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4 Types of Material Commonly Used for 3D Printing [With Pros and Cons]

Release time:2020-04-03
3D printing technology is now here for a while and businesses seem to be pretty interested to leverage its advantages and expand their services and product portfolio. So, today, we are providing you with a general overview of a range of material for 3D printing. This guide will help you select the best material for your next project or enhance the quality of prints. So, without any delay, let’s get started.

It’s an acronym for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene and a cost-effective material for 3D printing on robust components. It can withstand high temperatures and endure excessive usage and wear pretty well. Known for toughness and impact resistance, ABS is quite popular in industrial 3D printing sector. Besides, it has a higher glass transition temperature which enables it to endure much higher temperature before it starts to deform.

  • Impact and wear resistance
  • Less oozing
  • Less stringing
  • Smoother finish
  • Heat resistance                                   

  • Require heated bed/chamber
  • Produce pungent odor while printing
  • Heavy warping
  • Tendency to shrink


TPU is a short form for Thermoplastic Polyurethane and a form of Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE). Also known as flexible filament, it is an amalgamation of hard plastic and rubber. Since it is elastic, it allows the plastic to stretch and flex. It is one of the most commonly used materials in sectors that employ 3D printing technology. The extent of elasticity depends on the type of TPE and chemical formula used by the manufacturer. For instance, some filaments can be partially flexible like a tyre; others can be fully flexible like a rubber band.

  • Excellent vibration suppression
  • Long life
  • Good impact resistance
  • Flexible
  • Softness
  • Poor bridging characteristics
  • Possible blobs and stringing occurrence
  • May not be good for Bowden extruders
  • A bit difficult to print

Polylactide Acid is a biodegradable, thermoplastic polymer which is commonly used for most extrusion-based 3D printers and desktop 3D printing. The reason behind its popularity is that its printing process doesn’t require high temperature and a heated chamber. It’s a great choice, even for beginners, because it is easy to print and can be used for printing parts of a wide range of applications. Besides, it is renewable and produces a sweet aroma during printing.

  • Budget-friendly
  • Good strength
  • Stiffness
  • Dimensional accuracy
  • Long shelf life

  • Low heat resistance
  • May ooze and need cooling fans
  • Brittle in nature
  • Not suitable for outdoors/sunlight exposure


High Impact Polystyrene is used as a dissolvable support material and most commonly used with ABS. Its properties are similar to that of ABS and therefore, it makes an ideal choice as a dual extrusion partner. Furthermore, it is more dimensionally stable and slightly light in weight than the ABS. So, it can be used in applications that can benefit from its lightweight feature.

  • Light in weight
  • Dissolvable in d-Limonene
  • Cost-effective
  • Water and impact resistance
  • Needs heated bed/chamber
  • Needs high printing temperature
  • Ventilation is recommended
There are also several other materials, such as PETG, Nylon, ASA, Carbon fiber filaments, Polycarbonate, Polypropylene, Metal filled filaments, Wood filled filaments, and PVA used for 3D printing technology. Before making a choice, it’s best that you become familiar with the pros and cons of each material.  
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