Choosing the right material for 3D printing

3D printing  is the new industrial revolution as it can turn designs quickly into physical parts. 3D printing filaments are available in a variety of materials, each with its own set of advantages. Each has its own set of qualities that determine whether it is a good or a bad fit for a particular print project. This guide will help you break down all your options and narrow them down to a few of the most popular filaments that should fit your needs.

1. Nylon 6

Nylon is a durable and inexpensive popular 3D printing material used by professional users. Its flexibility helps in printing thin-wall parts. The low coefficient of friction and high melting point makes it an abrasion-resistant material. Nylon has mechanical properties enabling it to be used in printing functional parts. It also has resistance to wear and fatigue.
Shock absorbent
Nylon has the ability to absorb high shock and stress vibrations. Apart from that, it has high impact strength than other materials. High melting point
Heat resistance and high melting point make an excellent substitute for metals in high-temperature environments.
Fatigue resistant
The products made from Nylon can retain the original mechanical strength after repeated inflections. Thus, making Nylon Fatigue resistant.
Poor water absorption Exposure to high humidity can lead to inconsistency in dimensional accuracy and part strength. Warping Warping occurs when there is uneven cooling of print. This may result in curls behind the print plate and distort the printed part.
nylon 3D printing
Gears and rollers
Radiator grills and door
Fishing lines
Food packaging
Skateboard wheels
PLA 3D printing
Plastic films

2. PLA (Polylactic Acid)

PLA is often considered the popular 3D printing material across the industry. Ease of use and minimal warping issues has made PLA the best material for a beginner. Unlike other materials made from Petroleum, thermoplastic polymer PLA is derived from corn starch or sugarcane. The mechanical properties of PLA are most suitable for 3D printing. It is a semi-crystalline polymer with a melting temperature of 180° Celsius which is less than ABS.  PLA is not suitable for functional prototypes because of its brittleness.


Easy post-processing
PLA is a popular material and its parts are easily sanded, polished, and painted allowing for an improved finish surface. Parts made from PLA can be easily drilled, mill, and glued.

Variety of color options
As PLA is easily pigmented diverse range of colors and blends are available. It can be easily mixed with other materials like wood, carbon, and metal.

PLA is an eco-friendly material as it is biodegradable. It requires a low melting temperature resulting in less energy use. PLA emits fewer toxic gases as compared to other plastics.


Low heat resistance
Due to low heat resistance, PLA cannot be used for high temperature applications. It can rapidly deform under stress.

PLA is quite brittle which means it cannot be suited for mechanical purposes. It is weaker and has low tensile strength than other materials which makes it suitable for aesthetic purposes.

High permeability
As PLA is high permeable, moisture and oxygen go through it easily than other plastics. Hence, PLA is not suitable for food storage

3. ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

ABS provides good impact resistance at low temperatures and creating lightweight parts. It is a popular material due to its low cost and good mechanical properties. ABS is also known for its toughness and impact resistance which allows you to print durable parts.  
Little post processing is required with ABS. Hence, it saves time in the production of complex parts.
Strong mechanical properties
ABS has great properties like durability, toughness, and ductility. These properties make a great material for functional applications. High Temperature
ABS can withstand higher temperature of 100°C which is more than PLA and PETG.  
Prototype shrinkage
ABS shrinks when it comes in contact with air, causing the part to shrink. A heating plate is necessary to avoid the warping of the prototype. Moisture absorbent
ABS tends to absorb moisture from the air which can lead to a poor quality print. distort the printed part.
abs 3D printing
3D printed toys
Tool handles
Plug holders
Keyboard keys
PVA 3D printing
Paper adhesive
Paper coating
Model release for casting

4. PVA (PolyVinyl Alcohol)

PVA is a colorless and odorless synthetic material. It is a material with high tensile strength and flexibility. As PVA is biodegradable and less toxic, it can be used in health related products. It is known as a support material used with multi-extruder 3D printers.
Easy post processing
PVA can create incredible parts that take little to no effort to clean up. It is soluble in water making way for easy clean up of complex models.
Save time and money
PVA  does not require additional solvent nor does it need any additional hardware.
A high in demand material as many designs cannot be printed without PVA.
Low melting point
PVA has a low melting point of 190°C. Therefore, it can’t be used for printing objects that require high temperatures.

5. TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane)

TPU filament is an abrasion resistance filament that can resist chemicals. As TPU is tougher than other materials it is easy to use. It has high flexibility and durability so it can withstand higher compressive and tensile forces.
Rubbery quality
TPU has a very soft and rubbery light quality that is great for producing and prototyping flexible and shock-resistant parts.
Due to strong mechanical properties, TPU has a 500 percent elongation break which is more than any other material.
Flexibility TPU is more difficult to print compared to other materials due to its flexibility.  
3D Printing Services
Sporting equipment
PETG 3D printing
Food container
Pharmaceutical purpose
Machine Guards
Insulator in Electrical
Cosmetic Packaging

6. PETG (Polyethylene terephthalate glycol)

Polyethylene terephthalate glycol commonly known as PETG is mostly odorless, amorphous thermoplastic. A widely used polymer accounting for 18% of the global market. It is more durable, stronger, impact resistant, and ductile in nature. Overheating issues are reduced as PETG is a combination of PET and glycol properties. It is 100% recyclable which makes it environment friendly.

Food grade material
PETG is safe material for use as food container. It does not cause any adverse health effects.
Easy Coloring
PETG is easily colorable to achieve the desired appearance. It improves the application overall as it is naturally transparent.
PETG is almost odorless making it comfortable to process at the work location.
Glossy finish
Glycol is added to PETG which makes the material transparent and results in a smooth and glossy finish.
Less warping
As compared to other materials warping of PETG is significantly low.

Stringing problem
As PETG needs a high melting temperature, it prints string while traveling between points that can be difficult to remove.
Cannot be smoothed with acetone
Acetone has no effect on PETG. It cannot harm PETG so dichloromethane is used which is dangerous and it is not easily available. temperatures.

7. Carbon Fiber

Carbon Fiber filament refers to a class of filament where carbon fiber is infused in the base material. This material is used to increase the stiffness and tensile strength of a material.

Strength reinforcement
Carbon Fiber has a very high strength ratio therefore it is used for applications where weight is a major consideration factor.
Resistance against corrosion
Due to its properties, Carbon Fiber is corrosion resistant and chemically stable.


Damaged nozzle
A standard brass nozzle is damaged when used with Carbon Fiber which will affect the print quality. Therefore, it is advisable to use a hardened Stainless Steel nozzle while using Carbon Fiber.
Tendency to clog
As Carbon Fiber is brittle it is most likely to clog as compared with other materials.
Surface Finish
A combination of Carbon Fiber and thermoplastic material makes a filament. If a high amount of carbon fiber is added it may degrade the quality  
carbon 3D printing


R/C Vehicles
Functional prototypes
Decorative pieces
Lightweight Props


Industrial 3D printing can be done efficiently with the right knowledge of materials. The material you choose for your project will decide the success of your project. With an increase in material options, it is necessary to check the best suitable option for your project. If you want a hassle free printing process experience. You can get on a free 15min consultation call with our expert and make sure your project is completed with accuracy.