If you are now approaching the world of 3D printing and you can not find some key points from which to start here I will try to offer you some: ABS vs PLA. Those and very important, and its a mini guide on how to handle and what to expect from the 2 most common filaments. Surely if you have already read our article on the possibilities of materials available today, you have heard all kinds of strange names such as PVA, PLA, HIPS, CPE, ABS … and you probably thought “what a mess”! But don’t worry, we’ll try to make the first steps as less traumatic as possible.
So as already mentioned we will introduce PLA vs ABS, the two plastic materials most commonly used in 3D printing.
The PLA (scientific name Polylactic Acid) is a biodegradable plastic, so it is composed of organic material from renewable sources, it is certainly the most environmentally friendly and healthy solution of 3D printing. It is easy to print, does not stink, and you can print in high resolution.
It can be used for a wide range of cases, from conceptual models and prototypes, to education and gaming. Keep in mind that the PLA does not withstand high temperatures, and becomes soft at about 65 ° C and is not suitable for prints that will stay outside for a long time because it degrades.
ABS is the plastic par excellence, think of a plastic object…made? IT’S ABS.
It is a very versatile material, resistant and very hard, slightly flexible and can withstand temperatures up to about 85 ° C without suffering deformation. The interesting part of this material is that it can be sanded to smooth the print or even be painted. It is perfect for visual and functional prototypes.
For both materials you can understand that the extrusion temperature is excessive since you notice that the print forms strings between the separate parts and that the extruder loses material. If, on the other hand, it is observed that the layers do not adhere well to each other, this means that the temperature may be too low.
Now a summary diagram to highlight the differences between the materials:
|Origin||Derived from cornstarch||Petroleum-derived|
|Decomposition||Biodegradable in environment for hydrolysis, with speed depending on temperature and humidity||Not biodegradable and therefore not environmentally friendly. In nature, plastics degrade in about 25,000 years. However, the sun’s rays ruin it by “whitening” it.|
|Toxicity||As a fully organic compound it does not emit toxic fumes during extrusion, but may be. some components, such as pigments. In some cases it is suitable for food contact.||This material emits toxic fumes during extrusion. Contact with food is strongly discouraged, especially at temperatures above 50°C, as it emits dangerous endocrine disruptors called phthalates.|
|Smell||Typical smell not unpleasant||Typical smell of burnt plastic not really pleasant|
|Bending temperature under load||Low (circa 60°)||High (105°)|
|Flexibility||Hard material||Slightly flexible material|
|Postproduction||The PLA can be painted with all kinds of colors, drill sandpaper. However, care must be taken not to raise the temperature (e.g. by rubbing) as it deteriorates very easily.||You can paint, drill, sand at will.|
|Adhesion||Yes, easily with cyanoacrylate glues (Attack)||Yes, with almost all types of glue|
|Nozzle clogging risk||Medium to high||Low|
|Working temperature||Nozzle: 190°-210° Plate: 0°||Nozzle: 235°-255° Plate: 100°|
|Main issues||Nozzle clogging||Warping, delaminazione|
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