PLA vs ABS vs PET filament

As I am getting my first printer, I am also considering the filament material I’ll be using. Can someone tell me the pros and cons of ABS, PLA and PET filament?

I have some PET+ that I haven’t had a chance to really explore yet but as for PLA and ABS:

ABS has a higher melting temperature than PLA, and will stay firm at temperatures PLA will be super soft at. It also has a bit more flex than PLA. It shrinks a lot more than PLA does when it cools though which means even with a heated bed large prints are prone to cracking and corners are prone to lifting.

PLA doesn’t shrink much when it cools and it’s pretty much superior to ABS for printing in almost every way. You don’t need a heated bed to print PLA though it’s still a nice to have. I would definitely start with PLA.

PET+, Nylon, wood filament, ninjaflex, and all the other exotics are a lot newer to the market and tend to be a bit more pricey. Some amazing things are being done with these materials and they are definitely worth experimenting with. That said, most printers are designed to and tuned for printing PLA out of the box and I would start with at least a couple spools of that before jumping into the exotics.


PLA is great to work with, but it doesn’t handle heat very well. If you print something and leave it in a car during the summer, you’ll come back to a totally deformed part. It’s also pretty brittle - and gets more brittle over time - so if you have a part under stress, you need to be prepared to replace it at any time. Only an issue if it’s eg your extruder body.

The only other thing I’d add to what Dan said is that nylon is amazing! Taulman bridge is absolutely worth a try if you need to create parts that will offer some flex alongside serious durability.

Thanks for the response, Dan and George.
i thikn i’ll play with PLA for my first dozen prints before going into other stuff.

wood is something i would love to get into