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Common Materials Used in FDM 3D Printing

by Nice Rapid | May 12,2022 | FDM 3D Printing

In FDM 3D Printing, choosing the right type of materials for a given project to print is critical. However, making the choice is becoming increasingly difficult since there are plenty of new materials coming out.

During its early days, there were only two main polymers used in FDM 3D printing: ABS and PLA. Since there are no major drawbacks to using these two, it has opened the door for other polymers to shape the future of FDM 3D printing.

In this article, we will take a look at the most common materials used in FDM 3D printing and their properties.

FDM 3D printing parts

Common Materials in FDM 3D Printing


The abbreviation PLA stands for Polylactic Acid, and this is one of the first filaments used in FDM 3D printing. This material is a bioactive and biodegradable polyester that has natural ingredients like cornstarch. It works best on prototypes and parts that do not have to endure stress.


ABS stands for Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, an amorphous polymer used in FDM 3D printing. It is made from an emulsion of three components and is widely used in creating parts that need extra strength.


Polyethylene terephthalate is what PET stands for, and it is a thermoplastic polymer resin belonging to the polyester family. It is a combination of two monomers and is used for common everyday items like clothes and bottles. The only drawback of this material is its bad reputation of polluting the environment.


The only difference in PETG is the letter G, which means Glycol. It is added to the material to improve its strength and durability. In FDM 3D printing, the finished product looks smooth and nice. They are food-safe and can be sterilized too.


TPU means thermoplastic polyurethane, which is a rubber-like material used to create semi-flexible parts. This material is a combination of polyurethane plastic and a copolymer, giving the material the hard and soft segments.


PC stands for polycarbonate, a thermoplastic polymer that contains the carbonate groups in its structure. These unique components make the material stronger and a perfect alternative to the usual ABS. Polycarbonate is used in medical applications, construction, aircraft, and manufacturing glasses, bottles, and electronics.


Many of you may be familiar with nylon as a material with strong mechanical properties. In FDM 3D printing, the material is ideal for making prototypes due to its mechanical properties. The nylon filaments are made from different kinds of polyamides that have unique properties and affect their toughness.


ASA is short for Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate. This material is a perfect alternative for ABS if the parts to be produced will be used outdoors. Thanks to its ability to withstand UV light and temperatures of up to 208 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, ASA material possesses stronger parts that are more resistant to stress cracking like ABS.


The last material on our list is Ultem. This is a resin that belongs to the Polyetherimide family that is used in FDM 3D printing. There are many types of Ultem resins, and they have a slight difference. However, all of them have heat-resistance properties, and they deliver high-quality parts.

Now that you are familiar with the different materials used in FDM 3D printing, your next task is to identify the kind that would be appropriate for your project. Stay tuned!

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