ENTRY LEVEL FILAMENTS

Entry level filaments are filaments that are on the whole easier to print, maintain and store. They tend to require lower melting points, requiring lower temperature extruders and sometimes can even print without a heated pad. The result is that they are more accessible, and because of their popularity have a much wider availability in different colors and blends.


PLA

PLA (Polylactic Acid) is likely THE most commonly used desktop 3D printing filament material.   PLA is found commonly in everyday items like shopping bags and candy wrappers.

It is widely considered the “default” material for many desktop 3D printers, and with good reason – PLA is useful in a broad range of printing applications, has the virtue of being both odorless and low-warp, and does not require a heated bed.   PLA filament is considered eco-friendly 3D printer material because it is made from renewable resources like corn-starch and is reclaimable.

  • PLA is a great filament for beginners due to it’s ease of print and low melting point
  • PLA is strong, but brittle
  • PLA has a low glass transition temperature (60 degrees) meaning that it will get soft and deform when heated.
  • PLA has been shown to release Ultra Fine Particles when heated, so an enclosed printer with proper filtration or using in a well ventilated area is strongly recommended

POSSIBLE USES: Prototyping, low-wear toys, modeling, containers

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • 180° – 210° Celsius extruder temperature
  • 20° – 50° Celsius build platform temperature
  • Minimal warping or shrinkage

POST PROCESSING NOTES: PLA is not the easiest material to post process. It is strong to be sanded smooth and can be painted. In addition, there are now products available that will help smooth out layers

PLA BRANDS: Supplier specific name brands, Colorfabb, Ingeo, Econofill, Polymaker, many, many, more,

PRICING: PLA filament can start as low as CDN$16.95/kg.


ABS

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is one of the most widely used thermoplastics in the world, used in such products as Lego and piping.  It is also a common 3D printer material.

ABS is great for making strong and durable parts that need to withstand higher temperatures or stress. In comparison to PLA filament, ABS plastic is less brittle and a little more pliable – which essentially means that under stress the component will ‘give’ a little rather than crack.

  • ABS is a filament better suited for more experienced users
  • ABS is a strong material with good wear and heat resistance
  • ABS has a high rate of thermolinear expansion and is prone to warping
  • ABS is known to release VOCs when heated, so printing with an enclosed printer or in a well ventilated area is strongly recommended.

Possible Uses: Phone cases, high-wear toys, tool handles, automotive trim components, and electrical enclosures.

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • 210° – 250° Celsius extruder temperature
  • 80° – 100° Celsius build platform temperature
  • Proper ventilation strongly recommended
  • Prone to warping or shrinkage

POST PROCESSING NOTES
ABS is made soluble by acetone. Acetone can be used to fuse ABS components together, but additionally the layers making up an ABS component can be smoothed using a process known as acetone vaping.

PLA BRANDS: Supplier specific name brands, Colorfabb, Ingeo, Econofill, Polymaker, many, many, more,

PRICING: ABS filament can start as low as CDN$16.95/kg.


COPOLYESTERS

  • PETG – Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol (modified)
  • PETT – Polyethylene coTrimethylene Terephthalate

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the most commonly used plastic in the world. Best known as the polymer used in water bottles, it is also found in clothing fibres and food containers. While “raw” PET is rarely used in 3D printing, its variant PETG is a popular 3D printer filament.

The ‘G’ in PETG stands for “glycol-modified”, and the result is a filament which is clearer, less brittle, and most importantly, easier to use than its base form. For this reason, PETG is often considered a good middle ground between ABS and PLA, the two most commonly used types of 3D printer filament, as it is more flexible and durable than PLA and easier to print than ABS. PETT in another copolymer, popular because it is slightly more rigid than PETG and more transparent.

  • Copolymers are hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air and must be kept dry.
  • Copolymers have good wear resistance and are more flexible.

POSSIBLE USES: PETG is a good all-rounder but stands out from many other types of 3D printer filament due to its flexibility, strength, and temperature and impact resistance. This makes it an ideal 3D printer filament to use for objects which might experience sustained or sudden stress, like mechanical parts, printer parts, and protective components.

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • 220° – 250° Celsius extruder temperature
  • 50° – 75° Celsius build platform temperature
  • Sticky, should not be used as its own support structure
  • Minimal warping and shrinkage

POST PROCESSING NOTES
PET prints are not the easiest to post process. PET components can be sanded and coated to the users specifications, and it can also be smoothed – though not as efficiently as ABS – using the vaping method mentioned in ABS but instead of using acetone, using ethyl acetate.

PLA BRANDS: Supplier specific name brands, Sunlu, Duramic, Colorfabb, Polymaker, many, many, more,

PRICING: PETG filament can start as low as CDN$19.95/kg.


PVB – Polyvinyl Butyral

Polyvinyl butyral is a plastic that is widely used in laminated safety glass for automobile windshields. It is tough, flexible and offers optical clarity.

In the 3D printing world, PBV filaments offer the user a unique ability to smooth and polish to a beautiful glossy finish using alcohols such as IPA (isopropyl alcohol) or ethanol. Application of IPA can be by way of spray bottle or soft cloth, or the use of a more sophisticated delivery method like the “Polysher” by Polymaker, which delivers a fine mist in even proportions.

PVB  has impressive mechanical properties such strength, toughness and flexibility. Compared to PLA, PVB is significantly stronger and more heat resistant; PVB has a softening temperature of 70C, very low odor and prints as easily as PLA

PRINT SETTINGS AND CONSIDERATIONS

  • 180° – 210° Celsius extruder temperature
  • 20° – 50° Celsius build platform temperature
  • Similar to PLA when being printed

POST PROCESSING NOTES: As mentioned above, application of IPA can be by way of spray bottle or soft cloth, or the use of a more sophisticated delivery method like the “Polysher” by Polymaker, which delivers a fine mist in even proportions.

PVB BRANDS: Polysmooth, M3D

PRICING: PVB filament is less available than other filaments and generally starts at around CDN$49.95


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