What Type of Filament Should I Use?

The entire family of Ultimaker printers is compatible with 2.85mm filament. There are increasingly high numbers of different types of exotic filaments, as well as a number of standard filaments. Each type has its benefits and drawbacks, so we've compiled some information here to help clarify the differences between them, and help you find the best material for you.

PLA

The silver roll of filament that comes standard with your printer is PLA. This is the most user-friendly filament to work with, prints easily, and comes in a variety of colors. The filament doesn't warp, and shouldn't have any trouble sticking to a standard 60 C heated bed. With a little blue tape, it will stick to a non-heated bed like the Ultimaker 2Go or Ultimaker Original just fine. PLA is great for printing prototypes, figurines, vases, and just about anything else you can think of. It prints best between 210 and 230 C, which will put a lot less heat wear and tear on your PTFE coupler and heater cartridge. It's also not a very abrasive material, so printing with it will also help prolong the life of your Bowden tube. PLA also doesn't tend to have any noticeable odor when printing. 

The only drawback to PLA is that it has a wide melting range, so if you're going to be exposing your print to a high temperature environment after you've made it (I'd say 90 C or higher--roughly the temperature of boiling water), you might want to try a higher temperature filament.

Since PLA is one of the easier materials to work with, we suggest getting to know the settings and functions of your machine while sticking to PLA usage.

CPE

CPE, also known as PET or UPET, is an extremely strong, high temperature filament. It prints at roughly 250 C, and we recommend 90 C for the bed. As a high temperature filament, it has very good durability. It doesn't shrink or warp any more than PLA, making it a good choice for a high temperature, durable filament. It also does not have a tendency to grind down.

Being that CPE is very hard and prints at high temperature, it is going to be more abrasive to your machine, and cause more wear and tear to the soft parts. Particularly the Bowden tube and TFM coupler. Please see our page on maintenance and parts replacement for more information about how to tell if your Bowden tube or TFM coupler needs replacing.

ABS

ABS is another high temperature, durable filament. It prints well at 250 or 260 C, and we recommend 110 C for the bed. The default is 90 C bed temperature, but if you're having adhesion problems, you may want to increase it to 110 C. You can suspend a finished ABS print over a pool of acetone and get a nice vapor polish on it, though you will lose a little detail in the process.

The drawback to ABS is that is shrinks a lot as it cools, which can cause warping and de-laminating, or cause the print to come off the bed. Keeping the ambient temperature inside the printer warmer and turning off the side fans can help minimize this. ABS is also a little more prone to grinding filament and charring, so if your filament becomes ground down, make sure to clean your bowden tube before proceeding to print again.

New Engineering Materials

The following new materials, especially designed to support engineering purposes are now available from Ultimaker, with more information coming soon: TPU95A, PC/Polycarbonate, Nylon, Polypropelene, and CPE+.

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