Expert Guide to PLA, PETG, TPU, and Carbon Fiber Blends 3D Printer Filaments 2024

Filament is what makes the 3d printers complete and they are the next important thing after 3d printers. But how to choose the right one, that’s the question. So to choose one, we need to take into consideration several key factors especially the material properties play a crucial role, with options ranging from the beginner-friendly PLA to the more durable ABS and the versatile PETG. We need to to know that the PLA, that has been made from renewable resources, is biodegradable and easy to print with, making it ideal for decorative items and those new to 3D printing experience. Well, on the other hand, the ABS offers higher durability and also the heat resistance, suitable for functional parts, but it does require a very careful handling, due to its tendency to warp and produce fumes. Next, when we are talking about the PETG, it certainly strikes a balance between PLA and ABS, as it does offer good strength, flexibility, and food safety too. But there are some who look for the high flexibility, then for such cases the TPU one is an excellent choice. We can easily get printed stuff like phone cases and wearables. While the Nylon stands out for its strength and durability, makes it perfect for mechanical parts and tools, though it can be challenging to print due to its hygroscopic nature but remember all these things make life easier as that’s the only way at this point in time to 3d print. As we all know 3d printing can play tons of roles for human good. In this post we have covered all the aspects and comparison in detail among these. So read on to know about filaments more.

So like we were talking earlier, printer compatibility is another important aspect to be considered . It’s essential to ensure your printer can handle the the varying temperatures and has the appropriate nozzle size for your chosen filament type. There are some, which are capable of high-performance materials may require like hardened steel nozzles or direct drive extruders which are essential as well. The print quality often correlates with filament type and the quality, with premium options offering better consistency in diameter and color, leading to more reliable prints. On the other hand, the environmental factors significantly impact printing success; many filaments are sensitive to humidity and may require dry storage or even active drying before use. If the system is enclosed, the ABS performs the best.

Here’s a very detailed guide on choosing the right filaments for 3D printers in 2024:

The filaments for 3d printing are as important as water to blood. We have listed below the different aspects which we will expand further below.

#1 Important Characteristics For 3D Printing

Like we have already mentioned about we must undertake certain things into consideration when we are going to get the right filament for our 3d printer. Here are some key factors

(I) Material Properties

  • PLA: Easy to use, biodegradable, good for beginners
  • ABS: Durable, heat-resistant, requires ventilation
  • PETG: Strong, flexible, food-safe
  • TPU: Highly flexible, for elastic parts
  • Nylon: Strong, durable, abrasion-resistant

(II) Printer Compatibility

  •  Check your printer’s temperature range
  • Ensure nozzle size is appropriate for the filament

(III) Print Quality

  •  Higher-quality filaments generally produce better prints
  • Consider layer adhesion and surface finish

(IV) Environmental Factors

  • Humidity affects filament quality; store properly
  • Some materials require enclosed printing environments

(V) Application

  •  Functional parts: Consider strength and durability
  • Decorative items: Prioritize appearance and finish

(VI) Innovations

  •  Composite filaments (wood, metal-infused)
  • Eco-friendly options gaining popularity

(VII) The Cost Factor

  •  Balance quality with budget
  • Consider long-term value, not just initial price

#1 Material Properties in Detail

We have listed below some of the chief characteristics of different properties of different filaments.

(i) PLA (Polylactic Acid)

PLA is the most popular one here in this list. We have also featured its key takeaways.

  •  Easy to print with, low warping
  • Biodegradable and made from renewable resources
  • Low heat resistance (softens around 60°C)
  • Ideal for beginners and decorative items
  • Available in a wide range of colors and finishes

(ii) ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

ABS is also a very popular filament. Many experts prefer it for its durability and many other features.

  •  More durable and heat-resistant than PLA
  • Can be post-processed (sanded, painted, acetone smoothed)
  • Requires higher printing temperatures and an enclosed printer
  • Prone to warping and produces fumes during printing
  • Good for functional parts and automotive applications

(iii) PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol)

PETG has numerous and varying factors to consider it for 3d printing especially when we are already in 2024.

  •  Combines ease of use like PLA with strength similar to ABS
  • Good layer adhesion and water resistance
  • Food-safe and recyclable
  • Slightly flexible and impact-resistant
  • Suitable for mechanical parts and food containers

(iv) TPU Thermoplastic Polyurethane

TPU has some of the great features which are here:

  •  Highly flexible and elastic
  • Excellent for printing phone cases, wearables, and prosthetics
  • Requires slow print speeds and proper extruder setup
  • Available in various shore hardnesses

(v) Nylon

Here are some of the key characteristics of this one

  •  Very strong and durable with high impact resistance
  • Excellent for mechanical parts and tools
  • Hygroscopic (absorbs moisture), requires proper storage
  • Can be challenging to print due to high shrinkage rates

#2 Printer Compatibility & Quality

Earlier we have listed the pinpoints about 3d printing quality and compatibility that have been extended here:

  •  Check your printer’s maximum nozzle and bed temperatures
  • Ensure your printer can handle the required temperatures for your chosen filament
  • Some high-performance filaments may require hardened steel nozzles
  • Flexible filaments often need direct drive extruders for best results
  • Consider bed adhesion requirements (some filaments need specific build surfaces)
  • Higher-quality filaments often have tighter diameter tolerances, leading to more consistent extrusion
  • Premium filaments may offer better color consistency and fewer impurities
  • Layer adhesion varies between materials, affecting part strength
  • Surface finish can range from matte to glossy depending on the filament
  • Some filaments are easier to post-process for a smoother finish

#3 Environmental Factors

While choosing the right filament make sure to consider one of the important factors which is environment. The environs around your 3d printer totally affects the print quality:

  •  Many filaments are hygroscopic and can absorb moisture from the air, affecting print quality
  • Use dry boxes or filament dryers to maintain filament quality
  • Some materials (like ABS) require enclosed printing environments to prevent warping and layer separation
  • Consider ventilation when printing with materials that produce fumes
  • Temperature fluctuations in the printing environment can affect print quality

#4 Application

Taking into consideration the application of these filaments is fundamental to get what exactly you need it for. So highly suggest you should first of all see what do you need it for. While doing that, you must keep in different things first, only then you could go on to get the best deal which is actually useful

(I) Functional parts

The functional parts come first here. There are reasons for that in the first place.

  •  Consider mechanical properties like tensile strength, impact resistance, and heat deflection temperature
  • Choose materials based on the intended use (e.g., outdoor exposure, load-bearing capacity)

(II) Decorative items

Decorative items may seem a small thing to some but the professionals always prefer having them.

  •  Focus on aesthetics – color options, special effects (glitter, glow-in-the-dark)
  • Consider ease of post-processing for painting or smoothing

#5 Composite filaments

There are some rare types of filaments too which we have been taking into consideration for quite some time. Here are they:

  •  Wood-filled – Contains wood fibers for a natural look and feel
  • Metal-infused – Incorporates metal powders for a metallic appearance and increased weight
  • Carbon fiber – Adds strength and stiffness to prints

#6 Eco-friendly

We must not forget that we should always go for ecofriendly options in everything. Why not go for the same while buying filaments for 3d printers in 2024

  • Recycled filaments made from post-consumer plastics
  • Bio-based materials derived from renewable resources
  • Filaments designed for easier recycling and biodegradability

#7 Cost Considerations

You must not forget we are on a budget most of the time, penny saved penny gained. So, always consider the price point of different 3d filaments twice.

  •  Premium filaments often offer better print quality and consistency but at a higher price
  • Consider the failure rate and wasted material when using cheaper filaments
  • Some specialized filaments (e.g., carbon fiber, high-performance) can be significantly more expensive
  • Factor in the cost of additional equipment (e.g., dry boxes, hardened nozzles) for certain materials
  • Bulk purchasing can reduce costs for frequently used materials

#I Hatchbox PLA Filament

Hatchbox is a PLA filament which we often see being used these days and many reviewers have reviewed it on social media too.

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We have seen tons of great and high-quality 3D printer filaments are readily available online for us, catering to a wide range of printing needs. One standout option is the Hatchbox PLA Filament, known for its consistency and ease of use. This filament comes in a variety of vibrant colors and is ideal for beginners and experienced users alike. It offers excellent layer adhesion and minimal warping, making it perfect for printing decorative items, prototypes, and low-stress functional parts. The biodegradable nature of PLA also makes it an eco-friendly choice for environmentally conscious makers.

#II OVERTURE PETG

Now the Overture is also a popular brand and gradually they have made a name for themselves.

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For those who have been constantly looking for more durability and heat resistance, that this filament is an excellent choice in many ways and quite a crowd puller too. This filament combines the ease of use similar to PLA with enhanced strength and temperature resistance. It’s particularly well-suited for printing functional parts, food-safe containers, and outdoor items. OVERTURE PETG is known for its good layer adhesion, water resistance, and impact strength, making it a versatile option for a wide range of projects.

#III Polymaker PolyFlex TPU95

PolyMaker has made a mark in this industry. We have further detailed it below:

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The Polymaker filament is a top of the line filament and also a hot pick for those needing flexibility in their prints and also quality. It’s a thermoplastic polyurethane filament that offers excellent elasticity and durability, making it ideal for printing items like phone cases, wearables, and flexible prototypes. Despite its flexibility, it maintains good print quality and is easier to work with compared to many other flexible filaments on the market.

#IV MatterHackers NylonX Carbon Fiber Filament

MatterHackers has been talk of the town these days. We have discussed it in detail which will give you enough information about the filament.

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For high-strength applications, this carbon fiber filament is a formidable option. This nylon-based filament is infused with carbon fiber, resulting in prints with exceptional strength, stiffness, and heat resistance. It’s particularly suitable for engineering parts, tools, and high-performance components. While it requires higher printing temperatures and potentially a hardened nozzle, the results are worth the extra effort for those needing industrial-grade printed parts.

#V Prusament PETG Filament

Prusament is a rare gem among the top-tier 3d filaments. Here is its brief review.

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This filament brand is also a great one and offers premium quality for those willing to invest in top-tier materials. It has been produced by Prusa Research, known for their high standards in 3D printing, this PETG filament boasts extremely tight diameter tolerances and excellent color consistency. It provides a good balance of strength, flexibility, and ease of use, making it suitable for a wide range of applications from functional parts to decorative items. This line of filament is particularly praised for its reliability and consistent results across different colors and batches.

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