There are loads of materials available, but when it comes to polymeres (like plastic), two types offilamentare most popular; PLA and ABS plastic. But what are the differences? Which one is best? To answer these questions, first let me tell you a bit more about them.

PLAis a bio-degradable type of plastic that is manufactured out of plant-based resources such as corn starch or sugar cane.  This is why it is called the green plastic. Be sure to throw it in afilament recyclerand youre as green as can be. Its widely used for packaging, such as food products, but of course you can also use it to print!

ABS plasticis made out of oil-based resources and it has a much higher melting point than PLA plastic. Its also stronger and harder. Because of these particular features, ABS is widely used for purposes ranging from car bumpers and motorcycle helmets to musical instruments, golfclubs and Lego.

 Can deform because of heat (like a cassette in a car)

 Made out of oil, so more damaging to the environment

+ Suitable for machine or car parts

 Deformes when not being print on a heated surface

 Hot plastic fumes when printing

 Therefore, you need ventilation

 Not suitable for using with food

A company thats making parts for machines will be better off when choosing ABS, because of its lifespan, its strength and its higher melting point. On the other hand, an artist who is making 3d models at home, will be better off choosing PLA because of its ease-of use, its appearance and because you dont need ventilation.

But, as you might have noticed, there are a few drawbacks to using either of the plastics. For instance, lets say you want to print some new cups and dishes at home. If you use PLA, you cant put it in the dishwasher since it would deform through the heat. ABS is not an option either, since its oil-based and therefore cannot be used for holding food or beverages. Readthis articlefor more info on ABS.

In conclusion, both ABS and PLA plastic have ups and downs, it depends largely on what and where you were planning on printing. Hopefully they invent a new kind of plastic one day thats cheap, doesnt do harm to the environment and is suitable for all possible jobs. If you want to learn more, check out thisin-depth article on ABS plastic.

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Thanks for the simple pros and cons lists and detailed explanation. Looks like Ill be going with PLA for my little 3D printer at the school club.

Another con against ABS is that it shrinks during printing.

ABS parts are easier to glue together

here you well define the different between PLA and ABS Plastic

Look at 3D printing, the more impressive it gets

Thanks for sharing that kind of useful information

What is the melting point of the ABS and PLA filaments.

Depends on the make and model of the filament. I have seen PLA ranging from 190c to 210C and I have seen ABS from 230C to 270C That is hardly definitive, that is just what I have seen

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