3D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. As 3D printing technologies are maturing, the focus will turn towards pre-and-post-production processes. When we need to print some specific objections, we have to consider the features of 3d printing materials, especially price of the materials and see if they are suitable to print. There is a wide range of materials. This page is an overview of 5 Popular 3D printing materials under $50 that can be used on desktop 3D printers.
5 Popular 3D printing materials under $50:
We find out 5 common 3d printing materials under $50. Here you can learn about strength and weakness of these 5 3D printing materials. Choose one of them, which is most suitable for your requirement.
ABS is an abbreviation of Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, which is widely used in Legos. It has many user-friendly features, such as tough, nontoxic and color durability. Many makers pick it to 3d print because it is easy to shape, difficult to break. It also has some requirement before use, it will melt and become flexible when the temperature is higher than 220°C.
ABS have all the essential properties for 3d printing. Before start 3d printing, you need a powerful heater, which can reach 220°C, in that way ABS will become soft and pliable when heated and shape up quickly. On the market, there are a lot of printers, which is equipped with a heated bed, which ABS can stick to.
Anyone who is familiar with Lego will tell you that ABS is firm, waterproof and chemical-resistant. Because it can be mass produced and is used as toys for children. Need to mention that ABS does not smell well when it heated, and some nasty chemicals will appear with the vapor. It has some requirement for storage condition. It can’t be exposed under the sun, because it will be degraded by UV radiations, as well as loses its color.
- Pros: Tough, nontoxic and water resistant
- Cons: High-temperature requirement; Unpleasant vapor; Not suitable for outdoor use
- Application: Gears and moving or interlocking parts
- Price: $20 to $50 per kilogram
PLA is an abbreviation of Polylactic acid and it' a polymer plastic, which is made from biological materials, like cornstarch. PLA is easy to biodegradable and this property is very similar to the material used in plastic packaging. PLA melts between 180 and 200 degrees C, but this is also depending on material color and texture. In comparison with ABS, PLA is more tough, resilient and opaque, but not so heat-resisting as ABS. PLA begins to be out of shape above 60 degrees C, it is not waterproof or chemical resistant. When you 3d print with PLA, there will be a slight odor, but no toxic.
PLA features make it become the preferred choice for this 3d printing amateur with a low budget. Because it is easier to print and more viscous than ABS. You don’t even have to prepare a heated print bed, it can stick firmly to a print base consist of a blue painter’s tape. PLA is also environmental-friendly, it is biodegradable and can be consumed by a lot of common bacteria. 3d printed objects made by PLA can last for a long time under normal conditions unless it breaks down. PLA is not food safe, so don’t 3d print food holder with PLA. Sometimes it is more brittle, but you can make it less brittle and more heat-tolerant by adding some chemicals into it.
- Pros: Biodegradable and more easy to print
- Cons: Rough texture and not easy to degrade 3d.
- Good for: General 3d printing, especially for low budget
- Cost: $20 to $50 per kg
As a replacement for silk, Nylon can be used for synthetic polymers. Nylon can hold weight objects because it has a high tensile strength. Nylon is also high heat-resistant, it melts above 250 degrees C. Nontoxic feature allows 3d printing amateurs to feel free to use it.
Nylon is relatively new as a 3d printing material, but it has been accepted by more and more people because it can produce more tough 3d printing. Its inexpensive price makes it be widely used in other industries. It can be damaged by a lot of chemicals. Besides, nylon has a high requirement for 3d printing: a high temperature 250 degrees C is required when 3d printing, but most extruders can be damaged above 250 degrees C. It is less sticky to print heated bed as well as ABS or PLA. A heated print bed and white glue to stick are required when 3d printing with Nylon.
- Pros: Solid and cheap price
- Cons: High temperatures are required
- Good for: Make container to hold weight objects.
- Cost: $18 per kg
HDPE is an abbreviation of high-density polyethylene, it is famous for its high-impact polystyrene. Thanks to its biodegradability, it is widely used in recyclable packagings such as plastic bottles and packages. Light and flexible material feature makes it easy to sticks to print heated bed. Easy to dye and mold also make it popular in other industries. It will be out of shape above 230 degrees C. You need to know that it releases bad fumes if it is accidentally heated to a higher temperature.
HDPE can be often used instead of ABS, as HDPE is lighter and tougher than ABS. HDPE has a higher requirement for temperatures to 3D print and can release unpleasant fumes if the temperature is too high. Although it is resistant to most chemicals, you can dissolve it with limonene. Need to pay attention to this point: HDPE will warp as the temperature changes, as it cools, HDPE contracts slightly. In that result, you will get a warped 3d printing. So keep the temperature constant until 3d printing is completed.
- Pros: Easily dissolved in limonene; Lightweight
- Cons: High temperatures are required for printing
- Good for: Lightweight prints
- Cost: $30 per kg
PETT is an abbreviation of Polyethylene terephthalate. It has some requirement to temperature, it will melt above 230 degrees C, but turns into tough solid when it cools down. It is easy to dye while maintaining glass-like quality, so you can use it for color-mixing 3d printing. Its non-toxic feature allows you to use it to make clothes. T-glase is approved for food use by the FDA has approved that T-glase can be applied to food use, so you can use it to make dishes, cups and etc.
T-glase material itself is strong and resilient, it has a special requirement for 3d printing, you have to print slowly to make sure that layers adhere properly. So printing with T-glase is generally much slower than with other materials.
- Pros: Food-safe and glass-like material
- Cons: Slow to print
- Good for: Utensils, containers that touch food.
- Cost: $30 per kg
Ending: Other more expensive 3d printing material
This conductive material is new on the 3d printing market. It can combine PLA with graphene, which allows you to create objections to conduct electricity. Through 3d printing with conductive materials, you can create electric circuits directly without adding wires. It can be used to produce touch buttons or wearable electronics that conduct electricity. Generally, you should print a PLA case around the parts that conduct electricity to protect it and give it more power. Conductive filaments are also not cheap. It costs about $70 for a small 100g reel.
If you're exploring a powerful and effective 3D printer, which has a reasonable price, have a look at the DOBOT Mooz, which allows you to achieve not only 3d printing but also CNC carving and laser engraving.
Learn More about Dobot Mooz