The Ultimate 3D Printer Filament Buying Guide for 2020: How to Choose the Right 3D Printer Filament?
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The Ultimate 3D Printer Filament Buying Guide for 2020: How to Choose the Right 3D Printer Filament?

Before going into the details about how to choose from the different types of 3D printer filament, let us start by discussing what 3D printer filament is and what are the different uses of 3d printer filament. 

The 3D printer filament is basically a strand of plastic wire which is supplied to the printer's extruder. The extruder melts the filament and extrudes it onto the print bed of the 3D printer to form different objects. With the evolution of technology, the 3D printer filaments are capable of making everything from electronics parts to medical devices. 

There are no limits on what a 3D printer filament can turn out to be. You can even make functional electronics parts that can be used for commercial mechanical applications. 


That being said, 3D printing so efficient for prototyping and custom part production that it has overtaken the commercial prototyping industry virtually. As the filament industry continues to boom over the last decade along with 3D printing technology, exciting things are happening in the filament industry. Researchers around the world have created dozens of new filaments, which can be used almost for any application.

Let us get into more details and discuss the most popular types of 3D printer filament, along with their pros and cons.

Types of 3D Printer Filament

1. PLA

PLA stands for Polylactic Acid that is a polymer plastic made from materials such as sugarcane and cornstarch. It is very much similar to the material which is used in biodegradable plastic packaging.

It has a melting point of 180 to 200 degrees Celsius, depending upon the other material added into it for texture and color. Though PLA is resilient, tough material with opaque, matte quality, it is not as tolerant as ABS filament type.



Above 60 degrees Celsius, the PLA filament begins to deform and is not chemical or water-resistant. You can feel a slight smell when the filament is heated, however, there are no toxic vapors or odors. 

Generally, the PLA filament type is used for low-cost 3D printers, since it is easier to print as compared to some of the other filament types such as ABS. Like other sugar and corn-based material, the PLA filament is also biodegradable and is slowly consumed by bacteria.


That being said, PLA is brittle and is not food safe. Due to its brittleness, the prints at times are prone to shatter under stress. Though, you can make use of chemicals to make the filament less brittle and more heat tolerant.



Pros
1. The PLA filament type is eco-friendly as it made from biodegradable material.
2. It requires less amount of energy to process.
3. It is a tough and resilient material.

Cons
1. The PLA filament type takes a lot of time to degrade.
2. It has a rougher texture as compared to ABS filament.
3. It is not chemical and water-resistant.

What prints could it be used for?

You can use the PLA filament type to print food containers such as candy wrappers and biodegradable medical prototype parts and implants. 




Top PLA 3D printer filament









YOUSU PLA 3D Printer Filament 1.75mm 200g Spool


$7.82


$7.29














Alfawise 3D Printer PLA Filament Silk 1.75MM 1kg Spool Dimensional Accuracy +/- 0.02mm


$19.71


$18.99















CCTREE 3D Printer PLA Filament Silk 1.75mm 1kg Spool Dimensional Accuracy +/- 0.05mm


$20.31


$18.99












Alfawise 3D Printer PLA Filament Silk 1.75MM 1kg Spool Dimensional Accuracy +/- 0.02mm


$21.95


$18.99














Noulei 3D Printer PLA Filament Silk 1.75mm 500g Spool Dimensional Accuracy +/- 0.02mm 4pcs


$79.23


$69.99















Stronghero3D PLA 3D Printer Filament Metal Infill 1.75mm 1kg for Ender3 A3 Creality


$23.99


$23.99















Tronxy 1.75mm PLA 3D Printing Filament Biodegradable Material


$21.24


$16.88





What 3D printers could it be suited for?

1. Alfawise U30 Pro











Alfawise U30 Pro 4.3 inch Touch Screen High Precision DIY Desktop 3D Printer


$252.36


$219.99





2. Artillery Sidewinder-X1











Artillery Sidewinder-X1 3d printers High Precision Large Plus Size 3d printer Dual Z axis TFT Touch


$568


$399





3. Creality 3D Ender-3











Creality 3D Ender-3 V-slot Prusa I3 DIY 3D Printer Kit 220 x 220 x 250mm Printing Size


$243.24


$199.99





4. Alfawise U20











Alfawise U20 Large Scale 2.8 inch Touch Screen DIY 3D Printer - EU


$336.74


$279.99





5. Alfawise U50











Alfawise U50 DIY 3D Printer 3.5 inch Touch Screen


$225.93


$205.99





6. ANYCUBIC I3 Mega











ANYCUBIC I3 Mega 3D Printer Full Metal Impresora 3d TFT Touch Screen High Precision 3D Drucker


$259


$169





7. Alfawise U20 ONE











Alfawise U20 ONE 3.5 inch Touch Screen 3D Printer 300 x 300 x 400mm Double Z-axis 


$336.41


$295.99





8. TWOTREES Sapphire Pro











TWOTREES 3D Printer CoreXY BMG Extruder 235x235m SapphirePro DIY Kits 3.5 inch touch screen


$388


$299.99





9. TWOTREES Sapphire Plus











Two Trees Sapphire Plus Metal 3D Printer 3.5 inch Touchscreen Linear Guide_Core XY_TMC2208 Driver


$588


$449.99





10. Creality Ender-3 Pro











Creality3D Ender - 3 pro High Precision 3D Printer


$273.5


$229.99





11. Anet ET4











Anet ET4 Touch Control 3D Printer Quick Assembly 220 x 220 x 250mm Print Area Automatic Leveling Filament Detection Offline Upgrade for Wide Applications


$260.24


$239.99





12. Creality Ender-5 Pro











Creality Ender-5 Pro Upgraded 3D Printer Pre-installed Kit


$414.12


$379





13. Geeetech A10M











Geeetech A10M Mix-color 3D Printer


$336.93


$332.91





14. TENLOG Hadns-2











TENLOG Hadns-2 Independent Double Nozzle 3D Printer


$486.3


$449.99





2. ABS

ABS stands for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, which is the same plastic that is used in Legos. It is non-toxic, tough and retains colors well. Since the ABS filament type melts and becomes pliable at 220 degrees Celsius, it is tough to break. However, you can shape the filament type very easily. Such properties of the ABS filament makes it very suitable to be used for 3D printing. 

That being said, you need to have a large heater to melt the filament. As a result of which, a printer with a heating bed is usually required as ABS will stick to a hot print bed.




If you have ever stepped on the Legos set, you would know how tough they are to break. Since it is made from ABS, the ABS filament is also quite tough to break. In addition to this, the ABS filament type is also chemical and water-resistant. 

However, when heated it will produce a slightly unpleasant smell, while the vapors might contain nasty chemicals. Thus, make sure you have a good ventilation system. 

Since ABS breaks down with UV radiation, it is not the best choice for long-term outdoor use. Over time, it will start to lose color and become more brittle.



Pros
1. The ABS filament type is tough and not easily broken.
2. It is non-toxic and chemical and water-resistant.

Cons
1. It has a high-melting-point as compared to other filament types.
2. It produces unpleasant fumes and is not suitable for outdoor use.
What prints could it be used for?
ABS filament can be used for Legos instruments, sports instruments, knife handles, car phone mounts, phone cases, toys and wedding rings.

Top ABS 3D printer filament












Alfawise ABS 3D Printer Filament Silk 1.75mm 1kg Spool Dimensional Accuracy +/- 0.02mm


$26.41


$24.99















Tronxy 1.75mm ABS Filament for 3D Printer


$27.94


$26.99















ABS 3D Printer Filament Silk 1.75mm 20 Color Pack 10 Meter


$21.75


$19.95















eSUN ABS+ 3D Printer FDM Filament Silk 1.75mm 1kg Spool


$38.3


$35.61













Alfawise ABS 3D Printer Filament Silk 1.75mm 1kg Spool Dimensional Accuracy +/- 0.02mm


$26.41


$24.99




What 3D printers could it be suited for?


1. Alfawise U30 Pro











Alfawise U30 Pro 4.3 inch Touch Screen High Precision DIY Desktop 3D Printer


$252.36


$219.99





2. Artillery Sidewinder-X1











Artillery Sidewinder-X1 3d printers High Precision Large Plus Size 3d printer Dual Z axis TFT Touch


$568


$399





3. Creality 3D Ender-3











Creality 3D Ender-3 V-slot Prusa I3 DIY 3D Printer Kit 220 x 220 x 250mm Printing Size


$243.24


$199.99





4. ANYCUBIC I3 Mega











ANYCUBIC I3 Mega 3D Printer Full Metal Impresora 3d TFT Touch Screen High Precision 3D Drucker


$259


$169





5. Alfawise U20 ONE











Alfawise U20 ONE 3.5 inch Touch Screen 3D Printer 300 x 300 x 400mm Double Z-axis 


$336.41


$295.99





6. TWOTREES Sapphire Pro











TWOTREES 3D Printer CoreXY BMG Extruder 235x235m SapphirePro DIY Kits 3.5 inch touch screen


$388


$299.99





7. TWOTREES Sapphire Plus











Two Trees Sapphire Plus Metal 3D Printer 3.5 inch Touchscreen Linear Guide_Core XY_TMC2208 Driver


$588


$449.99





8. Alfawise U50











Alfawise U50 DIY 3D Printer 3.5 inch Touch Screen


$225.93


$205.99





9. Creality Ender-3 pro











Creality3D Ender - 3 pro High Precision 3D Printer


$273.5


$229.99





10. Anet ET4











Anet ET4 Touch Control 3D Printer Quick Assembly 220 x 220 x 250mm Print Area Automatic Leveling Filament Detection Offline Upgrade for Wide Applications


$260.24


$239.99





11. Creality Ender-5 Pro











Creality Ender-5 Pro Upgraded 3D Printer Pre-installed Kit


$414.12


$379





12. Geeetech A10M











Geeetech A10M Mix-color 3D Printer


$336.93


$332.91




13. TENLOG Hadns-2











TENLOG Hadns-2 Independent Double Nozzle 3D Printer


$486.3


$449.99





3. PETG

PET stands for Polyethylene Terephthalate, which is similar to that of polyester that is often used to make clothes. It has a melting point of 230 degree Celsius, however, cools into a rigid solid that looks like glass. 

You can even dye it retaining the glass-like properties and thus, is available in multiple colors. Raw PET is very rarely used in 3D printing, the variant PETG is increasingly becoming a popular 3D printing filament. PETG is a variation of PET filament with the addition of glycol-modified. 


Since the material is strong and resilient, it has to be printed slowly to ensure that the layers adhere properly. It is extremely durable and prints without any odors. The addition of glycol removes the brittle properties of PET and offers PETG properties such as no warping, low shrinkage and strong but not brittle.

Pros
1. It is strong, flexible and recyclable.
2. It does not shrink and can be printed on glass without any glues.
3. It does not absorb water or moisture from the air and does not degrade in water.
4. Impact-resistant and more superior to PET.

Cons
1. It has poor bridging characteristics.
2. It needs fine-tuning of nozzle and bed temperature.
3. It is not easy to use.

What prints could it be used for?

It is best for printing products that are subject to immediate stress such as protective components including cell phone cases and other mechanical parts. Since it is food safe, it can also be used for plates, cups and food containers.

Top PETG 3D printer filament












Alfawise PETG 3D Printer Filament Silk 1.75mm 1kg Spool


$33.21


$29.99















Stronghero3D PETG 3D Printer Filament 1.75mm 1kg for Creality3D ender3 Anet anycuby


$23.99


$23.99













Noulei High Strength PETG Material 3D Printer Filament 1.75mm 1KG Spool


$35.54


$33.99












PETG 3D Printer Filament Silk 1.75mm 1kg Spool for Creality Anet


$34.64


$32.99




What 3D printers could it be suited for?

1. TWOTREES Sapphire Pro











TWOTREES 3D Printer CoreXY BMG Extruder 235x235m SapphirePro DIY Kits 3.5 inch touch screen


$388


$299.99





2. TWOTREES Sapphire Plus











Two Trees Sapphire Plus Metal 3D Printer 3.5 inch Touchscreen Linear Guide_Core XY_TMC2208 Driver


$588


$449.99





3. GEEETECH A20M











GEEETECH A20M Mix-color 3D Printer 2019 New Version


$447.63


$399.99





4. Creality CR - 10 V2











Creality CR - 10 V2 Updated Version 3D Printer DIY Kit 300 x 300 x 400mm Print Size with 24V 350W Meanwell Power Supply All-metal Extruding Unit


$544.58


$499.99





5. TENLOG TL-D3 Pro











TENLOG TL-D3 Pro Independent Double Nozzle 3D Printer


$712.42


$649.99





4. TPU

TPU stands for Thermoplastic Polyurethane that is a variety of TPE and is itself a very popular 3D printing filament. That being said, TPU is slightly more rigid in comparison to TPE. Thus, it much easier to make prints using the TPU 3D printer filament. In addition to this, it is also a bit more durable and can retain its elasticity better in cold conditions.


Some of the important properties of TPU includes transparency, elasticity, and resistance to grease, abrasion, and oil. It is one of the flexible filament because of its flexible nature. It has a print temperature range of 225 to 235 degrees Celsius.


Pros

1. It can stick easily to the build platform.
2. It bonds between layers for high-quality prints.
3. It is durable and has low shrinkage during cooling.
4. It does not need a heated print bed.

Cons
1. It needs fine-tuning of nozzle temperature.
2. The tendency to squeeze out of extruder from all directions.

What prints could it be used for?

Because of its excellent flexibility, this filament type is ideal for printing toys, novelty items, phone cases, and wearable products.

Top TPU 3D printer filament











3D Printer TPU Filament Silk 1.75mm 200g Spool Dimensional Accuracy +/- 0.05mm for Creality Ender 3


$9.63


$8.99















Alfawise TPU 1.75mm 3D Printer Filament


$38.33


$30.99













Noulei Flexible TPU 3D Printer Filament 1.75mm 1kg


$42.92


$39.99




What 3D printers could it be suited for?

1. Alfawise U30 Pro










Alfawise U30 Pro 4.3 inch Touch Screen High Precision DIY Desktop 3D Printer


$252.36


$219.99





2. Artillery Sidewinder-X1











Artillery Sidewinder-X1 3d printers High Precision Large Plus Size 3d printer Dual Z axis TFT Touch


$568


$399





3. Creality 3D Ender-3











Creality 3D Ender-3 V-slot Prusa I3 DIY 3D Printer Kit 220 x 220 x 250mm Printing Size


$243.24


$199.99





4. Alfawise U20 ONE











Alfawise U20 ONE 3.5 inch Touch Screen 3D Printer 300 x 300 x 400mm Double Z-axis 


$336.41


$295.99





5. Creality3D CR-10S4











Creality3D CR - 10S4 Enlarged 3D DIY Desktop Printer Kit


$617.3


$589.99





6. Creality3D Ender-3 Pro











Creality3D Ender - 3 pro High Precision 3D Printer


$273.5


$229.99





7. Creality CR - 10 V2











Creality CR - 10 V2 Updated Version 3D Printer DIY Kit 300 x 300 x 400mm Print Size with 24V 350W Meanwell Power Supply All-metal Extruding Unit


$544.58


$499.99





8. TENLOG TL-D3 Pro











TENLOG TL-D3 Pro Independent Double Nozzle 3D Printer


$712.42


$649.99





9. Alfawise U50











Alfawise U50 DIY 3D Printer 3.5 inch Touch Screen


$225.93


$205.99





5. Wood

It is not made from wood but instead consists of fine wood particles that are mixed with PLA and a polymer substance, which binds it together. Thus, if you are tired of printing plastic and would like to print designs of new filament, you can do using the wood filament. Several different versions are available for wood including bamboo, ebony, and mahogany.  




When using this type of 3D printing filament, you have to care at the temperature you print wood. Too much heat can result in caramelized and almost burnt appearance. When using the wood filament, the print temperature should be between 175 to 220 degrees Celsius.

In addition to this, using wood filament can also wear and tear to your 3D printer nozzle. Thus, keep this in mind before you go ahead with the wood filament.

Pros
1. You can produce a different kind of brown shades surfaces using the wood filament.
2. You can stimulate the tree's growth ring effect by changing the printing temperature.
3. It allows you to be more creative as compared to other 3D printing filaments.

Cons
1. It has reduced tensile length and flexibility.
2. The filament can break down quite easily.

What prints could it be used for?

Such types of filaments are commonly used in home décor products or materials where you want to achieve a wood-like nature. You can use the filament to print wooden boxes, tables, chairs, and other similar items.

Top Wood 3D printer filament











3D Printer Wood Filament 1.75mm 200g Spool for Ender 3 CR-10S


$9.63


$8.99













Huicai 3D Printer PLA Wood Filament Silk 1.75mm 1kg Spool Dimensional Accuracy +/- 0.02mm


$33.36


$31.99




What 3D printers could it be suited for?

1. Alfawise U30 Pro










Alfawise U30 Pro 4.3 inch Touch Screen High Precision DIY Desktop 3D Printer


$252.36


$219.99





2. Alfawise U20











Alfawise U20 Large Scale 2.8 inch Touch Screen DIY 3D Printer - EU


$336.74


$279.99





3. ANYCUBIC I3 Mega











ANYCUBIC I3 Mega 3D Printer Full Metal Impresora 3d TFT Touch Screen High Precision 3D Drucker


$259


$169





4. TWOTREES Sapphire Pro











TWOTREES 3D Printer CoreXY BMG Extruder 235x235m SapphirePro DIY Kits 3.5 inch touch screen


$388


$299.99





5. TWOTREES Sapphire Plus











Two Trees Sapphire Plus Metal 3D Printer 3.5 inch Touchscreen Linear Guide_Core XY_TMC2208 Driver


$588


$449.99





6. Creality CR-10S Pro











Creality CR - 10S Pro 300 x 300 x 400mm 3D Printer


$636.16


$589.99





7. Anet ET4











Anet ET4 Touch Control 3D Printer Quick Assembly 220 x 220 x 250mm Print Area Automatic Leveling Filament Detection Offline Upgrade for Wide Applications


$260.24


$239.99





8. GEEETECH A20M











GEEETECH A20M Mix-color 3D Printer 2019 New Version


$447.63


$399.99





9. TENLOG TL-D3 Pro











TENLOG TL-D3 Pro Independent Double Nozzle 3D Printer


$712.42


$649.99





10. Alfawise U50











Alfawise U50 DIY 3D Printer 3.5 inch Touch Screen


$225.93


$205.99





Conclusion

With all of these different kinds of the 3D printing filament, choosing the right one can be extremely confusing and tedious. However, depending upon the kind of end product you want to build - you can easily choose if you know which material is used to print what designs.

For instance, if you want to produce home décor wooden items, then the wood filament is the right choice. If you want food-safe filament with high flexibility, chose PETG.

Once you know the filament properties, their pros and cons along with what prints each filament can be used for, making the choice becomes extremely easy. Read out the guide thoroughly and then make an informed decision.
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