Material Options for 3D Printing

When deciding which material is most suitable for your 3D Printing application.  Many factors come into play:

  • Is strength or the appearance most important?

  • Do your parts have many fine details or do they have a simple geometry?  

  • Do the parts need to withstand specific environmental conditions, such as high temperatures?

  • What post-processing is required?

In this guide, we will compare the three most common materials used for 3D printing with FDM technology: PLA, ABS, and PETG.

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The following table compares the characteristics of each material for common application requirements. If you aren’t sure what would be best, let us know when you contact us and we can help you choose.

PETG PLA ABS
Appearance Very glossy. some translucent Somewhat glossy Matte                      
Ability to handle complex geometries ★★ ★★★
Tensile Strength ★★★ ★★
Flexural (Bending) Strength ★★ ★★★
Ability to smooth ★★ ★★★
Temperature Resistance ★★ (180F) ★ (140F) ★★★ (210F)
Cost $$ $ $$$

See our blog post on choosing a material for a more detailed look at each of the three standard materials.

You may also want to consider using specialty materials for specific applications.  These materials include:

  • TPU/Ninjaflex - flexible materials.  Available shore hardness of 80A and 90A

  • ASA - ABS-like material with superior UV resistance.  Great for outdoor applications which will subject the parts to direct sunlight.