What filament is suitable for your 3D printing project

Posted by Aaron Chen on


Aside from 3D printer, filament is also a vital component in any 3D printing project because filament serves as ink for 3D printers.

Filaments in 3D printing are usually thermoplastics. It melts when heated. While it is hot, it can be shaped and moulded then solidifies when cooled.

Today, there are several varieties of filaments available in the market. It is sold in spools which weighs from 0.5 kg to 2 kg.

To help you choose the best filament for your 3D project, below is the list of the 3D printer filaments that are used today. Read on here.

Basic filaments

This category features the most common 3D printer filament. It is used by most beginners and 3D printing enthusiasts because it is easy to use and readily available in the market.

  • PLA

Polylactic Acid is the most popular filament that is used in desktop 3D printing. It is because PLA is easy to use. It also has low printing temperature and doesn’t warp easily.

PLA is considered an odourless filament as it doesn’t give off any foul smell during printing. Moreover, this filament is environmental-friendly. It is made from renewable resources which include corn starch.

PLA is used to print items such as low-wear toys, containers and prototype parts. Since PLA is brittle, it is not ideal to use when making items such as high-wear toys, phone case or tool handles.

  • ABS

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene is considered the second most popular 3D printer filament, after PLA. ABS and PLA are often compared because both of them use similar 3D printing process.

Nevertheless, a good ABS filament is moderately superior to PLA. It is a common plastic filament that is used for consumer products that require durable material.

ABS has higher temperature resistance. However, it has a tendency to warp during cooling and intense fumes. ABS is used to create cases or project enclosures, toys or action figures and automatic hardware.

  • Nylon

Nylon is a polyamide. It is the most versatile printing material available today. It is very durable. Its strength and flexibility are used to create functional prototypes, tools or mechanical parts.

A unique characteristic of Nylon is that it can be dyed before or after it is being printed. However, it absorbs moisture easily. Thus, it is important to store it in a dry and cool place.

  • TPE

TPE (thermoplastic elastomers) is a type of polymer that has rubber-like properties. It is usually found in medical supplies, automotive parts and household appliances.

TPE filaments are used when creating objects that need a lot of bending and stretching. This is because TPE is a type of soft and stretchable material. However, printing using TPE filaments may not be easy since it is difficult to extrude.


Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is known as the most commonly used plastic in the world. It is a polymer that is used in water bottles and food containers.

A “raw” PET material is rarely used in 3D printing. But, its variant PETG is commonly used as 3D printing filament. In PETG, the “G” stands for glycol-modified. PETG is an all-rounder filament in 3D printing due to its flexibility and strength.

PETT is another variant of PET. It is more rigid than PETG and it is popular for being a transparent filament.

“Exotic” and Recreational type

The 3D filaments under this type are popular for recreational use. It has characteristics such as flexibility, strength and durability but also for its composition and surface finish.

  • Wood

Wood filament is actually PLA filament that is infused with wood fibre. The wood varieties that are commonly used are Birch, Pine, Cedar, Willow and Ebony.

For consumers who give more attention to aesthetic and tactile appeal, wood filament is a good choice. Nevertheless, it is less flexible and durable compared to other 3D printer filaments

  • Metal

Like wood filament, metal filament isn’t really metal. It is a mixture of PLA or ABS and metal powder. Metal filament has different varieties. It includes brass, bronze, copper, stainless steel and aluminium.

Most of the items that are printed in metal filament are used for aesthetics. As long as the 3D part doesn’t deal with too much stress, then metal filament can be used to create tools with a purpose.

  • Glow-in-the-dark

Phosphorescent materials are added in PLA or ABS base material to create glow-in-the-dark filament. This filament is available in different colours. It comes in green, pink, blue, red and yellow. This type of filament is used for toys, figurines and wearables.

  • Magnetic

This unique type of filament is based in PLA or ABS material that is infused with powdered iron. This filament is considered to be ferromagnetic. Although it is attracted to magnetic fields, this filament has no magnetic fields of its own.

For professional use

These 3D printer filaments are more popular among 3D printing hobbyists. It is also used for industrial and commercial applications.

  • HIPS

HIPS (high impact polystyrene) is a copolymer. It is commonly found in protective packaging such as CD cases. HIPS is known as an excellent support material.

HIPS is usually paired with ABS filament in a dual extrusion printer.

  • PVA

Polyvinyl alcohol is commonly used as support material in 3D printing because it is dissolvable in water. Unlike HIPS, PVA can be paired with other 3D printer filaments, not just ABS.

PVA filament must be handled carefully. Even moisture in the atmosphere can damage the filament. Thus, it must be stored in a cool and dry place.

  • ASA

ASA (acrylonitrile styrene acrylate) is an alternative for ABS. Its main difference to ABS is that it is resistant to UV light.

ASA is also resistant to chemical exposure and heat. Compared to ABS, ASA warps lesser during printing. Just make sure to adjust the cooling fan properly since it will easily crack if the fan is too strong.


Selecting the right filament for your 3D printing project is crucial. It is not enough to just pick whatever’s available and popular since the 3d printing filament being used will hugely affect the quality of the final printed parts. This blog post can help you decide which 3D printer filament is suitable for your 3D project.

If you decide to outsource 3d printing and would like to know more on filaments and its relevant 3D printing, just call or approach a reliable 3D printing service company locally. They can also help choose the best 3d printing filament that suits your printing project.

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Topics: 3d printing

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