There are many different types of materials, also know as filaments, that can be used with 3D printers.  Keep in mind that all materials do not work in all printers.  Please check with your printer specs before ordering or using a filament.

More materials and combinations and filament acronyms are being created each day so it can be a bit cumbersome to keep up with.  As of 2018, the cheapest materials to print are PLA and ABS.

There is a table in the wiki found here that has way more information about each type of material.


PLA (polylactic acid ) is by far the most commonly used filament in the 3D printing world at the moment.  There are a ton of advantages to using PLA.  The materials are cost effective when compare with others and the material is better for the enviroment becuase it is biodegradable.

The print temperature needed for PLA is typically lower than ABS and doesn’t have a gross chemical smell when printing.  Supports are often used when printing PLA but avoid when possible.   PLA has properties that make shards of it sharp and the material tends to snap instead of bending.

There are better consistencies of PLA being created that have shown to have been stronger than ABS in some cases.


ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is a widely used plastic in the world of injection molding becuase the material is tough and can take a beating.  If you are looking to make some small parts or for outdoor use then ABS may be your best option.  ABS is not biodegradable so anything you do not use will likely end up in the landfill.

The temperature needed for ABS is typically more than PLA and does emit a chemical burning smell while printing.  ABS is a material tends to bend instead of break and is very durable.  That is why you will see this type of material in car bumpers and lego bricks.

ABS has been know to curl or warp during printing.  This material is know to shrink and deform.  This is mostly due to the material and the type of printer being used.  Problems tend to occur more in open printers when compared to closed printers with a temperature control.


Cleaning filament is used to clear out the nozzle on 3D printers.  It is recommended that you use this periodically to keep things operational.


Yes, you can print wood in most 3D printers.  Wood filaments are typically made with PLA and a mixture of wood fibers.  An interesting property of this filament is that you can sand and stain it.


There are many different types of flexible/wearable filaments available including Nylon, PET, PP, FPE and PETT.  If you’re interested in this martial I recommend referring to the wiki for more information.

Glow in the dark/Transparent

There are several different options for a Glow-In-The-Dark or transparent material.  You can pick these up in large rolls of PLA.  I personally will avoid these because I plan on painting and finishing everything that I print.


There are tons of materials that can be printed that I will not list here.  As the technology gets cheaper, I’m sure we will be printing in glass and metal.  Dissolvable filaments are typically used to wash away supports once a print has completed.   Rubber and heat resistant materials have been created and the list grows longer each day.

Leave a Reply