In our previous blog, we talked about an overview of 3D printing and the processes involved. We now know that 3D printing has taken over the globe, giving creators of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to print anything and everything imaginable. With any masterpiece, materials are required to bring the idea to fruition. In the way that conventional printers use ink and paper to print, 3D printers require materials called filaments in order to produce prints. The 3D filament is inserted into the 3D printer’s print head nozzle, and is then extruded to create the 3D print. There are various 3D filament types suitable for different projects. The two most popular for everyday use, are ABS and PLA. Let’s take a look at the some of the characteristics of each.

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, better known as ABS, is a thermoplastic, petroleum-based filament. It is ideal for projects that require extra robustness and strength. ABS is able to withstand higher temperatures than most other filament types, and is less frail than others as well. It is recommended to utilize ABS to print parts and objects that are subject to demanding and/or rough conditions. To avoid warping, ABS requires a heated printing surface. ABS filament should be used in a well-ventilated area due to potential fumes. ABS can be treated and finished with acetone for improved smoothness. While ABS is not biodegradable, it is recyclable. This filament type is available in 1.75mm and 2.85mm.

PLA (Polylactic Acid)

Polyactic Acid, better known as PLA, is a biodegradable, plastic filament. It is made from renewable raw materials, such as cornstarch or sugarcane. PLA is the standard filament type for most desktop 3D printers, and is well-suited for those new to the 3D print world. It is also odorless when being printed. PLA is low warp, and thus does not require a heated printer bed. PLA cannot be treated with acetone for enhanced smoothness. Since this filament is odorless and eco-friendly, it is recommended for household objects, gadgets, educational prints and more. PLA is not meant to be exposed to 60ºC or more for an extended period of time. PLA filament is available in 1.75mm and 2.85mm.

Whether to use PLA or ABS filament as well as what size, will depend on the scope of your project, as well as compatibility with the 3D printer you will be using to print. While ABS and PLA are considered the default print filaments for most 3D printers, filaments made of alternative materials are sometimes used for specific projects. These include:
  • • Nylon
  • • Gold
  • • Titanium
  • • Gypsum
  • • TPE
  • • HIPS
  • • Steel
  • • Silver
  • • Ceramic
  • • PVA
  • • PET
  • • Wood

Voltivo ExcelFil ABS and PLA high grade filaments are available from HOP in the following:

  • • 1.75 mm
  • • 2.85 mm

  • • Arctic Silver
  • • Coal Black
  • • Ocean Blue
  • • Transparent
  • • Bling Gold
  • • Cherry Red
  • • Snow White

You can check out our selection online here.

Stay tuned for our next blog, where we will discuss some of the uses of 3D printing! Follow us on Twitter (@hopcanada) for updates!