A 3D printer uses filament to print plastic models. There are various types of printer filaments, the two most popular being ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) and PLA (Polylactic Acid). Generally Speaking, ABS requires more heat to melt and is a slightly more durable filament, and dissolves in acetone. PLA melts at a lower temperature than ABS, and is slightly more supple and dissolves in chloroform.
At Printable Scenery, we use PLA. We use the cheapest we can get our hands on.
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) Filament:
ABS is a commonly used 3D printer filament, best put to use in producing durable parts which can withstand higher temperatures. Since this filament will dissolve when acetone is applied, the chemical can be used in small quantities to smooth edges and create a ‘glossy’ finish. Generally this is done using acetone vapor, which you can read more about here. Learn more about printing with ABS here.
PLA (Polylactic Acid) Filament:
For many 3D printers, PLA is recommended. PLA has a broad range of uses, it is less likely to warp and does not require additional heat to print. As a downside compared to ABS, PLA is generally more ‘brittle’ however this only becomes a real issue in producing heavy-duty pieces. Using PLA with Printable Scenery products would present no issue. Similarly to ABS, chloroform dissolves PLA. So applying chloroform vapor can produce a smooth, ‘glossy’ effect. Learn more about printing with PLA here.
Both ABS and PLA filaments are available in 1.75mm and 3mm diameter, and a range of colours. We find that the best filament colour for printing the majority of our models is black, as this makes it fairly simple to prime for painting. You should consult the specifications of your 3D printer to determine which diameter size you need, as some printers may be incompatible with some sizes.
If you would like to learn more about the different types of 3D printer filament, including others not discussed in this article, click here.