Updated February 2017
The next wave in the prosumer FFF 3D printing evolution isn’t about 3D printers, it’s about the plastic filament used to make 3D prints. This is a comprehensive list of available filament, plus a guide with tips on how to choose the right filament for your next creative project.
While a new prosumer 3D Printer enters the market almost every day and the printing techniques is still advancing with each generation, most are actually perfecting existing concepts, especially with Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D Printers (also known as FDM printers). They’re getting better at printing more accurately at higher speeds, but the increments are getting smaller. This is not because the technique has reached it technical limits, but it’s chemical limits. The problem that withholds FFF printers to get a lot faster is that after Fusing the Filament to it’s molten state and extruding it accurately, it has to be cooled down to get solid again. Most new FFF Printers have active coolers to help with this, but there’s a limit to how hard you can blow air onto something before it will deform instead of cool—or sound like a jet engine.
When you’ve accepted that 3D Printing takes time, you can open your eyes to getting creative with different kinds of filament. And that’s where innovations are going a lot faster right now! In this post I will write about the many special kinds of 3D Printing Filament that are on the market today. Some require a 3D printer with special features to print well, but many actually work well in almost every FFF printer, maybe even yours!