3D Printing Filament SpoolsThe two most popular 3D printing filaments are PLA (polylactic acid) and ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene). Both are thermoplastics capable of creating an array of printed objects. As filaments they look very similar, and both are used in conjunction with the fused deposition modeling (FDM) method of 3D printing.

They differ in terms of their chemical composition, best applications, and optimized print settings. Though many people simply want to know which one is better, when it comes to PLA vs ABS the answer isn’t as simple as designating a winner and a loser. Both filaments are quality materials, each best suited for different projects.

Comparison PLA Filament ABS Filament
Material Base Plant Based Petroleum Based
Odor During Printing Slightly Sweet Scent Burning Plastic Scent
Warping Less Prone to Warping More Prone to Warping
Flexibility Lower Flexibility Tolerance – May Snap When Bent Some Flexibility, May Tolerate Minor Bending
Strength Generally Less Durable Generally More Durable
Melt Risk May Melt in Warmer Environments Relatively Stable After Printing
Chemical Resistance May Not Withstand Chemical Contact Generally More Chemical Resistant
Filament Storage Airtight Storage Preferred – May Otherwise Absorb Damaging Moisture Airtight Storage Preferred – May Otherwise Absorb Damaging Moisture
Printing Temperature Lower Melting Point Higher Melting Point
Heated Build Platform Not Required, May be Helpful Always Required
Platform Adhesion Hairspray or Blue Painter’s Tape Can Help Hairspray or Kapton Tape Can Help
Comprehensive Information Click Here to Learn All About PLA Click Here to Learn All About ABS

PLA vs ABS: The Verdict

3D Printing Eiffel TowerIn the PLA vs. ABS arena, there’s really no clear “winner” in the traditional sense. Each plastic has its strengths and weaknesses, but overall, they’re great materials to work with. To get the most from the plastics, users should follow each material’s best practices, paying careful attention to nozzle and build platform temperature. Furthermore, using ABS and PLA for the appropriate projects will help ensure that you maximize your use of the filament. Projects that require strenuous testing or special mechanical considerations call for ABS, while educational and artistic purposes often benefit more from PLA.


Here at 3D Supply Guys, we offer a number of different brands available in both PLA and ABS.

For PLA: We have the universal BuMat PLA & Elite PLA, as well as filaments specific to your printer including 3Doodler PLA, Flashforge PLA, and Leapfrog PLA.

For ABS: We also have the universal BuMat ABS & Elite ABS, as well as filaments specific to your printer including 3Doodler ABS, Flashforge ABS, Leapfrog ABS, and Solidoodle ABS.

To see our full line of filaments (including specialty materials), please click here.

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