People used to consider 3D printed objects weak and brittle, but we have made some serious strides in the durability of these models.
We can create a strong 3D printer filament that stands up to very harsh conditions. This made me wonder, what is the strongest 3D printer filament that you can actually buy?
The strongest 3D printer filament you can buy is polycarbonate filament. Its mechanical structure is unlike many others, where strength tests have shown the excellent resilience and strength of this filament. Polycarbonate is widely used for engineering and has a PSI of 9,800 compared to PLA’s 7,250.
I will describe some interesting details about 3D printer filament strength, as well as give you a researched list of the top 5 strongest 3D printing filament, plus more, so keep on reading.
What is the Strongest 3D Printer Filament?
Polycarbonate (PC) filament is the strongest filament of all the known printing materials in the market. It is used for bullet-proof glass, riot gear, phone & computer cases, scuba masks and much more. The durability and rigidity of PC outweighs other printing materials easily.
The glass transition temperature rate offered by Polycarbonate filament is much higher than most other plastics filaments, meaning it has a high temperature resistance.
One of the tough competitors is ABS filament but you will be amazed to know that Polycarbonate filament can withstand 40°C more than ABS, making it a very strong filament.
Even at room temperature, thin PC prints can be bent without cracking or bending. Wear and tear doesn’t affect it as much as other materials, which is great in many 3D printing applications.
PC has amazing impact strength, higher than that of glass and several times higher than acrylic materials. On top of its incredible strength, PC also has transparent and lightweight qualities which make it a serious contender for 3D printing materials.
The Polycarbonate filament has a tensile strength of 9,800 PSI and can lift weights of up to 685 pounds.
Depending on the different types of 3D printers and its components, Polycarbonate filament has an extruding temperature of almost 260°C and requires a heated bed of around 110°C to print properly.
Rigid.Ink has a great article detailing how to print with Polycarbonate filament.
All these statistics are far better and efficient than any other filament tested until now. In a nutshell, Polycarbonate filaments is the king of the 3D printing filament when it comes to strength.
Top 5 Strongest 3D Printing Filament
- Polycarbonate Filament
- Carbon Fiber Filaments
- PEEK Filaments
- ABS Filament
- Nylon Filaments
When it comes to the strongest filaments, polycarbonate filament will always be seen at the top of the list as described above. Many amazing features and reasons are contributing to making it to float above the other filaments but some of the most appreciated features of Polycarbonate filaments include:
- PLA usually begins to deform at a minor temperature of about 60°C but Polycarbonate filament can resist the heat up to amazingly 135°C.
- It is durable with impact and high shatter resistance.
- Electronically, it is non-conductive.
- It is transparent and highly flexible.
You can’t go wrong with some PRILINE Carbon Fiber Polycarbonate Filament from Amazon. I’d thought it would be a lot pricer but it actually isn’t too bad! It also has great reviews that you can check out.
One user actually tested how much carbon fiber was in the PRILINE Carbon Fiber Polycarbonate Filament and they estimated it was around 5-10% carbon fiber volume to plastic.
You can print this on an Ender 3 comfortably, but an all-metal hotend is recommended (not required).
Carbon Fiber Filament
Carbon fiber is a thin filament composed of fiber that contains carbon atoms. The atoms are in a crystalline structure that provides high strength which makes it an ideal choice for industries like automotive.
Markforged state that their carbon fiber filament has the highest strength-to-weight ratio, where in their flexural strength three-point bending test, illustrated that it is 8x stronger than ABS and 20% stronger than the yield strength of aluminum.
Their carbon fiber has a flexural strength of 540 MPA, which is 6 times higher than their nylon-based onyx filament and it’s also 16 times stiffer than their onyx filament.
You can purchase 2KG of carbon fiber PETG for around $170 from 3DFilaPrint which is very premium for 3D printer material, but a great price for high quality filament.
It is light and has excellent resistance to chemical degradation and corrosion. Carbon fiber has better dimensional stability because of its strength that helps in mitigating the chances of colliding or shrinking.
The stiffness of carbon fiber make it a top contender for the aerospace and automotive industries.
PEEK filament is one of the most reliable and trusted materials in the huge 3D printing industry. PEEK stands for its composition which is Polyether Ether Ketone, a semi-crystalline thermoplastic.
It is well known for its excellent strength and high-end chemical resistance. During its manufacturing, a process is followed known as phased polymerization at a very high temperature.
This process makes this filament highly resistant to organic, bio, and chemical degradation in any type of environment with a useful operating temperature of 250°C.
As PEEK filaments reduce the amount of moisture absorption and make the process of sterilization easy, medical fields and industries are adopting PEEK filaments for 3D printer rapidly.
It does get pretty pricey so keep that in mind!
ABS comes in the list of the strongest filaments because it is a hard thermoplastic material that can resist impact gracefully.
This filament is widely used in printing processes such as engineering purposes, technical printings, etc. It is one of the most cost-effective as compared to other major types of fiber filaments.
This is the fact that makes this filament ideal for the users who are bound to a budget but want to have a high-quality strong filament for 3D printing.
ABS is a perfect choice if you are going to print things that will have the stress of will include high functionality. As this filament is heat and water-resistant, it provides users with a smooth and attractive finish to the product.
You also have the ability to easily work with the material, whether that’s sanding, acetone smoothing, or painting.
Nylon is an excellent and strong material that is used in most of the 3D printers. It has an amazing tensile strength of almost 7,000 PSI which is more than most of the other 3D filaments.
This filament is highly resistant to the chemicals and heat which makes it one of the ideal options to use in industries and major organizations.
It is strong but comes after ABS although, the nylon industry is moving forward to bring improvements using mixtures of particles from fiberglass and even carbon fiber.
These additions can make the nylon filaments more strong and resistant.
NylonX by MatterHackers is a perfect example of this composite material for some amazing 3D printed strength. The video below shows a great visual of this material.
Although TPU is a flexible filament, it has some serious strength in the impact-resistance, wear and tear resistance, chemical and abrasion resistance, as well as shock absorption and durability.
As shown in the video titled ‘The Ultimate Filament Strength Showdown’ above, it showed to have amazing material strength and flexibility. The Ninjaflex Semi-Flex withstood 250N of pulling force before snapping, which in comparison with Gizmodork’s PETG, gave a force of 173N.
Which Filament is Stronger ABS or PLA?
When comparing the strength of ABS and PLA, the tensile strength of PLA (7,250 PSI) is greater than the tensile strength of ABS (4,700 PSI), but strength comes in many forms.
ABS has more flexible strength since PLA is brittle and doesn’t have as much ‘give’. If you expect your 3D printer part to bend or twist, you would rather be using ABS over PLA.
The all-famous Legos are made from ABS, and those things are indestructible!
In hotter environments, PLA doesn’t hold its structural strength very well so if heat is a factor in your area, ABS is going to hold up better. They are both strong in their own rights but there is another option.
If you want a filament which meets in the middle of the two, you want to look towards using PETG, which is easy to print like PLA, but has a little less strength than ABS.
PETG has more natural flex than PLA and should keep its shape longer.
PETG can also withstand higher temperatures than PLA, but you want to make sure your 3D printer has the correct capabilities to reach the necessary temperatures to print it.
What is the Strongest 3D Printer Resin?
Accura CeraMax is considered as the provider of the strongest 3D printer resin. It guarantees full capacity temperature resistance as well as the highest strength for heat and water resistance.
It can be used efficiently to print the perfect composite like prototypes, ceramic-like components, jigs, tools, fixtures, and assemblies.
What is the Stiffest 3D Printing Material?
PLA filament is also known as Polylactic Acid and is one of the most used filaments in 3D printers.
It is considered as a standard filament material that is widely being used because it can print clearly at a very low temperature without requiring a high heated bed.
It is the stiffest 3D printing material and is ideal for the beginners because it makes 3D printing easy as well as it is very inexpensive and produces parts to be used for a variety of purposes.
After being the stiffest 3D printing material it is also known as the most environmentally friendly material to be used in 3D printers. As an amazing property, PLA emits a pleasant smell while printing.
What is the Weakest 3D Printing Filament?
As it is mentioned above that simple nylon or some PLA filaments are considered as the weakest 3D printing filaments in the 3D industry. This fact is only valid for previous or old versions of the nylon filaments.
However, the new updates such as filled nylon filaments with Onyx or nylon carbon fiber filaments come in the list of top strongest filaments for the 3D printers.