you can get it here:

Check Price at Amazon

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How To Choose The Right 3D Printer Filament

With all the different types of 3D printer filament on the market, choosing the best one will surely be challenging. So, check out tips below to determine the best material for your next project especially if you need to buy 3d printer plastic.

IMG Source: 3dprint.com
IMG Source: 3dprint.com

What are you building – If you want to build a glow in the dark object, you can go for Glow in the dark PLA 3D printer filament. If you want to produce wooden decors or objects, then get a Wood PLA filament. If you want sandstone, metallic or magnetic object, get the appropriate filament for each project.

In cases, where you can’t choose between ABS and PLA, then you should examine your priority. Do you want a safer product or a cheaper material?

Which do you prefer, the strength and flexibility of ABS or the wide range of available colors, translucencies and glossy feel of PLA? Decide for yourself.

Diameter – 3D printer filament comes with different diameters. There are 3mm and 1.75mm.

Between the two, 1.75mm is better. It is more common in the market and rotates out of the inventory faster, so you can expect to get a new material when you buy it.

It also offers better extruding, retraction and flow of plastic. Regardless of the size you choose, the diameter should be consistent and round throughout.

Moisture is another common issue concerning 3D printer filament. This problem is due to poor packaging or due to long exposure outside of the packaging.

Plastic absorbs moisture from the atmosphere relative to the humidity and duration of exposure. You will notice this in the filament when it splatters and splits at the hot-end due to the speedy process of turning water into tiny expanding pockets of steam.

Impurities – This is a major issue when selecting a 3D printer filament. Chemical impurities will turn your 3D printing experience into a nightmare.

It leads to poor melted plastic viscocity with debris plugging up the extruder nozzle. This will cost you money and time.

In addition, you have to clean the extruder. There is a direct correlation between a cheap filament and plugged nozzles.

I understand that when it comes to the 3D printer plastic cost, we have the tendency to buy the cheaper one. But, save yourself from troubles and headaches by investing in a well-rated and decently priced filament.

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Conclusion

Filaments or 3D printer inks are available in different types. Although it is also referred as 3d printer plastic, there are metal, nylon, sandstone, magnet, carbon fiber and even glow in the dark 3D printing materials that you can use for your next project.

However, you should consider what type of object you are printing. In addition, when you buy 3D printer plastic, you should consider the 3d printer plastic cost (the cheapest can clog the nozzles) and the quality.

If you wish to learn more about 3D printing, 3D printers or 3D pens, you can check our homepage.