Have you heard of PET/PETG filament? Curious about what the benefits are? Let’s take a look at what 3D printer PETG filaments have to offer.
Most desktop 3D printer users are familiar with the benefits and disadvantages of PLA and ABS materials. But, when it comes to producing flexible and durable objects, PET and PETG filaments are gaining popularity among filament producers and the 3D printing community. In this guide, we’ll explain the science behind the material, when you should use it, what the benefits are, and where you can buy the best PET/PETG filament.
PETG Filament for 3D Printing: Explained & Compared
- PET and PETG Explained
- What are the benefits of PETG filament?
- What’s are the drawbacks?
- When should PETG filament be used?
- PETG vs PLA
- PETG vs ABS
- Where can I buy PETG filament?
- Is PETG filament food safe?
- What’s the price for a spool of PETG filament?
- Does PETG filament come in different colors?
- What are the optimal 3D print settings?
- What if my 3D printer doesn’t have a heated bed?
- How do I store PETG filament?
Before we get into how this material was adapted for use with 3D printing technology, let’s break down PET and PETG with a brief explanation.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the most commonly used plastic in the world. You can find the polymer almost everywhere you look, from your water bottle to clothing fibers, even in your food containers. PET is also used in thermoforming processes and can be combined with glass fiber to create engineering resins. Basically, thousands of consumer products, foods, and beverages are delivered and packaged within this material. Unfortunately, it‘s even floating in our oceans.
On the 3D printing side of things, there’s PETG, which is is a modified version of PET. The ‘G’ stands for “glycol-modified”, which is added to the material composition during polymerization. The result is a filament that is clearer, less brittle, and easier to use than its base form of PET. The molecular structure is irregular; the resin is clear and amorphous with a glass transition temperature of 88 C (190 F). If you’re into chemistry, this material is known as Polyethylene Terephthalateco-1, 4-cylclohexylenedimethylene terephthalate (try saying that mouthful three times quickly…).
It’s also worth letting Polyethylene coTrimethylene Terephthalate (PETT) make a cameo in this guide. PETT, as you can probably tell, is another variant of PET. It’s slightly more rigid than PETG, and is popular for being transparent.
Learn more about other filament types: 25 Best Types of 3D Printer Filament & Comparison Charts
The benefits of PETG filament compared to PET
If you were to shop for 3D printing filament, you’d likely notice way more PETG filament on the market than PET. There are a number of benefits that this variant offers over the base material, especially when it comes to 3D printing. But first, here are the general reasons why it is more advantageous than PET:
- It is more durable.
- Overheating regular PET makes it hazy and brittle, but not with PETG filament. The added glycol prevents the material from crystallizing and becoming breakable.
- It is highly impact-resistant.
- Unlike PET, it is RF sealable.
- It can be sterilized.
The unique benefits of PETG filament for FDM 3D printing
- PETG filament has the reputation of combining the functionality of ABS (stronger, temperature resistant, more durable) and reliability of PLA (easy to print) in one material.
- The layer adhesion is usually excellent.
- Reduced potential of warping or shrinking of your prints.
- Also, you can recycle the material, along with prints and misprints. However, don’t take this as permission to start printing irresponsibly – sustainably speaking, PETG is still a plastic that should be utilized and recycled properly.
To be frank, there aren’t many disadvantages to this material. Still, there are a few worth mentioning. For starter, PETG is more prone to scratching than PET is. Additionally, the material properties can be weakened by UV light. Many makers agree that it’s not the easiest material to print with, and usually requires you to find the “sweet spot” with print settings. Therefore, when 3D printing it, you’ll likely have to experiment with the 3D printing parameters more than usual.
PETG is a good all-around material but truly stands out from many other filaments due to its flexibility, strength, and temperature and impact resistance. This makes it an ideal 3D printer filament to use for objects which might experience sustained or sudden stress, like mechanical parts, 3D printer parts, and protective components. Additionally, PETG is likely the perfect option for objects that will encounter food or drink.
PLA (Polylactic Acid) is a thermoplastic material, classified as a polyester plastic. It is the most common 3D printing material. PLA filament is easy to 3D print and biodegradable. There are many different colors and varieties, and almost every filament producer on the market dabbles in the production of PLA. Also, its properties allow the addition of other materials like metal powders, hemp, coffee or wood.
So, how does PLA compare to PETG filament?
- PLA is easier to 3D print and handle than PETG filament. Also, PLA is also more forgiving when it comes to 3D printing errors.
- Both materials show minor shrinkage during cooling.
- Both are considered to be food-safe.
- Also, both are user-friendly, but PETG is more durable, stronger, and can handle stronger impact.
- PETG is more prone to scratches than PLA.
- You don’t technically need a heated bed to 3D print both materials, but it is easier to 3D print PETG filament on a heated bed.
- PETG filament is generally more expensive than PLA.
- PLA Filament offers more way more variations than PETG filament.
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (better known ABS) is the second most popular 3D printer filament. This thermoplastic is cheap, durable, slightly flexible, lightweight, and it can be easily extruded — which makes it perfect for 3D printing. It is the same plastic used in LEGO bricks and bicycle helmets.
But there are disadvantages to using ABS filament. It requires a higher temperature to reach melting point, usually in the range of 210°C – 250°C. Moreover, a heated build platform is required. This prevents the first layers of the print from cooling too quickly, so the plastic doesn’t warp and contracts before the fabrication of the object is completed. Another drawback of this 3D printer filament is the intense fumes that arise during printing. They can be dangerous for people (or pets) with breathing difficulties.
So, how does ABS filament compare to PETG filament?
- Both materials are highly durable, offer good strength and impact resistance.
- Both materials can be recycled, but are not biodegradable.
- ABS is more flexible, with minor bending before snapping
- ABS is soluble in Acetone, PETG filament isn’t.
- ABS is not food-safe. When handled properly, PETG is.
- ABS needs a heated bed for 3D printing.
- Both materials show shrinkage during cooling.
There are three routes you can take to purchase PETG filament for your FDM 3D printer.
1. Buy a spool of PETG filament at Amazon
Most relevant manufacturers offer their spools directly at Amazon. Brands like Colorfabb, Innofil, Verbatim, eSun,Taulman, SainSmart, Aptopro, extrudr, 3D Prima, Sunlu, advanc3dmaterials and 3DPSP are offering PETG filament for a reasonable price. You can browse the Amazon shop by clicking on the link below.
Note: If you search for “PETG filament” at Amazon you won’t find the big brands Colorfabb and Taulman 3D. Their brand names are Colorfabb XT and Taulman N-VENT. They consist of Amphora AM1800 from Eastman Chemicals Company.
Also make sure to buy the right diameter size for your 3D printer, there are 1.75mm and 3mm spools available.
2. Buy directly from the manufacturer
If you already know what you want to buy, can get spools directly from these shops and manufacturers:
- ColorFabb (as brand name “Colorfabb XT”)
- Taulman 3D (as brand name “N-Vent”)
- 3DXtech (with added carbon fiber for extra strength)
- Formfutura (as brand name “HD Glass”)
- iGo3D (for Zortrax M200 3D printer)
- Triptech Plastics
If you‘re a manufacturer and want to have your brand added, please drop us a line in the comment section.
Buy a finished 3D print from your local 3D printing service
What if you don‘t own a 3D printer? Then you can contact a local 3D printing service provider or a 3D printing network like 3D Hubs to help print your 3D model in this fantastic material.
Yes, it is considered to be a food safe material in nearly all countries. But better to be safe than sorry, so you’d be wise to check the specifications supplied by the filament manufacturer.
Want to know how to find out if a 3D printing material is food safe? 12 Vital Facts About Food Safe 3D Printing
In general, it comes at a higher price point than other materials – roughly, you pay $5 to $20 more per spool than for a comparable spool of PLA. Prices for PETG filament will vary depending on the filament manufacturer, but you can usually find a decent quality spool for around $25. Higher priced PETG will set you back with $50 a spool.Check price:
Absolutely! You can have nearly the same variety of colors as you would have with PLA or ABS. We’ve spotted shades of green, red, blue, orange, and yellow, as well as translucent or colored translucent variants.
Again, just like price varies, the optimal printer settings for PETG filament will also vary depending on the filament producer. Still, there’s a general range of properties that you can expect from every spool of PETG filament. The print temperature will usually range between 220°C – 250°C, while manufacturers will also recommend a print bed temperature between 50°C – 75°C. Usually, the material is quite forgiving and can be printed at a wide range of temperatures.
How do you know if you’re using the best print settings for your PETG filament? There are a couple of ways to ensure more success and higher quality when printing. First, take a good look at the first layers. If the extruded material isn’t somewhat sluggish, you’ll probably want to raise the temperature a bit. Also, you should always start with a low print speed of around 15mm/s, which will usually help you find what works best with your material. Once you decipher what the best settings will be, feel free to increase your print speed.
A heated bed is not a must, but it’s certainly an advantage, especially when it comes to avoiding warping of large-scale prints. However, we have previously managed to print with PETG filament on an Ultimaker 2 Go without a heated bed. Still, it took us a while to find the right settings that would allow for successful printing.
Although you can attempt the usual hairspray or blue tape tricks, some makers claim that these won’t work with PETG filament. Like most things involving 3D printing, finding the best practice will take patience and the willingness to experiment.
As always, you should first try to use the specifications provided for the heated bed temperature. If the manufacturer doesn’t provide these specs, start with a temperature of 80°C and see if the first layer sticks to the bed.
It should be stored in a dry environment. Air humidity may alter it, result in failed 3D prints and misprints. This is because this material is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture from the air. As this has a negative effect on printing, make sure to store the 3D printer filament in a cool, dry place using silicate bags.
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