3D printing

Comparison Guide For 3D Printing Materials – Characteristics, Printing Parameters & More

 With the advent of 3D printing and a surge in popularity, we see an increase in the use of 3D printer consumables. The types of wire used in 3D printers have become increasingly diverse. This article will introduce some common linear 3D printer consumables, mainly their material characteristics and printing parameters, so that you can compare them for yourself and select appropriate materials.

1. PLA

 PLA is a bioplastic made from corn, potatoes, sugarcane, or other starch sources. It is a material that can be composted at commercial facilities and will not emit dangerous fumes when heated. PLA stands for polylactic acid, a polymer derived from lactic acid. This type of plastic has some distinct advantages over ABS:

  • It does not warp when printed.
  • It does not have an unpleasant odor as ABS does.
  • It doesn’t require a heated bed to print well on.
  • It’s made from renewable resources (meaning no fossil fuels are used in its production).

PLA has a glass transition temperature of about 80°C (176°F), so you’ll need to keep your extruder temperature below this temperature during printing to prevent warping.

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2. ABS

 ABS is one of the most popular materials for 3D printing. It is a strong, rigid plastic with excellent impact strength and toughness. ABS filament can be used to print objects that are up to 100% infill without losing their shape. This makes it an ideal material for functional parts such as gears and other mechanisms that need to retain their strength even under stress or load.

ABS has a lower melting point than PLA at around 220°C, which means it tends to deform more easily when being printed and cooling down from higher temperatures (as compared to PLA). This is why ABS tends to have a more pronounced layer line than PLA.

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3. TPU

 TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) is a flexible and elastic material used to produce 3D printing filament. TPU is an excellent material for 3D printing because it has no melting point and can be used for high-temperature applications, such as industrial parts or medical implants.

TPU has a very low friction coefficient, making it ideal for parts that require smooth motion without a lot of contact with other surfaces. This makes TPU an excellent option for making gears, bearings, and other moving parts.

4. Metal consumables

 There are several metal materials available for 3D printers. The most common choices are steel and aluminum, but titanium and other metals such as brass can also be used.

Metal is an excellent choice for 3D printing because it’s easy to work with and can be made into complex shapes. Additionally, metal support structures can create complex geometries that would otherwise be impossible using other materials like plastic.

The downside to using metal is that it costs more than plastic or resin. This is because the material has to be melted down in special furnaces before being fed into the printer. This process is called sintering, which uses high temperatures and pressure to fuse small particles into solid objects.

In addition to steel and aluminum, other metals like titanium are also used in industrial applications due to their strength and durability. Titanium has exceptional corrosion resistance and is very strong and lightweight (about twice as strong as steel).

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5. Carbon fiber hybrid linear consumables

Carbon fiber hybrid linear materials are the next generation of high-performance, low-cost, and environmentally friendly FDM/FFF 3D printing filaments. The carbon fiber hybrid material is a composite of PLA and carbon fiber. The filament’s carbon fiber strands enhance strength while maintaining flexibility and toughness. Additionally, it has a higher melting point than PLA and ABS filaments, allowing faster printing speeds (up to 300°C) and greater durability.

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6. Nylon

 Nylon is a versatile material that can be used for various applications. It has high strength, making it ideal for functional parts, and can also be used for aesthetic purposes. Nylon is easy to print with and inexpensive, and its properties make it a good choice for 3D printing beginners.

Nylon is a polymer that is derived from petroleum products. The manufacturing process involves extruding heated nylon pellets through a die orifice into water or steam. This causes the molecular chains to align in the same direction, resulting in a filament that can be used in 3D printers.

There are two primary types of Nylon: PA and PEI. PA stands for polyamide, while PEI stands for polyetherimide.

The most common type of nylon used in FDM 3D printing is PA12, which has a tensile strength of 2,800 MPa (340 ksi) and elongation at a break of 1%.

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7. PC material

Polycarbonate material is one of the most popular choices for 3D printer filament because it has high impact resistance, is relatively easy to print, and is available in various colors. PC filament is available from many different manufacturers with varying levels of quality. In general, however, the higher-quality PC filaments tend to be more expensive than their lower-quality counterparts.

When it comes to PC filaments, there are two main types: opaque and transparent/translucent. The former is suitable for printing objects with large areas that require solid color. At the same time, the latter allows you to print objects with complex internal structures without sacrificing transparency or translucency.

PC can be printed at relatively low temperatures (200-250°C), which makes it an ideal material for printing complex shapes that require support structures because less heat is required during post-processing than when using ABS or PLA plastics.

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8. PVA

 PVA (Polyvinyl alcohol) is a water-soluble, biodegradable polymer melts at about 60 degrees Celsius. Like other 3D printing materials, it can be used to create models and prototypes. PVA has unique properties that make it an attractive option for some applications.

PVA is the most common material used in 3D printers. It’s also known as “white” or “food grade” ABS and is made from cornstarch or tapioca starch. It’s often used to make extruded parts, such as gears and bolts, but can also be used to make plastic objects by melting and extruding the powder through a nozzle onto a flat surface. The material has a low melting temperature, so it’s easy to use with small nozzles without burning them out.

When heated, the material becomes liquid but doesn’t burn until it reaches its boiling point, around 100 degrees Celsius (212 F). This makes it ideal for printing small parts where you don’t have enough room in the hot end of your extruder for larger amounts of molten plastic.

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3D Printing


In short, several factors play a role in the overall quality of a 3D print (or any other 3D printing material, for that matter). Choosing the right material is only one part of the equation. To achieve the best possible results from your 3D printer, you need to understand what every factor does and how it affects the print.

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