Looking into the world of 3D printing, it’s the material that makes up the industry, so it made me wonder what the best filaments were in terms of popularity and just overall.
This article is going to look into the top 5 best 3D printer filaments for printing out there, so stay tuned for each material, as well as a nice description and detail about it.
Let’s get straight into it.
Polylactic Acid aka PLA is the ultimate choice for most thermoplastic printing applications in the 3D printing industry.
PLA is prepared with plant-based materials and polymers, making it one of the most environment-friendly and non-toxic 3D printing filaments.
PLA is a tremendously popular choice among creators owing to its simple, odorless printing with minimal warping. One of the most distinguishing features of this 3D printing filament is that it does not require the use of a heated bed.
This 3D printing filament is an exceptionally versatile material and can be used for a wide array of purposes to create smooth, strong, and glossy prints.
The most common applications of PLA include customized phone cases, candle-holders, decorative parts, dog tags, etc.
PLA 3D printing filament is inexpensive, has good accuracy and strength, and a considerable shelf life – making it one of the most sought after 3D printing filament in the industry.
Users have stated PLA as an incredibly easy to use filament with excellent print quality, little to no adhesion issues to deal with, and significant durability.
It is also a highly recommended filament if you’re a novice at 3D printing. With outstanding reviews on a host of websites, users from all over the world describe PLA as their go-to, workhorse filament.
Any 3D printing filament that comes with your 3D printer purchase is definitely going to come with PLA because it ticks all the boxes for a beginner’s filament, and even an expert’s filament too.
Get yourself a spool of SUNLU PLA Filament from Amazon today. It has over 5,000 ratings, most of which are very positive experiences from users just like you!
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene aka ABS is a thermoplastic polymer known for its strength, durability, and good impact resistance. The ABS 3D printing filament is lightweight, affordable, and abrasion-resistant as well.
All these properties make it a popular choice for creating toys, electronics, sports equipment, and is useful in the automotive and medical sector as well.
ABS is a highly sought after solution in the 3D printing industry after PLA, owing to its toughness and impact resistance.
Users appear extremely satisfied with the smooth, strong, and shiny prints that ABS offers. They share that one can experience the issue of warping while printing with the ABS filament.
However, using a proper build surface, enclosure and adjusting temperature settings can minimize the problem.
It takes some trial and error, but once you’ve got your setup in place, you can crank out some amazing ABS 3D prints.
Another great aspect with ABS is how it dissolves in acetone, allowing you to do acetone vapor smoothing. This is where you let fumes from acetone dissolve the outside layers of your ABS prints, leaving a lovely smooth surface afterwards.
With good interlayer adhesion, tensile strength, excellent print quality, users widely use the ABS 3D printing filament with confidence.
In sales, I’ve seen ABS be as low as $15, up to around $25 for a 1kg spool, roughly matching the price of PLA.
Most people don’t know that ABS used to be the most popular 3D printing material out there before PLA got popular.
If you’re looking for a low-cost material that can print tough and durable parts, ABS is the go-to filament for you.
You can get some HATCHBOX ABS 1.75mm Filament from Amazon.
Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol aka PETG is a thermoplastic polymer that offers high heat and chemical resistance, very low shrinkage, transparency, and good resistance to impact.
It is an incredibly tough and rigid 3D printing filament, thereby attaining strong and sturdy prints. PETG is a perfect combination of strength and ductility, making it a remarkable choice for printing objects that require a smooth surface and need to be sturdy.
Water bottles are made from a variation of PETG called PET. PETG has a glycol modifier added to it for better 3D printing compatibilities to do with overheating.
The most common applications of PETG include water bottles, electronics casings, packaging, industrial and medical applications.
PETG 3D printing filament is also an ideal choice for food and liquid storage as its considered food and skin safe. On the price side, PETG is slightly more expensive than PLA and costs anywhere between $20 to $30 for 1kg of filament.
PETG is a great alternative to PLA if you need extra strength in your 3D printers. It comes in some really great color transparent colors. The other day, I purchased some lovely transparent red PETG that looks really clean.
Users are in awe of the PETG 3D printing filament due to its excellent print quality, ease of use, prominent interlayer adhesion, minimal stringing, and very few kinks to deal with.
If you’re looking for an excellent filament for a respectable price, look no further! PETG is your go-to choice.
One of the best you can get is the ERYONE PETG Filament 1.75mm Spool from Amazon, which comes in many colors and has a good tolerance of ±0.03mm.
Thermoplastic polyurethane aka TPU is one of the most commonly used 3D printing filaments in the industry. TPU is a flexible filament known for its elasticity, soft finish, good impact resistance, and durability.
Since it is highly flexible, TPU 3D printing filament can be stretched and flexed easily, making it an optimal choice for creating objects that require flexibility, strength, and durability.
The most common applications of TPU include grip sleeves, phone cases, remote control car tires, etc.
TPU can be a little tricky to print, with the possibility of bubbles and stringing. Printing with TPU does not require a heated bed similar to PLA.
Several users prefer to use a Direct Drive extruder over a Bowden extruder while printing with TPU filament since there is less distance to travel, giving it more chance to print successfully.
Users from all over the world have stellar reviews for the 3D printing filament, recommending TPU as one of the filaments for beginners to advance to in the 3D printing industry.
It’s going to be tricky to get the hang of at first, but there are plenty of videos and tutorials to ensure you get some great TPU prints in the future.
Price wise, TPU has definitely been falling in price in recent times, with 1KG spools coming in as cheap as $22, up to around $35.
If you’re looking to build parts that need to last long with negligible wear and tear, TPU is your go-to 3D printing filament.
A very popular one that most people go for is the PRILINE TPU 1KG Filament, that you can find on Amazon with plenty of great ratings.
Polycarbonate (PC) is a pretty special type of filament which offers many qualities and characteristics that other 3D printing materials don’t offer. The main upsides is just how tough this material is, as well as its heat resistance which can withstand a lot.
One brand of Polycarbonate mentions that it can withstand temperatures well above the 110ºC mark.
Many people used to find it difficult to 3D print this material because of how much heat it needs, as well as the manufacturing methods which would make printing it hard.
Nowadays, we can print Polycarbonate with attainable levels of heat, as well as with having great warping resistance. Many 3D printers can reach the adequate temperatures to print it, otherwise, a few upgrades can definitely take you there.
It is usually recommended that you have a heated built plate and enclosure combination to best 3D print this material.
If you do have larger parts you want to print, it’s better to have a heated chamber, which is a mixture of an enclosure, a heater, and a thermostat to control the temperature.
Fan settings are another important aspect to control, making sure that fans are either really low or off to 3D print it.
Some bed surfaces like BuildTak are essentially Polycarbonate, which is an issue since Polycarbonate sticks very well to itself, even with a flex build plate.
Most likely you’ll get some kind of damage in this scenario, so it’s advised to use something like a PEI build surface, along with glue to help it stick down.
The level of mechanical strength PC has compared to materials like PLA and ABS really goes to that next level.
Another well-liked factor is how you can easily post-process the resulting 3D print to get an amazingly smooth surface. You can either sand by hand or with a machine to get some top quality models.
A great spool to go with that many people find works great is the Polymaker Polycarbonate 3D Printing Filament from Amazon.
Some brands of PC require temperatures of up to 300ºC but with Polymaker, 230-270ºC works fine due to the manufacturing methods.
Many people regard PC as the strongest and most heat-resistant filament you can 3D print on a consumer-grade 3D printer.
7. Nylon (Polyamide)
Nylon is one of the world’s most popular thermoplastic known for its strength, chemical resistance, and durability. It offers high impact and abrasion resistance and is popular in both 3D printing and industrial applications.
It is interesting to know that Nylon is regarded as one of the most durable 3D printer filaments out there. Nylon’s resistance to wear and tear, good interlayer adhesion coupled with odorless printing makes it a superior choice for several applications.
When you figure out how to properly 3D print Nylon successfully, you can create some seriously durable models and even functional models that can hold weight.
This 3D printing filament absorbs moisture from the air as it’s hygroscopic, so make sure it is properly stored and dried before printing.
Though it is usually dried and packed with a dessicant before shipping, you do need to maintain the storage conditions for the best quality prints.
This property of Nylon can create air bubbles while printing and is likely to weaken the part and its surface finish if you’re not careful.
Nylon has a special property which allows it to be dyed before or after 3D printing it.
The common applications of Nylon include 3D printed plastic gears, cable ties, nuts, screws, and bolts, etc. Nylon can be a little tricky to print with but rewarding mechanical properties make up for it.
Users from all over the world are quite satisfied with Nylon 3D printing filament and continue to prioritize it over other traditional filaments as per their requirement.
Nylon filament can be a bit pricey, costing anywhere from $30-$45 per 1kg.
If you’re getting yourself some Nylon filament, I’d recommend going for the OVERTURE Nylon Filament Spool (1KG) from Amazon.