PLA vs ABS – what’s the difference? It can be a daunting question to answer, especially when you need to decide which filament is best suited for your 3D printing project. The good news is that we have all the answers here! In this blog, we’ll explore the strengths and weaknesses of both PLA and ABS filaments so that you can make an informed decision about which one will work best for your project. From fumes to surface finish, discover everything you need to know about PLA vs ABS before making your next 3D printing filament purchase!

What is PLA Filament?

PLA filament (polylactic acid) is a type of thermoplastic polymers that is popularly used for Fused Filament Fabrication, Additive Manufacturing Technology and 3D printing. It is known for its ease-of-use, low price, and excellent print quality. PLA has good adhesion to the build platform, meaning it sticks well to the bed and does not warp or lift off during printing. The material has low shrinkage, meaning it cools down quickly after extrusion and maintains its shape and dimensional accuracy with minimal warping or distortion. PLA also boasts good layer bonding strength due to its relatively low melting point of around 190°C – 210°C, allowing parts to retain their structural integrity even when subjects to high temperatures or stresses during post-processing. With a glossy finish and attractive colors, PLA prints offer great visual appeal as well. As it is non-toxic and made from biodegradable materials like plant starch, PLA is becoming increasingly popular in the 3D printing community due to its eco-friendly nature. The fact that it does not produce any noxious odors when heated makes this material an ideal choice for use in home workshops or classrooms as well. Overall, PLA has become one of the most favorite materials among 3D printer users because of its versatility combined with excellent print quality and affordability.

What is PLA Made Of?

PLA, or Polyactic acid, is a type of plastic that is manufactured using lactic acid as its raw material. Lactic acid is derived from renewable and natural sources such as corn. This means that PLA is composed entirely of renewable and sustainable materials, making it an attractive choice for environment-conscious consumers. When lactic acid has been harvested from the raw materials, it undergoes a manufacturing process to transform it into polylactic acid which can then be used to produce PLA based plastics. Thanks to its eco-friendly nature and the minimal impact of its production on the environment, PLA plastic has become the preferred option for many industries today.

Industrial Applications Of PLA

PLA stands for Polylactic Acid and is a material that has increased in use in industrial applications due to its impressive material properties. Being highly thermally stable, PLA works well with injection molding and boasts excellent mechanical properties even when compared to different materials. Its material strength is highly dependent on the type of material being used so it’s important to consider what material composition you need for an application when deciding on whether or not this material will serve you best. It can be used for a wide range of production processes requiring a material with excellent thermal stability, including 3D printer filament, medical implants and electronics packaging. Overall, PLA is a versatile resource that proves useful in many industrial practices and real world applications.

What is PLA Filament Good For?

PLA (polylactic acid) is the most commonly used 3D printing filament, and it has a wide range of applications. It's popularly used for rapid prototyping and creating end-use products such as toys, kitchenware, tools, figures, furniture components and more. PLA can also be used to create casts for casting resins or plasters due to its low shrinkage characteristics. Furthermore, it can be machined with conventional tools such as drills and saws. Additionally, PLA filament offers high dimensional accuracy which makes it an ideal choice for complex designs that require tight tolerances in terms of size and shape. With its glossy finish and attractive colors available on the market today, PLA prints offer great visual appeal with fine details!

What is ABS Filament?

ABS filament (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is a thermoplastic polymer that is popularly used for Fused Filament Fabrication, Rapid Prototyping and 3D printing. It is known for its excellent impact strength, heat and chemical resistances.

ABS has a higher melting point than PLA, which allows it to be printed at temperatures up to 260°C and withstand extreme temperatures or stresses during post-processing. Additionally, ABS has good layer adhesion, meaning it sticks well to the build platform and does not warp or lift off during printing. This makes it an ideal choice for complex designs that require tight tolerances in terms of size and shape as well. ABS also boasts good mechanical properties such as tensile strength, stiffness, and heat deflection temperature which make it ideal for engineering projects or prototyping applications where the parts have to be subjected to high stresses or loads. Furthermore, ABS prints have great surface finish with smooth edges due to its low shrinkage characteristics as compared to other filaments such as PLA. ABS prints can also be machined with conventional tools such as drills and saws which makes them suitable for various applications such as electronic enclosures and spare parts.

What is ABS Made Of?

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) is a high-impact thermoplastic material that has been a popular choice amongst manufacturing industries for over half a century. At its foundation, ABS is composed of three main components: acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene. To create ABS material, the three components are combined under high temperatures to form a mixture which produces much stronger and heat resistant material than what each component could do on its own. Clinical research has proven how well these components create high quality ABS plastic that stands up against many harsh elements while also providing pliability characteristics not often seen in other materials used in modern manufacturing. Thanks to the unique composition of this high quality synthetic polymer being able to withstand high temperatures and maintain its shape - without sacrificing performance - makes it an excellent choice for use in making various products across multiple industries.

Industrial Applications Of ABS

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) is the raw material of choice for a vast range of industries due to its strong chemical and mechanical properties. ABS is mainly used in the injection molding process which allows it to take on almost any shape or texture desired by industrial manufacturers. Due to its tremendous holding strength, ABS is commonly used in automotive industry for interior fixtures like trim and headlight housings, as well as in toys such as lego bricks! These products can retain their consistency over time, making them ideal for these specific applications. Considering that these raw materials often serve through temperature fluctuations and exposure to chemicals, ABS has superior heat resistance and excellent clarity when compared with other materials -- making it an obvious choice in engineering sectors.


Due its wide range of benefits combined with affordability, ABS has become extremely popular in the 3D printing community. Its cool properties make it perfect for creating parts with precision while its high impact resistance make it an ideal choice for producing complex parts that need to withstand heavy loads without breaking down over time. In addition, ABS is available in a variety of colors making it aesthetically pleasing as well!


3D Printing: PLA VS ABS

While both PLA and ABS offer unique advantages in their own right, they may not always be needed in all 3D printing projects. For instance, if the project requires very high temperature resistance then ABS should be used over PLA while PLA should be used when detailed work is needed or when aesthetic appeal is desired. Choosing the right type of filament for your 3D printing project can be a daunting task, especially if you don't know what to look for. That's why we've created this guide to help make choosing between PLA and ABS easier. We'll compare both types of filaments in terms of their properties such as Printability, Strength, Heat Resistance, and more so that you can decide which one is best suited for your project. So let's get started!

Easy Printability: PLA VS ABS

When it comes to 3D printing or Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), PLA and ABS are two of the most popular filaments used. Both have their own unique properties which make them suitable for different projects. However, one key factor to consider is printability—which one is easier to work with? PLA is known for its great printability and is the preferred material for most 3D printers and hobbyist. It offers excellent dimensional accuracy with tight tolerances. This makes it ideal for complex designs that require a lot of intricate details. Additionally, PLA has minimal shrinkage characteristics which makes it easier to work with when compared to ABS. ABS on the other hand, is much more challenging to work with due to its higher shrinkage rate and flexibility. However, its excellent impact strength, chemical resistance and heat resistance make up for its difficult printability. So if you need a filament that is easy to handle and printable with precision, then PLA should be your go-to material!

strength: PLA VS ABS

When comparing PLA vs ABS in terms of strength, PLA has a higher tensile strength than ABS making it more resistant to breaking under stress. Additionally, PLA prints hold up better against wear and tear over time compared to those printed with ABS. On the other hand, due its flexibility and low shrinkage rate when heated, ABS is capable of producing parts that can withstand greater impacts without cracking or breaking apart easily; however this also makes it more difficult to print successfully due its warping tendencies when cooled down quickly after printing. Ultimately, both materials offer excellent strength depending on what kind of project you’re working on but if ease-of-use is your main priority then PLA should be your go-to material!

Heat Resistance: PLA VS ABS

When it comes to heat resistance, PLA and ABS have different strengths. PLA prints hold up better against higher temperatures due to their low shrinkage rate when heated; however they are not as resistant to extreme temperature changes as compared to ABS filaments which can withstand greater impacts without cracking or breaking apart easily. Unlike PLA, ABS offers strong chemical resistance which makes it great for projects that will be exposed to harsh chemicals or solvents. Ultimately, if your project requires a filament that can withstand extreme temperatures then ABS should be your material of choice while PLA should be used when temperature resistance is not a priority.


When comparing PLA vs ABS in terms of fumes, PLA prints emit a much less potent odor when compared to ABS filaments. This makes it ideal for projects that require you to be in close proximity with the 3D printer while it’s printing. On the other hand, ABS filaments emit a stronger odor which can be irritating to those in the vicinity of the printer. If your project requires you to be close to the 3D printer for an extended period of time then PLA should be your filament of choice.

Are ABS Fumes Toxic?

ABS filaments give off fumes due to the heating of the plastic that occurs during the 3D printing process. The fumes are a byproduct of the heating process and consist of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs can have adverse effects on a person's health, and prolonged exposure can result in headaches, dizziness, nausea, and respiratory issues. While ABS fumes are not considered to be 100% toxic, it is recommended to have good ventilation when using ABS filaments as well as wearing a protective face mask when 3D printing to avoid prolonged exposure to its fumes.

Surface Finish: PLA VS ABS

PLA filaments produce smoother surface finishes with a slightly glossy appearance, while ABS filaments create prints with a rougher texture. The glossier finish of PLA makes it a better choice for projects that require intricate details such as small characters or objects as they will be easier to see and pick out due to their shine. On the other hand, ABS’s rougher texture can make it difficult to achieve desired aesthetic results with complex designs; however, this is not always an issue depending on the project. However, ABS filament can be vapor smoothed to create a unique look that PLA cannot. The vapor smoothing process consists of exposing the 3D printed object to a solvent such as acetone or methyl ethyl ketone, which breaks down the plastic and gives it a glossy finish. This method is especially useful for objects with intricate details as it helps bring out their features more clearly than PLA prints would. Ultimately, if you are looking for smooth surface finishes straight off the printer, then PLA should be your material of choice while ABS is better suited for projects that require more rugged textures and increased strength or if you don't mind post processing it.

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3D printing can be an incredibly rewarding activity, requiring precision and knowledge to get the material to do what you want it to do. When it comes to material properties that make 3D printing successful, PLA and ABS require similar attention when selecting material settings; however their key properties may differ in subtle ways requiring much trial and error until you get the best material for your projects. In the coming sections we’ll discuss some basic settings for both ABS and PLA as well as their respective material properties so you can print right away with confidently knowing that when it matters most, your printer won’t let you down.

Printing with PLA

3D printing with PLA (polylactic acid) can be easy, but to get it right takes skill, patience, and some knowledge on recommended temperatures, flow rate, print bed, and environment. This is especially true if you’re printing high-detail projects. Generally speaking to find success when 3D printing with PLA, heated bed temperatures should stay between 50C-60C and extruder temperatures between 180C-230C depending on the PLA filament being used. Additionally, you need a steady flow rate and speed of PLA going through the extruder with minimal variance in both. Make sure the flow rate of your filament is the same as other materials which should be set at around 98%. As for your printing environment there should be little to no Draft in the area; PLA is very sensitive to heat variations so make sure it is kept at a consistent temperature within your printer housing. It is also susceptible to moisture in the air if left out and not stored correctly, resulting in a brittle PLA roll and prints. If all these factors remain consistent throughout your prints with PLA, chances are you'll have consistently successful projects!

Printing with ABS

ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) thermoplastic filament is well-known for being heat resistant and quite a challenge to print with. However, fear not - the basics of printing ABS parts are relatively simple once you understand what settings work best. To start, make sure your fan speed is off for the first 5 to 10 layers, then increase fan speed to around 50mm or so to help level out any warping and cooling issues associated with 3d printing ABS. Temperature-wise, it's important to keep temperatures at or above 210 deg C when printing in order to ensure proper adhesion and strength in your finished pieces. For bed temps, most thermistors will only get as low as 60 deg C so be sure to have an insulation pad handy. The flow rate for ABS should also stay consistent with a higher number adjusted according to the size of the filament - 0.2 mm or less should keep everything running smoothly! Don't forget that ABS naturally produces toxic fumes which is why proper housing for your 3D printer is needed in order for you not only print ABS with success but also prevent bad odors from affecting your environment. So don't be intimidated by the challenge of ABS thermoplastics - remember this advice, and you'll soon be an expert ABS printer in no time!


Printing with PLA and ABS, two of the most popular materials used in 3D printing, may be a breeze, as long as all the settings are in order and you have a solid understanding of how your environment could affect parts printed. Unfortunately, even when all conditions are met, there is still potential for issues such as warping or stringing when rapid prototyping with these plastic filaments. In the sections below, we'll dive into the most common issues associated with 3D printing using PLA and ABS so you can even further optimize your current process.

Potential Issues with PLA

When 3D printing with PLA (polylactic acid), two of the most common issues to arise are stringing and poor bed adhesion. To fix these problems, nozzle temperature is the most important factor to consider. Try lowering your nozzle temperature in 10º increments until you find the ideal setting from which these two issues should be resolved. If lowering those temperatures does not appear to be an effective solution, you could also try lowering your printing temperatures in 5-10º increments for both or either the heated bed and nozzle and still achieve success in fixing stringing and poor bed adhesion. With some experimentation, you’ll find that different settings may have various successful effects. You can even enjoy a bit of fun experimenting with nozzle temperatures – trial and error never felt so satisfying!

Potential Issues with ABS

One potential issue when 3D printing with ABS is heavy warping. This is because the plastic shrinks when it cools, which causes parts of the print to warp out of shape. To prevent this, one should ensure that they use support materials such as a brim or raft when 3D printing. A brim ensures that the initial layer adheres properly to the print bed and prevents curling, while a raft can support an object on all sides and stop warping from occurring in any corners or areas of high stress. Another common issue when printing with ABS is its smell. To help combat those smells, set up an enclosure over your 3D printer to trap fumes from being released out into the open. Adding some activated carbon filter will also help to absorb any chemicals that may be affecting your day. With these simple steps, you'll be on your way to successful 3D prints with no hassle!

PLA vs ABS: How do I decide?

When deciding between PLA and ABS filaments for your 3D printing project, it is important to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each material. PLA offers a smoother finish with less odor while ABS provides greater heat resistance and chemical strength. If you need more intricate designs or glossy textures then PLA should be your go-to filament; however if temperature resistance is key then ABS will give you better results. Ultimately, understanding what kind of projects you’re working on as well as their requirements can help guide you when selecting the right type of filament for your needs! Regardless of which filament you choose, make sure to stay safe and practice good ventilation when 3D printing! Happy Printing!