A common question among people starting to 3D print is what filament material to use. Two of the most commonly used filaments in 3D printing are PETG and PLA, each with their own set of strengths, weaknesses, and applications. PETG and PLA are both thermoplastic materials that can be melted and extruded through a 3D printer nozzle, but they differ in their physical properties and idealuses. In this article, we will explore the PETG vs PLA filament, and discuss their respective strengths and weaknesses, as well as their most common applications. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of which filament is best suited for your specific 3D printing needs.
PETG stands for polyethylene terephthalate glycol-modified, which refers to the chemical composition of the material. PETG is a modification of PET, a material commonly used in the production of plastic bottles and food packaging. PETG filament is a type of copolyester, which is a blend of two or more polymers that are chemically combined to create a new material with enhanced properties.
PETG filament is a popular choice for 3D printing because of its combination of strength, flexibility, and clarity. Its toughness and durability make it an ideal material for engineering parts and components that require high impact resistance, such as gears, housings, and brackets. PETG's resistance to moisture and chemicals makes it suitable for outdoor and automotive applications where exposure to harsh weather and chemicals is common. Additionally, PETG can be made in translucent colors, unlike most other materials. This makes it ideal for anything see-through.
One of the key features of PETG filament is its low shrinkage, which means that the printed object is less likely to warp or deform during printing. This makes PETG filament easier to work with than some other strong materials that are prone to warping or shrinking, such as ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene). PETG filament also has a lower printing temperature than some other materials, such as nylon, which can require higher temperatures and more specialized equipment.
While PETG filament has many advantages, it also has some drawbacks. One of the main challenges with PETG filament is that it can be difficult to print with. It can be more prone to stringing or oozing, which can affect the quality of the printed object. Additionally, PETG filament is more expensive than some other materials, such as PLA (Polylactic Acid), which can be a downside for those on a budget.
Overall, PETG filament is a versatile and durable material that offers many benefits for 3D printing. Its strength, flexibility, and clarity make it an ideal choice for a range of applications, from engineering parts to transparent models. While PETG filament can be challenging to work with, it is a great option for those looking for a material that offers superior strength and durability.
Here is a good video teaching how to print with PETG:
PLA (Polylactic Acid) is another popular filament used in 3D printing. It is a biodegradable and bioderived thermoplastic made from renewable resources like corn starch, sugarcane, or tapioca roots, making it an environmentally friendly option. PLA is one of the easiest filaments to work with, and it has a lower melting temperature compared to other filaments, making it easier to print with on most 3D printers.
PLA filament has a glossy finish and is available in a wide range of colors. It is also a popular filament for printing intricate designs and models due to its ability to produce sharp details and smooth finishes. However, it is important to note that PLA is not as strong or durable as some other filaments and can be brittle, making it prone to breaking or cracking under stress. PLA is also not suitable for high-temperature environments, as it can deform or soften at high temperatures.
PLA has found extensive application in the field of prototyping due to its ease of use and low cost. It is also commonly used in educational models and arts and crafts projects because of its environmentally friendly properties. it is a very good choice for printing figurines. The brittle nature of PLA makes it unsuitable for outdoor and automotive applications where durability is essential. However, it is ideal for indoor decorations, toys, and figurines due to its ability to produce high-quality prints with intricate details.
PLA is a versatile and beginner-friendly filament that offers several benefits, including ease of use, low cost, and environmental friendliness. However, it is important to consider its limitations and ensure that it is suitable for the intended application before use.
Here is a good video on how to print well with PLA:
PETG vs. PLA | Conclusion
When comparing PETG vs. PLA filament, there are several factors that need to be taken into account. PETG is known for its strength and durability, making it an excellent choice for engineering parts, outdoor and automotive applications, and food and beverage containers. On the other hand, PLA is easy to print with and is biodegradable and eco-friendly, making it a popular choice for prototyping, educational models, arts and crafts, and indoor decorations. When it comes to strength, PETG is stronger and more durable than PLA. However, PLA is easier to print with, making it more suitable for beginners. In terms of environmental impact, both filaments have their benefits, with PLA being biodegradable and PETG being recyclable. When it comes to cost-effectiveness, PLA is generally less expensive than PETG. Overall, the choice between PETG vs. PLA will depend on the specific application and the user's preferences and needs.
In conclusion, both PETG and PLA have their unique advantages and disadvantages in 3D printing. PETG offers durability, clarity, low shrinkage, chemical and moisture resistance, making it suitable for applications in engineering parts, outdoor and automotive use, food and beverage containers, medical devices, and transparent models. On the other hand, PLA is cost-effective, easy to print, biodegradable, and eco-friendly, making it ideal for prototyping, educational models, arts and crafts, indoor decorations, and toys and figurines. When comparing PETG vs. PLA filament, factors such as strength and durability, ease of printing, environmental impact, applications, and cost-effectiveness should be considered. It is important to evaluate these factors carefully to determine which filament is best suited for a particular project. Ultimately, the choice between PETG and PLA depends on the specific needs and requirements of the project at hand.