At 3D Universe, we take pride in the wide array of materials we offer for fused deposition model (FDM) 3D printers. We've assembled this comprehensive reference to give you an overview of the various 3D printing materials we offer. Depending on the needs for your project, this guide will help you determine which filament is the best fit, based on any number of traits: Ease of printing, durability, chemical resistance, and so on. We hope you find it informative and useful in making your next buying decision! You can start choosing a material by clicking "SELECT A MATERIAL".
Created from plant products, such as corn, potatoes, sugar beets, etc., PLA is considered a more "earth-friendly" material than other petroleum-based plastics like ABS. PLA can be composted at commercial compost facilities. It won't bio-degrade in your backyard or home compost pile, however.
PLA is an excellent material for beginners, as it's easy to print with due to the fact that it has minimal warping tendencies. It can even be printed without a heated bed if needed. PLA is fairly strong but more brittle than ABS, and it has a semi-gloss finish. PLA's lower melting temperature makes it a poor choice for objects that require significant heat resistance. For example, PLA objects left in a hot car may become deformed.
ABS is a petroleum based plastic. It is stronger, with slightly more flexibility compared to PLA. It also offers improved heat resistance, making it suitable for engineering purposes or items with mechanical properties.
ABS can be more challenging to print with, due to its tendency to warp, especially where the object makes contact with the build plate. Applying a coating of "ABS juice" (a mixture of ABS and acetone) on a glass build plate can help greatly to reduce warping.
While printing, ABS produces a smell of hot plastic, so proper ventilation is important.
ABS dissolves in acetone, so you can use a few drops of acetone to weld ABS parts together. You can also use acetone vapor to post-process ABS parts, creating a smooth, glossy finish.
ASA is a thermoplastic created to be similar to ABS, but with better weather resistance. ASA’s combination of high strength and flexibility along with its superior UV resistance makes it ideal for printing objects which may be used in the outdoors or in industrial settings. Due to its high glass transition temperature, a heated bed is required to successfully print with ASA. For the best results when printing with ASA, a fully enclosed print bed is recommended.
Copolyester materials are chemical resistant, tough and demonstrate good dimensional stability. It is a preferred choice for both functional prototypes and mechanical parts.
Ultimaker CPE and CPE+ provide similar performance characteristics, but CPE+ provides the added benefit of higher temperature resistance and increased impact strength.
Colorfabb nGen is made with Amphora AM3300 copolyester and has good flow properties through the printer nozzle - even at lower temperatures than some other polymers require. These properties make nGen more workable at a wider breadth of temperatures, producing reliable results and resulting in less waste. nGen exhibits advanced overhang ability, excellent looks, and large printing temperature range - empowering users to create durable and useful items.
Used by many manufacturers worldwide, Nylon (polyamide) is well-known for its impressive durability, high strength-to-weight ratio, flexibility, low friction, and corrosion resistance. Nylon is fairly flexible when thin, but also very strong. With its ability to withstand significant mechanical stress, Nylon is a great choice for 3D printing tools, living hinges, functional prototypes, and end-use parts.
Nylon is very sensitive to moisture absorption, so it is important to store nylon filament in a dry place with dessicant. If there is water uptake, you may need to take additional precautions to dry the filament before use.
PVA (polyvinyl alcohol) is a water soluble support material for multi-extrusion 3D printing. With a good thermal stability, the Ultimaker brand PVA offered by 3D Universe is ideal for printing complex models that require supports for large overhangs, deep internal cavities, and intricate geometries. Designed for a seamless 3D printing experience, this PVA provides good adhesion to PLA, CPE, and Nylon.
PVA is sensitive to moisture absorption, so store it in a dry place with dessicant. If exposed to moisture, you may need to dry your PVA filament before use. You can do this by laying the spool flat on your printer's heated bed set to 60C and leaving it for about 2 hours.
PET is a durable and strong thermoplastic which combines many desirable features from other plastics into one material. PET offers similar mechanical properties to that of ABS while maintaining the ease of use of PLA. PET has low thermal shrinkage in comparison to other materials making it a great choice for objects in which high levels of dimensional accuracy is required.
With Polycarbonate filament, you can print strong and tough parts that retain dimensional stability when subjected to temperatures as high as 110 ºC. Polycarbonate is a perfect filament for printing molds, tools, functional prototypes and parts for short-run manufacturing.
PCTPE was designed to be both highly flexible, yet retain the durability of nylons. Single perimeter parts can be wadded into a ball, yet are difficult to stretch out of shape. With a lower printing temperature than nylon, PCTPE easily prints on any 3D printer. While extremely flexible the nylon ensures that even the 1.75mm version is no problem for direct drive or bowden feed systems. Offers excellent bonding even at 0.3mm nozzle size.
This combination of polymers was developed specifically to allow anyone using current FFF 3D Printers to print parts from durable prosthesis to complete cosplay wearable outfits, cell phone enclosures as well as highly flexible utility/industrial parts. The flexibility of PCTPE means that the end parts will have the smooth lustrous texture of nylon, the added flexibility offered by a rubber like TPE, yet maintain the high durability and non-delaminating benefits of all taulman3D Printing materials.
TPE / TPU is an highly malleable elastomer which be used to create prints with high toughness while retaining superb flexibility. It also has a high resistance to abrasion. For the best results a direct drive extruder system is recommended, however use of Bowden style extruders is still possible. TPE / TPU will adhere to most bed types without any adhesives and a cooling fan is highly recommended.
Alloy 910 is a specially formulated nylon from Taulman3D. With a tensile strength greater than 8,100 PSI, Alloy 910's ability to withstand stress far outperforms most copolyesters and nylons. Additionally, it offers minimal thermal shrinkage, and its durability is comparable to other nylons. And, like many other Taulman filaments, Alloy 910 is highly-resistant to a wide range of chemicals. It is also FDA approved for direct food contact and direct drink contact.
Colorfabb's metal-infused filaments are based on their PLA/PHA material, with powdered metal mixed in. Because these materials use PLA/PHA as their base, they are easy to print with. Straight from the printer, parts look almost laser sintered with a matte finish. With a bit of sanding and polishing the metallic particles will start to shine and shimmer. The weight of the material is about 3 times heavier than regular PLA/PHA, giving parts the feel of true metal.
These materials can be abrasive and can cause wear on brass nozzles, so it is recommended that you use a steel or other hardened nozzle when printing these materials.
This amazing ColorFabb filament produces 3D prints that actually glow in the dark! During the day it’s a beautiful creamy color which prints to a perfect smooth finish. In the dark your prints will start to glow like you would not believe. The filament is composed of PLA/PHA compound combined with concentrated phosphorescent pigment.
PP is one of the most widely used plastics on the planet. From electrical components to living hinges, PP is the go-to material for prototyping and end-use products. Ultimaker PP (polypropylene) is durable. It has high toughness, exceptional fatigue resistance, and low friction. It also has good chemical, temperature, and electrical resistance.
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