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.
But before we get deeper into the properties of PETG filament, 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: 3D Printer Filament - 25 Best Types & Comparison Charts
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 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 for 3D Printing: Explained & Compared" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.