filament

PLA vs. ABS - A comparison

If you're interested in 3D printing, there's one thing you can't avoid: Filament.

But here there are different materials and therefore some things you have to consider for your project. To make it easier for you to choose the right plastic, I will give you an overview.

Especially for beginners it is challenging to choose the right filament. Apart from a wide range of colours, it is above all the choice of the right material that makes the decision difficult. Especially popular in 3D printing are PLA and ABS.

So for your project you will most likely have to choose between these two.

In everyday life you will find ABS in Lego bricks. PLA, on the other hand, is mainly used as packaging material. And with the right preliminary considerations, you too will quickly find the right material for your project.

With these few questions you come to your suitable filament:

What do I want to print?

The reason why you should consider this beforehand is quite simple: PLA and ABS have different properties. They decide whether a plastic is either perfect for your project or rather unsuitable. This topic becomes important if you want to print more either utility or decorative articles.

ABS is better suited for the former. This is because the surface structure of the plastic makes it more resistant to weathering and is very scratch-resistant. In addition, ABS behaves dynamically, is therefore flexible and can tolerate slight bends without any problems.

I have also put together a small table for you on the subject of heat resistance:

Overview of thermal properties

Features & Benefits

PLA

ABS

melting point

150-160°C

210-240°C

softening temperature

70-80°C

110-125°C

pressure temperature

190-220°C

230-250°C

Pressure Bed Repair (Recommended)

50-70°C

80-120°C

Here you can see that ABS withstands higher temperatures compared to PLA. This has obvious advantages, but also means higher energy consumption in 3D printing. An important point is therefore:

The Budget

The cost point is particularly important before every purchase. First of all: PLA filament is the cheaper choice. This is not only due to the fact that the plastic is cheaper to purchase than ABS at a price of around 20 euros. The energy required for 3D printing is also much lower with PLA thanks to the lower melting temperature.

This makes PLA filament a good choice both economically and ecologically. It is even suitable for recycling.

You see, not all filaments are the same. And there's a lot more you should keep in mind:

User friendliness

Here, too, PLA is ahead of the pack because it is less susceptible to problems like warping. This is an effect you can observe when the lower layers cool down too quickly when printing your 3D object. This results in curvatures that cause tension in the expression. In the worst case, this will lead to cracks that will render your end product unusable.

Another advantage offered by the filament PLA: It can probably be used with any standard 3D printer. Therefore beginners are right here in any case

However, some aspects of your decision are less obvious:

Aesthetics

This point does not concern the filament itself, but the result of your printing. Because that your object was printed in individual layers is usually well recognizable. If the grooves you see in this example bother you, you better use ABS.

Because in order to create remedy there is the so-called Smoothing. That's what they call processes that smooth your 3D printing. Of course you can also file and grind. However, this work is laborious, and once slipped off with the tool, your entire result may be a fall for the yellow bag. Smoothing is particularly efficient only with acetone steam. It is a pity, however, that this process is not well suited for PLA filaments.

If you still want to know how Smoothing works, I have another video for you here. Make magazine:

As you can see, choosing the right filament is very important for your project. Which material is better for 3D printing in general cannot be said in general. But you can take advantage of the properties of different plastics. This means that both PLA and ABS filaments have preferred areas of application.

Still looking for the right filament? We recommend the following products. We have had first-class experience with both plastics.

PLA filament 1,75mm GIANTARM black
ABS filament 1,75mm GIANTARM black

I hope this overview has helped you with your decision. Which filaments have you used in 3D printing so far? How do you get rid of the grooves on your 3D prints? Write us your experiences in the comments!

That might interest you, too:

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