Material Options in FDM 3D Printing

PLA

PLA (Polylactic Acid) is one of the two most commonly used desktop 3D printing materials (with the other being ABS). It is the ‘default’ recommended material for many desktop 3D printers, and with good reason – PLA is useful in a broad range of printing applications, has the virtue of being both odorless and low-warp, and does not require a heated bed. PLA plastic is also one of the more eco-friendly 3D printer materials available; it is made from annually renewable resources (corn-starch) and requires less energy to process compared traditional (petroleum-based) plastics. Outside of 3D printing, PLA plastic is often used in food containers, such as candy wrappers, and biodegradable medical implants, such as sutures. PLA filament for 3D Printing is available in a wide range of colors in both 1.75mm and 3mm.

ABS

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is another commonly used 3D printer material. Best used for making durable parts that need to withstand higher temperatures. In comparison to PLA, ABS plastic is less ‘brittle.’ It can also be post-processed with acetone to provide a glossy finish. When 3D printing with ABS filament a heated printing surface is recommended, as ABS plastic will contract when cooled leading to warped parts. ABS filament is available in both1.75mm and 3mm diameter sizes.

Nylon

Nylon is an incredibly strong, durable, and versatile 3D printing material. Flexible when thin, but with very high inter-layer adhesion, nylon lends itself well to things like living hinges and other functional parts. Nylon filament prints as a bright natural to white with a translucent surface, and can absorb color added post process with most common, acid-based clothing dyes. Nylon filament is extremely sensitive to moisture, so taking drying measures during storage and immediately prior to printing (using desiccant, vacuum, or elevated temperature) is highly recommended for best results. Taulman Nylon is a specially formulated 3D printing Nylon filament that comes in a variety of sizes and packages, including 1-, 2-, and 3-packs of both 1.75mm and 3mm.

PET

PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) is an industrial strength filament with several great features. It’s strength is much higher than PLA, it is FDA approved for food containers and tools used for food consumption, it barely warps, and produces no odors or fumes when printed. PET filament is not biodegradable, but it is 100% reclaimable. PET 3D printer filament is known for its clarity and is also very good at bridging.

TPE

TPE filament is a flexible 3D printing material that feels and acts much like flexible rubber. TPE filament can be used to make parts that can bend or must flex to fit their environment – stoppers, belts, springs, phone cases and more. This extremely flexible 3D printer material will allow you to create 3D prints that will have the properties of a soft rubber, making it even more flexible and elastic than our Soft PLA filament. TPE 3D printing filament is available in1.75mm and 3mm.

Flexible PLA

Flexible PLA, also known as ‘Soft’ PLA, is useful for printing rubber-like parts that can bend or flex. It is compatible with almost all desktop 3D printers. Soft PLA is available, as an individual spool or as a sampler pack of each color, in both 1.75mm and 3mm.

TPU

TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) is an elastic, oil/grease resistant, and abrasion-resistant material with a Shore Hardness of 95A. TPU Plastic has several applicable uses including automotive instrument panels, caster wheels, power tools, sporting goods, medical devices, drive belts, footwear, inflatable rafts, and a variety of extruded film, sheet and profile applications. It is also commonly used in mobile phone cases.

Laybrick

LAYBRICK is a 3D printing material that gives parts the look and feel of grey stone while retaining the resiliency of plastic, making it ideal for landscape and architectural designs. Anything made with LAYBRICK can be painted and sanded. In the lower range of 165°C to 190°C, the print will come out mostly smooth, whereas with higher temperatures it will begin to have a more pitted, sandstone-like texture. LAYBRICK is available in both 1.75mm and 3mmunspooled rolls.

WoodFinish PLA

It is a wood-like 3D printer material that gives 3D printed objects the look and feel of fiberboard. It also imbues parts with other wood-like attributes, such as the ability be cut, painted, and sanded. It is made from a combination of recycled wood particles combined with polymer binders allowing it to be melted and extruded through your 3D Printer. It is possible to give parts printed in it a simulated alternating light/dark wood-grain appearance by varying the extruder temperature during printing.

Carbon Fiber Reinforced PLA

Carbon Fiber Reinforced PLA filament provides fabulous structural strength and layer adhesion with very low warpage. Due to the carbon fiber contained in the filament, it has increased rigidity, therefore increased structural support built right in. Carbon Fiber filament is perfect for printing items that do not bend, such as: frames, supports, propellers, and tools – drone builders and RC Hobbyists love this stuff, and it is made in the USA! The carbon fiber in the filament is specifically designed to be small enough to fit through the nozzles, but long enough to provide the extra rigidity that makes this reinforced PLA so special.

Steel PLA

Steel PLA filament is as easy to print as Standard PLA , but because of the steel fibers blended with the plastic, prints are heavier and thus, more authentic . Finished steel 3D prints can be polished and doctored to create beautiful and unique pieces. Unpolished, the Stainless Steel filament looks like cast metal fresh from a mold. With just a little finishing and polishing, however, you can easily create any look like you desire. 3D Printing Steel is perfect for printing jewlery, props, costumes, figurines, and robots. Since it is so easy to print with, it is great not only for hobbyists, but serious designers as well.

Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate (PC) Polycarbonate is strong and very resistant to impact – this material is used when making bullet proof glass. Polycarbonate is an extremely tough and durable thermoplastic material that is temperature resistant. This material is malleable while cold and can be bent without cracking.

PVA

PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate) filament prints translucent with a slightly yellow tint and is primarily used as a 3D printing support material because it is water-soluble, meaning that it will dissolve when exposed to water (and so MUST be kept dry prior to use). PVA is most often used with 3D printers capable of dual extrusion: one extruder printing a primary material (such as ABS or PLA) and the other printing this dissolvable filament to provide support for overhanging features.

HIPS

High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) is very similar to ABS. The main difference is that HIPS plastic uses Limonene as a solvent, therefore making it a great option as support material when printing ABS with dual extrusion printer. HIPS filament is as easy to 3D print with as ABS but is much less likely to warp.

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