Inland 3D Printer Filament Frequently Asked Questions

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edited September 2021 in 3D Printers

What are PLA and PLA+ filament and the differences between them?

A: PLA filament (Polylactic Acid) is a thermoplastic derived from renewable resources such as corn starch or sugar cane. It is used in 3D printing and is typically used for food containers, biodegradable medical implants, models, and prototype parts. PLA filament is very easy to work with, making it perfect for beginners in 3D printing. In addition, it can be less prone to warping than other filaments.  

PLA and PLA+ are very similar filaments, with the main difference being a toughening agent added to the PLA+ filament.  This adds increased durability and rigidness but reduces tensile strength. It also increases the melting point of the filament.  While PLA does attract moisture in the air, which can cause it to get brittle, PLA+ has added rigidity to reduce this effect on the filament.  Keep in mind that there is no industry standard to PLA+ and what can be added to it, so properties of this filament can vary.

Shop for PLA and PLA+ filament here

What are PETG and PETG+ filament and the differences between them?

PETG is a filament that uses PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) and adds glycol (G) to it so that it can be used with a 3D Printer.  The 3D Printing community generally considers PETG a bit more difficult to print with than PLA. However, it is seen as more rigid and durable than standard PLA.  It is also oil-based, so it does not biodegrade but still remains recyclable.  PETG prints are also water- and chemical-resistant and require an enclosed printing space.  The filament itself is prone to absorb moisture and can cause issues if it absorbs too much during printing.   

PETG+ is more forgiving and easier to print with than PETG.  It also holds a longer shelf life as it is hygroscopic and is less susceptible to higher cooling fan speeds.

Shop for PETG and PETG+ filament here

Q: What is ABS filament?  

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is a strong filament that can be a bit harder to work with and print with.  It’s great for printers that are not enclosed, and the print needs to be durable.  However, we'd recommend printing in a well-ventilated area, as you may find the smell of this filament unpleasant when printing. Once the material has hardened there should not be a noticeable smell.

Shop for ABS filament here

Q: What temperatures do I need to set my printer at?

A: While the exact temperature will vary based on your printer, the exact filament you are using, and your preferences, you can find the recommended temperature range on the product page of your filament on our website.  You can also find more information on the filaments we carry here.

Q: What sizes of filament do I need?

A: The size of filament that you need will vary based on your printer. Currently, there are 1.75mm and 2.85mm filaments available. Usually, printers will only support one of these sizes, so ensure you are using the correct size.

Q: Why is there 3.0mm filament listed online?

A: 3.0mm filament is another name for 2.85mm filament. It was originally used as a shorthand for 2.85mm. However, this confused some manufacturers as they started making actually 3.0mm filament (rather than 2.85mm filament), so be sure to check the size in the specifications for the filament. This will normally be denoted as "true diameter" and should be listed at 2.85mm rather than 3.0mm. 1.75mm filament, however, does not have this issue, and you can purchase it without concern.

Q: What print speed should I use when printing with PLA?

A: The exact speed will vary based on your printer and your personal preference. However, typically 30mm/s - 40mm/s is the recommended print speed.

Q: What retraction settings should I use?

A: Retraction settings (speed and length) will vary greatly based upon your printer, what type of extruder you are using, and what filament you are using. To fine-tune this based on your printer, you can follow this guide.

More from the Micro Center Community:

Looking for more information about 3D Printing? We’ve got a 3D Printing Community, a whole section of 3D Printing How-Tos, as well as articles on How to Choose a 3D Printer, and an in-depth look at the differences between 3D Printer filaments. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to post a new discussion and the Community will be happy to help!

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