3D Printer

Filament Comparison Guide

Section 1: Standard Filaments

PLA (Polylactic Acid)

PLA (Polylactic Acid) is one of the two most commonly used desktop 3D printing filaments (with the other being ABS filament). It is the "default" recommended material for many desktop 3D printers, and with good reason - PLA is useful in a broad range of printing applications, has the virtue of being both odorless and low-warp, and does not require a heated bed. PLA filament is also one of the more eco-friendly 3D printer materials available; it is made from annually renewable resources (corn-starch) and requires less energy to process compared to traditional (petroleum-based) plastics. Outside of 3D printing, PLA plastic is often used in food containers, such as candy wrappers, and biodegradable medical implants, such as sutures. PLA filament for 3D Printing is available in a wide range of colors in both 1.75mm and 3mm. For tips and tricks on 3D printing PLA, check out How To Succeed When Printing In PLA.


ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is another commonly used 3D printer material. Best used for making durable parts that need to withstand higher temperatures. In comparison to PLA filament, ABS plastic is less "brittle" and more "ductile." It can also be post-processed with acetone to provide a glossy finish. When 3D printing with ABS filament, a heated printing surface is recommended, as ABS plastic will contract when cooled leading to warped parts. ABS filament is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm diameter sizes. For tips and tricks on 3D printing ABS, check out How To Succeed When Printing With ABS.


PRO Series PLA (Polylactic Acid)

PRO Series PLA is a formulation of PLA filament intended for producing professional, high quality, 3D printed parts. It features a visually distinct finish and a more vibrant, opaque color than standard PLA filament. PRO Series PLA is made in the USA and is produced to more precise specifications and has a tolerance of ± 0.05mm. It is available in 1.75mm and 3mm.


PRO Series ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

PRO Series ABS filament is a formulation of ABS plastic intended to help your 3D prints stand out with a beautiful, glossy, opaque finish. It is made in the USA and best used when producing high quality, precision 3D prints. As with regular ABS filament, printed parts will withstand higher temperatures than PLA plastic. PRO ABS also requires a heated bed for proper printing. PRO Series ABS is produced to more precise specifications and has a tolerance of ± 0.05mm. PRO Series ABS filament is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm diameter sizes.


ThriftyMake (Polylactic Acid)

ThriftyMake is a quality PLA filament for the budget conscious maker. We recommend that beginner hobbyists stick to PLA material while starting out because it truly is the most accessible and easy 3D plastic to work with. ThriftyMake is a beautiful material because it has an excellent strength profile while printing without shrinkage. Additionally, while helpful, a heated bed isn't required. At MatterHackers, we tend to favor PLA filament as our default printing material due to its strength and minimal warping. ThriftyMake is available in several colors in the 1.75mm diameter size.


ColorFabb nGen

ColorFabb nGen is the perfect filament for beginners or those who don't want to constantly refine print settings. Because this material prints well at a wide range of temperatures and speeds, you can spend less time refining your settings and more time printing. nGen flows very well through the print nozzle and does not clog often. This filament is great for creating durable parts while avoiding print failures and the need to adjust print settings. nGen has the astounding ability to print parts with many bridges successfully where other materials have failed. Additionally, nGen has a very opaque and crisp looking appearance when printed. Although best printed on a heated bed, BuildTak or a similar adhesive can minimize warping. nGen is available in a variety of colors in both 1.75mm and 3mm.


Glow-In-The-Dark

Glow-in-the-dark filament is a great product to decorate children's bedrooms, from glowing light switches to a starry sky on the ceiling. Your prints will shine brightest immediately after turning out the lights, but dim quickly to a soft glow in the night. Use your normal print settings for PLA or ABS (depending on which is the base filament), but add more perimeters to your prints. The more perimeters, the more glow. Be aware, we have seen reports that Glow-in-the-dark filament is abrasive and has worn out nozzles; you may want to install a hardened steel nozzle to prevent wear out. Glow-in-the-dark filament is available with a PLA filament base and ABS filament base in both 1.75mm and 3mm diameter sizes. Glow in the Dark NinjaFlex (TPU) is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm as well.


NylonX (Polyamide)

NylonX 3D printing filament is an amazing, reinforced nylon filament. By adding micro-carbon fibers to nylon, you get a tough filament capable of printing parts with stiffness, impact resistance, and high tensile strength. NylonX filament is an engineering grade filament, ready for home 3D printing, which gives you the durability of Nylon combined with the stiffness of carbon fiber. The best part of NylonX is that the carbon fiber adds stability and rigidity, so parts are much less likely to warp than with standard nylon. With a unique matte black finish, NylonX eliminates post-print processing. Finished prints can immediately be moved to production with no sanding, polishing, scraping, or pesky acetone vapor baths. If you are already printing with Nylon, it's time to upgrade to Nylon X. NylonX is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm. For tips and tricks on 3D printing NylonX, check out A Closer Look at 3D Printing with NylonX


Nylon (Polyamide)

Nylon is an incredibly strong, durable, and versatile 3D printing material. Flexible when thin, but with very high inter-layer adhesion, nylon lends itself well to things like living hinges and other functional parts. Nylon filament prints as a bright natural white with a translucent surface, and can absorb color added post process with most common, acid-based clothing dyes or ynthetic cloth specific dyes. Nylon filament is extremely sensitive to moisture, so taking drying measures during storage and immediately prior to printing (using desiccant, vacuum, or elevated temperature) is highly recommended for best results. Taulman Nylon is a specially formulated 3D printing Nylon filament that comes in a variety of sizes and packages, including 1-, 2-, and 3-packs of both 1.75mm and 3mm. For tips and tricks on 3D printing Nylon, check out How To Succeed When Printing With Nylon


PET (PETG, PETT) (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

You'll be hard pressed to find true PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) filament, as most PET filaments are actually copolymers - PET with an extra molecule. The most common, PETG filament, is an industrial strength filament with several great features. Figuratively speaking, it combines the ease of use of PLA filament with the strength and durability of ABS filament. First, its strength is much higher than PLA and it is FDA approved for food containers and tools used for food consumption. Unlike ABS filament, it barely warps, and produces no odors or fumes when printed. PET filament is not biodegradable, but it is 100% reclaimable. It's known for its clarity and is also very good at bridging. PET 3D printing filament is available in 1.75mm and 3mm. For tips and tricks on 3D printing ABS, check out How To Succeed When Printing With PETG.


Section 2: Flexible Filaments

TPE

TPE filament is a flexible 3D printing material that feels and acts much like flexible rubber. TPE filament can be used to make parts that can bend or must flex to fit their environment: stoppers, belts, springs, phone cases, and more. This extremely flexible 3D printer material will allow you to create 3D prints that will have the properties of a soft rubber, making it even more flexible and elastic than our Soft PLA filament. Due to its flexibility, much slower print speeds must be used to keep the filament from binding in the extruder. TPE 3D printing filament is available in 1.75mm and 3mm.


PCTPE

PCTPE (Plasticized Copolyamide TPE) is another great filament by Taulman. It is a combination of Nylon and TPE. When printed, it's flexible like normal TPE, but the added Nylon means this filament will work even in a bowden setup. It has very low shrinkage and can be dyed with any acid based color thanks to the wonderful properties of nylon. Print settings are closest to ABS filament, with a print temp of 230°C and most other settings the same. PCTPE 3D printing filament is available in 1.75mm and 3mm.


Soft PLA (Polylactic Acid)

Soft PLA, also known as 'flexible' PLA, is useful for printing rubber-like parts that can bend or flex. It is compatible with almost all desktop 3D printers. Soft PLA is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm.


TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane)

TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) is an elastic, oil/grease resistant, and abrasion-resistant material with a shore hardness of 95A. TPU Plastic has several applicable uses including automotive instrument panels, caster wheels, power tools, sporting goods, medical devices, drive belts, footwear, inflatable rafts, and a variety of extruded film, sheet and profile applications. It is also commonly used in mobile phone cases. TPU is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm.


Section 3: Composite Filaments

LAYBRICK

LAYBRICK is a 3D printing material that gives parts the look and feel of grey stone while retaining the resiliency of plastic, making it ideal for landscape and architectural designs. Anything made with LAYBRICK can be painted and sanded. In the lower range of 165°C to 190°C, the print will come out mostly smooth, whereas with higher temperatures it will begin to have a more pitted, sandstone-like texture. LAYBRICK is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm unspooled rolls.


Wood Filaments

LAYWOO-D3, ColorFabb's Woodfill series, and Timberfill are wood-like 3D printer materials that give 3D printed objects the look and feel of fiberboard. They imbue parts with other wood-like attributes, such as the ability be cut, painted, and sanded. These filaments use PLA as their base, and mix other materials (usually in powder form)into them. The PLA gives the 3D printer compatibility and ease of use while the material contributes to the look, feel, and properties of the filament. With Woodfill, LAYWOO-D3, and Timberfill, you get the color and texture of real wood with your finished prints, but with Corkfill, you get the added benefit of its light weight. With these organic fills, be cautious of too high of a temperature, as it will result in the wood burning which will give you a darker colored print. It is important to remove the filament from the extruder fairly soon after finishing a print, as the filament will begin to burn in the nozzle and start to clog it. These filaments are all available in both 1.75mm or 3mm unspooled and spooled rolls.


Conductive Filament

Conductive Filament is a modified PLA, designed for low voltage and low current circuitry. This conductive PLA filament will print objects that are more flexible than normal PLA but have less layer adhesion. In addition, this filament works with all PLA compatible 3D printers. Conductive PLA filament is available in 1.75mm and 3mm.


LayCeramic

LayCeramic filament is clay engineered for 3D Printers that can be used to make ceramic objects. LayCeramic has all the capabilities of normal clay including the ability to be fired and glazed to give it a nice glossy look and increase strength. 3D Printing with LayCeramic will require a few additional upgrades to your Printer including a full metal hotend, a filament warmer (LayCeramic is brittle), and a kiln which isn't necessary, but part of the clay sculpting process. LayCeramic filament is available in 3mm


Carbon Fiber Reinforced PLA

Proto Pasta Carbon Fiber Reinforced PLA filament provides excellent structural strength and layer adhesion with very low warpage. Due to the carbon fiber contained in the filament, it has increased rigidity, therefore increased structural support is built right in. The carbon fiber in the filament is specifically designed to be small enough to fit through the nozzles, but long enough to provide the extra rigidity that makes this reinforced PLA necessary for any hobbyist that needs rugged prints. Carbon Fiber filament is perfect for printing items that should not bend, such as: frames, supports, propellers, and tools. Drone builders and RC Hobbyists love this filament, and it is made in the USA. Due to its high abrasion, before printing you will need to install a hardened steel nozzle on your printer. Carbon Fiber Reinforced PLA is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm.


ColorFabb BrassFill, BronzeFill, and CopperFill

These metal infused PLA filaments are tougher to print than Standard PLA filament, but because of the metal blended with the plastic, prints are heavier and thus, feel more authentic. Finished 3D prints can be sanded and polished to create beautiful and unique pieces. Unpolished, the filament looks like cast metal fresh from a mold, with a dull, matte, gritty appearance. With just a little finishing and polishing, however, you can easily create any look like you desire. 3D Printing with these metals is perfect for printing jewelry, props, costumes, figurines, and robots. These filaments are great not only for hobbyists looking to make faux metal prints, but serious designers as well. BrassFill, BronzeFill, and CopperFill are available in both 1.75mm and 3mm.


Proto Pasta Stainless Steel and ColorFabb SteelFill

These steel PLA filaments are tougher to print than Standard PLA , but because of the steel fibers blended with the plastic, prints are heavier and thus, feel more authentic. Finished steel 3D prints can be sanded and polished to create beautiful and unique pieces. Unpolished, the Stainless Steel filament looks like cast metal fresh from a mold. With just a little finishing and polishing, however, you can easily create any look like you desire. 3D Printing Steel is perfect for printing jewelry, props, costumes, figurines, and robots. These steel filaments are great not only for hobbyists looking to make faux metal prints, but serious designers as well. Due to its high abrasion, before printing you will need to install a hardened steel nozzle on your printer. These filaments are available in both 1.75mm and 3mm.


Magnetic Iron PLA

Magnetic Iron PLA filament is truly one of a kind. Because of the iron powder blended into the PLA filament, this Iron filament is magnetic. The filament itself isn't a magnet, but magnets will stick to it. We recommend a printing temperature that is about 10-20 degrees lower than you would print with standard PLA material. To get a rusty look, "scuff" your finished print with a wire brush to expose more of the iron particles to the air. Then, spray vinegar onto your print and let it dry, doing this three or our times. Mix 16oz of hydrogen peroxide with 2oz of vinegar and 1 Tbs of salt in a spray bottle, and spray the print and watch as it rusts in front of you. Let dry and repeat as many times as desired. Magnetic Iron PLA filament can bring a worn and rusty look to any print. Due to its high abrasion, before printing you will need to install a hardened steel nozzle on your printer. Proto Pasta Magnetic Iron PLA filament is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm.


Lay-Felt

Lay-Felt is best characterized as a felt-like filament that is highly porous. This material is made from a rubber-elastomeric polymer and a PVA-component. This means that part of this filament is water soluble. Once you soak this material in water, the PVA component dissolves and disappears and the rubber polymer remains as your micro-porous object. Lay-Felt is ideal for making filters, 3D membranes, semipermeable membranes, and any flexible yet felt-like object. PORO-LAY LAY-FELT is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm.


Gel-Lay

Gel-Lay is best characterized as a jelly-like material that is very porous. This 3D printing material is made from a rubber-elastomeric polymer and a PVA-component. This means that part of this filament is water soluble. Once you soak this material in water, the PVA component dissolves and the rubber polymer remains as your micro-porous object. Gel-Lay is ideal for creating artificial limbs or body parts, marine animals (like an octopus) or floatables. Other great applications for Gel-Lay include objects in water, marine organism flow simulation, and bio-mechanics. After finishing your print you will notice that the material is strong and only slightly bendable. However, rinse the print with water then your object becomes micro-porous and elastic. This is ideal for printing soft and flexible rubber-like objects.


LAY-FOMM 60

LAY-FOMM 60 is best characterized as foamy and very porous. This material is made from a rubber-elastomeric polymer and a PVA-component. This means that part of this filament is water soluble. Once soak rinse this material in water, the PVA component dissolves and disappears and the rubber polymer remains as your micro-porous object. LAY-FOMM 60 is ideal for soft rubber-like applications, such as bendable suits and sponge-like objects, ink-reservoirs, bio-cells, micro-foam and elastics. After finishing your print you will notice that the material is strong and rigid. However, rinse the print with water then your object becomes micro-porous and elastic. This is ideal for printing soft and flexible rubber-like objects. This 3D printer material is very soft and has a shore hardness of A60.


LAY-FOMM 40

LAY-FOMM 40 is best characterized as foamy and very porous. This 3D printer material is made from a rubber-elastomeric polymer and a PVA-component. This means that part of this filament is water soluble. Once you soak this material in water, the PVA component dissolves and disappears and the rubber polymer remains as your micro-porous object. LAY-FOMM 40 is ideal for soft rubber-like applications, such as bendable suits and sponge-like objects, ink-reservoirs, bio-cells, micro-foam and elastics. After finishing your print you will notice that the material is strong and rigid. However, rinse the print with water then your object becomes micro-porous and elastic. This is ideal for printing soft and flexible rubber-like objects. This material is very soft and has a shore hardness of A40.


Section 4: Specialty Filaments

Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate (PC) Polycarbonate is strong and very resistant to impact - this material is used when making bullet-proof glass. Not only is polycarbonate an extremely tough and durable thermoplastic material it is also very restistant to temperature. This material is malleable when cool and can bend without cracking. Polycarbonate is available in 1.75mm and 3mm.


Bendlay

Bendlay is an exciting new filament that is extremely translucent (91% of light passes through) and also is quite flexible. This extremely translucent material will allow you to print nearly clear items, while at the same time being remarkably resilient and elastic. BendLay is a modified Butadiene, which is safe for household and food products. BendLay has a high interlayer adhesion, making it a really easy-to-print filament. Compared to ABS filament, it absorbs far less moisture from the air and thus cuts down on warping significantly. Bendlay filament is available in 1.75mm and 3mm.


MoldLay

MoldLay is a material specifically engineered for moldmaking. Use MoldLay filament to 3D print objects that you want to make a mold of OR investment cast. MoldLay will easily melt out of negative impressions with very little residue. It is structurally sound with zero warping so you will get a mold of exactly what you print. MoldLay filament is available in 1.75mm and 3mm.


Section 5: Support Filaments

PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate)

PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate) filament prints translucent with a slightly yellow tint and is primarily used as a 3D printing support material because it is water-soluble, meaning that it will dissolve when exposed to water (and so MUST be kept dry prior to use). PVA is most often used with 3D printers capable of dual extrusion: one extruder printing a primary material (such as ABS or PLA) and the other printing this dissolvable filament to provide support for overhanging features. PVA 3D printer filament is available in 1.75mm and 3mm.


High Impact Polystyrene

High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) is very similar to ABS. The main difference is that HIPS plastic can be dissolved using Limonene as a solvent, therefore making it a great option as support material when printing ABS with dual extrusion printer. HIPS filament is as easy to 3D print with as ABS but is much less likely to warp. HIPS filament is available in 1.75mm and 3mm.


LAYaPVA

LAYaPVA is a 3D printing support material designed to quickly dissolve in water. Because it is water soluble, it must be kept in its resealable bag, otherwise it will begin to absorb water. LAYaPVA is best printed at 230°C to achieve the best print viscosity. Of the LAY-AWAY Support Series, LAYaPVA dissolves the fastest. LAYaPVA is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm unspooled rolls.


LAY-CLOUD

LAY-CLOUD is a 3D printing support material designed to support your flexible filament prints. As it is meant to dissolve in water it must be kept in its resealable bag, otherwise it will begin to absorb water. When LAY-CLOUD begins to absorb water, it will start to gel, and when has absorbed as much water as it can, the support material will collapse and turn gooey. LAY-CLOUD is best printed at 240°C to achieve the best print viscosity. Of the LAY-AWAY Support Series, LAY-CLOUD is the best support material for flexible filaments. LAY-CLOUD is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm unspooled rolls.


HIGH-T-LAY

HIGH-T-LAY is a 3D printing support material designed to quickly dissolve in water. Because it is water soluble, it must be kept in its resealable bag, otherwise it will begin to absorb water. HIGH-T-LAY is best printed at 240°C to achieve the best print viscosity. Of the LAY-AWAY Support Series, because HIGH-T-LAY prints similarly to HIPS, it is best utilized to avoid that limonene stink when supporting your ABS prints. HIGH-T-LAY is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm unspooled rolls.


ETHY-LAY

ETHY-LAY is a 3D printing support material designed to dissolve in alcohol. Because it is alcohol soluble, it doesn't need to be kept with a desiccant or in a dry environment. When printing with water-sensitive filaments like Nylon, a support material that doesn't need water to be dissolved is ideal. ETHY-LAY is best printed at the low temperature of 165°C to achieve the best print viscosity. In addition, though helpful, it will print just fine without a heated bed Of the LAY-AWAY Support Series, ETHY-LAY is best used for Nylon, NylonX, and bio prints. ETHY-LAY is available in both 1.75mm and 3mm unspooled rolls.