PLA vs ABS 3D Printer Filament

What is the best filament? Depends on your preferences...check out the best filament features below

Comparison Category

PLA

ABS

Tensile Yield Strength

60 MPa

45 MPa

Printing Smell

Pleasant

Nasty

Warping

Low

High

Heated Bed Required

No

Yes

Environmentally Friendly

Yes

No

Non-Toxic

Yes

No

Glossy Finish

Better

Good

Shock Absorbance

Good

Better

High Temperature Uses

Not intended for conditions above 55°C

Not intended for conditions above 95°C

Bonding

 Not as easy bonding

Easy bonding

Winner PLA

 

Tensile Strength

Due to the material properties, PLA is stronger than ABS. Our PLA has a tensile yield strength of 60 MPa. On the other hand, typical ABS has a tensile yield strength of 35-45 MPa.

 

Printing Smell

Everyone is going to like PLA’s hint of Saturday morning pancakes smell over ABS’s hot plastic smell. In fact, it is recommended that you have a well ventilated room if you are printing with ABS.

 

Warping

ABS has the tendency to cool fast and contract. This is a problem when you have hot plastic being printed out at one end and the printed part is cooling at a rapid rate at the other. This causes parts to warp (especially at the base) for ABS. In order to minimize the effect, it is recommended that a heat bed is used so that the part cools more consistently to prevent warping. PLA, on the other hand, cools slower and does not contract as much as ABS. This results in less warping and eliminates the need for a heating bed, although using one can be recommended.

 

Heat Bed Required

Our simple answer to this is that ABS requires a heat bed and PLA does not. Check out the PLA Beginners Information if you want to find tips for best printing practices.

 

Environmentally Friendly

PLA is a biodegradable material made up of plant based sugars. This means if left to fend for itself and battle the elements of the environment (such as in a landfill) then it will slowly and properly degrade over time. However, if left in loving conditions (such as in the house), your PLA printed parts will almost last forever. ABS is petrochemical-based and is not necessarily good for the environment if thrown into a landfill, so should be recycled once no longer needed. PLA even requires less energy to process when compared to ABS. At the end of the day, PLA is a much more environmentally friendly choice.

Non-Toxic

PLA is a non-toxic material as a result of its plant based composition. So it is safe to print items that come into contact with food, such as measuring cups. Make sure to not put them in the dishwasher, however, as they will melt. We also recommend you stay away from eating the material (even though the base material in PLA is plant based the dye used to color different PLA filaments may not be). On the other hand, ABS is not generally recommended to be used when in contact in food due to its oil based composition.

 

Glossy Finish

PLA naturally prints with a glossier finish when compared to ABS. However, since ABS is soluble in acetone, you can apply acetone to a finished print of ABS to provide a glossy finish. It just depends on how many steps you want to take to get to a glossy finish.

 

Shock Absorbance

ABS is less brittle than PLA. This means it is more flexible and impact resistant. Therefore if you are working on a project with interlocking piecing or machining pieces, then ABS is the way to go.

 

High Temperature Uses

If your intended uses for a print involve it being exposed to environmental conditions greater than 55°C (like a hot pan), then avoid using PLA. PLA’s melting temperature is substantially lower than ABS’s melting temperature and will begin to soften around this 55°C point. Instead, when you have a print use in high temperatures, use ABS.

 

Bonding

ABS can be bonded to other materials using adhesives or solvents (acetone or MEK). PLA is more limited in bonding, but PLA bonding solutions are out there, they just tend to be a little more expensive.

 


If you're as convinced as we are about PLA for your 3D printing needs, give ProMolt 3D filament a try. We've got black filament, white filament, and a money-back guarantee because we believe we provide the best quality anywhere.


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4 comments

  • Hi Bug

    You can try bunkers for filament storage. I just heard of the bunkers but never tried them. You can do research on this and let us know if you found bunkers as a good option.

    Out of the above 2 filaments, it depends upon the application. Some applications require ABS where as some require PLA filament.

    • innofil3D
  • This convinced me to try PLA for the first time. The difference in smell alone was worth it. Thanks!

    • Ace Hunter
  • Hi Bug,
    Storage in airtight bags is a great idea! It is best to store your PLA filament in a humidity free air tight container or bag (vacuum sealed is even better) with desiccant to help prevent filament water absorption. When filament absorbs water, you can experience a lot of difficulties while printing so it is best to prevent these difficulties. We actually have an article dedicated directly to this topic, check it out at:

    https://promolt3d.com/blogs/filament-info/82919107-pla-filament-care

    • ProMolt 3D
  • Does PLA filament have any requirements for storage? I’m wondering if I should get some airtight bags

    • Bug