Filament types

Although there is a wide range of filament types a 3D printer can handle, ABS and PLA plastics are by far the most popular. These two plastics are readily available in a staggering amount of colors, even glow-in-the-dark!

  • PLA - Is a thermoplastic derived from natural sources and has excellent print qualities. It flows at a relatively low temperature, starting at ~220°C, and does not require a heated build platform. Objects made out of PLA are rigid and more brittle then ABS. PLA is aslo prefered over ABS when used in areas with poor ventilation due to its relatively non-offensive smell.
  • ABS - Is a synthetic thermoplastic commonly used in the automotive industry and also has excellent print qualities. It flows at a temperatures starting at ~230°C, but can be extruded at higher temperatures then PLA due to its chemical stability, but requires a heated build platform. Objects made out of ABS are rigid and tend to bend before breaking, unlike PLA. Lastly, proper ventilation is a must due to the offensive fumes generated when printing ABS.
  • PLA/PHA  -  A compromise between PLA and ABS at an affordable price. Like PLA, PLA/PHA is made from renewable resources and is biodegradable. Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) adds toughness to the PLA, making it more malleable and giving it a feel similar to ABS. The colors are opaque and remain vibrant after printing. However unlike ABS, it is not prone to warping and can be printed easily on an unheated printer bed. It flows at a relatively low temperature, starting at ~220°C.
  • NinjaFlex - Specially formulated thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) that produces flexible prints with elastic properties. Perfect for wearables, LED Diffusers, Bumpers, Insulation, Grips, Buttons andBuoyancy. It flows at temperatures starting at ~240°C, but can be extruded at higher temperatures.
  • SemiFlex - boasts half the flexibility, more strength and reliability for your 3D printing projects. It's slightly more rigid with a higher level of detail and with added shock-absorption. It can also handle unsupported vertical printing. Flows at temperatures around ~230°C
  • BambooFill - Made with actual recycled bamboo! This material can be stained and sanded. Smells and feels like wood! Works well on both heated and non-heated build platforms. Flows at a temperatures starting at ~220°C.
  • BronzeFill - Print with actual bronze at home! Straight from the printer parts look almost laser sintered with a matte finish but with a bit of sanding and polishing the bronze particles will start to shine and shimmer unlike any 3D printing filament you have seen before. The weight of the material is something special, about 3x heavier then regular PLA filament. Prints easily on an unheated printer bed. It flows at a temperatures starting at ~220°C.
  • CopperFill - Same properties as BronzeFill but with a gold color after polishing!
  • Magnetic Iron - This filament behaves similarly to iron - even to the point of rusting - making it a great choice for costumes and props.  it's actually "ferromagnetic" as opposed to magnetic. This means that magnets will stick to items printed with this filament but 3D Printed items will not behave as magnets. Prints easily on an unheated bed. It flows at temperatures starting at ~220°C.
  • Conductive PLA - A great way to make something with an LED, touch sensor, or some other electronics through your 3D printer. The filament is great for low-voltage circuitry. A great way to think of it is that anything you can run through a 1K resistor should work witht his filament. Prints easily on an unheated bed. It flows at temperatures starting at ~220°C.
  • Glow in Dark -  Literally make your work glow! During the day it's a beautiful creamy color which prints to a perfect smooth finish. Phosphorescent pigment is matched with PLA/PHA compound to make prints glow in the dark. For a better and longer lasting glow time print your models with 100% infill and charge up your models with UV LEDs or high power lights, or just let them enjoy the sunlight for a bit. Prints easily on an unheated bed. It flows at temperatures starting at ~220°C
This guide was first published on Aug 05, 2013. It was last updated on Aug 05, 2013.
This page (Filament types) was last updated on Aug 04, 2020.