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, PETG filament is gaining popularity among filament producers and the 3D printing community.
If you want to get deeper into the properties of this material, start reading the second section first: PETG Explained and Compared.
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.
If you’ve been looking for the best PETG filament, but can’t decide which to go with, then continue reading the next section.
For our first-ever Filament Face-off, we took a handful of different PETG filament brands 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 filament. 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 materials we tested 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 filament 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 3D printing filament 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 filament mentioned above.
Although colorFabb now offers a PETG material in an economy package, the filament producer’s XT line offers similar durability and is 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 what Makershaper has to offer. Currently priced at $24 (for 1kg spool), this dark green material provides decent quality without breaking the bank.
During the tensile testing, the Makeshaper filament showcased mediocre strength, withstanding 541 N (~55 kg) of force before buckling under pressure. Compared to some of the other PETG filament we tested, 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 filament 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 PETG filament, 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.
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 3D 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 filament 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.
Although PLA and ABS still sit atop the throne of 3D printing materials, PETG filament 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 filament 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, this material type 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 filament to feed your 3D printer, here’s a recap of the filaments we tested and reviewed:
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: 3D Printer Filament Guide 2018 - The Top 25 Types
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:
To be frank, there aren’t many disadvantages to this material. Still, there are a few worth mentioning. For starter, PETG filament 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.
It 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, this filament 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.
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.
How does ABS filament compare to PETG filament?
There are three routes you can take to purchase PETG filament for your FDM 3D printer.
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.
If you already know what you want to buy, can get spools directly from these shops and manufacturers:
If you‘re a manufacturer and want to have your brand added, please drop us a line in the comment section.
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 filament will set you back with $50 a spool.
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 this 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 this 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.
License: The text of "PETG Filament Guide 2018 – Explained, Compared & Reviewed" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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