3D printing materials: the differences between PLA and ABS
There are many 3D printing materials that you can choose from but actually the main ones you’ll find in most desktop 3D printers are ABS and PLA – most 3D printers print in one of them or give you both options. But do you know which are the diferences between these two main 3D printing materials? To help you choose wisely, we’ll show you everything.
First, we’ll go with the similarities: both ABS and PLA are known as thermoplastics – this means that they get softer when heated and return to a solid when cooled. And the best part is that this process can be repeated again and again.
So, what makes these two 3D printing materials diferent?
- ABS is petroleum based and PLA is plant based.
- ABS is more common than PLA although PLA is getting more popular everyday.
- PLA has less smell than ABS.
- PLA is more environmental-friendly than ABS.
- Both are hard and tough but ABS tends to be more flexible.
- ABS resists better to higher temperatures, that’s why it is often a preferred material by engineers, and professional applications. PLA can deform because of heat and that’s why some objects are preferred to be printed in ABS.
- PLA offers a wider range of colors and translucencies than ABS. Also, it has a glossy look and that’s one of the reasons why PLA is the chosen one among other 3D printing materials, specially for home 3D printing.
- The finishings with PLA are usually better, compared to other 3D printing materials. When properly cooled, it has a higher maximum printing speeds, lower layer heights, and sharper printed corners.
- ABS requires the use of an additional heated print bed. This means that most desktop 3D printers on the market won’t be able to print in ABS. Our CraftBot has a heated print bed so we won’t limit your experiences with 3D printing materials.
- ABS has a longer lifespan than PLA.
Both ABS and PLA are good 3D printing materials for your projects, it all depends onthe type of object you want to print. Good prints!