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How to choose the right filament for your 3D printer

28th November 2018

So, you've carried out your research, bought the best 3D printer within your budget - and now you're ready to get printing!

The excitement is palpable, but just pause for a moment. There are many options when it comes to printing filament, but they all do near enough the same job, right?

Sadly, no. Choosing the right filament for the job at hand is crucial to producing good results. Just like you wouldn't put cooking oil in your car and expect it to work properly, don't skimp when it comes to filament.

Here, Jack Dempsey, 3D printing guru at Box, gives advice on how to make the right choice.

Size matters

First things first, make sure you buy the right size. The most common 3D printer filament diameters for printers are 1.75mm and 3.00mm, though some do use other sizes.

Open your 3D printer, look at the instructions and see what you need. A simple yet crucial step.

Don't go for the cheapest

3D printing is still relatively new in terms of mainstream consumption. Whenever a new technology emerges, there will always be manufacturers quick off the blocks trying to seize a piece of the market with cheap products.

Some of the less scrupulous manufacturers mix good quality materials with poor quality filler to increase quantities. These added materials might well have different melting temperatures, which is not only going to affect the quality of your print but also runs the risk of damaging the printer itself. 

There's also a risk of the dodgy materials giving off health-damaging fumes. It's not worth it.

Don't take chances. Go for a reputable brand with good reviews. Box has recently relaunched its Steadytech 3D printing filament, which offers both quality and value for money.


Box sells filament in three different materials: ABS PRO, PLA and PETG.

ABS PRO is long-lasting and strong and is therefore one of the most popular materials for functional parts. It's suitable for a wide variety of purposes but it must be used in a well-ventilated room as it does give off fumes. ABS PRO is designed to limit warping of prints and print on a lower bed temperature than standard ABS.

PLA is a biodegradable thermoplastic. As well as being more environmentally friendly, it does not have any adverse effects when put in close contact with the human body. PLA is the easiest material to print with and it is the most popular 3D printing material.

It's good for parts that don't go through too demanding use, but it does go soft at around 50oC.

PETG is now very popular as it's a strong material with a good amount of flex to it, without being flexible. It is similar to the material PET which is used in plastic drinking bottles and give a smooth, water resistant finish.

There are other options like PVA and ASA, and then PLA can be mixed with things like wood, bamboo or even brick. Whatever the project, do your research for the best material. Failing that, ask an expert.


Once you've got all that sorted, the final consideration is colour. Natural or transparent colours tend to be cheaper but, other than that, it's entirely down to personal preference. Pretty much every colour imaginable is now available.

Happy printing!

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