When you’re looking to start a new 3D printing project, one of the first questions you want to ask is which material is best for your specific application. Sometimes you may only need a specific color and mechanical properties aren’t so important, like for prototypes or gentle-use finished parts, but when you need something to be strong, flexible, or chemically resistant you need to have a clear way to compare the different properties. To make your material selection process easier,  the experts at MatterHackers have created Radar Graphs - a rigorously tested visual guide to the physical properties of every PRO Series material

Let’s dive into the details

Radar Graphs - A Guide

Radar graphs are useful when comparing the capabilities of different materials. MatterHackers uses radar graphs to provide a visual snapshot of the strengths of every material in our PRO Series lineup. Each graph is a six-axis view of how a material performs in Printability, Tensile Strength, Flexural Strength, Impact Resistance, Temperature Resistance, and Chemical Resistance. Understanding the differences between the different PRO Series materials is key when choosing the best filament for your next project. After evaluating what your 3D printed parts needs are, choose the two or three most important axes to narrow down the best choice for PRO Series filament.

Filament Metrics


Printability is simply how easy a material is to print. For example, PLA has a “5” which means that the material would be able to be printed on virtually every machine out there, but ABS has a “2” because it needs an enclosure to maintain a specific ambient temperature, a bed temperature higher than 90°C, and requires a build surface other than glass to stick well enough. If a material has a low printability rating, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible - you just need the right equipment, like the appropriate bed surface or hotend configuration, and the knowledge to succeed - MatterHackers is committed to helping you with that, so be sure to check out our “how to succeed” articles for every material.

Measurement: Start at 5 and subtract 1 point for any of the following:

  • Requires special nozzle (hardened, Ruby, etc) or special extruder (Bondtech, Hemera, etc)
  • Susceptible to significant warping and/or requires heated enclosure (passive or active) to prevent warping
  • Requires temperature above 260°C (all-metal hot end) or bed temperature above 90°C
  • Requires a special build surface (i.e. will not stick to common build surfaces like glass)
  • Requires drying for successful printing (i.e. hygroscopic)
  • Requires temperatures above 300°C or bed temperatures above 120°C
PRO Series PLA Radar Graph
PRO Series PLA has a Printability rating of 5, meaning it is incredibly easy to print.

Tensile Strength

Tensile strength is how resistant materials are to being pulled apart. Higher scores are better for end-use mechanical parts that need to transmit force rather than be broken by it. Lower values are acceptable for prototypes or parts that won't be subjected to significant loads. When slicing a part to maximize tensile strength, take into consideration the orientation of the force and the layer lines of the part. 3D printed parts are stronger when the layer lines are parallel to the tensile forces. A high scoring material like Tough PLA will be able to withstand significant force before snapping, whereas a lower scoring material like Flex will break sooner.

Measurement: Samples are tested to ISO 527-2 standard. A minimum of 7 samples are tested. High and low values are discarded.

  • 1 = Average in 0-19th percentile
  • 2 = Average in 20-39th percentile
  • 3 = Average in 40-59th percentile
  • 4 = Average in 60-79th percentile
  • 5 = Average in 80-99th percentile

Flexural Strength

Flexural strength is how resistant a material is bending (flexing). Lower flexural strength means parts will bend and break easily under flexural load. Materials with high flexural strength are stiff and require heavy flexural loads to bend or break. For applications where stiffness is required, a high flexural strength is good. A low score bends significantly, but a high score won’t bend much at all. PLA has a high score as it bends very little before breaking, whereas TPU scores very low because it doesn’t take much force at all to deform.

Measurement: Samples are tested to ISO 178 standard. A minimum of 7 samples are tested. High and low values are discarded.

  • 1 = Average in 0-19th percentile
  • 2 = Average in 20-39th percentile
  • 3 = Average in 40-59th percentile
  • 4 = Average in 60-79th percentile
  • 5 = Average in 80-99th percentile

Impact Resistance

Impact resistance is how resistant a part is to breaking from an impact. High scores are ideal for parts that could be  subjected to heavy and/or repeated impacts. Doorstops, drone landing gear, and RC car bumpers are examples of parts that require good impact resistance. Anything that may be dropped on the ground or struck by other hard objects during its normal, expected use would benefit from high impact resistance. High scoring materials like TPU are ideal for parts that are subjected to momentary impacts and take exceptional scenarios to break. A low scoring filament like PLA indicates that a short drop might be all it takes to shatter the 3D print. Think about tensile strength as the ability to support force over a long period of time, impact resistance focuses on not deforming when that same force is applied instantaneously. A quadcopter doesn’t need to hold up to continuous weight, but it does need to be able to handle a crash into a wall or the ground.

Measurement: Measure of impact resistance - or resistance to breaking under sudden loads. ISO 180 data provided when available.

  • 1 = Fragile. Part very likely to break if dropped
  • 2 =  Part not likely to survive drops on hard surfaces.
  • 3 = Moderate resistance to impact. Not for use in applications with repeated impacts, but will likely survive occasional drops or impacts.
  • 4 = Good impact resistance. Can withstand repeated impacts
  • 5 = Excellent impact resistance. Not likely to break due to impact.
PRO Series Flex Radar Graph
PRO Series Flex boasts an Impact Resistance of 5 because it can absorb hard impacts without damage or deformation.

Heat Resistance

Heat resistance indicates how resistant a material is to deforming under load at high temperatures. In general, mechanical strength of plastics (tensile, flexural, and impact) decreases as temperature increases. Knowing the environment that your parts will be used in is critical when selecting the right material. A high score is important in engine bays or autoclaves as low scores (like PLA) can deform just from being inside a car on a hot day. For reliable long-term use of your printed parts the temperature of its environment is an important consideration to make for success.

Measurement: Heat deflection temperature (HDT), per ASTM D648 or ISO 75 standards

  • 1 = HDT< 60°C / 140°F - Parts will melt/deform in hot cars or in outdoor environments
  • 2 = HDT < 80°C / 176°F - Parts will survive outdoors
  • 3 = HDT < 100°C / 212° F - Parts will deform in dishwashers or boiling water
  • 4 = HDT < 125°C / 266°F - Parts may be able to withstand steam sterilization/autoclave, but likely will not withstand continuous use at temperatures above 100°C
  • 5 = HDT > 125°C / 275°F - Highest heat resistance available for FFF filaments. Can withstand steam sterilization/autoclave, engine bays, or other high temperature environments.

Chemical Resistance

Chemical resistance indicates if a material can be safely exposed to chemicals without degrading. If your 3D printing application involves contact with acids, bases, oils, or other caustic or corrosive chemicals, a high score in this category is important. This category is an overall rating, and does not represent resistance to specific chemicals. Keep in mind that there are many different types of chemicals, like oils, solvents, acids, and bases, so one material may score lower than another but have a select few chemicals that it has no reaction to that the other material does, like ABS dissolving in acetone but Nylon doesn’t even flinch. If you have a specific application you would like to discuss in more detail, reach out to our sales staff via phone or email so we can help you find the most appropriate PRO Series material for your use case.

Measurement: General rating of resistance to common chemicals and solvents relative to other 3D printing filaments

  • 1 = Low - susceptible to many common solvents and chemicals
  • 2 = Fair
  • 3 = Average
  • 4 = Good
  • 5 = Excellent - resistant to most common solvents, oils, bases, and chemicals
PRO Series Nylon Radar Graph
PRO Series Nylon is a great option for Chemical Resistance

Finding the right 3D printing material for the job can be challenging, which is why the PROs at MatterHackers are always looking for ways to make it as easy as possible for anyone to create anything. With the help of these Radar Graphs, you should be able to determine the right material for your project, but if you need some extra guidance our team will always be ready to assist you by phone or by email.