FDM 3D Printing Filament Types and Purposes.

What is 3D Printing Filaments?

3D filaments are material used in the 3D printer for 3D printing plastic, these are plastic materials known as thermoplastics. It becomes flexible when heated to a certain temperature and can be used in the printer. It has the flexibility that allows the printers to sculpt the design and required object before it cools down to its rigid and solid form in the shape of the final product. There are different types of filaments used in 3D printers but 2 most common are

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

PLA (Polylactic Acid)

These two are not the only types and we should discuss other filaments like Sand Stone Filament and Wood Filaments that are rarely used as well as PolyEthylene Terephthalate or PET filaments along with Nylon Filaments, but these 2 are the most commonly used in 3D printing.

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) 3D Filament

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene or ABS is easily purchased for $20 for 1.75 mm, 1kg spool, prices do vary sometimes but it should not be less or far above the mentioned price. ABS is popular for its tough and resistant features that appeal to the mass production.

These are very good reasons for their mass use and popularity. It is flexible so it doesn’t break that easy and it is easier to take out of the nozzle of the printer and that is why it is a popular choice for 3D printing filaments. It ranges from 210 – 250 degrees centigrade which is very high for print temperature. It is used in the following production:

  • It is great for Plastic automotive parts.
  • It is also used to create moving parts.
  • Kitchen appliances are a great use as well.
  • Electronic housings parts are also made of this material.
  • Many toys like LEGO are made of this material as well.

3D printing is not the only use of ABS because it can also be used in traditional manufacturing to make plastic wraps, bottles, and cups. It is popular for filament but it is not the best filament available for 3D printers and home users.

ABS has a very high melting point and needs a very heated surface. This heated surface is not cheap so many budget range printers do not come equipped with this surface for printing. It also has some fumes that are very unpleasant and can be difficult to work with depending on the individuals.

It is due to these reasons that ABS filament is very popular in the industrial use rather than individual use in the homes and small independent workers.

Benefits of ABS filaments

  • They are durable and very strong for 3D filaments.
  • ABS filament is also lightweight and flexible to use.
  • High temperature rating.
  • They tend to be too cheap for thermoplastic and are available widely.
  • It is favored by the keen protentional as well as armatures for 3D printing

Drawbacks of using ABS filaments

  • ABS are made of petroleum-based materials which make it non-biodegradable material.
  • It has a very high melting point that cannot be easily achieved and managed.
  • Its fumes are very unpleasant to work with and in poorly ventilated spaces it can cause problems for the workers.

Poly Lactic Acid Material or PLA Type 3D Filament

PLA stands for Poly Lactic Acid material used as filament, it is quite popular with both professional users as well as individual amateurs at home or businesses.

PLA is a material made from cornstarch and sugarcane which makes it a better choice due to its nature of organic materials. It is popular because it is a safe material to work with and easier to use, there are no toxic fumes that are created by this filament and this also creates a pleasant and sweet smell of sugar.

When compared to Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene or ABS it creates very pleasing and better aesthetic products for the user and it cost around $20 for 1.75 mm, 1kg spool of the

It is much easier to accomplish smooth surface finish with PLA. It may sound like the perfect filament for the needs of many but it is no like that, it does have its flaws as well. It has a lower temperature rating (180°C – 230°C) than Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene or ABS and that also makes it weaker if compared to ABS and its products.

It is highly important if you are printing the products that are not the best to handle temperature and perhaps are exposed to heat such as moving parts that are exposed to the heat. These can result in the object melting or perhaps cracking at the exposure of high temperature.

If your products do not have to face the high temperature and work in a different environment that is cold or not very hot, then PLA should be the best filament for your choice.

PLA filament also print faster than ABS material and can produce more products in a given time than other filaments. It also does not need a heated printer surface or a bed to cool the heated product due to its low temperature.

It is used for the following productions:

  • PLA filaments are used for Medical stitching or suturing.
  • Many surgical implants are made of PLA material like screws, mesh, rods, and pins.

Degradable products that degrade with a certain time period. It is great for making products that degrade over time like disposable products like tableware diapers and packaging materials and products. At the beginner level, it is great to make consumer items for the business and also for the user themselves, it appeals to different demands and different needs at the same time.

Benefits of using PLA Filament

There are no harmful fumes that could cause problems. Produced sweet fragrance when it is heated in the process. It is easier to work for many beginners who are starting in 3D printing if compared to Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene or ABS filament materials.

It is less likely to cause any sort of warping in the products. It can also have many different colors as well as effects in the material like transparent or translucent material.

Drawbacks of using PLA Filament

  • It can cause clogging of the printer nozzle from time to time which makes it a bit difficult to work with.
  • It can produce or attract types of moisture which can make it difficult to 3D print.
  • Due to the nature of the material, it has less strength and is less sturdy than ABS.

PET 3D Printing Filament

Poly Ethylene Terephthalate or in short PET is also a very popular choice in 3D printing material. It is commonly used in the making of everyday plastic bottles for companies. PET produced plastic is harmless and is very stable to create and work with. It also does not emit any sort of harmful and toxic smells.

One of the best benefits of this project is that is 100% recyclable so there is a lack of waste and it can be reused at any time. Also, the filament is very clear and has no color in its initial stage. It changes its stage of transparency when it is exposed to heat or cold. Its far advanced version is also known as the Amphora AM1800. Its temperature is 210°C – 230°C and it is used in making:

It is food safe and can be used for food containers.

Cups and plates are made from PET

Kitchen utensils are also made from this material.

Benefits of using PET Filament

  • It is very strong and is also flexible with a low price.
  • It has no issues such as warping.
  • It also does not shrink under different temperatures.
  • It does not have any moisture issues by absorption from the air.
  • It also doesn’t degrade if put in water for too long.
  • It is approved by the FDA and is safe for food and its containers.

Drawbacks of PET Filaments for 3D Printing

  • It is not an easy filament for amateurs to work with.
  • Its nozzle its better tuning and maintenances for better results in printing.

Nylon Filament

Nylon filament which is also referred to as polyamide is also a popular choice in 3D printing depending on the use. It is a stronger filament than Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene or ABS and Poly Lactic Acid Material or PLA and it also costs less and is very effective.

Nylon filament is also flexible, lighter, and durable if compared to the ABS and PLA filaments and it is also very less not weak. There are many filaments and they all depend on the use and the budget of the user. Their bonding abilities while printing, tensile strength, and water absorption are the qualities that matter the most while choosing filaments of Nylon base.

Nylon filament temperature is around 210°C – 250°C which is high. Nylon filaments are great to be used in a variety of products due to their strength and flexibility that also help in the durability of the products. It is used in products like:

  • Tools of various uses.
  • Mechanical tools and components.
  • Parts for different types of machines.
  • Parts for the structures of machines and technology.
  • It is also used to create containers of different sizes.

Benefits of using Nylon Printing Filaments

  • It is strong and has more strength and durability.
  • It is fixable to work with.
  • It is not brittle like Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene or ABS filament and Poly Lactic Acid Material or PLA.
  • Filaments and be reused by melting so there are no losses of it.

Drawbacks of using Nylon 3D Printing Filaments

  • It needs a high temperature to melt easily.
  • It creates toxic fumes when it is melted so it is difficult to work within close places.
  • It absorbs moisture from the air so it needs to be stored carefully.

Polyvinyl Alcohol or PVA 3D Printing Filament

PVA or Polyvinyl alcohol is a 3D filament that is considered good as well. The most common use of PVA is to be used as supportive material for the printing process with the use of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene or ABS or Poly Lactic Acid Material or PLA materials. Materials such as PVA that are used as the supportive materials are essential for the printing process.

Without any sort of support for other filaments is hard to 3D print materials and it cannot be perfected without the supportive filaments as well. It is a common and biodegradable material and it also non-toxic so it easily dissolves in water. Most the desktop printers like FDM printers can easily use this material.

It does require a heated bed or building platform to prevent any kind of warping while it is building the 3D object. It works best if the temperature is not higher than 200 °C of the print bed that is being used for the process.

It is also used for the following applications like:

  • Supporting material in the 3D printing process.
  • It is used as a thickener in the paper adhesives.
  • It is used in products that are made for hygiene and cleaning.
  • It also works vest as an agent for mold release.
  • Some of the products related to freshwater fishing also use this material.

Benefits of using Polyvinyl Alcohol or PVA Filament

  • It is a biodegradable filament.
  • It also is non-toxic to work with.
  • It dissolves in water.
  • It has good durability.
  • It makes printing easier when used as supportive material.

Drawbacks of using Polyvinyl Alcohol or PVA Filament

  • It attracts water very easily and there can be moisture as well.
  • It also is a difficult source to attain if compared to other PLA (Poly Lactic Acid Material) or ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene ) sources.
  • It is an expensive filament to buy if compared to other filaments.

Sandstone Filament 3D Printing Filament

Sandstone Filament is made by mixing the PLA material with chalk or powder which helps in creating a material that looks like stone and has the same texture. It gives a unique look to the finished product of the desired design. It is also adjustable and it can make smooth and rough designs depending on the required objects.

LayBrick is the most common and well-known supplier for this sort of filament to be used in 3D printing.

It is used in making products like:

  • Landscaper models.
  • Architectural displays and some models as well.
  • It stands tone finish presents limiting opportunities to create products.

Benefits of using Sandstone Filament

  • It creates a unique sandstone look.
  • It does not need any sort of heated bed for the printing process.
  • It does not warp or shrink when it is being cooled down.

Drawbacks of using Sandstone Filament

  • It is not a flexible material to use for the products.
  • Its parts are brittle and have no strength so they can be broken and snapped in half.

Wood Filament for 3D Printing

At first, it seems like a niche use for the wood filaments to be used in 3D printing but they are used for various reasons. It is a better filament for creative minds who want to give their products are different look and finish.

The filament has wood that is recycled and a polymer to be used for the binding. The amazing part is that it not only looks and feels like a wood product but it also smells like real wood products. When printed to perfection, it can create amazing looking products that need to look and feel like wooden products.

It has no limit if used creatively, it is mostly used in:

  • Décor for the houses, rooms, and offices.
  • It is used in creating ornate boxes too.
  • The most common use is to create tables and chairs for mass production.
  • Many figurines are also made with these filaments.

Benefits of using Wood Filaments for 3D Printing

  • It has actual wood or its fiber.
  • It creates objects that look and feel like actual wooden products.
  • It can have different shades when produced at different temperatures.
  • It can also allow working on a finished product so the desired outcome can be created.

Drawbacks of using Wood Filaments for 3D Printing

  • It is a weaker material and it also is very soft if compared to filaments like PLA.
  • It is very less flexible and has very low tensile strength.
  • It breaks easily too.

Metal Filaments for 3D Printing

Metal filaments offer very uniquely, strong, and sturdy finishes to 3D printed objects and products. Metal filaments are made with PLA filaments which are combined with metallic powders. These products feel and look like actual products that are made with real metal.

Metal choices that are very popular in 3D printing are copper, bronze, aluminum, and stainless steel. These are used in hardware products and some jewelry items and statutes of a metallic look.

Benefits of using Metal Filaments for 3D Printing

  • The products made with this filament are extremely durable and strong.
  • These products are not soluble so the products won’t dissolve in water.
  • Products look like actual metal.
  • The objects won’t shrink during the cooling process.

Drawbacks of using Metal Filaments for 3D Printing

  • Metal is not easy to print if the workers are not very experienced in 3D printing.
  • It needs to have a regulated flow rate to work properly.
  • It needs a close tuning of the nozzle and its temperatures.

In conclusion we hope you found this information useful. Please share your experience in the comments below.

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