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ABS vs PLA: What is the Difference?

 |  Ankur Gohit

Differences between ABS and PLA Materials

ABS and PLA are the two most popular FDM (Fused Filament Fabrication) printing materials most 3D printers use for 3D printingBoth are thermoplastic and have special properties. They enter a soft state when heated and then return to a solid-state when cooled.

So, during the 3D printing process, you can heat these materials to melt and then squeeze them out through a nozzle to build up the layers of 3D printing material.

Both the materials are used for 3D printing, but there are certain factors that differentiate these 3D printing materials in terms of storage, smell, rigidity, and applications. Let’s dive in to discover the main difference between ABS and PLA so that you can get an idea of which material is best for your project.

What are ABS and PLA?

ABS vs PLA

PLA and ABS Filament. Image Source: Makeblock

ABS stands for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene and is a well-known thermoplastic in the injection molding field. It is also one of the most commonly used 3D printing materials. It is a material with good impact strength and mechanical properties. 

It is used in things such as casings, gears, LEGO, electronic housing, consumer goods, and automotive bumper parts. It is a little tougher in terms of texture and gives a glossy finish on 3D printing materials. ABS requires a close camber for 3D printing.

PLA stands for polylactide acid, and it is the most popular 3D printing material. It is a biodegradable thermoplastic derived from renewable resources such as corn starch and sugarcane.

The reason behind the popularity of this material is its features, it is easy to print, biodegradable, and affordable. Almost all 3D printers can use PLA for 3D printing. 

It is used in such things as showcase models, plastic cups, medical implants, and for educational purposes.

Strength and Durability Comparison

ABS vs PLA

PLA vs ABS Owl Comparison. Image Source: 3DSourced

The strength and durability of materials play an important role in 3D printing. Without a good strength, the 3D printed material will not last for a long time, and the chances of the model breaking are also increased.

So, it's important to choose a material with good strength and durability. ABS is considered a stronger and more durable material compared to other 3D printing materials such as PLA.

ABS has end-use applications, whereas PLA remains popular in 3D printing for rapid prototyping when form is more important than function. To check the strength of ABS and PLA material, you can create a 3D model using 3D modeling software and then print it with the help of a 3D printer. It will give you a better understanding of these materials.

You can use a 3D modeling software like SelfCAD to create 3D models for your work. There are many other 3D modeling software available on the internet, but we are recommending SelfCAD because of its great features such as:

  • It is an affordable 3D modeling software that can be used for modeling, designing, lighting, slicing, and many other works.
  • SelfCAD has a powerful rendering engine to help you generate realistic renders for your designers.
  • There is a smooth learning curve
  • SelfCAD has a lot of great training materials that can help you as a beginner. A good example is the interactive tutorial function that will help you to self-learn 3D modeling within a short time.
  • SelfCAD lets you create objects, scenes, and 3D designs in less time than when you’re using traditional CAD software.

Main Difference Between ABS and PLA

The main difference between ABS and PLA is strength and durability. ABS is considered to be more durable than PLA, but the strength of PLA is slightly greater than that of ABS. ABS is also reliable when it comes to long-term wear and tear, and also has end-use applications. On the other hand, PLA remains the most popular choice for rapid prototyping. Also, PLA is less toxic and easier to print compared to ABS. 

ABS needs a closed printing space, whereas PLS doesn’t. You can print with PLS anywhere. 

PLA is the most popular printing filament when it comes to color selection. So, if you want to print a model with multicolor, then PLA may be a good choice for you.

You can’t use PLA at high temperatures because it starts melting around 170 °C. For high temperatures, you should opt for ABS filament because it doesn't melt at lower temperatures. If you use a PLA model in direct sunlight, it may deform. So, in summary, we can say that ABS is more resistant to elements, meaning it can withstand more heat and pressure compared to PLA, and that’s why it is used for parts and models that will be exposed to a lot of wear and tear.

PLA is not as sensitive to temperature changes as ABS, meaning fewer problems will occur with warping. PLA has a low melting point and minimal warping, and that’s why it is one of the easiest materials to ensure that you 3D print successfully without encountering any 3D printing problems. If you have a small business, and you don’t have a large setup for 3D printing, you should opt for PLA filament.

PROPERTY ABS PLA

TEMPERATURE

(EXTRUDER/TABLE)

220-250 Degrees

80-100 degrees

200-230 degrees

60 degrees

Impact Strength 20kj/m2 16kj/m2

Vicat Softening 

Temperature

94 degrees 55 degrees
Printer Space Closed Open

       Values might be different for various filament brands

The table shows an overview of the difference between ABS and PLA. 

Pricing of ABS and PLA

Pricing plays an important role in every aspect of the work. Before starting any work, you should get an idea of the pricing. Pricing is one of the factors that makes PLA and ABS materials popular. They are inexpensive.

The average price of ABS ranges from $15 to $20 per kilogram (*it may vary in different regions of the world). And the average price of PLA also ranges from $15 to $20 per kilogram. This is to say, there is no major difference in the prices of both materials.

You can purchase any material according to your need because there is no difference in the prices of both materials.

Conclusion

Now, you know the difference between PLA and ABS filament. There is not much difference in the pricing, but there is so much difference in their strength and durability. Different 3D models require different types of material. You can choose a 3D printing material based on your work needs.

If you have any questions or problems, feel free to ask, we will respond as soon as possible.


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ABS vs PLA

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