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3D Printer Filament Types

3D Printer Filament Types

3D Printer Filament Types: From PLA to Advanced Composites (The Professional's Choice)

Meta: Explore the world of 3D printer filaments, from PLA to advanced composites. Understand their unique properties, applications, and how they can transform your 3D printing projects.


  • Filament to a 3D printer is like ink to a pen.
  • PLA is biodegradable, easy to print, and beginner-friendly.
  • ABS is strong, durable, and heat-resistant but emits fumes.
  • PETG balances ease of use with strength and weather resistance.
  • Nylon is flexible, impact-resistant, and suitable for stressed parts.
  • Metal filaments create objects with metallic characteristics.
  • TPU is flexible and durable for items like phone cases.
  • Composite filaments combine aesthetics with performance.
  • Filament selection depends on material properties, project requirements, cost, and printer compatibility.
  • Post-processing considerations are crucial for filament selection.
  • Typical filament diameters are 1.75 mm and 2.85 mm.
  • Case studies show filament choice impacts project outcomes.\


3D printing has revolutionized how we create three-dimensional objects, allowing us to bring our digital designs to life with stunning accuracy.

But what makes this technology possible?

The answer lies in the humble filament, the material that is the “ink” of 3D printers.

This article will explore the different types of 3D printing filament available, from PLA to advanced composites, and how they can help professionals achieve their creative goals.

Whether you're an enthusiast, a professional, or a small business trying to get quality results with 3D printing, this article is for you.

So, let's dive in and discover the world of 3D printer filament types.


Overview of Filament Types


In 3D printing, filaments are the thermoplastic feedstock used in fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers. Each type of filament has unique properties that make it suitable for different applications in 3D printing.

Common Filament Types

PLA (Polylactic Acid)

PLA is a biodegradable thermoplastic derived from renewable resources like cornstarch. It's favored for its ease of printing due to its lower melting point, which minimizes warping issues. PLA adheres well to various surfaces and doesn't require a heated print bed, making it a user-friendly material for beginners and suitable for various applications.

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

ABS is a strong, durable thermoplastic with high thermal resistance, making it ideal for printing functional parts that need to withstand higher temperatures or mechanical stress. It requires a heated print bed to prevent warping and should be used in a well-ventilated area due to the fumes it emits when melted.

PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol)

PETG is a glycol-modified version of PET that offers a good balance between ease of use and improved strength and temperature resistance. It has a smooth surface finish and is hydrophobic, making it suitable for outdoor applications. PETG prints with minimal warping are less prone to absorbing moisture than other materials.


Nylon filament is known for its flexibility, impact, and abrasion resistance, making it suitable for parts that must endure stress, such as gears and hinges. It has a high melting point and must be dried before printing to prevent moisture absorption, affecting print quality.

Specialized Filament Types

Metal Filaments

Metal filaments contain fine metal powder and are used to create objects with the look and feel of metal. They are often used for decorative items or functional parts that require additional weight or thermal properties.

TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane)

TPU is a flexible filament that can produce objects that need to bend or stretch, such as phone cases or wearable technology. It is also durable, making it suitable for items subject to frequent handling.

Composite Filaments

Composite filaments blend materials like carbon fiber, glass, or wood with a plastic base to achieve specific characteristics, such as increased strength or a unique appearance. They are often used in applications where a combination of aesthetics and performance is desired.

The choice of filament in 3D printing depends on the specific requirements of the printing project, including the desired mechanical properties, aesthetic qualities, and environmental considerations.


Selecting the Right Filament

When embarking on a 3D printing project, the filament you choose can make or break your creation. Here's a quick guide to picking the perfect filament:

  1. Project Needs: Match the filament to your project's purpose. For instance, if you're printing a mechanical part, you might need ABS for its strength and heat resistance.
  2. Printer Compatibility: Ensure the filament works with your printer. Some printers can't reach the high temperatures needed for specific materials.
  3. Post-Processing: Consider what you'll do after printing. Materials like PLA are easier to sand and paint, while others like nylon might require unique treatments.


For different project types:

  • Functional Parts: ABS is robust and withstands stress, ideal for gears or automotive components.
  • Prototypes: PLA is user-friendly and perfect for models that don't face harsh conditions.
  • Aesthetic Models: Composite filaments offer unique finishes, like wood or metal, for decorative pieces.
  • Outdoor Use: PETG resists weather and UV rays, making it suitable for garden fixtures.
  • Mechanical Stress: Nylon's flexibility and strength suit moving parts like hinges.
  • Chemical Exposure: PETG offers chemical resistance for lab equipment or containers.


Balancing cost, ease of use, and final properties is essential.

For example, PLA is affordable and accessible to print but may not hold up in high-temperature environments. While more durable, ABS requires a heated bed and good ventilation during printing due to fumes.

The most commonly used filament diameters are 1.75 mm and 2.85 mm, so check your printer's specifications [1].

In summary, selecting the suitable 3D printer filament hinges on aligning the material with your project's functional needs, ensuring compatibility with your printer, and considering any post-processing steps.

Case Studies

The filament used in 3D printing can dramatically shape a project's outcome. Here are some real-world examples that underscore this fact.

  1. Picture the fashion industry. Designer Danit Peleg revolutionized the scene with a clothing line created using desktop 3D printers. The filament choice enabled the production of customized, 3D-printed garments [2].
  2. Now, let's shift to geology. The Institute of Geology found Nylon AF80 Aramid filament to be the perfect fit for creating sensors and small motors for a high-pressure chamber [3].
  3. Imagine a pasta design contest. Barilla, a food industry giant, hosts one annually. The filament choice allows for unique pasta shapes, altering the dish's mouthfeel, sauce absorption, and presentation [2].
  4. Consider the aeronautics industry. The manufacturing of jet and rocket engines often involves 3D-printed parts. The filament choice here simplifies the production of complex shapes [2].
  5. Lastly, a study focused on enhancing the performance of PLAbased wood-plastic composites for 3D printing. The filament choice significantly influenced the final product's performance [4].

These examples highlight how selecting 3D printer filament types, be it ABS, PLA, or composite filament, can significantly influence a project's success.

Wrapping Up

3D printer filaments offers professionals immense creative possibilities.

From versatile PLA to durable ABS, these materials enable stunningly accurate designs.

When aligning material properties with project needs like strength or flexibility, the sky is the limit for innovation.

You should further explore filament types and see how 3D printing can transform your work.

Thanks for staying till the end, and remember to share your experiences with 3D printing!


  1. A Curious Thing About 3.00 vs 1.75mm 3D Printer Filament « Fabbaloo
  2. 18 Key 3D Printing Applications & Examples to Know | Built In
  3. Case Studies — Fillamentum INDUSTRIAL
  4. A case study of wood thermoplastic composite filament for 3D printing :: BioResources (


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