How to Choose the Filament Material ?
Materials at a Glance
|Material||Extrusion Temperature||Usage Temperature||Properties|
|PLA||165 to 240C||40 to 60C||Easy to print, cheap, for prototyping and indoor ornamental. Brittle and Rigid. This is the goto filament. Can be annealed to resist higher temperature. Glued with Super Glue, Epoxy. Wet sanding or slow speed sanding. No food contact except specified formally. Lost wax casting.|
|TPU/TPE||180 to 240C||40 to 60C||Flexible to super flexible material. No food contact.|
|PETG||210 to 260C||60 to 80C||Easy to print like PLA, less Brittle (more resistant to shocks), less Rigid. This is a good filament for outdoor, technical parts or to replace ABS. Difficult to glue. No food contact except specified formally. Moisture sensitive.|
|ABS||230 to 280C||80 to 120C||Low density, not too Brittle, correct Rigidity. This is a good material for many uses. It is more difficult to print due to the warping, it smells a lot. It is cheap, easy to glue, easy to sand. No food contact.|
|ASA||230 to 280C||80 to 120C||Similar to ABS with the advantage of being UV resistant, or transparent. No food contact.|
|HIPS||Similar to ABS. Can be used for ABS/ASA supports, disolved with Limonene.|
|PP||210 to 280C||60 to 80C||Low density, very flexible and fatigue resistant material (printed in place hinges). Sticks well to itself. Food contact, ask the manufacturer. UV and moisture sensitive.|
|PA (Nylon)||210 to 280C||80 to 110C||Tough and flexible material, impact resistant, abrasion resistant. Smells a lot. Very moisture sensitive.Food contact, ask the manufacturer.|
|PMMA (Acrylic)||240 to 300C||70 to 120C||Lightweight, Very Rigid. Smells a lot. Difficult to print due to warping. No food contact. Lost wast casting. Transparent and UV Stable.|
|POM||230 to 300C||80 to 120C||Very Rigid, Strong and Abrasion Resistant. Difficult to print due to warping. Food contact, ask the manufacturer.|
|PC||260 to 320C||110 to 150C||Transparent, Strong and Very Shock Resistant. Difficult to print due to severe warping. Smells a lot. Food contact, ask the manufacturer. UV resistant, ask the manufacturer. Sterelization, ask the manufacturer. Very moisture sensitive.|
|PSU||330 to 400C||160 to 180C||High strength, stiffness at elevated temperature, sterilization suitable, gamma ray resistant, chemical resistant. Food contact, ask the manufacturer. Sterelization, ask the manufacturer.|
|PPSU||330 to 410C||160 to 190C||High strength, stiffness at elevated temperature, impact resistant, sterilizable suitable, chemical resistant. Food contact, ask the manufacturer. Sterilization, ask the manufacturer. Flame retardant, ask the manufacturer.|
|PEI (Ultem)||330 to 400C||140 to 210C||High strength, stiffness at elevated temperature, chemical resistant, stable dielectric. Wear resistant. Good cold temperature properties. Low thermal conductivity. Flame retardant, ask the manufacturer. Moisture sensitive.|
|PEEK||365 to 430C||210 to 260C||Outstanding mechanical and thermal properties. Fatigue and wear resistance. Flame resistant. Chemical resistant. Not UV Resistant. Bio and Food compatible, ask the manufacturer.|
|PEKK||330 to 400C||200 to 260C||Similar to PEEK. Fatigue and wear resistance. Good resistance to Hydrolysis. Flame resistant. Chemical resistant. Not UV Resistant. Sterilization, ask the manufacturer. Bio and Food compatible, ask the manufacturer.|
You need to know what are the limitations on your printer, the extruder and the hotend:
- Is your printer open ?
If it is open you cannot print reliably parts made of high-performance plastics and warping materials. Typically you can print PLA, TPU/TPE, PETG, PP, PA, with limitations ABS/ASA, HIPS, PMMA, POM.
- Is your printer is closed ?
You can print more materials except some high-performance plastics. Typically you can print PLA, TPU/TPE, PETG, PA, ABS/ASA, PMMA, POM, with limitations PC, PSU, PPSU, PEI, PEEK, PEKK.
- Is your printer is closed with a heated chamber ?
You will be able to print nearly all materials.
- Is your hotend full metal or PTFE lined ?
If the hotend is PTFE lined you will be limited to 230/250C maximum reducing slightly the material you can print, some material are not compatible with PTFE.
- Is your thermistor/thermocouple/PT1xxx, is your heatblock able to handle high temperature ?
Most desktop printers even with a full metal hotend will not be able to handle 300C (you can print up to PC/ABS materials), you need to upgrade to print more technical materials.
- Flexible materials are challenging to print on a Bowden setup, it is better to have a direct drive with a very short and controlled filament path