3D printers are able to create objects, by depositing filaments of material, layer by layer, until it’s constructed.
It’s no wonder, therefore, that some people doubt whether the end result is really as sturdy as it should and whether it will break easily or not.
Truth is, it depends on the type of filament the 3D printer is using! The stronger the filament, the stronger and more durable the end result will be.
As 3D printers advance, more and more types of filaments can be used, and the results are getting stronger, sturdier, and a lot more durable. But what is the strongest 3D printing filament you can buy?
Currently, the strongest 3D printing filament you can buy is polycarbonate filament, as it showcases a higher strength and resilience than other options. It is also hugely used for engineering and has a strong mechanical structure.
Let’s talk about it in more detail, and then look at some alternatives!
Polycarbonate: The Strongest 3D Printing Filament
As mentioned, polycarbonate is the strongest type of filament that you can currently buy for use with a 3D printer. It is incredibly durable, and way more rigid and resilient than the other filaments used in 3D printing, so there really is no doubt about it being the strongest.
In fact, polycarbonate filament is used in items such as bullet-proof glass, riot gear, protective cases for different electrical devices, and many more. It also has a higher temperature resistance than other filament types, as it has a higher glass transition temperature rate.
Polycarbonate, which is also referred to as PC, is also highly resistant to wear and tear, which is what further enhances its durability and long-lasting capabilities. Thin prints of polycarbonate can also be bent without them cracking or bending, making them ideal for use with a 3D printer and its applications.
Polycarbonate filament also has one of the best, if not simply the outright best, impact strength. It’s a lot more resistant to impact than glass or acrylic materials. And the best thing is, it retains this strength despite it also having transparent and lightweight qualities. It’s the perfect combination for 3D printing.
Polycarbonate filament can also lift weights of up to 685 pounds, which is pretty impressive, and it has a tensile strength of 9800 PSI.
The only competitor that comes remotely close, is ABS filament. But polycarbonate, overall, can withstand a lot more than ABS and has been proven to be far stronger.
To sum it up, polycarbonate is the best filament for 3D printing, as well as being the strongest and most resilient. That might change in the future, as more and more materials are experimented with, but right now that’s the best you can go for!
The top five strongest 3D printing filaments:
There is no questioning that polycarbonate is the strongest filament you can use in 3D printing. But you might not always be able to use it or buy it, or you might just want to know about some other options.
So here are the top five strongest 3D printing filaments: (and yes, number one is obviously polycarbonate).
- Polycarbonate Filament:
We’ve already talked about how and why polycarbonate filament is the strongest and best for 3D printing. But let’s refresh some of the key points that truly make it the strongest in regards to 3D printing, and compared to other options.
It can resist heat up to 135 degrees celsius, as opposed to the 60 degrees that PLA can withstand. It is incredibly durable, to time, to wear and tear, and to impact, with an amazing resistance to shattering.
It is also non-conductive, transparent, lightweight, and highly flexible. Overall, the perfect combination to make it the absolute best for 3D printing.
- Carbon Fiber Filaments:
Carbon fiber filaments are not on the level of polycarbonate, but they’re still pretty strong and highly used in 3D printing.
They’re made out of fiber that contains carbon atoms, which present themselves in a crystalline structure. This is what provides them with their strength. They’re especially suited to the automotive industry. And the stiffness that carbon fiber provides also makes it an option for aerospace industries too.
Carbon fiber filament is lightweight and highly resistant to chemical degradation and corrosion. It also features an impressive dimensional stability, as it self-mitigates any chances of shrinking or colliding. It also has one of the highest strength to weight ratios, which is highly desirable in 3D printing.
Carbon fiber filament is also pretty accessible. It’s a little expensive compared to other 3D printing materials, but it’s actually great value for the quality that it delivers.
- PEEK Filaments:
PEEK stands for Polyether Ether Ketone, which is a semi-crystalline thermoplastic composition. It is one of the most well-renown types of filament in 3D printing, as it’s pretty strong and highly reliable.
Apart from being one of the strongest filaments, it also has a high resistance to chemicals. It is also highly resistant to organic and bio degradation and has an operating temperature of 250 degrees Celsius.
This is all thanks to the manufacturing process it goes through, during which it goes through phased polymerization, which then gives it the high resistance.
PEEK filament is especially suited to the medical industry. This is because this type of filament is able to reduce moisture absorption, making it ideal for sterilization. And as it can be used with 3D printing, they can create medical items a lot quicker.
Despite it being accessible in the market, it is one of the more expensive types of filament, so it isn’t commonly used at home.
- ABS Filament:
ABS filament is one of the most popular and commonly used within 3D printing. It is one of the most accessible and cost-effective types of filament, and therefore it is used in many 3D printing processes, including engineering and technical industries, and at-home use.
ABS filament is a hard thermoplastic material, able to decently resist impact, and is therefore grouped as one of the strongest 3D printing materials.
The filament is both water and heat resistant, as well as having a smooth finish that is very appealing for 3D printed products. It is especially suited to 3D printing items that will have a high functionality, as it is able to resist wear and tear really well.
ABS filament is also very easy to work with, which makes it not only great for 3D printing but great for post-production when you’re adding the finishing touches. And with how accessible in price it is, it’s no wonder that it is one of the most popular options.
- Nylon Filaments:
Nylon is another strong filament that is very commonly used in 3D printing. It’s very resistant to chemicals and heat, making it suitable for most industries and 3D printing applications. It also has one of the best tensile strengths out of all the filament options, with a 7000 PSI.
Nylon filament is also incredibly accessible and cost-effective, making it very popular for home use. As it comes last in this list of strong filaments, the nylon industry is looking to make improvements.
You can get nylon filament mixed with fiberglass and carbon fiber, and this makes it slightly more resistant and capable.
ABS vs PLA:
In the world of 3D printing, ABS and PLA are the most commonly used types of filament, especially with at-home use or entry-level 3D printing. We know that ABS is within the list of the strongest filament types, but what about PLA?
Both are always compared, and if you’re starting out in 3D printing, you might be wondering which one to go.
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is a thermoplastic filament that we’ve already talked about. Things such as LEGO, house items, and automotive parts make use of it.
PLA (Polylactic Acid) is a biodegradable thermoplastic, that can be used in many of the same applications as ABS.
Overall, PLA is usually the most common filament used for entry-level 3D printing. It is incredibly easy to print, and it is able to provide a great amount of detail, giving an appealing end result.
ABS, on the other hand, is more prone to warping and doesn’t look as good. But it is a lot stronger and provides a higher functionality over time.
What is the strongest 3D printer resin?
3D printers don’t all necessarily use filaments, as some print by using resin. So what is the strongest 3D printer resin?
There are many different types, but if you’re looking for the strongest resin in the market, you should go for Accura CeraMax, as they provide the very best. This resin has a guaranteed resistance to high temperatures and water while being resilient and strong.
It’s especially suited to printing prototype models, tools, fixtures, and components that are more like ceramic.
What is the stiffest 3D printing material?
We’ve looked at the strongest filament types that you can use for 3D printing, but sometimes strength isn’t quite what you’re after. If you want the end result to be highly capable of retaining its shape, then you’ll want the stiffest filament possible, which isn’t necessarily the strongest.
When it comes to the stiffest, PLA filament is the answer. It is one of the most popular and commonly used filaments in 3D printing, as it can print at high detail with a very low temperature, and is, therefore, one of the easiest to print with.
PLA is the stiffest 3D printing filament and will retain its shape, as well as being inexpensive and apt for many different applications. It is also the most environmentally friendly type of filament and even smells nice while printing.
So, basically, if you think you need a strong filament, but you actually require a stiff one, just go for PLA.
What is the weakest 3D printing filament?
Knowing which 3D printing filament is the strongest, and which ones are close behind, is great for ensuring you’re using the strongest material possible when needed.
But it’s equally important to be aware of which 3D printing filament is considered to be the weakest, so you know what to avoid when you truly require strength!
The weakest 3D printing filament is PLA, despite it actually being the stiffest! Another contender for the weakest filament would also be Nylon, but as in the older non-improved nylon filaments that are now the cheap ones.
This doesn’t mean that PLA shouldn’t be used. In fact, there are many benefits of using PLA filament in 3D printing, and it is actually the most commonly used option.
But if you’re going to 3D print something that you need to be strong and as durable as possible, then it’s time to look at other filament options, because PLA won’t deliver.
Okay, let’s sum up everything we’ve gone through. What is the strongest filament for 3D printing?
There is no question at all that polycarbonate is the strongest filament currently available in 3D printing. It is much stronger than all the alternative options, a lot more durable, and showcases an incredible overall resilience.
There are, of course, other filament options that are decently strong, such as carbon fiber, PEEK, ABS, and improved Nylon filament. But despite being strong and tough, they’re not at the level of polycarbonate.
On the other hand, PLA, which is the most common type of filament used in 3D printing, is the weakest. In its defense, it’s the stiffest, cheapest, and most environmentally-friendly, and is therefore usually a great filament choice.
But strength-wise, it’s something you should avoid.