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The two 3D printing materials we will discuss are PLA and ABS plastics. If to get very technical you can find out exactly what PLA plastic is here and ABS plastic here. These plastics are known as the filaments for 3D printers. It works the same way ink works in your home printer. ABS plastic is very flexible and durable and has been around for many years. It tolerates heat very well and it is easy to glue multiple pieces of ABS plastic together to construct larger objects. ABS is good for children’s toys as it is impact resistant.
PLA plastic is a newer plastic to be used for 3D printing that is more environmentally friendly even though it biodegrades slowly and not very easily. PLA plastic is tough but can be brittle, it also does not withstand heat as well as ABS plastic. Even with these drawbacks, PLA is favored in enclosed areas, such as your home, and around children or those with sensitive respiratory systems as PLA plastic generates less toxic fumes. If you are going to place your 3D printer in your garage or workshop then ABS plastic may be suitable with proper ventilation. The best choice is to purchase a 3D printer that can use both materials.
There are also two much newer filaments that are currently being experimented with to see if they offer any significant benefits over ABS or PLA, they are HDPE and PVA. We will discuss these filaments if they develop into mainstream 3D printer filaments as otherwise they would be too costly and the printer options too few. Most 3D printers use filaments that are a universal fit. The competition keeps quality up and prices down for filament.You can find information on additional filaments, their benefits, and the printers that use them on our website. Beware of 3D printers in which you can only use the manufacturers filaments!