ABS and PLA plastic filaments are the most common 3D printing materials. Being easily accessible and affordable brings the popularity to these filaments. They usually come in two different thicknesses 1,75 or 2,85/3,00 mm and the wide range of colour options makes them very suitable for low-cost prototyping.

ABS 3D printing filaments are considered to be the most popular and relatively cheap among 3D printing users. It has several advantages, such as being very durable and easily extruded. It is a strong material. Contrary to PLA, the objects printed with ABS can be smoothed out with acetone vapour. This process eliminates the layers surface appearance.

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 ABS filaments are highly resistant to heat. However, this can be the disadvantage of the material since it requires higher temperature than PLA to be extruded.  Printers that can process ABS require heated bed and extrude at a temperature around 240-260°C. Some studies show that during the printing process ABS fumes can be harmful to breathe; therefore it would be better to have a good ventilation system in your place.

PLA is a biodegradable thermoplastic that is derived from renewable resources. As a result, PLA materials are more environmentally friendly among others plastic materials. PLA is usually recommended for beginner users since it has easier printing process with less wrapping compare to ABS. Breaking resistance of PLA is also high enough which makes it suitable to print prototypes. Other advantage of PLA is its biocompatibility with a human body. This allows using it in medical industry. PLA melts at 180 – 220°C, therefore the heat bed is not necessary for printing.

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PLA is not recommended if the printed object will be used at outdoor or at a hot enviroment. The biodegradable structure can be damaged in long term in contact with open air. And the lower melting point will not allow the plastic object to resist to higher temperatures.

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ABS or PLA, which printing material to choose?