Types of 3D Printing Filament

types of filament for 3d printing

Imagine having the ability to bring your thoughts to reality. That’s the magic of 3D printing. But to make your creations durable and functional, you need the right 3D printing filament. This guide will help you discover various types of 3D printing filament, their pros and cons, and how to choose the best one for your project.

Best 3D Printing Filaments

Following are some of the most common and reliable 3D printing filaments.

PLA Filament (Polylactic Acid)

Polylactic acid, or PLA, is a popular and widely used filament in 3D printing. It’s an eco-friendly thermoplastic derived from sustainable materials like sugarcane, cornstarch, or tapioca roots. 

PLA is an excellent choice for beginners and seasoned 3D printing enthusiasts, thanks to its user-friendly printing properties and diverse applications.

PLA has a relatively low melting point, making it easier to print than other materials like ABS or PETG. Even though a heated bed isn’t strictly necessary, adhesion is improved at temperatures around 60 degrees Celsius. 

PLA is known for its smooth, glossy finish and sharp detail, perfect for creating intricate designs and high-quality models. Since PLA melts at a lower temperature, it can’t be used in applications that need prolonged exposure to heat.

Since PLA is derived from renewable resources, it’s considered an eco-friendly option for 3D printing. It also emits a mild, sweet odor when heated, which is a welcome change from the unpleasant fumes produced by other filaments like ABS.


  • Environmentally friendly
  • Low print temperature (180-220°C)
  • No heated bed required
  • Good layer adhesion
  • Wide range of colors


  • Poor heat resistance

ABS Filament (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, commonly known as ABS, is a widely used filament in 3D printing, particularly for creating durable and robust parts. 

ABS is a thermoplastic made from petroleum with high mechanical properties, making it a viable choice for uses that call for strength and impact resistance.

Since its melting point is greater than PLA’s, printing with ABS necessitates a heated bed and higher print temperatures. A heated bed temperature of around 100°C and a nozzle between 220°C and 240°C are typically recommended for ABS printing.

ABS parts can be post-processed using acetone vapor smoothing, which can help improve the surface finish and appearance of the printed object. 

ABS can produce strong fumes during printing, so proper ventilation is essential. It’s important to note that ABS is not considered an eco-friendly filament due to its petroleum-based origins.


  • Excellent impact resistance
  • Good heat resistance (up to 100°C)
  • Great for mechanical parts
  • Easy to finish (sanding, painting)


  • Fumes can be unpleasant
  • Warping and bed adhesion issues

PETG Filament (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol)

Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol, commonly known as PETG, is a versatile and popular filament in 3D printing. It is a thermoplastic copolymer that combines the best features of both PLA and ABS filaments. 

PETG is known for its durability, chemical resistance, and ease of use, making it suitable for various applications, including functional prototypes and end-use parts. 

PETG has a slightly higher melting point than PLA, typically requiring a print temperature between 230°C and 250°C. 

It also needs a heated bed with a temperature range of 70°C to 90°C for better adhesion. PETG is a great choice for users looking for a filament that offers more mechanical strength and temperature resistance.

One of the defining characteristics of PETG is its excellent layer adhesion, resulting in strong and durable prints. It also has a slightly flexible nature, which can be an advantage in certain applications where a more rigid filament like PLA might be prone to breakage.


  • Good impact resistance
  • Excellent layer adhesion
  • Odorless during printing
  • Food-safe (in some cases)
  • Moderate print temperature (230-250°C)


  • Can be stringy
  • Requires fine-tuning of print settings

Nylon Filament

Nylon is a high-performance filament known for its strength, durability, and flexibility in 3D printing. It’s popular for creating functional parts, mechanical components, and wear-resistant objects.

Nylon has a higher melting point than PLA or PETG, requiring a print temperature between 240°C and 260°C. A heated bed with a temperature range of 70°C to 100°C is also necessary for proper adhesion. 

Nylon’s hygroscopic nature, which absorbs moisture from the air, can make it more challenging to print with than other filaments. Proper storage and drying before use are essential for achieving optimal print results.

Despite its challenges, nylon’s unique properties make it an excellent choice for users seeking a material that can withstand wear, impact, and high temperatures.


  • High tensile strength
  • Excellent layer adhesion
  • Good heat resistance
  • Abrasion-resistant


  • Requires high print temperature (250-270°C)

TPU Filament (Thermoplastic Polyurethane)

Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) is a flexible and versatile filament widely used in 3D printing. Known for its rubber-like properties, TPU is perfect for creating objects that require flexibility, elasticity, and resistance to wear and tear. 

Common applications include phone cases, gaskets, flexible hinges, and wearable items. When it comes to printing with TPU, the temperature settings range from 220°C to 250°C for the extruder and 60°C to 80°C for the heated bed. 

While printing with TPU can be challenging, especially for beginners, the results are well worth the effort for projects that demand flexibility and durability.


  • Flexible and durable
  • Good layer adhesion
  • Resistant to abrasion and chemicals


  • Requires slow print speed
  • Not suited for fine details

Carbon Fiber Filament

Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) is a unique and versatile filament widely used in 3D printing. Known for its flexible and rubber-like properties, TPU is perfect for creating objects that require elasticity, durability, and resistance to wear and tear. 

When it comes to printing with TPU, the temperature settings range from 220°C to 250°C for the extruder and 60°C to 80°C for the heated bed. Since TPU is a flexible material, it requires a slower print speed and a direct-drive extruder to minimize potential extrusion issues.

While printing with TPU can be challenging, especially for beginners, the results are well worth the effort for projects that demand flexibility and durability.


  • Lightweight and strong
  • Great for mechanical components
  • Reduced warping


  • Abrasive, may wear out the printer nozzle

Magnetic Iron PLA Filament

Magnetic Iron PLA is an innovative and unique filament that combines the ease of printing with PLA and the magnetic properties of iron. This material is perfect for creating 3D prints with a metallic appearance and magnetic capabilities. 

Magnetic Iron PLA is particularly suitable for decorative items, educational models, and prototypes that require magnetic functionality. The filament is composed of a PLA base infused with finely ground iron particles, providing its distinctive magnetic properties. Printing with Magnetic Iron PLA is similar to standard PLA, with extruder temperatures ranging from 195°C to 220°C and a heated bed temperature around 60°C.


  • Magnetic properties
  • Unique aesthetic
  • Can be rusted for an aged look


  • Higher print temperature (210-230°C)
  • May wear out the printer nozzle
  • Heavy prints due to iron particles

Other Specialty Filaments

Following are some of the specialty 3D printing filaments designed to create unique visual effects.

Glow-in-the-Dark Filament

Glow-in-the-dark filaments contain phosphorescent materials that emit a glow when exposed to light. They’re great for creating decorative items, toys, or nightlights.

High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) Filament

HIPS is a versatile and cost-effective filament with properties similar to ABS. It’s often used as a soluble support material that dissolves in d-limonene.

Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) Filament

PVA is a water-soluble filament used as a support material for complex prints. When the print is finished, the PVA supports can be dissolved in water, leaving a clean print.

Buyer’s Guide

The quality of your prints can greatly affect the filament you use in your 3D printer. Therefore, here are some things to think about before settling on a printer filament.

Print and Bed Temperature

Different filaments require specific print and bed temperatures for optimal results. For example, PLA prints well at around 190–220 °C, while ABS requires a higher temperature range of 220-250°C. 

Check your printer’s specifications to ensure it can achieve the recommended temperatures for your chosen filament. If your filament requires a heated bed, ensure your printer also has this feature.

Tensile Strength and Layer Adhesion

Tensile strength refers to the filament’s resistance to breaking under tension, while layer adhesion is the ability of printed layers to bond together. 

Stronger filaments, such as ABS, PETG, and nylon, provide better tensile strength and layer adhesion, making them ideal for functional parts and items that require durability.

UV Resistance

UV resistance is an essential factor if your prints are exposed to sunlight or other sources of ultraviolet radiation. 

Filaments like ABS and ASA have higher UV resistance than PLA, making them suitable for outdoor applications or environments with long-term exposure to sunlight.

Heat Resistance

Consider the heat resistance of your filament if your print is exposed to high temperatures. ABS, nylon, and polycarbonate (PC) have higher heat resistance than PLA, making them more suitable for applications such as mechanical parts, enclosures, or items exposed to high temperatures.

Choosing The Right Types of 3D Printing Filament For Your Projects

Choosing the right 3D printing filament is crucial for bringing your ideas to life. From PLA and ABS to specialty filaments like carbon fiber and magnetic iron PLA, there’s a filament to suit every project. By considering factors like print temperature, strength, and heat resistance, you’ll be well on your way to creating amazing prints that stand the test of time.


How to store 3D printer filament?

Store your filament in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Use airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags with desiccants to prevent moisture absorption.

What are support materials, and when to use them?

Support materials provide temporary structures for overhangs or complex geometries during printing. They can be removed after the print is complete. Use support materials when your design has overhangs greater than 45° or intricate internal structures.

Can I mix different filament types in a single print?

If your 3D printer has a dual extruder, you can print with two different filament types simultaneously. This is useful for combining flexible and rigid materials or using soluble support materials.