Like nylon, PET or polyethylene terephthalate is also one of the most widely used plastics. This material can be used in thermoforming process. It can also be combined with other materials such as glass fiber to produce engineering resins. PETG is used for 3D printing. This is a modified version of PET where the G stands for “glycol-modified.” As a result, a filament that is less fragile, clearer, and easier to use than PET is formed. This filament is applicable to FDM or FFF technologies.

  • Distinct Characteristics
  • • The material is robust.
  • • It is impact-resistant and recyclable.
  • • It can also be sterilized.
  • • It has excellent adhesion to the layer.
  • • It has the combined functionality of ABS (temperature-resistant, stronger) and PLA (easy to print).
  • Disadvantages
  • • The material may be weakened by UV light.
  • • It’s prone to scratching.
  • • More testing of 3D printing parameters is needed.

HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene)

HIPS or high impact polystyrene is plastic filaments which are used for support structures in FDM printers. It is equivalent to ABS when it comes to ease of use. The only dissimilarity is its ability to dissolve. HIPS is highly soluble to a liquid hydrocarbon called limonene.

  • Distinct Characteristics
  • • It has excellent mechanical properties. It can also be used to create complicated structures.
  • • It’s very smooth and lightweight.
  • • It is completely waterproof and impact resistant.
  • • It’s very cheap.
  • Disadvantages
  • • Produces strong fumes. Thus, it is recommended to be used in a ventilated area.
  • • Without continuous heat flow, this material will clog up the nozzle and distribution tubes of the printer.


Thermoplastics are suitable for functional applications, including the manufacture of end-use components and functional prototypes. They have good mechanical properties, high impact, abrasion, and chemical resistance. They may also be filled with carbon, glass, or other additives to improve their physical properties. 3D print engineering thermoplastics (such as nylon, PEI, and ASA) are widely used in the production of end-use parts for industrial applications.

SLS components have better mechanical and physical properties and higher dimensional precision, but FDM is more affordable and has shorter lead times.

Typical 3D printing thermoplastics

SLS Nylon (PA), TPU


The pyramid below shows the most common 3D printing thermoplastic materials. As a rule of thumb, the higher the material in the pyramid, the better its mechanical properties and the more difficult it is generally to print (higher cost) (Figure 6.1).

Common thermoplastic materials for 3D printing

FIGURE 6.1 Common thermoplastic materials for 3D printing.

Thermosets (Resins)

Thermosets (resins) are widely used for applications where esthetics are important, as they can produce parts with smooth injection-like surfaces and fine details. Normally, they have high stiffness but are more porous than thermoplastics, so that they are not ideal for practical applications. Specialty resins are used for engineering applications (mimicking the properties of ABS and PP) or dental extensions and implants. Material jetting produces components with superior dimensional accuracy and generally smoother surfaces, but at a higher cost than SLA/DLP. Both processes use similar acrylic-based photocurable resins.

Typical 3D printing thermosets (resins)

Material jetting Standard resin, digital ABS, durable resin (PP-like), transparent resin, dental resin SLA/DLP Standard resin, tough resin (ABS-like), durable resin (PP-like), clear resin, dental resin


Metal 3D-printed components have outstanding mechanical properties and can be worked at high temperatures. The freeform 3D printing capabilities make it suitable for lightweight applications in the aerospace and medical industries. DMLS/SLM components have excellent mechanical properties and tolerances, but binder jetting can be up to ten times cheaper and can generate much larger parts.

Typical 3D printing metals

DMLS/SLM Stainless steel, titanium, aluminum

Binder jetting Stainless steel (bronze-filled or sintered)

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