3D Printing Filament

What is 3D Printing Filament

While different types of 3D printing materials exist, the most common on the market for consumers today is known as 3D printing filament. Thread-like in appearance (though much thicker), 3D printing filament is heated and extruded through a moving nozzle. The material is layered vertically until a 3D object with height, width, and depth is formed. From standard plastic to simulated metal or wood, there is a variety of 3D printing filaments to choose from.

Popular 3D Printing Filament

Of the many filaments available, certain materials are used more commonly than others. Today we’ll be looking more closely at three of the most commonly used printing filaments: ABS, PLA, and HIPS.

ABS and PLA are used for a variety of 3D printed objects, are available in a wide range of colors, and are most often used for their versatile material properties, ease of use, and limited printing difficulty. While PLA and ABS share some overlap in characteristics, they differ. ABS is extremely durable, used for outdoor furniture, toys, consumer products, and other high impact applications. PLA is fairly strong, but may be more brittle depending on the object’s geometry. PLA is also easier to print with, as it does not require a heated build platform as compared to ABS (though one can be helpful).

HIPS is considered “support” filaments; they help temporarily support an object’s overhanging geometry. Primarily used for dual extrusion 3D printers, HIPS is the most common support filaments available. Simply immerse your completed object in the appropriate solvent and the support material will dissolve over the course of several hours, leaving only the actual PLA or ABS 3D print.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at these four popular filaments and help you decide which material is suitable for your 3D printing needs.