What Filament to Use For 3D Printing?

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Updated February 22, 2023

If you are new to the world of physical printing, you may wonder what filament to use for 3D printing. Some of the best printers, after all, are 3D printers that use a filament to create objects. There are many filament types out there, and the perfect option depends on a variety of factors, from intended use or personal preference to printer integration, but the most popular are ABS, PLA, and PET. Keep reading to find out what the best filament option is for you.


  • The vast majority of commercially available 3D printers use 3D printing filament or resin to make 3D objects.
  • There is a wide range of 3D printing materials out there, each with preferred use case scenarios.
  • The most popular filaments out there are ABS, PLA, and PET, though they all excel with unique printing temperatures, with some offering flexible filament 3D printing technology.

What is the Difference Between 3D Printer Filaments?

3D printer filament is the primary material that comprises 3D models. As mentioned, there are many filament types out there, and many work well with various 3D printing resolutions. Each filament brings something new to the table, like the nifty colors of many quick-print options, which are useful for making your 3D printer faster.

Insider Tip

Check your printer’s instructions to see which filament types integrate with your specific model.

In other words, there is no “best” type of filament, but there may be the perfect filament for your next print job. Let’s take a look at some.

Types of Printer Filament

Here are some of the major filament types and what projects they are perfect for. As always, check your printer to ensure proper integration with each type of filament. Of course, it’ll also be helpful to learn what an extruder does in a 3D printer as well as what size nozzle you’ll need.


Polylactic acid, also known as PLA, is a thermoplastic derived from renewable, organic sources like corn starch or sugar cane. This is an extremely common filament type that is easy to use, making it perfect for beginners. As a matter of fact, PLA is typically the filament type preferred by 3D printers aimed toward new users. The finished products will be on the brittler side, however, and they do not excel with high heat.


The other common filament type is called ABS, or Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. This material is not for beginners, as it is more difficult to print with than PLA. However, it offers some serious benefits if you stick with it. Objects made with ABS are much more durable than those made with PLA, and they will withstand higher temperatures.


Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is one of the most commonly used plastics in the world and makes for a great printer filament. While raw PET is rarely used in 3D printing, the variant PETG is extremely popular, as it is easy to use and offers great results.

STAT: PLA is easy to print with. It has a lower printing temperature than ABS, and it doesn’t warp as easily, meaning a heated print bed isn’t required (although it definitely helps). (source)

Filament Types FAQs

When should I use PLA 3D printer filament?

If you are new to 3D printer filaments, try PLA to start. This is an easy-to-use filament that is a slightly flexible material, though it is brittle once hardened and offers little impact resistance and tensile strength.

When should I use ABS 3D printer filament?

ABS is harder to use but offers increased impact resistance and tensile strength, making this a great choice for making functional prototypes.

What is a color-changing filament?

This type of filament changes colors according to printing temperature and ambient temperatures. This allows users to create a wide range of unique designs for functional prototypes.
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