How to Print with Polycarbonate

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Updated February 17, 2023

Don’t let anybody tell you that there’s any such thing as the best 3D printer. Sure, there are tons of great units out there, but selecting the best printer is based entirely on your needs. If you need to know how to print with polycarbonate, you’ll need to make sure you have the correct heat settings and the right build plate. You’ll also need to play with the settings to find the right combination for the best print.


  • Polycarbonate (PC) is considered a high-resilience material used for FDM printing.
  • For best results when using PC, experiment with a range of temperatures before running your print, as every PC brand will melt at a slightly different temp.
  • Know which 3D printer setting you can change to create the best possible outcome, such as increasing retraction speed.

If you finish this and are hungry for more, check out some more of our 3D print material write-ups. We have resources explaining what 3D printer filament is the strongest and one on how to print with PLA.

Insider Tip

Always store polycarbonate in a dry environment and in an airtight container.

How to 3D Print With Polycarbonate

So, what is polycarbonate filament? Polycarbonate (PC) is a type of filament used in FDM printing, meaning it’s a form of material that is melted and placed in layers to form a 3D object. PC is getting significant buzz lately because it’s one of the newer FDM filaments and a lightweight and durable substance that has good tensile strength and impact resistance.

Sound like something you might want to use to make your prints? It’s an excellent option for printing more complex parts requiring greater heat resistance. However, before starting your print model, there are some things to know to avoid running into issues along the way.

For more information on the best material for 3D printing, check out some more of our articles, like our piece on how to print with PVA. And, for safety tips, we explain how to ventilate a 3D printer.

Test the Heat

Every material has its melting point. For example, polycarbonate melts between 260-310 Celsius, depending on the brand of filament and any additives. Always test the nozzle temperature with your filament before running a full print, or check the instructions to see if there’s a recommended printing temperature. Likewise, the print bed should be heated between 90-120 Celsius when printing with a PC.

For more information on alternative filaments, we have a guide on tips for 3D printing with ABS.

Consider the Build Plate

Build plates come in many types of materials, and some work better with certain materials than others. Ideally, you want a build plate that helps the PC adhere while printing but isn’t a pain to remove the object from. Many recommend a PEI build plate because it provides good adhesion and usually makes for an easy removal process.


Like many 3D printer filaments, polycarbonate absorbs moisture easily, so it’s necessary to keep it away from humidity.

Alter Settings As Needed

You have to familiarize yourself with your printer’s settings and features to get the most successful prints, especially with a material like a PC.

For PC, increasing the retraction distance and speed is recommended for the best result. This settings change helps avoid things like oozing. Another helpful tip for printing with PC filament is to enable the coasting setting if your printer has this feature.

STAT: Polycarbonate polymer originated in 1928. (source)

How to Print with Polycarbonate FAQs

How can you keep polycarbonate from warping?

Make sure the cooling fan is kept below 30%.

Do you need a cooling mechanism to print with polycarbonate?

Polycarbonate does not need excessive cooling; you can keep the fan between 5-30%.

What is the best print speed for polycarbonate?

The recommended print speed for PC is 20-40mm/s.
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