3D printing filament is the material used when 3D printing objects using a 3D printer. The concept of how a 3D printer works are covered in a previous blog called “Why Is There So Much Hype About 3D Printers?” as well as how 3D models work which is in another blog called ”What Is 3D Modeling Used For?”. When it comes to 3D printing filaments, there really isn’t only one type based on what you are doing it can be anything like plastic, rubber, silicone, metal, and so much more. The only requirement to print materials is being able to heat your nozzle on your 3D printer to a certain temperature as well as keeping your print bed at a certain temperature so the 3D print sticks to the platform without rising up in certain areas.
The main if not most common way to get 3D filaments is by buying it. We normally purchase our filaments through Amazon and so far, we have had a really good experience. However, we have also seen better deals on filaments, on the actual filament manufacture’s website. When purchasing 3D printing filament, we strongly recommend you do your research by either watching YouTube reviews or reading online written reviews. We also recommend not buying filaments that are being sold by sellers that do not have any reviews or reputation. Unless you have some sort of buyers’ protection program. This is so you do not get conned and ripped off due to the lack of knowledge of what you are looking for. Another thing to keep in mind when purchasing filament is to make sure the size fits your nozzle type if not you will not be able to get the filament through your nozzle unless you change it out and use something bigger.
Another way of printing 3D filament is by making it yourself. That’s right, you read that correctly. You can make your own 3D printing filament given the proper tools and plastics. Obviously, when you make your own filament the quality may not be the same as what you get when you purchase the filament but it still is amazing, we are able to print our own filament. Making your own 3D printing filament is done by taking plastics and melting them together to make one liquid plastic which is then stretched out in a line that converts to something similar to what you see above. Obviously, the process mentioned above is somewhat paraphrased and there are tools you would need that are not mentioned in the process above as that is not the topic of this blog.
As mentioned above a there are several types of filament out there which can be used to make 3D models for different purposes. A few common filaments but not all are PLA, ABS, PET, TPE, TPU, PVA, Wood, Metal, and Nylon. If you look at the diagram below you can see each filament must heat the nozzle up to a different temperature so it can melt the filament and mold it to the specific shape. The reason we heat up the bed temperature to different degrees is mainly to get the 3D print to stick and not move. This is mainly to prevent the 3D print from accidentally shifting in position when the bed is moving back and forth on the Y-Axis.
This is a broad question so we will give a general answer. Based on each project, and what you are trying to accomplish, different filaments may be required and should be used. To explain, if you are trying to 3D print a part for a car, chances are you cannot use anything that is plastic-based unless it has a high heat tolerance and even then that may not be recommended. In that event, your best bet would be a metal-based filament which you would have to make sure your 3D printer could actually print based on the nozzle/print temperature. Because there are several different filaments out there and each of them can be used for different purposes it might be ideal to test as many as you can out if you are trying to find something that works best for you. Each person has their own opinion regarding what is the best filament to use for what and we can only give you our opinion based on our experiences.
That said, we strongly believe two of the best filaments to use for most projects are PLA and PETG. These two filaments are both plastic-based and they are the most common and fairly inexpensive. However, PETG is a little more expensive than PLA because it tends to be more durable than PLA. If you are trying to build something that is durable PETG may be a better option generally speaking. While PLA could be used for simpler projects such as miniatures, pencil holders, phone mounts, and things that do not involve a lot of durability. Keep in mind, everything we stated here is based on our own experiences with our own 3D projects. By no means are we stating what we mentioned are facts.