3D Printing Filaments:PLA v.s ABS

ABS(Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) and PLA(Polylactic Acid) , the most popular 3D printer filaments(Nylon is a common alternative but we are going to focus solely on ABS and PLA here), are both thermoplastics. They, however, differ in various ways that will make your print either a success or a total failure depending on your choice.

In this article we are going to take a closer look at both materials, comparing them in terms of their merits and drawbacks, so that you can make better-informed choices and better quality prints.



Pros: great availability;cheap;sleek finishing with acetone.

Cons: difficult to work with ;smelly.

Optimal Temp: 235-240°Celsius.


Editor’s comment: Prints made of ABS is resistant to high temperatures and of great durability; but the filament’s high printing temperature and tendency to warp mean it is hard to print with. And you may want to find a well ventilated place whilst printing with the consumable due to the pungent smell it gives off while being heated.



Pros:renewable;environmentally-friendly;less likely to warp;well affordable;odorless.

Cons: less durable and flexible;not soluble in esters or ketones

Optimal Temp.: 200°Celsius

Specifications: diameter: 1.75mm/2.85mm


Editor’s comment: made from sugar cane and corn starch, PLA is easily the most environmentally friendly and affordable material available on the market. Objects created from PLA is of great strength, medium durability and low flexibility. Same as ABS, it is not soluble in esters or ketones. However, unlike ABS,it renders a heated bed redundant(note: having a heated bed still helps). A case in point would be the Geeetech E180,which is specifically designed for educational settings and comes without a heated bed since it uses PLA. Textured paper is used on the build platform to improve adhesion.  

Conclusion: ABS and PLA are of about the same cost. If you are just getting started in 3D printing, PLA is probablly the material to start with. ABS is the one to go for if you are aiming to create more durable objects on your 3D printer.

Wanna share your printing expertise and creative prints with other DIY professionals, hobbyists ? Join our forum today : http://www.geeetech.com/forum/

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