Best 3D Printer Filament: Your Ultimate Guide

I. Introduction

As a 3D printing enthusiast, I’ve always been fascinated by the vast possibilities it offers. The magic begins with the filament, the “ink” for your 3D printer. The choice of filament can dramatically affect the outcome of your print. So, let’s explore the world of 3D printer filaments together, shall we?

II. Understanding 3D Printer Filament

In the fascinating realm of 3D printing, an essential component that holds paramount importance is the 3D printer filament. This filament is to a 3D printer what ink is to a traditional printer or clay to a sculptor. It’s the fundamental building block that transforms your digital designs into tangible, three-dimensional objects.

What is 3D Printer Filament?

3D printer filament is the primary raw material used in Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printers, which are among the most widely used types of 3D printers today. FDM printers function by heating the filament until it reaches a molten state. This molten filament is then extruded layer by layer with precision, gradually building up to form a complete three-dimensional object.

Composition and Form of Filament

The filament itself is composed of various thermoplastic materials. These materials have been manufactured into long, thin strands, which are neatly wound around a spool. This design ensures the filament can be effortlessly fed into the 3D printer. Common materials used for filament include PLA (Polylactic Acid), ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol), and many others, each offering unique properties suitable for different applications.

The Printing Process

During the printing process, the filament is guided to the printer’s extruder, where it is heated to its melting point. Upon reaching this state, the filament becomes malleable and can be precisely extruded through a nozzle. As it exits the nozzle, the filament is deposited layer by layer onto the build platform. The material quickly cools and solidifies, retaining the shape of the most recently printed layer. This process continues, layer by layer, until the entire object is rendered in physical form.

Importance of Filament Quality

The quality of the filament is a critical factor in determining the success of a 3D printing project. High-quality filament ensures consistent melting and extrusion, leading to smoother, more detailed prints. On the other hand, poor quality filament can result in printing errors, such as clogging of the nozzle or uneven extrusion, affecting the final print’s accuracy and aesthetics.

III. Types of 3D Printer Filaments

Types of 3D Printer Filaments

In the dynamic world of 3D printing, the choice of filament is crucial, as it greatly influences the strength, flexibility, finish, and color of the final print. Understanding the various types of 3D printer filaments is essential for anyone seeking to master the art of 3D printing. The filament you select not only determines the appearance of your print but also its functionality and longevity. Let’s explore some of the most popular types of filaments and their unique characteristics.

Common Types of 3D Printer Filaments

  1. PLA (Polylactic Acid)
    • Properties: Biodegradable, made from renewable resources, low melting point.
    • Uses: Ideal for beginners, used for household items, decorative pieces.
    • Printing Requirements: Lower printing temperatures, no heated bed necessary.
  2. ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
    • Properties: Strong, durable, heat-resistant, slightly flexible.
    • Uses: Functional parts, automotive components, toys.
    • Printing Requirements: Higher printing temperatures, needs a heated bed to prevent warping.
  3. PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol)
    • Properties: Good balance of strength and flexibility, impact-resistant, minimal shrinkage.
    • Uses: Functional parts, containers, mechanical components.
    • Printing Requirements: Moderate printing temperatures, benefits from a heated bed.
  4. Nylon
    • Properties: High strength, flexibility, wear-resistant.
    • Uses: Gears, hinges, mechanical parts.
    • Printing Requirements: High printing temperatures, enclosed printer recommended.
  5. TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane)
    • Properties: Extremely flexible, durable, abrasion-resistant.
    • Uses: Flexible parts, phone cases, footwear.
    • Printing Requirements: Moderate printing temperatures, slower print speed for flexibility.

Specific Types of 3D Printer Filaments

  1. PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol)
    • Water-Soluble: PVA is best known for being water-soluble, making it an ideal support material for complex prints.
    • Applications: Typically used in dual-extrusion 3D printers for support structures that can be easily dissolved away.
  2. ASA (Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate)
    • UV and Weather Resistant: Similar to ABS but with added resistance to UV light and weather, making it suitable for outdoor applications.
    • Applications: Often used for automotive parts, outdoor signage, and sports equipment.
  3. HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene)
    • Soluble Support Material: Like PVA, HIPS is used as a support material that can be dissolved away, but it requires limonene for dissolution.
    • Properties: Known for its strength and ease of painting and gluing.
  4. PC (Polycarbonate)
    • High Strength and Heat Resistance: Extremely strong and resistant to both physical impact and high temperatures.
    • Applications: Ideal for creating durable parts that need to withstand high temperatures or stress.
  5. Wood Filaments
    • Wood-like Finish: These filaments contain a mixture of PLA and wood fibers, resulting in prints with a wood-like appearance and texture.
    • Applications: Great for decorative objects, models, and any print that benefits from a wooden aesthetic.
  6. Metal Filaments
    • Metallic Appearance: Blends of fine metal powders with a plastic base, giving the prints a metallic finish.
    • Applications: Perfect for jewelry, statues, and decorative items where a metal appearance is desired.
  7. Glow-in-the-Dark Filaments
    • Luminous Effects: These contain phosphorescent materials that glow in the dark after being exposed to light.
    • Applications: Used for creating toys, nightlight objects, and decorative items that glow.
  8. Flexible (TPC/TPE) Filaments
    • High Flexibility and Elasticity: Different from TPU, TPC (Thermoplastic Copolyester) and TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) offer varying degrees of flexibility.
    • Applications: Ideal for parts that require significant bending or stretching, such as gaskets or wearable items.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Filament

  • Application: Consider the intended use of the printed object – whether it’s for aesthetic purposes, mechanical use, or outdoor exposure.
  • Printer Compatibility: Ensure the filament is compatible with your 3D printer, particularly in terms of temperature requirements.
  • Finish and Aesthetics: Some filaments offer a glossy finish, while others are matte or textured.
  • Durability and Strength: Important for functional parts that will bear loads or endure wear and tear.
  • Flexibility: Necessary for parts that need to bend or flex without breaking.
  • Environmental Factors: Some filaments like PLA are eco-friendly, while others like ABS require ventilation due to fumes.

IV. The Best 3D Printer Filament Reviews

The Best 3D Printer Filament Reviews

Now, let’s dive into the details of each filament type and explore why these are my top picks.

PLA (Polylactic Acid): The User-Friendly Filament for 3D Printing

PLA, or Polylactic Acid, stands out as the most user-friendly filament in the 3D printing world. Originating from plant-based materials like cornstarch, PLA is not only biodegradable but also an eco-friendly choice for 3D printing enthusiasts.

Standout Features of PLA Filament

  • Eco-Friendly: Being derived from renewable resources, PLA is biodegradable, making it an environmentally conscious choice.
  • Ease of Use: PLA is favored for its simplicity in printing, especially suitable for beginners.
  • Low Shrinkage: It exhibits minimal shrinkage, which helps in maintaining the dimensional accuracy of prints.
  • Odorless: PLA doesn’t emit unpleasant odors during printing, making it suitable for use in homes and schools.

Top PLA Filament Choices

  1. Hatchbox PLA Filament
    • Popularity: Renowned in the 3D printing community for striking the perfect balance between quality and affordability.
    • Consistency: Offers consistent performance, leading to strong, high-quality prints with minimal warping.
    • Finish: Known for its smooth finish, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the printed objects.
    • Tolerance: Features tight tolerance levels, reducing extrusion issues and failed prints.
    • Environmental Impact: Eco-friendly due to its plant-based origin and lacks any unpleasant odors during printing.
  2. Overture PLA Pro Filament
    • Layer Adhesion: Exhibits excellent layer adhesion, ensuring strong and durable prints.
    • Dimensional Stability: Maintains its shape and size, offering dimensional stability during printing.
    • Smooth Printing: It prints smoothly, contributing to a higher quality of the final product.
    • Added Value: Comes with a build surface, providing great value and convenience.
    • Application: Ideal for complex projects requiring superior finish and precision.
  3. Sunlu PLA Filament
    • Affordability: Offers a cost-effective solution without compromising quality.
    • Precision: High precision in filament production, which is crucial for intricate designs.
    • Consistency: Ensures consistent quality in prints, enhancing the overall appearance and functionality.
    • Recommended For: Suitable for projects requiring detailed work and precision.

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene): A Robust Choice for 3D Printing

ABS, short for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, is a sturdy and flexible filament widely used in 3D printing. Known for its ability to withstand high stress and temperature, ABS is a popular choice for creating durable and resilient parts.

Standout Features of ABS Filament

  • Durability: ABS is known for its high strength and toughness, making it ideal for heavy-duty applications.
  • Heat Resistance: It can withstand higher temperatures without deforming, suitable for objects exposed to heat.
  • Impact Resistance: ABS is resistant to impacts, ensuring longevity and durability of the printed parts.
  • Challenging yet Rewarding: While it can be more difficult to print with than PLA, the results often justify the effort.

Top ABS Filament Choices

  1. SainSmart ABS Filament
    • Durability: Exceptionally strong, making it perfect for automotive parts, machinery components, or even Lego bricks.
    • High-Temperature Resistance: Ideal for parts that will be exposed to harsh conditions.
    • Interlayer Adhesion: Exhibits excellent adhesion between layers, reducing the likelihood of splitting.
    • Melting Point: Higher melting point than PLA, posing a challenge for beginners but rewarding for experienced users.
    • Consistency: Known for its consistent quality, essential for intricate and demanding projects.
  2. HATCHBOX ABS Filament
    • Reliability: A trusted option within the 3D printing community, known for its toughness.
    • Post-Print Finishing: Easily sanded and finished after printing, making it suitable for aesthetic projects.
    • Balance: Offers a good balance between strength and ease of use.
    • Application: Great for projects that require both durability and a fine finish.
  3. Sunlu ABS Filament
    • Interlayer Adhesion: Stands out for its exceptional interlayer bonding, minimizing warping issues.
    • Solution for Warping: Ideal for those who have faced challenges with ABS prints in the past.
    • Quality: Maintains high standards of quality, ensuring reliable and consistent prints.

Suggestion for ABS Filament Usage

When it comes to projects that demand toughness, such as mechanical parts, automotive components, or items that will be subjected to stress or heat, ABS filament is an excellent choice. For beginners, it may present some challenges due to its higher melting point and sensitivity to environmental conditions during printing. However, for intermediate and advanced users, the resilience and versatility of ABS make it a rewarding material to work with.

PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol): Combining the Best of PLA and ABS

PETG, or Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol, is a versatile 3D printing filament that merges the beneficial qualities of PLA and ABS, offering a balance between ease of use and durability. It’s a preferred choice for those seeking both functionality and aesthetic appeal in their 3D prints.

Standout Features of PETG Filament

  • Ease of Printing: Similar to PLA, PETG is user-friendly and great for a wide range of 3D printers.
  • Durability: Offers the sturdiness similar to ABS, making it suitable for functional parts.
  • Layer Adhesion: Known for its excellent layer bonding, reducing the chances of delamination.
  • Finish: Produces a glossy and smooth surface, enhancing the visual quality of prints.
  • Flexibility: Slightly more flexible than PLA and ABS, which can be advantageous in various applications.

Top PETG Filament Choices

  1. eSUN PETG Filament
    • Reliability: Recognized for its consistent quality in the market.
    • Properties: Balances ease of use with durability and excellent layer adhesion.
    • Finish: Yields prints with a glossy and attractive finish.
    • Flexibility: Offers slight flexibility, broadening its range of applications.
    • Chemical Resistance: Exhibits great chemical resistance, enhancing its durability.
    • Warp Resistance: Less prone to warping or shrinking, ideal for larger prints.
    • Colors: Available in bright and transparent options, adding a unique aesthetic.
  2. PRILINE PETG Filament
    • Robustness: Noted for its high strength and impact resistance.
    • Heat Resistance: Features a slightly higher heat resistance, expanding its usability.
    • Application: Suitable for projects that require a combination of toughness and temperature resistance.
  3. Overture PETG Filament
    • Cost-Effectiveness: An affordable option that doesn’t compromise on quality.
    • Performance: Delivers reliable and consistent printing performance.
    • Practicality: A straightforward choice for everyday printing needs.

Suggestion for PETG Filament Usage

PETG is recommended for projects where both functional strength and aesthetic quality are required. It’s an excellent choice for creating parts that need to be durable yet visually appealing, like consumer products, prototypes, and even artistic creations. PETG’s blend of ease of printing, resistance to impact, and glossy finish make it a versatile filament suitable for both beginners and experienced users.

Nylon Filament: The Durable and Versatile Choice for 3D Printing

Nylon, a synthetic thermoplastic, is a robust and versatile material in the world of 3D printing. It’s known for its exceptional strength, flexibility, and durability. Nylon filament is ideal for printing functional parts that require a high degree of toughness and resistance to wear and tear.

Standout Features of Nylon Filament

  • Strength: Nylon is renowned for its high strength and durability, making it ideal for heavy-duty applications.
  • Flexibility: Offers a significant degree of flexibility, which helps in creating parts that can withstand bending and stress.
  • Wear Resistance: Highly resistant to abrasion and wear, suitable for making gears, hinges, and other mechanical components.
  • Chemical Resistance: Shows resistance to chemicals, oils, and solvents, expanding its usage in various industrial applications.
  • Moisture Absorption: Nylon tends to absorb moisture, which can impact its properties; proper storage is necessary.

Top 5 Nylon Filaments

  1. Taulman3D Nylon Filament
    • Properties: Known for its high strength and ease of printing.
    • Applications: Ideal for functional prototypes and mechanical parts.
    • Quality: Produces parts with excellent durability and a smooth finish.
  2. Overture Nylon Filament
    • Consistency: Known for consistent printing performance.
    • Applications: Versatile for both professional and hobbyist projects.
    • Durability: Strong and durable, maintaining quality over time.
  3. SainSmart Nylon Filament
    • Flexibility: Provides a good balance of strength and flexibility.
    • Quality: High-quality prints with consistent results.
    • Use Cases: Suitable for a wide range of applications, including functional parts and prototypes.
  4. Gizmo Dorks Nylon Filament
    • Ease of Printing: Known for its good printability and layer adhesion.
    • Flexibility: Balances strength and flexibility.
    • Applications: Ideal for parts that require both strength and a degree of flexibility.
  5. Polymaker PolyMide CoPA
    • CoPA Technology: Utilizes a special copolyamide formula for enhanced properties.
    • Low Warping: Ideal for printing large parts with minimal warping.
    • Temperature Resistance: High resistance to heat and various chemicals.

Suggestion for Nylon Filament Usage

Nylon filament is recommended for projects that demand high performance, such as tools, functional prototypes, and mechanical parts. Given its propensity to absorb moisture, it’s crucial to store nylon filament in a dry environment to maintain its quality. Additionally, due to its flexibility and strength, nylon is an excellent choice for parts that require both durability and a degree of elasticity.

TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane): The Flexible and Durable Filament for 3D Printing

TPU, or Thermoplastic Polyurethane, is a highly flexible and durable filament widely used in 3D printing. It stands out for its elasticity, making it perfect for printing objects that require flexibility, such as phone cases, wearable devices, and various mechanical parts.

Standout Features of TPU Filament

  • Flexibility and Elasticity: TPU is exceptionally flexible and can be stretched or compressed without losing its shape.
  • Durability: Offers high resistance to abrasion, wear, and tear.
  • Chemical Resistance: Resistant to oils, greases, and various chemicals, making it suitable for industrial applications.
  • Shock Absorption: Excellent shock absorbing properties, ideal for protective gear and cases.
  • Printing Difficulty: Can be challenging to print due to its flexibility, requiring careful adjustments to printer settings.

Top 5 TPU Filaments

  1. NinjaTek Cheetah Filament
    • High-Speed Printing: Designed for fast and easy printing, despite being a flexible filament.
    • Applications: Perfect for parts that need to combine flexibility with speed, like protective equipment.
    • Quality: Known for its consistent quality and reliability.
  2. SainSmart TPU Filament
    • Ease of Use: Particularly user-friendly for a TPU filament, great for beginners.
    • Durability: Offers high durability and flexibility.
    • Applications: Ideal for a wide range of flexible applications, including hobbyist projects and prototypes.
  3. Overture TPU Filament
    • Quality: Delivers consistent and reliable print results.
    • Flexibility: Offers a good balance of flexibility and ease of printing.
    • Applications: Ideal for objects that require a certain degree of flexibility and durability, like wearable devices.
  4. GIANTARM TPU Filament
    • High Elasticity: Provides excellent elasticity, allowing for stretchable prints.
    • Durability: Strong and wear-resistant, ensuring long-lasting use.
    • Applications: Suitable for creating flexible and durable parts such as phone cases and wearable accessories.
  5. Creality TPU Filament
    • Print Quality: Known for producing smooth and detailed prints.
    • Flexibility: Offers significant flexibility without compromising on print integrity.
    • Use Cases: Great for both hobbyists and professionals needing flexible yet detailed prints.

Suggestion for TPU Filament Usage

TPU is ideal for projects where flexibility is paramount, but strength and durability are also required. It is recommended for creating parts like flexible hinges, seals, and shock-absorbing components. Due to its elastic nature, TPU requires careful printing, particularly in terms of speed and extrusion settings. It’s also important to ensure your 3D printer is capable of handling flexible filaments.

V. Common Filament Defects in 3D Printing

Common Filament Defects in 3D Printing

In the realm of 3D printing, understanding common filament defects is crucial for achieving high-quality prints. These defects can arise due to various factors ranging from the quality of the filament to the storage conditions. Identifying and addressing these issues is essential for anyone aiming to optimize their 3D printing process.

Types of Filament Defects

  1. Moisture Absorption
    • Explanation: Many filaments, especially hygroscopic ones like Nylon and PVA, absorb moisture from the air, leading to poor print quality.
    • Symptoms: Popping sounds during printing and a rough, bubbly surface on the printed object.
    • Prevention: Store filaments in airtight containers with desiccants or use a filament dryer.
  2. Diameter Inconsistency
    • Explanation: Variations in the filament diameter can cause extrusion problems, leading to uneven prints.
    • Symptoms: Over-extrusion or under-extrusion in different parts of the print.
    • Prevention: Use high-quality filaments with strict diameter tolerance and regularly measure the filament diameter.
  3. Tangling
    • Explanation: Filament spools can become tangled if not wound properly or if unwound carelessly.
    • Symptoms: Sudden stops in printing or the extruder struggling to pull filament from the spool.
    • Prevention: Handle spools carefully and check for tangles before starting a print.
  4. Brittleness
    • Explanation: Filaments can become brittle over time, especially if exposed to air or UV light.
    • Symptoms: Filament snapping during printing or when bent slightly.
    • Prevention: Store filaments away from direct sunlight and in airtight containers.
  5. Contamination
    • Explanation: Dust, oils, or other particles can adhere to the filament, leading to clogged nozzles.
    • Symptoms: Frequent nozzle clogs and inconsistent extrusion.
    • Prevention: Store filaments in clean environments and wipe them down before use.
  6. Color Inconsistency
    • Explanation: Lower quality filaments may have inconsistent color pigmentation.
    • Symptoms: Variations in color shades across a single print or between prints.
    • Prevention: Opt for filaments from reputable manufacturers known for consistent color quality.

Addressing Filament Defects

  • Regular Inspection: Regularly inspect filament for any visible signs of defects before printing.
  • Quality Selection: Choose high-quality filaments from reputable sources to minimize the risk of defects.
  • Proper Storage: Implement proper storage solutions to protect filament from environmental factors.
  • Printer Settings: Adjust printer settings like temperature and feed rate to accommodate for minor inconsistencies in filament.

VI. Conclusion

Finding the best 3D printer filament largely depends on what you’re trying to create. PLA, ABS, and PETG cover a wide range of applications, making them a great place to start. So, go ahead, experiment, and let your creativity soar!


  1. Can I use any filament on any 3D printer?
    Not all filaments are compatible with all printers. Always check your printer’s specifications first.
  2. Which filament is the easiest to print?
    PLA is generally the easiest filament for beginners due to its low printing temperature and ease of use.
  3. Is ABS toxic?
    ABS can produce fumes when heated, so it’s advised to use it in a well-ventilated space.
  4. Can I print food-safe items with these filaments?
    While some filaments are deemed food-safe, the 3D printing process isn’t typically safe for food items due to potential bacterial growth.
  5. How should I store my filament?
    Keep your filament in a dry and cool place to prevent moisture absorption, which can affect its print quality.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to create 3D printed parts that serve your needs and bring your ideas to life! So, which filament will you choose for your next project?


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Daniel Brooks

Join me the author of Explore 3D Print, on an exhilarating journey through the captivating world of 3D. Discover the endless possibilities of 3D printing and immerse yourself in a vibrant community of enthusiasts. Explore, learn, and unlock the limitless potential of this fascinating realm.

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