Top Materials for 3D Printing – Pros and Cons

Top Materials Pros and Cons

Choosing the right 3D printing material for your project requires a careful analysis of what mechanical and physical properties are critical to your prototype’s success.

Key strength-related attributes include tensile and impact strength, as well as chemical and fatigue resistance. Selecting a material based on these criteria will ensure you have a strong and functional product that meets your design goals.

1. PLA

PLA is a common 3D printing material that can be used to create all sorts of items. It’s a popular choice for beginners because it is easy to print and is available in many different color shades.

It is also cheap and doesn’t produce noxious fumes during the printing process. However, it is still important to wear breathing protection and to print in a well-ventilated area.

Another big advantage of PLA is that it can be 3D printed on large-scale 3D printers. This makes it a great option for professional and industrial production.

The other big pro of PLA is that it is biodegradable and made from renewable resources like maize and sugarcane. Moreover, the filament is very easy to post-process. This makes it a popular choice for beginners who use extrusion-based desktop printers.

2. PET

PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is an excellent choice for 3D printing. It has a wide range of printing temperatures and is easy to use with a standard extruder.

It’s food safe, waterproof, and has a glass-like appearance. It’s also relatively inexpensive and readily available.

PET is one of the most sustainable packaging options, as it’s accepted in virtually all recycling programs and up to 100% of a package can be made from recycled PET. It’s also recyclable at the end of its useful life, and its recyclability contributes to a circular economy.

3. ABS

ABS is one of the most popular filaments for 3D printing, often found on shop floors, in design studios and schools, and in the hands of hobbyists. Its flexibility and durability make it the ideal material for making tools, toys, and other small parts.

But there are some downsides to this popular material, most notably that it’s prone to warping as it cools. It also cracks and delaminates, especially on medium to large parts.

The best way to avoid these issues is to store the ABS correctly. This involves storing it in an air-tight container and drying it prior to use. If you don’t do this, the ABS will absorb moisture from the air, which can impact the quality of your print.

4. NylonG

NylonG has high mechanical strength, abrasion resistance, and low friction, making it ideal for creating strong and durable parts. It also offers flexibility and can be printed thin yet robust.

It is available in powder form for SLS, SLS+, and MJF, or as a 3D printing filament for FDM. It is suitable for a variety of applications and can be blended with other plastics to enhance its performance.

NylonG is a tough material that is best used in applications where parts are subject to impact loads, such as hammering, banging, or dropping. It can be used to create gears, hinges, and other machine components that need good abrasion and impact resistance.

5. nGen

nGen is a low-odor, styrene-free co-polyester produced by ColorFabb. It’s made from Eastman Amphora(tm) AM3300 3D polymer and is suited for printing within a wide processing temperature range.

It has good flow properties through the printer nozzle, even at lower temperatures than some other polymers require, producing reliable results and reducing waste.

Another unique feature of nGen is its melt stability, which means from pellet to filament to 3D printed part, the mechanical properties of the material will not degrade. This provides a great deal of printing stability and ensures that your print will be repeatable.


One of the benefits of 3D printing is the ability to create new and innovative items without incurring the expense of manufacturing or sourcing them from a third party. In addition, 3D printing allows for an effective inventory management strategy that eschews the need to stock a large amount of product that may never be used. This method of operation also enables the creation of high-value products that would have otherwise been out of reach by more conventional means. In addition, a well-designed system can be used to repurpose parts of an existing assembly that would otherwise have gone down the drain. Lastly, the capability to print small samples from time to time enables the creation of highly customized parts that are both functional and aesthetic.

The top-of-the-line material is a tad bit on the heavy side but it’s still an impressive feat of engineering and is capable of creating some seriously cool 3D-printed objects.


PETG is a great option for printing strong, weather-resistant, and durable items. Its low shrink rate makes it ideal for large prints and its ductility allows for more purposeful flexibility in the design of enclosures.

It also comes with easy cleaning properties and is known for its odorless fumes, which can make it useful in applications where air quality is an issue. It’s easy to work with and is a good choice for a wide range of 3D printing projects.

It can be more sensitive to printing compared to PLA, which means that it’s important to spend more time tuning and testing your slicer settings for optimal print quality. This is especially true when using a heated build chamber. It is also a bit more prone to stringing and over-adhesion to the printing bed, which can lead to a lot of damage if left untreated.


In conclusion, careful consideration of the mechanical, physical, and cost-related attributes of the available materials is essential for selecting the most appropriate material for your 3D printing project. Some materials are more cost-effective than others, so considering cost can also be an important factor when selecting a 3D printing material.

Ultimately, the best material for your 3D printing project will depend on the specific requirements of your design. The right material should be chosen based on the desired outcome and performance of the 3D-printed item.



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About the Author: Julie Souza

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