There is a huge amount of 3D printing materials, as there is an infinite amount of applications to give each and everyone. This great versatility of materials allows us to explore new prototypes and take them to the highest level of quality; Each 3D printer is unique and has its own attributes. Filaments (the raw material) are not the exception: size, hardness and surface quality are just some of the many features a filament can be classified by.
Of course you will have to go through a lot of trial and error prints to really learn taking advantage of your 3D printer and you will probably spend a little more looking for the best filament or even buying some mechanical complements, but, with our 3D printer filament guide & comparison chart, you will find the right parameters to print efficiently.
Use our 3D printer filament guide to set your 3D printer for PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon, Wood, Flexible, and 20 more filament types.
Of course, there are many variables to consider and if we are not cautious we could end up damaging our machines; the main points to consider based on my experience are:
- Printing temperature.
- Heat bed temperature.
And that’s all.
Or maybe not, but like I just said, not using the appropriate temperature to print can cause a disaster or considerable damage to our equipment. For example, one of the most common problems resulting from the wrong temperature setting is a clogged extruder. When the extruder is overheated, it gets clogged and we waste valuable time disassembling and unclogging, not to mention that, in the long run, we could irreversible damage the nozzle’s extruder.
Then, How can I print efficiently?
This is a question the community often asks. Certainly, there is no specific response. Requires a lot of time with your 3D printer so you can master it. Trial and error, that’s the key to becoming an expert in 3D printing.
So I did a little research about most popular filaments in different communities and managed to group the most important ones in 6 categories: Standard, Flexible, Metal, PET, Wood-based and Exotic filaments. These categories include settings for each filament print temperature, bed temperature, strength, difficulty and bed adhesion. Feel free to read it and do a little cheating by skipping a few attempts to become a filaments expert. First, choosing the right filament diameter.
So, 3 mm or 1.75 mm?
Some users swear that using a 1.75 mm filament produces thinner layers, which means better results. However, it depends on the machine you own. Always make sure the extruder is suitable for the thickness of the filaments you are going to use. You may want to look a few post about nozzles and extruders.
1) Standard Filaments
We can name the most useful materials as ‘Standard’ filaments. These materials are used by anyone starting in 3D printing. Each filament needs special settings that we mention in the tables below and then we will do a brief summary of applications, pros, and cons in the category.
The main applications of these standard materials are for rapid prototyping and medical areas. PLA being a biodegradable material is usually needed in the medical field; On the other hand, ABS is a material widely used for mechanical parts, while printing with HIPS gives certain versatility to remove supports more easily.
- Materials recommended for beginners; easy to print with.
- A wide range of diversity within the same kind of materials.
- Most of them do not need warm bedding or additional settings.
- A wrong setting can cause the print nozzle gets clogged.
- PLA possess low sunlight resistance.
- You need an open area to print with ABS or it may cause irritation to nearby users.
2) Flexible Filaments
Not all filaments are rigid, when we need our prints to exhibit some elasticity, there is nothing better than these filaments. Each one possesses a unique kind of docility depending on the requirements of the users. From slightly flexible to rubber flexibility.
Due to the nature of these filaments, their main applications are within the automotive industry, for every used product like cell phone cases even home products.
- Elasticity for better prints.
- Easy adherence to the build platform.
- High life of the material.
- Requires experience, is difficult to print with these materials.
- Requires very good tunings in the nozzle and temperatures
- With poor temperature adjustment, these filaments can quickly cover the extruder.
3) Metal 3D Printer Filaments
One of the most popular filaments is Metallic, these combine different categories of standard filaments such as PLA and metal microparticles such as bronze and copper to give metallic finishes to the prints, although the prints are not 100% made from Metal, it achieves a visual aspect and a texture very similar to the metals.
This kind of filaments is perfect for embellishments, jewelry, statues or even replicas for hardware.
- Not soluble
- Small print shrinks during cooling.
- It is highly resistant and has a long life period
- Requires good tuning for temperature and nozzle.
- Needs post-processing to give a better finish.
4) Plastic-based Filaments
What can be said about PET? Well, PET is a material made from recycled plastic and some of its derivatives were already approved by the FDA, such as PETG.
Being a food-safe material, its application lies mainly in the food area. This material is not biodegradable but it is recycled, so if you own a special recycle machine you can make new filaments ready to be used from recycled plastic
- It is an easy material to work 3D printing
- Certain PET materials have flexibility
- If PET is not properly packaged, the material absorbs water from the air and swells up.
5) Wood-based Filaments
There is nothing better than a wood-based filament to feel like all carpenters and the best part is not having to be sawing or cutting all day using any FDM type printer. Again Wood Filaments is not entirely made out of wood but has a mixture with, for example PLA or ABS.
Most of its applications are for decoration, with the variety of filaments that exist with finishes in wood we can make models for models like chairs or tables.
- Contain real wood fibers.
- Produce different shades of wood-style coffee in prints.
- The higher the temperature, the darker the color will emerge.
- Some of these filaments are weaker than the PLA in comparison to hardness.
- They easily break.
6) Exotic Filaments
Exotic filaments open up a whole new range of possibilities for the projects you have in mind, from conductive materials for electronic projects to highly resistant materials, such as Carbon Fiber. Hence the range of filaments is exponentially growing and almost any material that exists can turn into 3D filament, so there is no excuse to try them.
Ideal for any invention or test that we need to perform, electronic projects, a piece that we need to resist a certain weight or why not? a lamp that shines during the night too.
- Great versatility of features for any project you need.
- They can be difficult to use and need extra care.
A little advice never hurts.. Right? See Below For More Sources.
Also published on Medium.