Nylon vs. PLA vs. ABS

Nylon, ABS, and PLA are some of the most affordable filaments for 3D printing today, and while PLA and ABS are more similar and closer in price range, many of our customers ponder the use of Nylon for 3D printing. This article looks at all three materials, highlighting each material’s key properties and how they apply to 3D printing.

·     PLA

Polylactic acid (PLA) is a thermoplastic material that boasts superior printability, good strength, and stiffness. It is one of the most preferred 3D printing materials, coveted for its low price, minimal part warping, and good strength. The downside of PLA is its low melting point, poor heat resistance, and durability. 

Above 122F, 3D-printed PLA materials become very susceptible to damage, losing its strength and stiffness. PLA-parts are also poor absorbers of impact and shock, making them very fragile. Relative to Nylon and ABS, PLA remains the strongest filament. However, its poor application conditions and low heat resistance often limit its usage to non-functional or hobbyist applications.

·     ABS

ABS stands for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. It is a thermoplastic filament with very good printability and fairly good strength, stiffness, and durability. Relative to PLA, ABS is lower in strength; however, it has a higher durability and heat resistance. ABS is a better strength-to-weight ratio than PLA. It also has a lower printability because the material warps more easily. This is while ABS is often printed in a heated bed with a hotter extruded. In terms of heat deflection, ABS has the highest heat deflection temperature than both Nylon and PLA.

The higher durability, lower weight, and heat resistance make ABS more available for low-performance and rapid prototyping applications.

·     Nylon

3D-printed parts made with Nylon have excellent impact resistance, chemical resistance, and high flexibility. It has the lowest strength and stiffness relative to PLA and ABS. It is around ten times stronger than ABS but requires significantly more effort to print than ABS. Like ABS, Nylon must be printed with a heated nozzle at a higher temperature. Its chemical resistance opens it to usage for some industrial applications, but its deficiency in strength limits its use in widescale production.


Increasing Strength

Over the years, thermoplastics have been complemented with glass and fiber components to make glass-filled polymers. These compounds are widely used for industrial applications. They boast of high strength, heat resistance, and durability, complementing the inadequacies in the thermoplastic properties. Filled Nylon is one of such materials available for 3D printing functional parts that have high-performance demands.

Final verdict

All PLA, ABS, and Nylon are all suitable for elementary and everyday low-performance applications. PLA is the go-to filament when 3D-printing parts that do not have high requirements around their application and functionality. These could include action figures, small structures, and hobbyist applications. ABS and Nylon both have better performance scorecards than PLA, with higher durability and heat resistance. When it comes to making reliable 3D-printed parts, glass-filled polymers like glass-filled nylons should be considered for its strength, durability, heat, and chemical resistance. 

FirstPart 3D Printing Services in China

Want to know the right material for you? Get in touch with us at Firstpart.

As one of the top manufacturers in China, we encourage you to try out our high-quality online and offline 3D printing service solutions and get excellent product prototypes and high-quality parts.

Our engineers are available to help with a free quote and design evaluation. Depending on the nature of your project, you will typically receive your quote in a number of hours as well as several suggestions on how to optimize your end part.

FirstPart also provides stringent quality control evaluations and super-efficient logistics that guarantees that you receive your 3D printed objects, free from warping and printing defects. All our parts are printed and finished to specifications quickly, and most importantly, affordably.