How to Choose Proper Filament for Your 3D Printer?

2021-11-18
3D Printing

How many 3D printer filaments do you know of? How many 3D printer filaments did you ever use? And how to select a 3D printer filament that is properly fit for your 3D printer? Different filaments vary in physical properties, hence requiring different printing conditions. Here, from the points of physical properties, printing temperatures, application scenes, and applicable 3D printers, I introduced 7 most commonly used thermoplastic filaments in FDM desktop 3D printers. Hope it helpful for the usage of various 3D printer filaments.

1. PLA filament

PLA (Polylactic Acid) is the most commonly used thermoplastic filament for desktop 3D printers. It’s degradable and giving off little odors when printing. Best choice for entry-level 3D printer users to print models and to practice basic printing tactics.

Printing temperature

Extruder temperature: 180-220.

Build platform temperature: 50 - 70.

The default extruder temperature set for PLA in FlashPrint is 210, while I, the writer of this article, always add up several degrees. Making several Celsius degrees up or down won’t cause a big deal. Users just need to do a little bit adjustment and test it. It’s notable temperature being too low easily causes extruder block and being too high is not good to accurately print out model details. Also, please ensure the highest temperature you set in your slicer could be fulfilled by your 3D printer’s extruder.

As for the build bed temperature, some people said PLA printing does not need a heating bed, but my suggestion is using a printer featuring heatable build bed. You know a heating bed is helpful for the extruded liquid PLA filament well pasted on the bed, hence greatly increasing print success rate.

Applicable Flashforge 3D Printers

PLA is the most popular and the most entry-level filament. All Flashforge 3D printers support PLA.

2. ABS filament

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) has good strength, harder than PLA and resistant to higher press impact. ABS filament is more suitable to print industrial-use moving parts that bear high mechanical strength. Nevertheless, ABS filament gives off unpleasant odor when printing. It’s quite uncomfortable to stay at the same room as the printer. Ventilation and tightly closing the door is quite important.

Printing temperature

Extruder temperature: 230-250

Build platform temperature: 80- 100.

ABS requires higher printing temperature than PLA to melt into liquid. The default extruder temperature set for ABS in FlashPrint is 230. Usually, I make it higher than that.

For build platform temperature, my suggestion is set it at least 100. A drawback of ABS print is warping. When the first layer of a printout cools, it shrinks and begins to peel off and rise at the corners. A warping printout parts definitely lowers using experience in real application. That’s why I suggest a higher build platform temperature. Increasing the temperature of build platform could make the first layers well pasted on as well as keep the enclosed build chamber in consistent warm, hence reducing warping problems.

Applicable Flashforge 3D Printers

Adventurer 4, Adventurer 3 series, Creator series, Dreamer series, and Guider series.

3. ASA filament

ASA is similar to ABS in strength properties, but is more excellent in thermal resistance. People who want to print parts for practical use in different whether conditions consider ASA most. I seldom use ABS or ASA, because the stingy odor and because most of my printouts are garage kits or funny toys that could well be fulfilled by PLA.

Print temperature

Extruder temperature: 230-250

Build platform temperature: 80 - 100.

Applicable Flashforge 3D Printers

Adventurer 4, Creator series, Dreamer series, and Guider series.

4. PETG filament

PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol) is another easily extruded polymer plastic material with good thermal stability. Except for PLA, PETG is my second favorable filament option. Somehow I often mix use the two and my print all goes well. According to my personal printing experience, PEFG emits odors even less slightly than PLA. The same as PLA, PETG filament is less likely to shrink or warp.

Print temperature

Extruder temperature: 220-260

Build platform temperature: 70 - 90.

PETG generally prints at a higher temperature than PLA. The default temperature set for PETG filament in FlashPrint slicer is 245to extruder and 80 to platform.

Applicable Flashforge 3D Printers

Adventurer 4, Adventurer 3 series, Creator series, Dreamer series, and Guider series.

5. PVA filament

Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is also a synthetic polymer plastic. A main difference between PVA and the above filaments lies in PVA’s water-soluble properties. That means PVA filament is fit for working as the model supports.

Print temperature

Extruder temperature: 180-200

Build platform temperature: 70 - 90.

Applicable Flashforge 3D Printers

Flashforge Creator Pro 2, Flashforge Creator 3, and Flashforge Creator 3 Pro, all with independent dual extruders, are perfect to realize PVA support material printing. We just need set on the FlashPrint slicer, with one extruder using a filament printing the model and the other extruder using PVA filament printing the supports.

6. HIPS filament

HIPS (High-impact Polystyrene) is another soluble thermoplastic material fit for printing model support. It’s with low structural strength and with low cost. However, it’s not soluble in water, but in limonene solvent.

7. Carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic filaments

The name of Carbon fiber reinforced tehrmoplastic filaments feature with abbreviated letter CF, such as PLA-CF, PETG-CF, ABS-CF, ASA-CF, and Nylon-CF. From the name we can get that carbon fiber reinforced filament is the one compounding the above mentioned thermoplastic material with carbon fiber material. Due to the contained carbon fiber, carbon fiber reinforced filaments inherit some features from carbon fiber, like with higher rigidity, stronger strength & stiffness, excellent surface quality, dimensional stability, light weight, and ease of printing.

Print temperature

As for print temperature setting, it’s generally the same requirements as the thermoplastic material. For instance, the print temperature of PLA-CF is the same as PLA and ABS-CF the same as ABS.

Applicable Flashforge 3D Printers

Flashforge Guider 2S-CF.

Carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic filaments are harder than normal thermoplastic filaments, hence causing greater wear on 3D printer’s extruder and filament feeder assembly. Flashforge Guider 2S-CF fully considered that and made updates so that its extruder, filament feeder, and other key assemblies work longer lifespan, hence saving your maintenance cost.

Another highlight of Flashforge Guide 2S-CF is moisture-proof design. We all know that PLA-CF, PETG-CF, ABS-CF, ASA-CF, and Nylon-CF are quite sensitive to moisture. Exposing them bare to air easily leads to print failure. Flashforge Guider 2S-CF has a long filament-leading tube extending out, and users could insert the tube directly to the enclosed filament dryer box (sent free in the Flashfore Guider 2S-CF package), perfectly sparing any inch of the carbon fiber reinforced filaments from bare in the air.