For each 3D printing project you undertake, the material properties and physical attributes that you seek will vary. Sometimes you need a visually striking filament, sometimes you need functionality and durability, and of course, sometimes, you need both. This is where PETG filament has made itself a household name.
You might be familiar with polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Well, you definitely are whether you know it or not, as this plastic is the most commonly used in the world. This material is used to produce water bottles, food containers, clothing fibers, and so on.
In the world of 3D printing, PETG, which is a modified version of PET, has become a popular material type. The ‘G’ stands for “glycol-modified”, which is added to the material composition during polymerization, resulting in a filament that is clearer, less brittle, and easier to use than its base form of PET.
However, once you sort out which material type you need, next comes the daunting task of selecting which filament brand to turn to. With an endless barrage of spools occupying the consumer market, it can be a tall order trying to sift through them all.
And so, we’ve created the Filament Face-Off, pitting the top 3D printing material brands against one another to figure out which is the best, both visually and mechanically. If you’ve been looking for the perfect PETG, but can’t decide which to go with, then this comprehensive guide is for you.
PETG material comes in many shades and styles, and offers excellent layer adhesion for an advanced material. So, are you the kind of person who would benefit from using PETG filament? Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s find out.
For starters, PETG is a good all-around material for numerous applications, both mechanical and aesthetically driven. This material separates itself from the rest of the filament pack with its flexibility, strength, and resistance to both temperature and impact.
This makes PETG the perfect filament to use for objects and projects that will encounter constant or sudden stress, such as mechanical parts, 3D printer parts, and protective components. Additionally, this material is also an ideal candidate for objects that will come in contact with either food or liquid.
When it comes to gauging the visual quality of a 3D printing material, the 3DBenchy has become the community standard. Created by Daniel Noreé, the 3D model is designed to with geometrical features that are challenging for 3D printers, such as overhangs and low slope surfaces.
The 3DBenchy model has become the benchmark for testing the visual quality of your 3D printer and filament. With it, you can examine the dimensional accuracy, tolerances, warping, and deviations from changes to printing parameters and material types.
Oftentimes used to test the calibration and ability of your 3D printer, we decided to apply the visual test to various PETG filaments and see which jolly little boat came out the best.
To test the mechanical strength of each PETG filament, we decided to have a little fun and print the Strong Flex door Carabiner by ddf3d. As recommended by the designer, each carabiner is printed with 50-percent infill. We were impressed to find that our PETG prints were able to withstand the “15-35kg load” suggested in the model description.
The machine we used is a Thümler Z3 Tensile Testing Machine. It can pull up to 3 kN (300 kg) and has an accuracy of 0.1 N. Tensile testing is a fundamental materials test, taking a sample and subjecting it to a controlled tension until the material deforms or breaks. The results of these experiments are used to determine the quality and strength of certain materials.
During our experimentation, we found the design of the carabiner to be weak or flawed at certain points, which could have played a role in our results. However, the resilience of PETG still played a factor in the tensile testing, and each material performed vastly different from the other.
Check out a video of the tensile testing machine in action below.
In order to keep our testing process consistent and fair, we set the extrusion temperature and heated bed temperature to the filament producer’s recommendations. So, for example, if the ColorFabb XT material has a suggested print temperature of between 240 – 260 C, we would settle on the middle ground at 250 C.
To maintain consistency, we used the Lulzbot Mini for this round of filament testing. All 3D models and settings were prepared with Cura Lulzbot Edition. We set a standard print speed of 40mm per second, ensuring that each filament was given the same opportunity to shine on the print bed stage.
For our first-ever Filament Face-off, we took a handful of different PETG filaments from some of the most popular companies across the world. Here are the materials we tested and reviewed:
When any material boasts environmental friendliness as a primary feature, it’s difficult not to give that filament some brownie points. We were excited when we cracked open Innofil3D’s EPR InnoPET because of the recyclability and fluorescent green color.
However, with all of the great brands competing in our first-ever Filament Face-Off, we weren’t quite sure how this “green” PETG filament would compare mechanically and aesthetically. To our surprise, the EPR InnoPETG was at the top of each benchmark, outperforming the others in our visual and stress test.
During the Benchy test, this bright green filament was superior to the rest. Although there was a bit of stringiness on the finished product, the layers were nearly flawless and overhangs were minimized to near perfection.
As you can see in the graph above, the carabiner printed with InnoPET was able to withstand over 828 N (~84 kg) before it became deformed. While a few other filaments came close to this number, none managed to surpass the nature-conscious material from Innofil3D.
With striking visual appeal and exceptional mechanical performance, we decided that Innofil’s EPR InnoPET is the best PETG filament from the bunch.
After testing out each participating filament with a 3DBenchy print, we determined that the best results came from Matterhackers Translucent Blue PETG. It could just be the suave ocean blue color and semi-transparent look, but the print quality we were able to muster up with this filament definitely stood out from the rest of the pack.
This Matterhackers filament performed phenomenally when it came to matters such as overhangs, bridging, and overall surface quality. Most of the other PETG materials came out adequate enough, but each featured a minor flaw or two that the Translucent Blue filament managed to overcome. However, one thing we did notice was a slight “elephant’s foot” at the bottom of the Benchy.
It’s important to note that the Innofil EPR InnoPETG performed magnificently in the visual test as well, a factor that was heavily weighed in the decision to award it with the Best Overall accolade. However, when it comes to providing premier print quality and a stunning, lush color, the Matterhackers Translucent Blue PETG triumphs over the rest.
The Matterhackers filament also performed quite well in the mechanical test (as shown above), clocking in at 634 N (~64 kg) before deformation. If you need a material with adequate strength and a luscious color, this PETG material might be the one you’ve been searching for.
Innofil continues its conquest of the Filament Face-Off, as the InnoCircle rPET also finished atop the rankings. This material is made from recycled PET bottles, and is food-safe with a natural transparent look. We found that it was extremely easy to print, and provided a sky blue aesthetic that pleases the eye.
Although the EPR beat out this transparent blue material in the tensile testing, it did finish in a close second place. The carabiner printed with this material was able to sustain around 722N (~73 kg) of force before deformation.
Visually, the InnoCircle rPET was also impressive. The 3DBenchy printed in this material handled bridging and overhangs with fervor, but left a bit of stringiness and discoloration towards the top of the model. Still, this light and glassy blue material gives the impression of a majestically clear body of water, offering a more translucent alternative to the Matterhackers PETG mentioned above.
Although colorFabb now offers a PETG material in an economy package, the filament producer’s XT line offers similar durability while also being easy to print. We ended up testing the XT_Black alongside the other participating PETG filament. The colorFabb_XT co-polyester range is made with Amphora polymers from Eastman Chemical Company, which helps make materials more functional, durable, and efficient.
We found that the colorFabb material finished in the middle of the pack both visually and mechanically. The 3DBenchy we printed with this material did well with bridging and overall quality, but still had a few flaws, particularly with overhangs. The black color provides a sleek look and hides a few of the discrepancies within the print.
If cost is the number one factor playing into your PETG filament shopping spree, you might want to take a look at Makershaper PETG. Currently priced at $24 (for 1kg spool), this dark green material provides decent quality without breaking the bank.
During the tensile testing, the Makeshaper PETG showcased mediocre strength, withstanding 541 N (~55 kg) of force before buckling under pressure. Compared to some of the other PETG materials, these results were a tad bit disappointing. However, this dark green filament did perform quite adequately on the visual test, arguably making it worth its low retail price.
While we found that there are stronger and more visually appealing options on the market, this PETG is among the most affordable out there.
We also tested the clear and transparent Verbatim PET material. While the 3DBenchy came out nearly flawless, this material was surprisingly a bit lackluster in the mechanical test. The carabiner started to undergo deformation at around 484N (~49 kg).
Lastly, we also attempted to print with rigid.ink’s Blue PET-G material, but unfortunately faced quality control issues during the visual test. The filament itself offers a unique and rich color, but we got a glaring amount of ripples, echoes, and overhangs in our Benchy models.
Although PLA and ABS still sit atop the throne of 3D printing materials, PETG is quickly gaining recognition for combining the reliability of the former with the durability of the latter.
We made some interesting findings during our testing process, including the added strength that PETG provided to the design flaws of the carabiner. We were also impressed by the overall strength of each material, especially the offerings under the Innofil brand.
Needless to say, PETG material has become a popular alternative for makers looking to do away with the odor and printing difficulties of ABS, as well as those eager to take the next step up from PLA.
If you’re interested in buying some PETG to feed your 3D printer, here’s a recap of the filaments we tested and reviewed:
License: The text of "The Best PETG Filament Tested & Reviewed" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.