PLA vs ABS Filament, Plastics are the fundamental building blocks of any industry, and engineers are starting to explore how to 3D print them with more functionality.
In this article, we will compare the functionality of different plastics and their effectiveness in 3D printing filament. (This topic of how 3D printing works with ABS filament and PLA filament is a really heated topic. I will try to summarize the best information available at the moment and give my own opinion on it. )
PLA vs ABS Filament
PLA filament (Polylactic Acid), ABS filament (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene). PLA Filament: $0.20 per 1kg (1000g) ABS Filament: $0.38 per 1kg (1000g)
Printer temperature and material settings: PLA filament: 230°C, 60mm/s, 0.3mm nozzle layer height ABS filament: 230°C, 20mm/s, 0.2mm nozzle layer height.
The resulting 3D printed parts are glass-like, very glossy, smooth, and glossy surfaces. PLA filament has a stronger surface and sharper corners, which is a disadvantage for printed parts. Both ABS and PLA filaments are linear (do not have any kinks or folds), with standard PLA being more rigid and stronger.
What is PLA Filament?
PLA stands for Polylactic Acid. It is a food-grade plastic that can be described as “a biodegradable and compostable material.” PLA is made from renewable resources such as corn, sugar cane, or potatoes, and it is widely used in various household items such as toys, household gadgets, kitchenware, fabrics, and even fabric softeners.
Although PLA is a good thermoplastic, it does have some disadvantages: it’s not very stable in high temperatures (it can form curling and “clouding”), it does not have the same mechanical properties as ABS or PETG, and it is susceptible to leaching of its polymer chains.
So PLA filaments are primarily used for prototyping, to manufacture various parts like robots, and even 3D printers themselves. As the name suggests, PLA is not the most suitable material for a manufacturing process like 3D printing.
But there are various techniques that we can use to reduce the plastic’s influence and improve our 3D printability. The properties of the plastic, temperature and time all affect our printability.
Types of PLA Filament
There are several types of PLA. Some have greater printability than others. The best choice for PLA is highly dependent on the type of extruder we are using. PLA is brittle when exposed to high temperatures, and it becomes gummy and sticky if we allow it to cool too much.
This can be remedied with a heated bed or other techniques we can use. So there are a few considerations that you should take into account when selecting the right PLA filament.
High-Temperature PLA Filaments
Some filaments, like white high-temperature filaments, can be used for extrusion at higher temperatures. This means that we can print objects with a larger temperature range. These filaments are great for printing stronger, more durable parts. They are also made with better materials to reduce the brittleness of PLA.
PLA filament is a very good material for your 3D printer. It is inexpensive and can be printed at a high temperature. To obtain the best performance from your 3D printer, you need to follow some steps. To be on the safe side, always print your projects at a temperature of 110 degrees C or higher.
PLA Filament Features
- Color: PLA filaments come in different colors such as white, clear, matte, etc.
- Brand: PLA filaments are made by different companies such as MakerBot, 3D Solutech, FlashForge, etc.
- Size: PLA filaments come in different sizes. The sizes are 1.75 mm and 3 mm.
- Retailer: PLA filaments are sold in different places such as Amazon, Office Depot, Staples, etc.
- Spool: PLA filaments are sold in spools or in bulk.
- Resistant to dry out: The best PLA filaments are the ones that don’t dry out when exposed to air.
- Temperature Resistance: The best PLA filaments resist high temperatures.
- Resistant to warping: The best PLA filaments are the ones that don’t warp in heated environments.
- Stronger: The best PLA filaments are the ones that make stronger parts.
- Flexible: The best PLA filaments are the ones that are flexible.
Characteristics Of PLA Filament
PLA filament is a thermoplastic material, which means it has the characteristics of plastic. The thermal motion of the PLA filament can be accelerated by heat.
It is generally accepted that PLA filament can be heated to higher temperatures than ABS, but there are many factors to consider when reaching such high temperatures. Since PLA filament is thermoplastic, it has certain characteristics when exposed to high temperatures.
The best way to print PLA filament is to select a temperature that is higher than the melting point of the filament you are using.
The melting point of a filament is the temperature at which the polymer reaches its plastic form and can be changed by varying the amount of extrusion. As the extruder rate is increased, the temperature of the filament rises. The melting point of PLA is around 180 degrees C.
What is ABS Filament?
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is the other most commonly ABS is a commonly used thermoplastic. It is much softer than PLA and will soften when exposed to higher temperatures.
ABS filament can be heat treated up to 210 degrees C and is most commonly used at temperatures of 140 degrees C. There are some considerations to be made when using ABS and PLA filament.
Like PLA, ABS also has a melting point of around 180 degrees C. ABS is heavier than PLA and is also more brittle. PLA is more flexible. PLA can be stretched while ABS cannot.
When you take the two filaments to the same high temperature, the PLA filament becomes soft and bendable, while ABS retains its structure. This can be a problem for the first layer of an object and the supports.
PLA and ABS filaments are not compatible. Attempting to use ABS and PLA filament together may result in the formation of globs or filament spurs in the ABS. This can be a problem when using a printed object over an assembly.
ABS Filament Feature
- Color: Hot and Black
- Diameter: 1.75mm
- Nozzle Size: 0.35mm (1.4mm compatible)
- Brand: ABS Filament comes in different brands like MakerBot, Prusa, and 3d hubs. A good filament will come from a reliable brand with a good reputation.
- Size: ABS filaments come in different sizes of Barrels; you may need to test the printing before going full steam ahead. So, do measure the physical dimensions.
- Retailer: ABS filaments are sold online through Adafruit.com, in bulk (5lbs) through Maker Shed and various resellers, and widely available through Alibaba, eBay, and Amazon.
- Spool: ABS filaments are sold in Spools of 5 meters. Each spool is dyed with a specific water base dye for maximum durability (color may vary due to the light source), but these colors will never fade!
- Resistant to dry out: The best ABS filaments Use 40% recycled ABS. This is ABS that has been upgraded and reused.
- Curing time: All ABS filaments take longer to heat up than PLA.
- Temperature Resistance: The best ABS Filaments are long-lasting. ABS filaments are resistant to mechanical impacts, like cuts and falls. ABS is also resistant to acids.
- Popular uses: Furniture finishing, woodturning, jewelry making, and more.
- Resistant to warping: The best ABS filaments are resistant to warping due to the way they’re manufactured.Non-toxic – ABS is one of the most non-toxic plastics you can use in 3D printing.
- Stronger: The best ABS filaments by far. Provides great flexibility and great rebound. ABS blends very well with PLA, PET-G, and HIPS (PLA is usually the best one to use if you want a solid object).
- Flexible: The best ABS filaments can be bent like PLA filaments without any warping or tears.
- Resistant to scratches: ABS is resistant to dents and scratches, but keep in mind that they are not as strong as PLA.
Characteristics Of ABS Filament
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is a thermoplastic material that has a melting point of approximately 180 degrees C. The molecular weight of ABS is significantly higher than that of PLA. The molecular weight of ABS ranges from 65,000 to over 80,000, which makes it significantly heavier than PLA.
ABS is stronger than PLA and more flexible. ABS is also harder to re-heat, and when it does get too hot, it cannot be softened back down to its original form. PLA is stronger than ABS and can be bent easily. PLA does not retain its shape when it cools, so it is more difficult to bend back. ABS is also a more air-tight material.
FAQs of PLA vs ABS 3D Printing Filament
What is the difference between PLA and ABS 3D printing filament?
ABS is a rigid plastic, whereas PLA is soft and flexible plastic.
Which one is better for 3D printing?
ABS is the best plastic for 3D printing. The best PLA prints look flimsy compared to ABS.
Which material should I use for my next 3D-printer project?
ABS is best for most parts due to its strength and flexibility.
Which material is best for engineering prototypes?
ABS is a good starting material. PLA may be better for very thin layers and when soft printing models like gummy bears.
What are the benefits of using PLA over ABS?
PLA prints are much faster than ABS, but ABS is still not as fast as PLA.
Is PLA easier to use than ABS?
PLA has good adhesion with the printer, and it is much easier to print with.
What are the drawbacks of PLA?
PLA is more likely to be affected by warping compared to ABS.
Is ABS stronger than PLA?
ABS is the strongest material and can withstand much more stress than PLA. However, PLA has much better plasticity and resistance to warping, so when printing with PLA, your object may not be as strong as you expect.
What is the best 3D printer filament type?
The best PLA is Ninjaflex, PrintBetterClear, and Filaflex. The best ABS is POM, but you need to change the POM profile to make it more flexible for 3D printing.
Where can I buy PLA and ABS?
PLA and ABS can be purchased online or at most home improvement stores.
How much PLA and ABS should I use for my 3D printer?
You can use 3.0 mm or 1.75 mm of filament, depending on the type of printer you are using.
Which PLA and ABS brands are the best?
I use Ninjaflex and PrintBetterClear because they are the best PLA and ABS filaments. I’ve been using them for over 4 years, and they have never failed me, so I feel confident recommending them to you!
Should I buy a quality 3d printer filament or just a cheap one?
It is better to spend money on a quality 3D printer. You do not want your valuable filament to melt in your machine and destroy it.
So from the above article, I can say that Both the filaments are great and have their own pros & cons. So it is really up to you to choose between these two filaments. So which one is your favorite filament? Share your thoughts about this. Thank you for reading.