3d printer filaments

What is 3D Printing Filament?

3D printing filament is the thermoplastic material for FDM 3D printers. There are several types of filaments available, each with its unique properties and applications. As the backbone of 3D printing, understanding the various filaments is crucial for selecting the right material for your project.

The Significance of the Filament in 3D Printing

3d printed models

Filament in 3D printing serves as the ink to a traditional printer. It's fed into the 3D printer, where it's melted and extruded layer by layer to build up a 3D object. The choice of filament can significantly affect the strength, flexibility, color, and even the temperature resistance of the printed object. It's crucial to select the right filament type to ensure the desired finish and functionality of the 3D printed item.

Different Filaments and Their Applications

 3D filaments

Several common types of filaments are used in 3D printing, each suited for different applications:

  1. ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene): Known for its toughness and impact resistance, ABS is often used for creating durable parts that need to withstand high temperatures.
  2. PLA (Polylactic Acid): PLA is popular due to its ease of use and environmentally friendly nature, derived from renewable resources like cornstarch or sugarcane. It's best for cosmetic prints, prototypes, and low-stress applications.
  3. PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol): PETG is a durable filament with good heat resistance. It's flexible and strong, making it suitable for mechanical parts.
  4. TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane): Known for its flexibility and stretch, TPU is often used in items that require bending like flexible phone cases or wearable items.
  5. Nylon: Nylon is strong and wear-resistant, ideal for functional parts subjected to stress.

Each filament type has its method of synthesis and manufacturing, affecting its properties and applications. For instance, ABS is petroleum-based, making it tough and durable, while PLA's organic origin gives it biodegradability but less thermal resistance.

Physicochemical Properties of Filaments

The physicochemical properties of filaments include melting temperature, flexibility, strength, and durability. For example:

  • ABS: High melting temperature, durable, slightly flexible.
  • PLA: Lower melting temperature, rigid, less durable but easy to print.
  • PETG: High durability, good flexibility, moderate melting temperature.

These properties determine the suitable applications for each filament, from industrial parts using ABS to household items with PLA.

Comparing Filaments

3d printing models

When comparing filaments, consider factors like tensile strength, flexibility, durability, and ease of printing. For instance, ABS is more heat resistant and suitable for outdoor use compared to PLA, but PLA is more user-friendly and has a glossier finish. PETG offers a middle ground with both ease of use and durability.

Applications of 3D Printing Filaments

The applications of 3D printing filaments are vast, including:

  1. Prototyping: Quickly fabricating a model or prototype of a new product.
  2. Manufacturing: Creating parts for machines, vehicles, or appliances.
  3. Medicine: Producing customized medical devices and models.
  4. Fashion: Designing jewellery, footwear, and other accessories.
  5. Education: Teaching concepts of design, engineering, and chemistry.


3D printing filaments are the critical element in the 3D printing process, providing the material that makes up the final product. The type of filament used can greatly affect the print's properties, including its strength, flexibility, and durability. Understanding the different types of filaments and their applications ensures successful and functional 3D printing projects.


  1. Can I mix different filaments in one print?
    • It's possible with dual extrusion printers, but typically, different filaments have varying melting points and properties, making it a complex process.
  2. How should I store my filaments?
    • Filaments should be stored in a cool, dry place. Moisture can degrade the quality of the filament, so many users keep them in sealed containers with desiccants.
  3. How long does a roll of filament last?
    • It depends on the volume of items you're printing and the density of the filament. Generally, a 1 kg roll of PLA or ABS is enough for several small projects or a couple of larger ones.
  4. Are all filaments recyclable?
    • Not all, but many, like PLA, are biodegradable. Recycling depends on the local facilities and the type of filament. Always check the filament specifications for disposal recommendations.

By understanding the different types of filaments and their applications, users can effectively select the right material for their 3D printing needs, ensuring a successful and efficient printing experience.