Below is a table that highlights the differences ibetween PLA and ABS filaments.
Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene
Polylactic acid or polylactide
Durable Strong Slightly flexible Heat resistant
Easy sanding Easy gluing Easily soluble in acetone
Sanding possible Limited gluing
Hot burning plastic
Sweet cooking-oil like smell
The Pros and Cons of ABS and PLA
I am not going to tell you which one you should use, as I don’t know what you are going to be printing. But, I can tell lean you in the right direction by providing you with the pros and cons for each one. If you really enjoy the pros and can deal with the cons, then that filament is your answer.
Very sturdy and hard More flexible – easier to work with Suitable for machine parts Increased lifespan Higher melting point
Can be printed on a cold surface Shinier and smoother appearance Higher 3D printer speed More rigid features More detail Translucent colors Heatbed not always necessary That sweet smell
More difficult to print Heatbed required Prone to cracking if cooled too quickly Not suitable for using with food That not so sweet smell
Can deform because of heat Less sturdy More brittle Bent area turns white Not suitable for using with food Lower melting point
When to use which filament
Great, so you know the details for each type and how it makes it either good or bad to use for certain conditions. So finally I’ll be helping you out by giving you the times when you should use ABS, or when you should be focusing just on PLA.
When to use it
If the object is going to be dropped often (like tool parts). If the object needs to cope with temperatures over 60ºC.
If you’re a 3D printing enthusiast – as much as possible. Can sometimes be used in outdoor areas. Perfect for gifts and prototypes.
When to stay clear
If you don’t have a heatbed . If you want to print large objects in a place where there might be wind or changes in temp (cracking and splitting). If the place you use doesn’t have good ventilation (smell could get bad).
If you want to make objects that might be dropped often (too brittle for tool handles). If the object will be used in temperatures greater than 60ºC (sagging can occur).