There are 1000s of different types of materials that you can 3D print with, the technical term for these materials is filament. The easiest way to describe them if you have never seen them is coloured fishing line. They all have different properties so you need to consider the below when deciding what material to use.

  • Strength: How strong does your printed part have to be?
  • Flexibility: How flexible does your part need to be?
  • Accuracy: How important is precision to your 3D part?
  • Special conditions: Any other conditions that apply to your 3D model

The main 3 types of Filament that are used for prototyping and general printing are PLA PET and ABS however there is a huge range of exotic materials from flexible TPU to super strength Carbon Fibre.

Name PropertiesUsesDifficulty to print with
PLAEasy to print and biodegradable Prototyping and general indoor use Low
PETGDurable and not as brittle as PLA and ABSMost usesLow
TPUFlexible and resembles rubberElastic Parts and wearable itemsHigh
WoodLooks like wood Model railway buildingsMedium
NylonStrong flexible DurableAllHigh
ABSDurable impact resistantFunctional partsMedium

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