An Overview of 3D Printer Filament and the Unique Abilities of PLA Filament

Metal 3D Printer

The advent of 3D printing has significantly altered the traditional production and design processes. Without it, it would have been difficult to produce such intricate shapes and patterns. Filament, a type of plastic applicable in Artist’s 3D printing, is an essential ingredient. There are a wide variety of filaments to choose from, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages according to the filament’s specific substance, size, and color. In this article, we will go through the many filaments available, their individual characteristics, and the uses for PLA 3D printer filament. We’ll also examine what goes into a 3D printer, what makes up a filament, and how a filament responds to different print temperatures.

What is a 3D Printer Filament?

A 3D printer filament is a plastic material used in 3D printing. It helps build 3D objects by melting the composite filament and layering it in successively smaller levels. It is available in more than two colors, materials, and sizes.

Types of 3D Printer Filament

Here are some of the most popular 3D printer filament types:

  • Polylactic acid (PLA) is a biodegradable filament manufactured from renewable materials like corn starch and sugarcane. It is the most popular filament and is suitable for all-purpose prints.
  • Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS): This beautiful filament is a robust and long-lasting thermoplastic polyurethane frequently used in industrial settings. Since it needs a heated bed, it is more challenging to print with than PLA. However, it is a fantastic option for outdoor applications because it is more resistant to temperature variations.
  • PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol-Modified): PETG is a robust and elastic filament suitable for several applications. It has strong layer adhesion and is simple to print with. It is ideal for applications that need resistance to corrosion or other environmental variables because it is also chemically resistant.
  • HIPS filament (High Impact Polystyrene): This great filament resembles ABS but is a little less brittle and more flexible. It is suitable for prints that need more durability and tensile strength.
  • Nylon: For technical purposes, nylon is a high-strength, heat-resistant filament. It is highly resilient and suitable for many applications involving temperature fluctuations.
  • Metal filaments: Combining plastic and metal particles create metallic 3D printer filament. They apply to situations requiring a metallic appearance or feel.
  • Carbon Fibre Filaments: These are filaments consisting of carbon fiber and plastic. They are suitable for situations where durability and strength are necessary.

Unique Abilities of the PLA Filament

Compared to standard filaments, PLA (polylactic acid) filament has become one of the best filaments for 3D printing. The following is a brief overview of this filament:

PLA Filament’s History

PLA filament is a 3D printing material created with sustainable materials like corn starch or sugarcane. In addition, made in the late 1990s by the Japanese business “Nature Works,” it is a biodegradable replacement for conventional plastics like ABS and PET.

Furthermore, due to its low cost and ease of usage, PLA filament has become one of the most widely used 3D printing materials since its launch. Furthermore, due to its various benefits, such as its simplicity of use, minimal odor, and non-toxic nature, its popularity has increased dramatically over time. Furthermore, it is the most popular and utilized filament for desktop 3D printers.

Pros of the PLA 3D printer filament

The following are some of the benefits accredited to the PLA 3D printer filament user:

  1. Biodegradable: PLA 3D printer filament is biodegradable and made from renewable natural resources like corn starch, tapioca roots, or sugar cane. Due to this characteristic, PLA is a far more environmentally friendly 3D printer filament than other materials, making it a fantastic choice for anyone looking to lessen their environmental impact.
  2. Ease of Use: PLA is one of the simplest filaments for 3D printing. The user can easily print it on various 3D printers since it requires less bed adhesion and prints at a low temperature. Furthermore, PLA simplifies printing and makes it simpler for new users since it does not require a heated bed.
  3. Low Printing Temperature: PLA filament is an excellent material for 3D printing because of its low print temperature. It is simpler to utilize than other materials like ABS since it can print at temperatures as low as 170°C. Additionally, it lessens the possibility of warping and other printing-related issues.
  4. Broad Range of Colours: Most PLA filaments come in a wide variety of colors, making it a fantastic option for people who want to personalize their prints. You may create unique and intriguing 3D prints with PLA in traditional black and white, neon, or metallic hues.
  5. Easy Post-Processing: PLA is an excellent material to use if you want to paint, sand, or lacquer your 3D prints. In addition, PLA’s low melting point makes it simple to add a range of coatings to the printed object and allows for easy sanding and polishing for a smooth finish. With little chance of warping or distortion due to its low shrinkage rate, PLA can also help make intricate shapes.

Cons of the PLA 3D printer filament

Despite its numerous merits, the PLA filament has the following drawbacks:

  1. Natural decay: PLA 3D printer filament can naturally deteriorate over time, especially if placed in a well-ventilated space and exposed to high temperature, dampness, or UV radiation. It is less resistant to deterioration than other materials. As a result, pieces may become unfit for long-term usage because they become brittle, change their shape, or even disintegrate.
  2. Brittleness: PLA filaments are less resilient than other filament types and is more likely to break or crack under pressure. These breakages might be a problem if you’re printing big things or parts that require a lot of force. Furthermore, PLA filament may not be appropriate for components or items that need such material properties as flexibility or bending because it is a less flexible filament than other materials.
  3. Less temperature resistance: PLA 3D printer filament is more prone to warping in high temperatures since it has a lower melting point than other filaments. This warping could be a problem if you print something subject to hot weather, direct sunshine, or extreme temperatures. Additionally, PLA filament has a lower printing temperature requirement than other materials, which makes it more challenging to produce exact prints.
  4. Shrinks when cooled: The PLA filament is prone to shrinking upon cooling. As a result, the printed items may twist and distort, leaving them of poor quality. Furthermore, PLA filament tends to split or crack when it cools, which can affect the printed components.

Characteristics of the 3D Printer Filament

The following are some of the most popular features of 3D printer filament:

  1. Material: ABS, PLA, PETG, TPU, nylon, and other materials help make 3D printer filaments. Depending on the intended application, right materials offer a variety of advantages and attributes.
  2. Print Quality: 3D printer filament produces prints of the highest quality with the fewest flaws possible. The filament should have a smooth finish with minimal to no warping, stringing, or other typical printing issues.
  3. Resistance to High Temperatures: Filaments for 3D Printers can endure high temperatures. Some polymers, like ABS, can resist a higher temperature up to 105°C, while other materials, like PLA, and PVA filament may endure temperatures as low as 65°C.
  4. Flexibility: Despite some 3D printer filament being hard, others are flexible. Stiff filaments are helpful in parts that must remain strong and rigid, whereas flexible filaments are more suitable when parts must bend or twist.
  5. Strength: Depending on the material utilized, the strength of the 3D printer filament might vary. For example, both ABS and PLA are sturdy materials. However, ABS is stiffer and longer lasting than PLA and ASA filament.
  6. Colour: 3D printer filaments are available in various colors, from vivid and dazzling to more muted earth tones. Therefore, the filament’s color will vary depending on the substance employed.
  7. Price: Depending on the material used, the price of 3D printer filament might vary considerably. The least expensive materials are often ABS and PLA, whereas PETG and Nylon are more expensive.

Parts of a 3D Printer Filament

The following are the significant printer parts involved when using a standard filament in 3D printing:

  1. Motherboard or Controller Board: The motherboard manages the temperature, various settings, and the movement of the direct drive printer on the kind of 3D printer filament used, the board may be either open-source or closed-source.
  2. Frame: The 3D printer filament’s edge gives the other parts stability and structure. Typically, the printer uses solid and lightweight materials like plastic, carbon fiber, or aluminium. 
  3. Print material: This is the substance used in the printing process. It can comprise materials such as the usual plastics like ABS or PLA and other materials.
  4. Motion Controllers: Motion controllers are in charge of regulating the printer head’s speed and direction. They could be mechanical parts such as belt drives (direct drive), servo motors, or stepper motors.
  5. PSU: The PSU, or power supply unit, supplies electricity to the various parts of the filament for 3D printers. The device typically attaches to a wall outlet or USB port using an AC/DC converter.
  6. Print Bed: The print bed is the platform on which the printer produces a 3D item. The user frequently heats or cools it to aid in the material adhering to the bed to attain a perfect balance.
  7. Extruder: The extruder is in charge of heating and forcing the substance through the nozzle. Typically, it consists of a heated block of plastic or metal linked to the printer head.
  8. Feeder System: The feeder system supplies the raw materials to the extruder. Usually, it looks like a syringe or a spool of thread.
  9. Connectivity: Connectivity is crucial for 3D printers since it enables user access and control from a distance. Bluetooth, USB, or Wi-Fi can all help in this.
  10. User Interface: The user interface enables user interaction with the printer. Typically, it’s either a physical control panel or a touch screen.

Applications of PLA 3D printer filament

PLA 3D filaments are highly applicable in the following fields:

3D Printing Process

The 3D printing procedure involves the following series of iterations:

  1. Design

Create the 3D model you want to print from this point. Please select the model’s dimensions, form, feature, and the suitable support material in this stage. A 3D scanner can help scan an existing object and build a 3D model, or you can develop the model using free 3D modelling software.

  • Slicing

It is necessary to slice the finished 3D object into thin layers. First, the 3D model converts into a series of 2D images that the 3D printer can interpret using slicing software. The slicing software also produces the 3D printer’s instructions for assembling the layers and moving the print head.

  • Printing

Here, the 3D printer follows the slicing software’s instructions to build the model layer by layer, starting at the bottom. First, the 3D printer will extrude a thin plastic layer and then harden it by a laser or other heat source. Next, the 3D printer rotates the print head up and extrudes the following layer after the layer lines have dried and become rigid. Up till the model completes, this process repeats.

  • Finishing

Clean the model, collect the recycled materials, and do any necessary post-processing at this point. After that, adding support structures, making the model appear and feel more realistic can be easy with sanding, painting, cleaning filament, or by other techniques.

Print Temperature Characteristics of 3D Printer Filament

The following information outlines the specific print temperatures of different filaments:

PLA Filament

Due to its less restrictive printing requirements, PLA is the most common filament type among advanced users of FDM 3D printers. The ideal temperature for PLA printing is 210 °C, with a range of 180 °C to 230 °C possible. A hotbed is unnecessary, but if you have one, ensure you set the temperature range to 20 to 60 degrees Celsius. Please check the cooling fan while printing with PLA filament to provide the best results possible. PLA prints best when cool. Overall, PLA is straightforward to print and requires little to succeed. However, PLA undergoes quite noticeable dimensional changes even at 70 °C (158 °F). In addition, the object will completely collapse around 170 °C (338 °F) due to warping brought on by greater temperatures. The following is a summary of the print temperatures of the PLA 3D printer filament:

  • Hot Bed Temp: 20°C to 60 °C
  • Nozzle Temp: 180°C – 230 °C
  • Cooling Fan: ON

ABS Print Temperature

ABS filament is among the most popular filaments for 3D printing. However, the required ABS temperature is more significant. The ideal printer’s nozzle temperature is from 210°C to 250°C, and a heated bed should be set to a temperature of between 80°C and 110°C. Furthermore, ABS requires printing casing for it to cool down slowly. This printing casing is because ABS can shrink and deform if it quickly cools down. Consequently, disabling the cooling fan while printing with ABS filament should be an alternative to avoid deformation. The summary of ABS 3D printer filament print temperature is as follows:

  • Cooling Fan: OFF
  • Nozzle Temp: 210 °C to 250 °C
  • Hot Bed Temp: 80°C to 110 °C

PETG Print Temperature

PETG is a 3D printer filament relatively new to the market and combines several advantages of both PLA and ABS. Printing PETG requires an exceptionally higher printing temperature. Therefore, the nozzle printing temperature should be between 220 and 250 °C. PETG filament does not require a heated hotbed for printing, unlike ABS material. With tape on the bed, PETG prints the best. However, to ensure that extruded filaments adhere to one another, the hotbed should range between 50°C and 75°C. Furthermore, turning on the cooling fan during printing is advisable since PETG won’t distort as ABS will. PETG is one of the most widely used filaments today, despite not being the easiest.

Below is a summary of PETG 3D printer filament print temperature:

  • Hot Bed Temp: 50°C to 75°C
  • Nozzle Temp: 220°C and 250 °C
  • Cooling Fan: ON

Nylon Print Temperature

Nylon filament requires higher temperatures than any of the other filaments. The hotbed should be between 70 and 100 degrees, and the nozzle should range between 240 and 260 degrees. Nylon should not have a cooling fan during printing since it needs to maintain heat for optimum layer adhesion. Additionally, nylon is a hygroscopic 3D printer filament that absorbs any environmental moisture, significantly lowering the print quality. Therefore, it is necessary to dry nylon filaments before printing. The following is a summary of the print temperatures of the Nylon 3D printer filament:

  • Nozzle Temp: 240°C and 260 °C
  • Hot Bed Temp: 70°C to 100°C
  • Cooling Fan: OFF

Fused Deposition Modelling in 3D Printer Filament


Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is a type of 3D printing technology that aids in the development of models, rapid prototyping, and production parts. The process involves layer-by-layer extrusion of melted thermoplastic filament. A 3D model produced in CAD software serves as the starting point for the procedure. After dividing the model into digital cross-sections, engineers transmit it to a 3D printer. After melting the thermoplastic material, the 3D printer deposits it onto a construction platform using a heated nozzle. To produce the required 3D shape, the nozzle deposits the filament while adhering to the digital cross-sections and diameter of the 3D model. In addition, parts may need post-processing to remove any leftover support material or to smooth out the surface after building the final product.

A Brief History of Fused Deposition Modelling Technology

Stratasys founder Scott Crump invented the “Fused Deposition Modelling” (FDM) 3D printing process in the late 1980s. In the FDM method, the printer melts and extrudes the plastic through a nozzle to build 3D components layer by layer. Due to its low cost and simplicity of operation, it is one of the most widely used AM technologies.

Since its introduction, FDM technology has made considerable advancements. The FDM-1000, produced by Stratasys, was the first commercial FDM machine. ABS and polycarbonate were among the thermoplastics used by this equipment. The business introduced its first dual-head extrusion machine in the late 1990s. Due to the ability to construct pieces using two distinct materials, the potential applications substantially increased.

The 2000s saw the widespread availability of FDM technology, with numerous businesses selling desktop 3D printers. These tools significantly increased the accessibility of 3D printing by enabling users to produce parts rapidly and affordably. In addition, adopting new materials like metal and carbon fiber to create more substantial and intricate pieces has helped FDM technology advance in recent years.

Applications of Fused Deposition Modeling

FDM technology is applicable in the following fields:

  1. Motorsport: FDM fabricates solid and lightweight parts for the motorsport industry, including brackets, spacers, and connectors. FDM printers makes it possible to produce intricate geometries with great precision and reproducibility, which is crucial for motorsport applications. Applications for these parts include suspension, engine, and chassis parts.
  2. Aviation & aerospace: FDM helps create complicated, lightweight, and robust parts for these sectors of the economy. Satellite, spaceship and aircraft parts are among these. To apply to the aviation and aerospace industries, FDM must be able to manufacture highly complex geometries with great accuracy and reproducibility.
  3. Architectural Models: FDM printers helps create architectural models that allow viewing of building designs. These models, frequently made on a smaller scale, can help show how to design a building or other structure. FDM is the best method for creating architectural models since it can produce highly accurate models.
  4. Film Props: FDM is applicable in the creation of film props. With these objects, you can make realistic sets and scenes. Film props require complex designs of geometries with great accuracy and reproducibility, which FDM makes possible.
  5. Prosthetics: FDM helps in the production of prosthetic limbs. These prosthetics can fit the individual’s body shape and size. In addition, FDM can produce highly accurate and repeatable parts, which is essential for prosthetics.


3D printing is an exciting technology that is constantly evolving. It is available in a variety of colors, materials, and sizes, such as PLA (polylactic acid), ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol-modified), HIPS (high impact polystyrene), Nylon, metal filaments, and carbon fiber filaments. PLA filament is one of the most popular 3D printer filaments due to its biodegradability, low printing temperature, wide colors, and easy post-processing. It applies to food packaging, automotive, home appliances, and other fields. Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) is a type of 3D printing technology used to produce models, prototypes, and production parts. It applies to motorsport, aviation & aerospace, architectural models, film props, and prosthetics. Overall, 3D Printer Filament and Fused Deposition Modelling offer a wide range of benefits and applications, making them useful in a variety of industries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *