Types of 3D Printing Materials, Part One

  • Published: Monday, Aug. 3, 2020

There are many types of materials out there for fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printing. These materials vary in strength, heat resistance, even smell. Before you buy 3D filament, here are a few considerations:

  • Printer support: Not all 3D printers can use every type of filament, so you'll need to know what types of filaments your 3D printer is capable of using as well as the properties of those plastics.
  • Strength: How strong does your printed part have to be?
  • Temperature: What is the maximum temperature where the part will be used?
  • Flexibility: How flexible does your part need to be?
  • Durability: Is this a part that will wear out?
  • Smell: How well ventilated is the place where you're printing?
  • Cost: How much will it cost to run?

Filaments for 3D printers are special types of thermoplastics. Looking like string from a string trimmer used on your lawn,, they are melted and extruded layer by layer to create 3D parts. The two most common and readily available types of 3D filaments are acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polylactic acid (PLA). In the next post, we'll look at four commonly used filaments: ABS, PLA, PETT and Nylon.