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Best 3D printing filament on a budget

Filament and printer
Filament and printer (Image credit: Windows Central)

This list is to give you an overview of each material and the best product you can pick up on a budget in each category. For my money Inland PLA (opens in new tab) is the very best you can buy for the cheapest price possible. It won't let you down.

Note: This list is made of 1.75mm diameter filaments, as it is the most common width used by home 3D printers. Most of the products here can be found in 3mm diameter as well.

Polylactic Acid (PLA) Filament

PLA is the most commonly used filament for beginners and general use. Made from organic polymers, PLA is a biodegradable, rigid material that has a low melting point. It's used often as a base for models that you want to paint and for objects kept indoors. The downside of PLA is it can become soft in relatively low heat, around 60 Celcius, or 140 Fahrenheit for the U.S. makers, and doesn't do well out in the elements.

Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS)

ABS is used in many products around the world and is lauded for its high temperature and environmental resistance. It's also extremely tough once printed and can be wet sanded to a super fine finish if you want to take the time. The biggest drawback of ABS is its noxious fumes. If you're thinking of printing with ABS, make sure you are in a well-ventilated place and use an enclosure if you can.

Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU)

TPU is the softest of the four filament types and can be used to create rubberized models such as phone cases or tires. It also works very well to create flexible hinges or protective covers when dual printed with another filament type. TPU tends to be more expensive than other materials so not everything is under budget, but these are still your bargain choices.

Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol (PETG)

PETG is the happy mix between PLA and ABS. It has the strength and temperature resistance of ABS while being safe to print indoors. It can be a little difficult to get right, but once you do you'll never look back. You may need to use a Micro Swiss Hotend as PETG needs a very high temperature to print.

There are a lot of choices

Moon city

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

If you picked any of these products across the different material types you would have a great shot at making excellent prints. Some will work better than others on different printers so it's always a good idea to try different filaments until you find the right for you.

I've titled the ones I use regularly as My choice because they give me the best results but remember everybody's printers are unique so your mileage may vary.

For my money, the Build series (opens in new tab) from Matterhackers is an excellent choice across the gamut of different filament types. From ABS to PETG, the build series just works.

You should also be looking at eSun Silk PLA (opens in new tab) if you don't plan on painting your models. The glossy finish is just beautiful on unpainted prints. The Moon City by kijai design above is a perfect example of how good the Silk PLA looks.