PLA vs ABS 3D Printing. Know the Differences!

by Mike Brooks | Last Updated: May 5, 2022

PLA and ABS are two of the most commonly used materials in 3D printing. PLA is manufactured from organic resources, like sugar cane and corn starch, making it more biodegradable than ABS.

PLA vs ABS 3D Printing

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PLA vs ABS 3D Printing Differences

PLA is also less prone to warping, making it a good choice for large prints. However, PLA is not as strong as ABS, and it can be challenging to print with because it can clog printers.

On the other hand, ABS is derived from petroleum and is therefore not as environmentally friendly as PLA. However, it is stronger and more resistant to heat than PLA, making it better for functional parts. It can also be easier to print because of its lower melting point.

This blog post will look at the main differences between PLA and ABS material properties. So, if you are a beginner in 3D printing or you need to improve on your 3D printing, you are going to fetch valuable information.

What Are the Advantages of PLA (Polylactic Acid) Filament?

When deciding on the suitable filament for 3D printing, you must understand its strengths.

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The following are the advantages of using PLA filaments.

What Are the Disadvantages of PLA Filament?

The following are the disadvantages of using PLA filaments that may help you when deciding on the suitable filament for 3D printing:

Advantages of ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) Filament

It is necessary to consider the following advantages of ABS filament to make the right choice about the product you want to produce.

Disadvantages of ABS Filament

The following are disadvantages of ABS filaments that you need to know.

Does PLA Stick Better Than ABS?

PLA and ABS are two of the most popular 3D printing materials, but which one works better and sticks to the heated bed?

We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each material to help you make the best decision for your next print.

PLA is a biodegradable plastic made from organic materials like cornstarch, natural sugars, or sugarcane. PLA is a popular choice for the 3D printing process because it is easy to print and has a low melting temperature.

On the other hand, unlike PLA, ABS is a petroleum-based plastic that is stronger and more resistant to heat than PLA.

PLA sticks best to print bed at lower printing temperature at between 50-60°C. ABS sticks best to print beds that are between 80-110°C.

Therefore, if you are printing with PLA, you’ll need to ensure your heated bed is not too hot, or your filament will start to warp. If you are printing with ABS, you’ll need to ensure your heated bed is not too cold, or your filament will not stick to the bed.

PLA filament has a lower melting temperature in comparison to ABS, hence it is easy to print. On the other hand, ABS is stronger and more resistant to heat than PLA, making it more suitable for printed parts that need to withstand high temperatures.

Is ABS Hard to Print?

ABS is a tough, sturdy plastic commonly used in 3D printing. It is known for its durability and strength, making it a popular choice for printing things such as industrial applications.

However, ABS can be tricky to print with because it requires careful calibration of the printer settings compared to PLA. It is also susceptible to warping and cracking if not printed correctly.

ABS prints require a strong, level print bed and carefully controlled temperature settings. If you are new to 3D printing, ABS may not be the best filament to start with for your project.

However, if you are willing to put in the time to learn the proper settings and techniques, ABS can be a great choice for your next project.

How Strong Is ABS Plastic?

ABS plastic is a strong, durable material often used for architectural mockups and functional parts and several brands such as plastic cups and industrial composters.

ABS plastic is known for its strength and impact resistance. It is also resistant to chemical and UV damage.

ABS plastic is an excellent choice for many applications requiring strong and durable materials which is the main advantage over PLA.

Is ABS Cheaper Than PLA?

ABS is a lot cheaper than PLA. It is used in many applications because it has a lot of benefits over PLA.

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Some benefits of using ABS include:

Is ABS Biodegradable?

ABS, or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, is a thermoplastic filament typically used in 3D printing.

Due to its durability and heat-resistant properties, ABS is a popular choice for 3D printed objects that need to withstand high print bed temperature or rough handling.

But what happens to ABS when it’s no longer needed? Is ABS biodegradable?

The answer is complicated. ABS is a synthetic polymer, which means it’s not naturally occurring. That also means that ABS isn’t biodegradable in the traditional sense.

However, there are some methods of breaking down ABS so that it can be reused or recycled.

One way to break down ABS is through a process called chemical recycling. That involves breaking ABS down into its chemical components, which can then be used to create new ABS or other products.

Chemical recycling is still in the early stages, but it has the potential to be a more sustainable way of dealing with ABS waste.

Another way to recycle ABS is through mechanical recycling. This process grinds ABS into small pellets that, in turn, make new ABS products. Mechanical recycling is more common than chemical recycling, but it has limitations.

ABS materials that have been recycled mechanically can only be used to make new ABS products because it is not possible to recycle them into other types of materials.

Glass Transition Temperature for PLA and ABS Filaments

PLA and ABS are two of the most popular 3D printing filaments on the market. But what exactly is the difference between them?

One important factor is their glass transition temperature (or Tg). PLA has a lower Tg than ABS. That means that it becomes softer and more pliable at a lower temperature.

For this reason, PLA is often used in applications where it needs to be pliable or flexed, such as phone cases.

ABS, on the other hand, has a higher Tg. That means it maintains its rigid structure at higher temperatures in comparison to PLA. For this reason, ABS printing materials are often used in applications where heat resistance is essential, such as car parts.

So, when choosing a printing filament for your next project, be sure to keep the Tg in mind!

Is ABS or PLA Better for 3D Printing?

When it comes to 3D printing, there are two main types of filaments used which are PLA (polylactic acid) and ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene).

So, which one is better for your printing process?

ABS is a strong and durable plastic, making it perfect for objects that will be subject to high stress or need to be heat-resistant. It is also easy to print with because of its low melting point.

On the downside, ABS can be difficult to work with and tends to warp during printing.

PLA filament is a biodegradable plastic made from organic resources, hence is a more eco-friendly option. It is also easier to print with than ABS, as it has a lower melting point and doesn’t warp as easily. However, PLA isn’t as strong or durable as ABS.

So, which one should you use for your next 3D printing project? 

It depends on the use of your final object. If you need something strong and durable such as protective headgear, go with ABS. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly option that is easy to print with, PLA is the way to go.

You might like: What is a 3D conductive filament?

Conclusion

Both PLA and ABS are 3D printing materials with unique benefits and drawbacks. If you’re looking for a material with a low glass transition temperature, then ABS is the way to go.

However, if you need something that is environmentally friendly and doesn’t produce fumes when melted, PLA is the clear winner.

Whichever material you choose, make sure to research the printers that can use it before purchasing.

Michael Brooks is the founder of M3DZone.com. He sees a very bright future for 3D printing that's why his mission is to try and make this easy for everyone. Discover your hidden talent and creativity. You can follow here: Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.