27+ 3D Printer Filament Types With Pics

3D Printers27+ 3D Printer Filament Types With Pics

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3D printing filaments are thermoplastic materials that melt instead of burning when heated. There are many types of filaments, and all of them have different material properties, which means they all melt at different temperatures.

Since there is a wide variety to choose from, you might get confused with what type of filament for 3D printing you should use. There are some favorite filaments that are perfect for certain printing materials; it mostly depends on what your purpose is. Let’s look at everything you need to know about the wide selection of 3D printing filaments.

Note: If you want a shortlist of the best 3D printer filaments, click the link!

2D Printing Compared to 3D Printing

Three dimensional printing machine,3D printer.

There are many differences between 3D printers and more traditional printers. One of the biggest ones is the ability for the 3D printer to print out 3D objects while a 2D printer just prints on a flat surface. Here are some more differences between the two.

  • Materials: A 2D printer requires ink or toner for colored prints and other such materials for different functions. In comparison, 3D printing materials are completely different. We will discuss the 3D materials later on. Since a 3D printer produces a solid object, it needs different raw materials.
  • Function: Traditional 2D printers are used for simply printing any hard copies of graphics and texts any time anywhere. These are very common and can be found in any household. However, a 3D printer produces versatile materials, so it is mainly used in the manufacturing industry. They are used for creating miniature models for testing and development very fast and at an affordable price. Moreover, the products produced can have functions like heat resistance, impact resistance, and many others.
  • Work: These two printers also work differently. A 3D printer has a more complex mechanism and requires a few extra steps to reach its goals. It can produce complex prints in real life, which also requires the person’s skills. In short, not everyone can use a 3D printer, while everyone can use a 2D printer.

These are the biggest differences between the two printers. If you want a 3D model of an object, you use a 3D printer. However, you might not be skilled enough to do this yet!

3D Filament Defined

3D printer and computer on the table
3D printer and computer on the table

3D printing produces 3D objects from a CAD or digital 3D model, and there needs to be a 3D printer filament.

A 3D printer filament is a thermoplastic feedstock that is used for producing 3D products. There are many filament types, including many types of colored filament and even glow-in-the-dark filament that is used to make miniature figurines. Some are filaments for beginners as they have base material that is easy to handle.

This printing material is available in two common sizes, 1.75mm and 2.85mm. A filament size is not the same as the extruder nozzle size. A very rare 3D printer filament type is the 3mm size one. All the 3D printer filament properties are different.

Applications

3d tooth printer 3d render on white background no shadow

A 3D printer has many applications across various industries. You can make a variety of objects from them, some with a matt finish while with a glossy finish; this makes it very flexible. Excellent material is also a flexible material that can make many different types of objects. Professionals also use some advanced materials to make unique things. Here are some ways a 3D printer has helped.

  • Education: Students can make common prints without the need for expensive methods or materials. It also helps in learning as students can hold the objects that they make. Due to the wide selection of advantages of 3D printing, these have become very common in universities.
  • Manufacturing: This was mentioned above as well, since making objects is so easy and quick, it is used in the manufacturing industry. Prototyping has become very cheap as well. There are so many different 3D printer filament types that you can produce a lot of different objects. Filament printing has become very common now.
  • Medicine: Even the medical industry has taken advantage of filament printing. 3D printing is used in bioprinting as well as creating prosthetics. Prosthetics can be made at a much lower cost with the use of the 3D printer. Moreover, detailed models can be made through this technology. A complete object can be made as well.
  • Construction: Since any complete object can be made through the 3D printer nozzle, it has been used in constructing buildings as well. It is mainly used for extrusion, power bonding, and additive welding. There variety of colors available for this job as well. 3D construction is faster and produces less waste.
  • Art: Art and jewelry making has been another advantage of 3D printing. Since we know, there are a variety of colors of filaments available. Some of them can be food-safe and have other such properties, making them fit for jewelry. Customized and unique jewelry can be made with this method at a much lower cost than traditional jewelry. Color-changing filaments have also been used for art and jewelry making.

Choosing the Right 3D Printer Filament

Three dimensional printing machine,3D printer.

Depending on your needs, there are many uncommon and common types of filaments that you can use in 3D printing. A desktop 3D printer should be able to use various filaments to create objects. The printing material has different properties. There is even filament for beginners as they are easier to work with. Here are some considerations to keep in mind while choosing this durable material.

The function of the item that you want to print is important. Use more basic materials unless it is for professional use as they are cheaper, more readily available, and more durable material. As mentioned before, a perfect filament is the one that will meet all your demands and still be affordable. Now let’s look at different types of 3D printer filament that you can choose from.

PLA

About: PLA filament, also known as polylactic acid, is a very common 3D printing filament that is used mostly in desktop 3D printers. PLA filament can print at a lower temperature compared to other ones.

Pros:

  • Can be printed on a cold surface
  • PLA 3D printer filament is environmentally friendly
  • Smells sweet while in progress
  • A smooth surface finish

Cons:

  • Not that sturdy
  • It is not heat resistant and can deform
  • Not food safe

What it looks like

ABS

About: ABS filament is also known as Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. ABS prints are another popular form of filament. ABS plastic is cheaper than PLA and is used more by advanced users.

Pros:

  • ABS plastic is sturdy and hard
  • More flexible so easier to work with
  • It has a higher melting point compared to PLA
  • ABS products last longer since they have a longer life span

Cons:

  • It is difficult to work with
  • Requires a heated print bed
  • Smells bad while in the process

What it looks like

PETG (PET, PETT)

About: Also known as Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol, it is a co-polyester. It is a mixture between PLA and ABS. It is used more by professionals as it has great mechanical properties.

Pros:

  • Has high heat tolerance as well as UV resistance
  • Naturally transparent and has a glossy finish
  • Holds up to repeated force as it is less brittle and has high impact resistance
  • Made up of materials that can be recycled

Cons:

  • The finished product has a soft exterior
  • This filament is sensitive to humidity or dampness
  • The post-processing of this is difficult

What it looks like

TPE, TPU, TPC (flexible)

About: TPU or also known as thermoplastic polyurethane, is a variety of TPE. TPC, also known as thermoplastic copolyester, is also a part of TPE but is less commonly used. These materials are flexible, so used for these properties mainly.

Pros:

  • These have high impact strength
  • Good resistance to tearing, abrasion, and chemicals
  • Has shock absorbing property

Cons:

  • Difficult to work with this 3D filament
  • Requires modifications to the 3D printer

What it looks like

Nylon

About: This was created as a replacement for silks. It is a very versatile material that can be used with a lot of things. Naturally, these produce white prints, but they can be printed with a variety of colors as well. Nylon is relatively new material as well.

Pros:

  • It is a cheap 3D printer filament
  • It is tough, resilient, and durable
  • UV resistant as well as chemical resistant
  • Easy to die in different colors

Cons:

  • The print temperature is high, so needs high temperature to print
  • Very sensitive to moisture so needs to be kept dry all the time
  • Can only last for 12 months and is more sensitive to warping

What it looks like

PC (polycarbonate)

About: It is a strong thermoplastic 3D printer filament material. It starts softening at 145 ºC and has a density of 1.2g/centimeter cube. It is mainly used in 3D printing for strong things as it is a strong material.

Pros:

  • Has tensile strength so impact resistant
  • It can bend before breaking
  • It can withstand high temperatures
  • Has high optical clarity

Cons:

  • Absorbs moisture from the air
  • Is toxic to the environment
  • Needs high printing temperature to work properly

What it looks like

Wood-filled

About: Wood-filled filament is not made up of wood but has fine wood particles as well as PLA and a binder. Many different wood types are available, like mahogany, bamboo, ebony, and many more. It doesn’t have real wood but can look a lot like real wood.

Pros:

  • A wood-filled filament gives a very attractive finish
  • Working with this does not require an expensive resistant steel nozzle
  • While in progress, it smells pleasant

Cons:

  • To get the final desired look requires sanding or other treatments
  • Wood-filled filament is prone to stringing
  • Will require a large-sized nozzle to work with

What it looks like

Metal-filled

About: Metal filaments again require finely grounded metal with PLA and a polymer glue. By using metal 3D printing filament, it gives a metal finish, although it works like PLA. There are steel, bronze, brass, and copper metal filaments.

Pros:

  • Metal 3D printing filament gives an attractive metal finish
  • Can work with a low-temperature extruder
  • Metal filaments are heavier than standard filaments
  • Perfect for metal structures and figurines

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Can only work with a wear-resistant 3D printer nozzle
  • Printed parts are very brittle

What it looks like

Biodegradable

About: These are not that common, but a company has made biodegradable filament that produces objects that can then be biodegraded. It is called NonOilen, the material and is made up of polylactic acid and polyhydroxy butyrate blend.

Pros:

  • Safer for the environment
  • Usually does not produce fumes while working
  • The object produced can be recycled

Cons:

  • Only PLA is a known biodegradable component
  • Lackluster mechanical properties
  • Might not give the finish that you are looking for

What it looks like

Conductive

About: This is a fairly new 3D printer filament type. It is made up of graphene, which is a form of carbon known for conducting electricity. It is good for 3D printing electrical devices like touch buttons and wearable electronics.

Pros:

  • Prints like PLA, so the finish is like PLA
  • Ideal for electronic products
  • Compatible with most printers

Cons:

  • Limited stock
  • It is still new, so not much is known about it
  • Can be expensive

What it looks like

Glow-in-the-dark

About: Glow-in-the-dark 3D printer filament is just like its name suggests and can glow when left in a dark room. Traditionally it’s neon in color, but there are other colors as well. A glow-in-the-dark filament has phosphorescent materials that are mixed with PLA or ABS to make them work.

Pros:

  • Can be used to make unique jewelry, toys, and decoration
  • A glow-in-the-dark 3D printer filament is visually striking
  • It is easy to print with as it doesn’t require any special setting
  • It is fun to work with

Cons:

  • It has limited mechanical properties, is not food safe
  • It is more expensive than ordinary filaments
  • Any color other than neon has a weaker glow effect

What it looks like

Magnetic

About: Again, it has iron powder mixed with PLA to give the properties of a typical magnet. Usually, Iron Boron Neodymium (NdFeB) or Samarium Cobalt (SmCo) magnets are used for the best quality magnetic effect. It is ferromagnetic so it has no magnetic field of its own.

Pros:

  • Visually appealing results
  • Sticks to magnets so can be used to make fridge magnets as well as other unique objects
  • Very strong and durable metal filament
  • While cooling down, the product has little to no shrinkage

Cons:

  • This is an expensive material to work with
  • The nozzle temperature needs to be fine-tuned
  • Filament is inflexible, so harder to work with

What it looks like

Color-changing

About: Color-changing filament uses the thermochromism mechanism to make the filaments change color. The color changes based on temperature. The Leuco dyes are mixed with PLA or ABS to give the desired effect of the gradient of two colors.

Pros:

  • Aesthetically pleasant and can be used for phone cases, a food container, etc
  • Can be used to detect environmental elements like heat
  • Can be used to see different colors for one design

Cons:

  • Has limited mechanical properties
  • Can be more expensive
  • Not commonly found everywhere

What it looks like

Clay/ Ceramic

This is a unique filament as it uses clay with polymer and is one of the non-plastic filaments. It is used especially in archeological, design, and architecture fields. If you want something different, clay or ceramic filament is a good option.

Pros:

  • It can be fired in a kiln
  • Can decorate and glaze the ceramic object
  • Has clay-like properties overall

Cons:

  • The filament is expensive to use
  • Some parts of the final object will shrink after post-processing
  • It is difficult to print with as it is very brittle

What it looks like

Glass fiber

About: Glass fiber 3D printer filament has chopped glass with nylon fibers and is used mostly by professionals. A glass fiber-filled filament has similar properties to that of nylon filaments. It is easy to use and fun to work with as well.

Pros:

  • Rigid and durable material
  • Used for mechanical applications mainly
  • Heat and scratch resistant as well

Cons:

  • Requires abrasion-resistant steel nozzle
  • Needs to be stored in a dry place
  • Has layer adhesion issues
  • Can cause wear and tear of the nozzle

What it looks like

Carbon fiber

About: Carbon fiber material uses carbon filaments mixed with nylon, PLA, or ABS. There are even more thermoplastics that the thin strands of carbon fiber can be used with. It is mainly used for mechanical components like a car or even an airplane.

Pros:

  • It is a strong as well as a lightweight component
  • It shines in structural applications
  • Low thermal expansion, which in turn prevents shrinking
  • A cheaper alternative to metal filaments

Cons:

  • Even a little amount can cause wear and tear of your brass and aluminum nozzle
  • Since the filament is brittle, it can cause clogging
  • Can have a rough surface finish that some people might not like

What it looks like

Metal

About: Metal dust is mixed with PLA or ABS to make this type of filament. The finished product looks and feels like metal even though there is only about 50% to 20% metal powder. Most high-quality metal filament requires a binder which needs to be removed to get the final product.

Pros:

  • As it has metal dust, it is very strong
  • When used properly, produces chemical resistant and strong metal components
  • There is a lot of variety in metal filaments that can be bought
  • Has little to no shrinkage in the final product

Cons:

  • Requires more attention to detail than normal 3D printing
  • The nozzle temperature needs to be fine-tuned
  • Post-processing is required and not suitable for beginners

What it looks like

HIPS

About: HIPS is also known as high impact polystyrene and has properties of rubber and polystyrene. HIPS is usually combined with ABS when used, as they both don’t react together. It acts as a support material in 3D printing.

Pros:

  • It is a stronger material than ABS and PLA
  • It is environmentally friendly
  • Afterwards, the object can easily be sanded, colored, and glued
  • Has excellent strength and stability

Cons:

  • It is only really compatible with ABS
  • Requires a high print bed temperature
  • Requires post-processing to remove the supports

What it looks like

PVA

About: PVA is also known as Polyvinyl alcohol and is a water-soluble filament. It is a synthetic polymer filament and has a translucent, white appearance. Just like HIPS, it is also used as a support material in 3D printing.

Pros:

  • PVA can be combined with many other filaments like PLA, PETG, and ABS
  • Environmentally friendly as it is biodegradable and non-toxic
  • Great support material
  • Is food safe and has low flexibility

Cons:

  • Needs to be stored away from moisture
  • Difficult to handle this filament
  • It is kind of expensive when compared with other filaments

What it looks like

Cleaning filament

About: Unlike all the other filaments listed in this list, this filament is not used to print 3D objects. Its main use is to clean the 3D printer extruders. The purpose is to remove any remaining material in the hot ends that might affect the next printing session.

Pros:

  • Useful when using filaments of different colors
  • Useful for using in-between filaments with different printing temperatures
  • Keeps the hot ends in good shape so that they can last longer
  • Only a small amount needed to clean

Cons:

  • Makes the printing process longer
  • Manual work is required as you need to change filament
  • Only has limited usefulness

What it looks like

Wax (MOLDAY)

About: If you want a product with real metal like brass, you can use the wax filament to mold the product. With some extra steps, you can have any metal object that you want using was filament.

Pros:

  • Makes the mold making process easy
  • It melts at not so high temperature so you can get the product out easily
  • There are many different colors and types of wax filaments are found
  • It is insoluble in water so can act as a water protector

Cons:

  • Has limited application
  • The final product requires a lot of additional steps
  • Modification of the extruder and print bed is necessary

What it looks like

ASA

About: The acronym ASA stands for acrylonitrile-styrene-acrylate. This is an alternative for ABS-type filaments that can also be used in 3D printing. The product is usually made from fossil fuels and is used for indoor as well as outdoor products.

Pros:

  • The filament is strong and rigid
  • It is both waterproof as well as weatherproof
  • Has functional applications like for automotive parts
  • Has UV resistance as well as high wear resistance

Cons:

  • It is non-biodegradable, so not good for the environment
  • a kind of an expensive 3D printing filament
  • Susceptible to cracking during the printing process

What it looks like

Polypropenyl(PP)

About: PP is one of the most widely used plastics as it has many properties. Some of the uses of PP are for making engineering plastics, food packaging, textiles, and banknotes. It is a bio-based material that is becoming popular in 3D printing.

Pros:

  • It is food safe so used in food packaging
  • Overall, excellent mechanical as well as chemical properties
  • Very robust and has good thermal properties as well

Cons:

  • Very difficult to print with, not suitable for beginners
  • Has warping behavior
  • It is very brittle and does not give a smooth layer finish

What it looks like

PC/ABS

About: As the name suggests, it is a blend of ABS and PC, so it can be called Polycarbonates + Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene. It is a tough thermoplastic that is one of the most widely used 3D filaments globally. Especially famous in the housing, automotive, and electronics industry.

Pros:

  • Has the strength of PC and flexibility of ABS
  • Has great heat resistance properties as well
  • Has very versatile uses
  • A good alternative

Cons:

  • A little difficult to work with
  • Heated print bed with high temperature is necessary
  • Very susceptible to moisture, so drying in the over before using is necessary

What it looks like

Acetal (POM)

About: POM is also known as Polyoxymethylene. Some other names for this filament are Acetal and Delrin. It is used as an engineered plastic in bearings, camera focusing mechanisms, and zippers.

Pros:

  • It is a strong and resistant printing filament
  • Has low coefficient of friction
  • Has a lot of functional applications
  • Good resistance to chemicals as well heat

Cons:

  • Requires high temperature for the print bed
  • The first print layer adheres poorly
  • Can be expensive

What it looks like

PMMA (Acrylic)

About: PMMA is also known as polymethyl methacrylate or as Acrylic. This is an alternative that is used in place of glass filament. People also know this as Plexiglas, Lucite and Perspex. It is a well-known synthetic plastic.

Pros:

  • Acts as a glass filament, so it is transparent
  • It is rigid and impact resistant
  • It has high stiffness
  • PMMA has a low dead weight as well

Cons:

  • The material is susceptible to warping
  • Difficult processing, so not suitable for beginners
  • Not flexible and requires high and consistent temperature

What it looks like

These are all the filaments that you need to know about. They all have unique properties, so depending on what you want, you can get anything. Make sure to use all types of filaments to find the one that works best for you! And also check out our post on high temperature 3D filaments.

Rush Chapman
( Founder )

Hello, my name’s Rush Chapman. I’m a 3D printing enthusiast. I started this site to help people choose 3D printing projects and select the best 3D printer for your needs, whether you’re a hobbyist or a pro!