With 3D printing quickly becoming an accessible and cost-efficient way to create designs and prototypes, many users are on the hunt for the perfect material for their project. PLA and ABS are two of the most popular materials used for 3D printing, but which is better? Here, we provide an overview of both materials, breaking down their strengths and weaknesses to help you make an informed decision.
PLA, a biodegradable and eco-friendly material sourced from natural products, such as corn starch and sugarcane, is popular among 3D printing hobbyists. Characterized by its easy handling and low-temperature requirements–which reduce warping–PLA provides several advantages; however, there are also some drawbacks to consider. Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of this plant-based material:
The Benefits of PLA: PLA has a multitude of advantages, making it an ideal choice for 3D printing projects. From easy-to-print designs to a diverse selection of colors, PLA boasts a wide range of features that make it suitable for prototyping and general use. It is also environmentally friendly and offers low warping and increased stability. Potential Drawbacks: Despite these beneficial characteristics, however, PLA is not the ideal material for every scenario. Its strength isn’t as powerful as other materials and, unfortunately, this makes it unsuited for high temperature applications. Additionally, it lacks durability when compared to more resilient options and can even be prone to brittleness in certain cases.
ABS proves to be the preferred plastic of various industrial domains due to its remarkable strength, considerable endurance, and resistance to heat. This petroleum-based polymer is favored in the automotive and aerospace industries and is also the popular choice among 3D printing hobbyists, given its durability and spectrum of color options. Nonetheless, these advantages come at a cost. ABS has a steeper melting point than PLA and a tendency to deform when printed, causing greater difficulty than most other filaments. Consequently, here are some of ABS’s salient pros and cons:
The Benefits of ABS: – Its robust structure lasts longer – Can sustain high temperatures – Provides a rainbow of color to choose from – Ideal for both mechanical and functional parts Any Drawbacks to ABS?: – Trickier to utilize than PLA printing – Might experience warping while working with it – Not very eco-friendly to manufacture – Can produce a noxious smell during printing
If you’re trying to decide between PLA and ABS for your next project, it all depends on what qualities are most important to you. PLA is an ideal material for those who want a user-friendly, eco-friendly product; however, if strength and heat resistance are a priority, then ABS might be more appropriate.
When it comes to 3D printing, there are a multitude of materials at your disposal – PETG, nylon, and TPU right amongst them. Every material carries particular features, so thoroughly ponder all of your available selections before making up your mind. Finally, it is up to you to single out the material that best meets the demands of your project and is within your means.