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Best Filaments for 3D Printing

Best Filaments for 3D Printing
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Material matters. You can have one of the best 3D printers on the market, use all the right settings in your slicer and end up with horrible output or a complete failure if you use sub-par filament.

The best filaments can not only provide good adhesion, with tangles or clogging, but also make models with sharp edges, vibrant colors and a durable feel. We’ve burned through cases of filament on dozens of printers using both Bowden and direct drive extruders. 

We love filament, and we’ve tried scores of rolls to help you find the best.

Best PLA Filaments

The best filament type for most people and projects, PLA (polyactic acid) is usually inexpensive and easy to print, which is why it’s also the most popular material. PLA filament runs on any 3D printer with any kind of bed surface and doesn’t require an enclosure. Made from renewable organic sources like corn, beets or sugarcane, PLA is more environmentally friendly than oil based plastics and doesn’t have very harsh fumes. 

Most PLA is somewhat brittle and has a low melting point, so it’s best used for decorative objects not subject to high temperatures or too much sunlight. It sands well and is easy to paint, making it great for costume pieces.

Happy Pot :) by Keetah, printed with an Anycubic Kobra using Inland Turquoise PLA.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

1. Inland PLA, Micro Center

Best Budget PLA on Amazon

Specifications

Print Temperature: 215 to 230 °C
Bed Temperature: 60 to 80 °C
Colors: 32 colors, including Turquoise, Raspberry Red and Mable
Typical Price: $21.99
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Recycled cardboard spools
+
Available at MicroCenter
+
Stats listed on spool

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs to run hotter than typical PLA

When your budget is tight, there’s no reason to print with inferior materials. Micro Center’s Inland PLA comes in a wide variety of opaque colors to suit your needs. I use a lot of filament reviewing printers, so Inland PLA is a perfect balance of quality and affordability. This Happy Pot in Inland Turquoise PLA was used to test an Anycubic Kobra’s build size.

Inland PLA requires a higher printing temperature than normal, starting at 215 °C. Micro Center has recently switched to a sturdy and recyclable chipboard spool that runs smoothly on any kind of holder. A pair of holes punched in the side of the spool makes it easy to tuck away the loose ends of your filament.

Buy: Inland PLA Filament (opens in new tab)


OG Dumpster Fire Ornament, by Denise Bertacchi, printed with an Ender 3 Pro with Jessie Premium PLA Tree Green and Mystery Orange.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. Jessie Premium PLA, Printed Solid

Best Budget PLA

Specifications

Print Temperature: 200 to 240 °C
Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C
Colors: 38 basic colors
Typical Price: $20.00
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Recycled Cardboard
+
Packed in vacuum bags
+
Stats listed on spool

Reasons to avoid

-
Color don’t always match website photos 

Jessie Premium PLA is a smooth printing filament manufactured by Printed Solid in Newark, DE. I’ve been a big fan ever since the Dumpster Fire incident of 2020 when I printed hundreds of Dumpster Fire Christmas ornaments for friends and family in Jessie’s Tree Green and Mystery Orange. 

You can select from a palette of 38 colors, each packaged on sturdy cardboard spools with steel cores for a friction free spin. Care for sparkles? Filament with micro glitter is only a dollar more than the regular versions. Spools are well labeled and made of sturdy chipboard with a steel core that helps lower friction while still being fully recyclable. Fun fact: the Jessie line is named after CEO David Randolph’s dog.

Buy: Jessie Premium PLA Filament


Correlation Vase by Clockspring3d on a Sovol SV01 Pro in MIKA3D Silk Rainbow  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. Silk Rainbow, MIKA3D

Best Fast Rainbow

Specifications

Print Temperature: 205 to 230 °C
Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C
Colors: One full rainbow
Typical Price: $41.99
Spool Size: 1500 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Fast color switching, about 5 meters per color
+
Shiny silk color

Reasons to avoid

-
Packed in three 500gram spools
-
Plastic spools

This super fast, silk rainbow PLA only needs about 5 meters per color change – a third less than other brands. Still, that’s a lot of filament, and this Correlation Vase from Clockspring3d’s Patreon only shifted through three of its delicious dark metallic colors. 

Mika3D sells this color in three batches of 500g spools, leaving you with awkward amounts of filament at the ends of each spool. The spools are well labeled, but are plastic, which causes unneeded waste.

Buy: Silk Rainbow PLA Filament (opens in new tab)


Crystal Dragon by Cinderwing3D, printed on a Lulzbot Sidekick 747 in Locyfens Blue/Purple/Green Rainbow PLA. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Rainbow, Locyfens

Best Glitter Rainbow

Specifications

Print Temperature: 190 to 220 °C
Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C
Colors: 2 rainbow types, Blue/Purple/Green and Blue/Purple/Red/Yellow/Green
Typical Price: $33.99
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Great quality
+
Non-abrasive Micro glitter

Reasons to avoid

-
15 meters between color changes
-
Plastic spools

This line of glittery rainbow PLAs make super fun prints that transition through 3 to 5 colors, depending on which version you purchase. The shimmery additive is non-abrasive and makes layer lines melt away for extra smooth prints. As with most rainbow filaments, you’ll need to use a lot of filament to see the color changes. It takes about 15 METERS between colors. This Crystal Dragon took over 56 meters of filament and just got into the third color of a Blue/Purple/Green spool.

Locyfens uses clear plastic spools, which is nice for seeing how much filament is left on the reel, but inconvenient once the filament finished. They are well labeled and have good spots for managing the filament tails.

Buy: Locyfens Rainbow PLA Filament (opens in new tab)


CHEP Cube by Chuck Hellebuyck, printed on the CR10s with Inland Rainbow 2 PLA.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. Rainbow, Inland by Micro Center

Best Budget Rainbow

Specifications

Print Temperature: 190 to 220 °C
Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C
Colors: 3 types: Rainbow, Rainbow 2 (pastel), Luminous Rainbow
Typical Price: $24.99
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Smooth transitions
+
Available at MicroCenter retail stores

Reasons to avoid

-
15 meter average between color changes 

Inland makes three Rainbow filaments: Silk Rainbow, a pastel Rainbow 2 shown here, and glow in the dark Luminous Rainbow. Each filament uses Inland PLA as the base. As with most rainbow filaments, you’ll need to use a lot of plastic to get several color changes. 

It takes about 15 meters between colors. This CHEP Cube was printed at 600% with thick walls and weighs about 300 grams and just barely makes it through all the colors in a spool of Rainbow 2. Inland’s rainbow filaments are currently spooled onto clear plastic master spools – which means they can be refilled with Inland Spooless (opens in new tab) once they are used up.

Buy: Inland Rainbow 2 Silk PLA Filament


Articulated Dragon by McGybeer, printed on the Ender 3 Pro in MH Blue Green Quantum.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

6. Quantum by Matterhackers

Best Dual Color

Specifications

Print Temperature: 215 to 235 °C
Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C
Colors: 12 color combos
Typical Price: $42
Spool Size: 750 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Amazing visual effect
+
Prints like normal Silk PLA

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs straight feed path or colors will twist
-
Plastic spools

Is it blue or is it green? It’s both! Matterhackers was the first company to introduce the 3D printing community to dual color filament – filament that has two colors running side by side on a single strand of plastic. The colors do an interesting dance that causes color shifts depending on your viewing angle. 

Quantum is a silk PLA that comes in 12 color combinations. It works best on a direct drive extruder, which keeps the filament from twisting on its way to the hotend. Quantum is delivered on well labeled plastic spools, which are great for seeing how much filament is left on your spool, but leaves you in a trash quandary when the filament is used up.

Buy: MatterHackers Quantum PLA Filament (opens in new tab)


3DBenchy by Creative Tools. Printed on Lulzbot Sidekick 747 in OVV3D Red/Blue/Green Tri-Color Shiny Silk PLA.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

7. Tri-Color Shiny Silk, OVV3D

Best Tri-Color

Specifications

Print Temperature: 190 to 220 °C
Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C
Colors: Four color combos, like Red/Blue/Green
Typical Price: $36.99
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Recyclable cardboard spools
+
Prints like ordinary Silk PLA

Reasons to avoid

-
Need detailed prints to show off all three colors
-
Needs straight feed path or colors will twist

You’ve seen dual color filament – now you can print THREE colors all at once. Tri-color filament has three colors running side by side by side on a single strand of plastic. This results in a shimmering, almost iridescent shine as the three colors mix. 

Tricolor is a silk PLA at its heart, and runs better when hot. It also benefits from the straight path of a direct drive extruder, which keeps the filament from twisting on its way to the hotend. OVV3D delivers its filament on well-marked, heavy chipboard spools that can be recycled. 

Buy: OVV3D Tri-Color Shiny Silk PLA Filament (opens in new tab)


Octo-Loki by McGybeer, printed with an Elegoo Neptune 2s, using MH Build Forest Green PLA.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

8. MH Build Series, Matterhackers

Best Every Day PLA

Specifications

Print Temperature: 190 to 220 °C
Bed Temperature: 40+ °C
Colors: 19 basic colors
Typical Price: $20.87
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Packed in vacuum bags
+
Stats listed on spool

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic Spools

MH Build Series is an affordable line of easy printing PLA in 19 bold opaque colors for everyday use and prototyping. No frills or glitter here, just consistent material to keep your printers chugging along. This Octo-Loki looks super clean in Forest Green PLA.

MH Build Series comes on plastic spools labeled with suggested printing temperatures and convenient holes for threading the loose ends of your filament to keep the spool tidy.

Buy: MH Build Series PLA Filament (opens in new tab)


Two Winged Flexi Dragon by TheBeyonder, printed on a CR10s in Protopasta HTPLA Joel’s Highfive Blue. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

9. HTPLA, Protopasta

Best Premium PLA on Amazon

Specifications

Print Temperature: 205 to 225 °C
Bed Temperature: 60 °C
Colors: 22 colors, including Joel’s Highfive Blue, Amie's "Blood of My Enemies" Translucent Red and Bobbi’s Purple Iris
Typical Price: $29.99
Spool Size: 500 g

Reasons to buy

+
Heat Treatable
+
Recyclable cardboard spools
+
Packed in reusable bags
+
Stats listed on spool

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey

Protopasta HTPLA is one of my favorite materials for 3D printing – it always runs smooth, trouble- free and without obvious layer lines. Sparkly colors use extremely fine micro glitters to avoid being abrasive to your nozzle. Even better, many of their specialty colors are concocted by visitors to the factory’s Filament Making Workshops. This dragon flexi was printed in my favorite color, Joel’s Highfive Blue. 

There’s 22 Community Inspired Colors, which have always been spooled on 100% recyclable cardboard. The spools are well labeled, but they lack holes for tucking in the tail of filament – we’ve used tape or simply jabbed the end into the spaces in the corrugated cardboard. Manufactured in Vancouver, WA.

Buy: HTPLA Protopasta PLA Filament (opens in new tab)


Printception Small Vase by Make Anything, printed on a Mingda Magician Max with Prusament Galaxy Silver PLA. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

10. Prusament PLA, Prusa Research

Best Premium PLA

Specifications

Print Temperature: 200 to 230 °C
Bed Temperature: 50 to 60 °C
Colors: 25 colors, included Galaxy Silver, Opal Green and Viva la Bronze
Typical Price: $29.99
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Spools made with recycled plastic and cardboard
+
Reusable vacuum bags
+
Stats listed on spool
+
QR code to track details of your spool’s creation

Reasons to avoid

-
Shipping costs add up 

Prusament is the in-house filament manufactured by Prusa Research, using exacting standards – and lasers – to keep every roll of printer food precise and perfect. They have a large variety of rich colors and several with a glorious dusting of jam free micro glitter. This giant nozzle is dazzling in Galaxy Silver PLA.

Even the spools are well constructed, using an inner recyclable cardboard core and a sturdy plastic outer disk with a handy grove for capturing the tail of your filament. Want to inspect your spool? Each roll has a QR tag that will give you details of how and when it was manufactured. Prusament is manufactured in Prague, Czech Republic.

Buy: Prusament PLA Filament 


Life Size Thor’s Hammer by ChaosCoreTech, head printed on a FLSun V400 in 3D Fuel ReFuel PLA. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

11. ReFuel, 3D Fuel

Best Bargain Recycled PLA

Specifications

Print Temperature: 190 to 220 °C
Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C
Colors: One color
Typical Price: $27
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Prints super smooth
+
Made of recycled materials

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic spools
-
Color is a blend of every color recycled
-
Color can be uneven

ReFuel is quality recycled PLA filament made from 3D Fuel’s in-house manufacturing waste. Leftover scraps from all their PLA colors are mixed into one giant batch, resulting in spools of brownish gray to earthy black material that looks a bit weird but prints just as wonderfully as the first batch. 

The colors can be a bit inconsistent, so ReFuel is best for functional prints or models you intend to paint. Spools are packaged in a plain box with no labels to save on cost. 3D Fuel has factories in both the US and Ireland.

Buy: ReFuel 3D-Fuel Recycled Standard or Pro PLA+ Filament


Clyde the Horse by Bugman_140, printed on a CR10s in ProtoPasta Black Recycled PLA.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

12. Black Recycled PLA, ProtoPasta

Most Affordable Recycled

Specifications

Print Temperature: 195 to 225 °C
Bed Temperature: 60 °C
Colors: Black
Typical Price: $19.99
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Lowest price for Protopasta filament
+
Excellent quality
+
Recycled cardboard spool

Reasons to avoid

-
Corrugated cardboard spools wear out fast

Would you believe the company known for lux PLA is also the source of the most affordable recycled filament we’ve found? ProtoPasta’s Recycled Black PLA comes from their own manufacturing waste, so every roll of recycled filament is just as smooth printing as ProtoPasta’s first run colors.

Black Recycled is a blend of scraps from their many shades of black and other darker shades mixed together. It’s not considered a heat treatable filament due to the random nature of the mix, but you might find a bit of sparkle in this very rich, dark black PLA. The corrugated cardboard spools are well labeled, but they lack holes for tucking in the tail of filament – we’ve used tape or simply jabbed the end into the edge of the spool. Manufactured in Vancouver, WA.

Buy: Black Recycled PLA Filament


Clearance Castle, by Angus Deveson. Printed on Ender 3 S1 in ProtoPasta Still Colorful Recycled PLA #11. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

13. Still Colorful Recycled PLA, ProtoPasta

Best Premium Recycled

Specifications

Print Temperature: 195 to 225 °C
Bed Temperature: 60 °C
Colors: Limited run colors
Typical Price: $49.99
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Only colorful recycled PLA
+
Excellent quality
+
Recycled cardboard spool

Reasons to avoid

-
Corrugated cardboard spools wear out fast
-
Pricey

ProtoPasta’s more colorful line of recycled PLA filament is great for everyday prints with that premium printing experience only ProtoPasta can serve up. The company collects scraps from their own waste stream and keeps it sorted by color group. The clean waste plastics – filament that’s out of spec or color transitions – is ground back into pellets and blended into new recipes with muted colors. The Calibration Castle above was printed in Still Colorful #11. 

The results are unique, and the filament has similar print quality to first run materials for a (slightly) discounted price. ProtoPasta’s corrugated cardboard spools are well labeled, but they lack holes for tucking in the tail of filament – we’ve used tape or simply jabbed the end into the edge of the spool.

Buy: Still Colorful Recycled PLA Filament


Flexi Dolphin by Flexi Factory, printed on Monoprice Joule in Polymaker PolyTerra Sapphire Blue PLA. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

14. PolyTerra, Polymaker

Most Earth Friendly PLA Filament

Specifications

Print Temperature: 190 to 230 °C
Bed Temperature: 25 to 60 °C
Colors: 26 matte colors, included Pastel Banana, Arctic Teal and Lavender Purple
Typical Price: $19.99
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
One tree planted for every spool
+
Sturddy recycled cardborad spool
+
Inexpensive

Reasons to avoid

-
A little heavier than typical PLA

PolyTerra comes in 26 velvety and pastel colors, with a matte finish that does well at hiding layer lines. It’s extremely easy to sand and paint. It’s a good quality, low cost filament for people who want to be environmentally-friendly makers without switching to a recycled filament. The flexi dolphin above was printed in PolyTerra Sapphire Blue PLA.

Many filament companies have switched to cardboard spools to help with recycling, but PolyTerra does one better. Not only is each cardboard spool and package made from recycled material, but PolyMaker contributes to OneTreePlanted.org so that every spool purchased plants a tree in your region. The spools themselves are very sturdy chipboard with well placed holes to help tame the filament’s tail. PolyMaker is a global company with an office and warehouse in Houston, TX.

Buy: PolyTerra Polymaker Matte PLA Filament (opens in new tab)


(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

15. Translucent PLA, Atomic

Best Translucent PLA

Specifications

Print Temperature: 190 to 230 °C
Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C
Colors: 20 brilliant colors, like Golden Blood Diamond Translucent
Typical Price: $29.99
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Smoothly wound
+
Micro glitters won't clog nozzles
+
Easy to print

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic spool

Atomic has 20 super-smooth, translucent PLA colors that deliver a premium printing experience without the premium price tag. Some of Atomic’s colors are scattered with non-abrasive micro glitter or flakes of shimmery pearl for absolutely beautiful results. All the colors print with little stringing or layer lines. 

The vase shown here is printed in Golden Blood Diamond, filled with bits of micro glitter. Atomic still uses plastic spools which present a recycling problem when they are used up. The spools are well labeled and have holes to help with containing the ends of your filament. Atomic’s factory is located in Kendallville, IN.

Buy: Atomic Translucent PLA 


3DBenchy by Creative Tools. Printed on Lulzbot Sidekick 747 in ProtoPasta Iron PLA, untreated and rusted. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

16. Metal Filled, ProtoPasta

Best Metal Composite PLA

Specifications

Print Temperature: 185 to 215 °C
Bed Temperature: Heat Not Required
Colors: Iron, Bronze, Copper, Brass, Stainless Steel
Typical Price: $34.99
Spool Size: 500 g

Reasons to buy

+
Recycled cardboard spools
+
Packed in reusable bags
+
Available at MicroCenter retail stores

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey
-
Abrasive

ProtoPasta’s metal-filled PLA is a mix of standard PLA mixed with real metal powders. This makes it very abrasive and a bit finicky to print so you’ll need to use a bigger nozzle and slower speed. Iron filled, shown here, is the most affordable of Protopasta’s metal line up. All the metal filaments can be polished to a shine, but iron can be rusted for an old, worn look. 

There’s also steel, copper, bronze and brass filaments. Remember to factor in the weight when making your purchase, as filament is sold by weight, not length. These filaments are heavier than straight plastic so you get less filament per spool. This iron Benchy weights 17g, while a pure PLA Benchy weights 12g.

Buy: Protopasta Metal Filled PLA Filament  


Schrodinky: British Shorthair Cat Sitting in a Box by Loubie3D, printed on a CR10s in 3D Fuel Buzzed Beer PLA. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

17. Buzzed Beer PLA, 3D Fuel

Best Novelty PLA Filament

Specifications

Print Temperature: 180 to 210 °C
Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C
Colors: One color: beer
Typical Price: $40
Spool Size: 500 g

Reasons to buy

+
Quirky color
+
Great at hiding layers
+
Prints like premium PLA

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited availability
-
Only one color
-
Plastic spools

Buzzed Beer PLA is a fun novelty filament made with 10% organic fibers left over from the beer making process. It has a deep golden brown color with tiny dark flecks, yet is not considered an abrasive filament. It's great at hiding layer lines, has little stringing, and prints easier than wood based filaments with a similar natural color. We’re calling this one a “novelty” filament because it only uses a small portion of recycled materials, it’s difficult to find in stock and has a premium price. 

3D Fuel still uses plastic spools, which is inconvenient once the filament is used up. They are well labeled and have good spots for managing the filament tails. 3D Fuel has factories in both the US and Ireland.

Buy: 3D Fuel Buzzed Beer PLA Filament


Life Size Thor’s Hammer by ChaosCoreTech, handled printed on a FLSun V400 in 3D Fuel Entwined Hemp PLA. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

18. Entwined Hemp PLA, 3D Fuel

Most Mellow PLA

Specifications

Print Temperature: 180 to 210 °C
Bed Temperature: 0 to 60 °C
Colors: One color: hemp
Typical Price: $40
Spool Size: 500 g

Reasons to buy

+
Quirky color
+
Great at hiding layers
+
Prints like premium PLA

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited availability
-
Only one color

Entwined is a beautiful filament with a natural, almost translucent, earthy wood tone derived from hemp. It’s premium PLA mixed with natural hemp fibers that prints with less noticeable layer lines and little stringing. We’re placing this one in the “novelty” category because it only uses a small portion of recycled hemp fiber, it’s difficult to find in stock and has a premium price. It does, however, print really well and makes a smoother printing alternative to wood PLAs. 

3D Fuel still uses plastic spools, which is inconvenient once the filament is used up. They are well-labeled and have good spots for managing the filament tails. 3D Fuel has factories in both the US and Ireland.

Buy: 3D Fuel Entwined Hemp PLA Filament


Best PETG Filaments

PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate glycol) is an oil based plastic that’s less brittle than PLA. It’s more resistant to high temperatures and sunlight, making it more suitable for outdoor parts or prints used inside a car. It's easier to recycle than PLA, resulting in many brands of 100% or partially recycled PETG filament. 

It can be a little harder to print than PLA, is often stringy, and is more difficult to sand and paint. For best results, PETG should be kept in a sealed bag or airtight box to reduce moisture exposure.

PETG can be printed with any 3D printer, any bed surface and does not require an enclosure. It does print hotter than PLA, but not so much as to require an all-metal hotend. PETG will bond with glass and sticks entirely too well to PEI coated print surfaces. You will need to use a layer of gluestick as a release agent – which is somewhat counterintuitive, but definitely works.

Fairy Door by Jukka Seppanen, printed on the Mingda Magician Max in PolyMaker PolyLite Teal PLA. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

1. PolyLite, PolyMaker

Best Budget PETG on Amazon

Specifications

Print Temperature: 230 to 240 °C
Bed Temperature: 70 to 80 °C
Colors: 18 basic colors in both solid and translucent
Typical Price: $21.99
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Recycled cardboard spools

Reasons to avoid

-
Few translucent colors

Easy to print with just a tiny wisp of strings, PolyLite is wonderful for creating stronger 3D prints. This Teal fairy door will be hidden along a trail without any fear of fading or melting. There are many solid colors to choose from, as well as a few translucent shades. The spools themselves are very sturdy chipboard with well-placed holes to help tame the filament’s tail. 

There’s even a window in the side and a gauge to help determine how much filament is left. PolyMaker is a global company with an office and warehouse in Houston, TX.

Buy: PolyMaker PolyLite PETG Filament (opens in new tab)


Picnic Festival Glass Holder by PM_Me_Your_Value, printed on an Ender 3 Pro with Jessie Premium Pure Cyan PETG. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. Jessie Premium PETG, Printed Solid

Best Budget PETG

Specifications

Print Temperature: 230 to 250 °C
Bed Temperature: 80 to 90 °C
Colors: 13 solid colors
Typical Price: $22
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Recycled cardboard spools
+
Inexpensive

Reasons to avoid

-
Not available on Amazon

Bargain hunters rejoice – Jessie by Printed Solid now comes in PETG. As with its line of in-house manufactured PLA, Jessie PETG offers 13 bold opaque colors that print without trouble or much stringing. Shown above is PETG Pure Cyan. Spools are well labeled and made of sturdy chipboard with a steel core that helps lower friction while still being fully recyclable. Jessie filament, named after the CEO’s dog, is manufactured in Newark, DE.

Buy: Jessie Premium PETG Filament 


(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. ProtoPasta PETG

Best Premium PETG Filament

Specifications

Print Temperature: 200 to 220 °C
Bed Temperature: 70+ °C
Colors: 9, like Highfive Blue and Galactic Empire Metallic Purple
Typical Price: $34.99
Spool Size: 500 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Recycled cardboard spools
+
More forgiving than normal PETG 

Reasons to avoid

-
Premium colors are pricey 
-
Not available on Amazon

Protopasta has been recreating their most popular HTPLA colors in PETG, using 75% recycled material. Shown above is Galactic Empire Metallic Purple. Currently showcasing nine colors, the PETG filaments are easy to print, hide layer lines well and have very little stringing. Fun fact: this Mini Joel printed in PETG Highfive Blue looks exactly like one I printed in Highfive Blue PLA.

The cardboard spools are well labeled, but they lack holes for tucking in the tail of filament – we’ve used tape or simply jabbed the end into the spaces in the corrugated cardboard. They’re manufactured in Vancouver, WA.

Buy: Protopasta PETG Filament


Ant Moat by wkarraker, printed on a Monoprice Joule in Prusament Carmine Red Transparent PETG.  (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Prusament PETG

Best Premium PETG

Specifications

Print Temperature: 240 to 250 °C
Bed Temperature: 70 to 90 °C
Colors: 20 colors
Typical Price: $29.99
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Spools made with recycled plastic and cardboard
+
Reusable vacuum bags
+
Stats listed on spool
+
QR code to track details of your spool’s creation

Reasons to avoid

-
Shipping gets costly

Prusament filaments are known for their exacting standards and high quality control, so it’s no wonder their PETG prints with little fuss and few strings. Shown here is Carmine Red Transparent, one of 20 colors in the PETG line. 

Prusa’s eye for details goes down to the spools, which use an inner recyclable cardboard core and a sturdy plastic outer disk with a handy grove for capturing the tail of your filament. Want to inspect your spool? Each roll has a QR tag that will give you details of how and when it was manufactured. Prusament is manufactured in Prague, Czech Republic.

Buy: Prusament PETG Filament


Curvy Vase, by Monomethylhydrazine, printed on a Kobra Max in KVP Edge Glow Pink PETG. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. Edge Glow, Keene Village Plastics

Best Translucent PETG

Specifications

Print Temperature: 230 to 260 °C
Bed Temperature: 70 to 100 °C
Colors: 9 basic colors
Typical Price: $40.22
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Super shiny
+
Little stringing

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic spools
-
Poorly labeled

Edge Glow PETG is a smooth transparent filament with glass-like qualities with excellent results. It’s easy to print with few strings, perfect for decorative objects, vases or very pretty practical prints. This vase is printed in Edge Glow Pink.

Keene Village still delivers materials on plastic spools and uses an odd tracking code on their labels that’s difficult to decipher. The overly simple labeling is probably because KVP is a white label manufacturer that produces filament for other companies as well as their own end use customers. KVP is manufactured in Euclid, OH.

Buy: KVP Edge Glow PETG Filament


Arboreal Vase by Clockspring, printed on a Lulzbot Sidekick 747 In Taulman3D Enviro Aqua PETG. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

6. Enviro PETG, Taulman3D

Best Budget Recycled PETG

Specifications

Print Temperature: 235 to 252 °C
Bed Temperature: 50 to 80 °C
Colors: 6 basic colors and one clear
Typical Price: $17.99
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Recycled cardboard spools
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100% recycled PETG

Reasons to avoid

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Limited colors

Taulman3D PETG is made from 100% recycled materials on 100% recycled cardboard spools that are well labeled with easy to use spots for taming filament tails. Taulman3D is best known for their tough engineering grade materials – they don’t even have a line of PLA. Enviro PETG comes in 6 solid colors and the clear aqua as shown. Taulman Enviro PETG is available on Amazon, and manufactured in Missouri.

Buy: taulman3D PETG Recycled Filament (opens in new tab) 


Poison Bottle by ChaosCoreTech, printed on a Monoprice Joule in Greengate Purple Reign PETG. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

7. Greengate

Best 100% Recycled PETG

Specifications

Print Temperature: 205 to 250 °C
Bed Temperature: 80 °C
Colors: 34, like Purple Reign, Bubblegum, Olive Drab
Typical Price: $31.99
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

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Fun colors

Reasons to avoid

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Not available on Amazon
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Plastic Spools

Greengate only makes one thing: fantastic 100% recycled PETG. Greengate knows recycling – the owners also run a plastics recycling company in New York and started their filament company as a way of keeping industrial waste out of the landfills. 

They have 32 colors in both translucent and opaque. Shown above is Purple Reign, a premium iridescent PETG. Though Greengate uses well labeled plastic spools, they do make an effort to recycle by collecting customer empties for reuse.

Buy: Greengate 3D PETG Filament


Princess Vase by Abby Math, printed on a Kywood3D Tycoon IDEX in IC3D Translucent Blue Razz R-PETG and KV Edge Glow Glass PETG. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

8. R-PETG, IC3D

Best 100% Recycled PETG

Specifications

Print Temperature: 210 to 250 °C
Bed Temperature: 70 °C
Colors: 9, like Translucent Cherry and Translucent Blue Razz
Typical Price: $31.00
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

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Available at MicroCenter retail stores
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On reused plastic spools

Reasons to avoid

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Limited color selection

IC3D line of recycled PETG is strong enough for functional prints and pretty enough for decorations. It prints consistently with very little stringing – though the level of cooling can alter the color of the print as seen in the Blue Razz vase above. This 100% recycled PETG is made from industrial and commercial wastes, creating a second life for plastics. IC3D reuses plastic spools collected from the community. You can buy IC3D R-PETG direct, at your local Micro Center or through Printed Solid. IC3D is manufactured in Columbus, OH.

Buy: IC3D R-PETG Filament


Best TPU Filaments

Whether you’re making toys that can withstand hard play or functional prints that take a beating, TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) is a great choice. TPU isn’t brittle like PLA and has a rubberlike quality that makes for good handles, phone cases and even gaskets. You can make your parts softer or harder by adjusting the number of walls and level of infill – 10% infill for squishy prints or 50% infill for firm rubbery prints. It’s also not as UV sensitive and can be used for outdoor parts. 

TPU is an extremely soft filament that works best with a direct drive printer. Using a Bowden style extruder is not impossible, but it is much like pushing a wet noodle into your hotend. It needs to print at a higher temperature than PLA, but doesn’t need an all metal hotend or enclosure. Any bed surface will work with TPU, but you will find a layer of glue stick to be helpful for removing prints. 

TPU also needs a slower printing speed and very little retraction. Stringing is almost unavoidable, so it's best to keep this filament very dry and avoid models with a lot of travel moves.

Thwack! V3 by low351, printed on a Lulzbot Sidekick 747 in Inland Black TPU. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

1. Inland TPU, MicroCenter

Best Budget TPU

Specifications

Print Temperature: 210 to 230 °C
Bed Temperature: Heat bed not required
Colors: 12 colors, including Rainbow and clear
Typical Price: $24.99
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

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Inexpensive
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Available at MicroCenter

Reasons to avoid

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Limited color selection on Amazon
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Plastic spools

Inland’s line of TPU is strong, stretchy and the best bargain we’ve found on flexible filament. It comes in several crystal like colors, but the company’s Amazon shop is limited to a boring selection of white, black and gray (you can find more colors at Micro Center). Shown above is Black TPU.

Its shore hardness is typical for TPU at 95A, meaning it is soft and flexible like a flip-flop or perhaps a tire. Of course this all depends on how thick you make the walls and infill. Our sample print used 2 walls and 10% infill, turning the Thwack Hammer into more of a Clown Hammer.

Buy: Inland TPU Filament (opens in new tab)


TPU Air Duster, printed on a Sovol SV01Pro in MH Build Translucent Purple TPU. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. MH Build Series TPU, Matterhackers

Best TPU

Specifications

Print Temperature: 230 to 250 °C
Bed Temperature: 40 to 60 °C
Colors: 9 colors, including Translucent Purple
Typical Price: $28.99
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

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Easy to print
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Great colors

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic spools

MH Build TPU is a stretchy TPU with a shore hardness of 95A – soft and flexible. We’ve made great flexi toys with it, but the functional thin walled air duster shown above in Translucent Purple is a favorite. Matterhackers’ translucent TPUs are shiny and sparkly, which means anything you print with them will be fun to look at ask well as play with. We’ve made a fantastic phone case with it and yes – the phone has survived several drops.

Buy: MH Build Series TPU Filament (opens in new tab)


Pull Start Handle by Copper Keep, printed on a Lulzbot Sidekick 747 in KV Vexi-Flexx70 White TPU. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. Vexi-Flexx70, Keene Village Plastics

Toughest TPU

Specifications

Print Temperature: 230 to 260 °C
Bed Temperature: 70 to 100 °C
Colors: 3 colors, black, white and clear
Typical Price: $68.97
Spool Size: 1 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to print
+
Incredibly tough
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Harder than normal TPU

Reasons to avoid

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Plastic spools

Vexi-Flexx70 is a super tough flexible filament that can make durable functional prints. Unlike ordinary TPU, Vexi-Flexx70 has a Shore hardness of 70D, making it similar to very hard rubber. 

When printed with a dense infill you get extremely sturdy parts that won’t break when tossed around. The samples we made, like this white handle for a lawnmower, are very hard without any sponginess. Like most TPU, it works best with a direct drive printer. It’s still prone to stringing, our handle looks wonderful and smooth because there were no travel moves.

Buy: Vexi-Flexx70 TPU Filament


Rocktopus by Kent Johnson, printed on a Lulzbot Sidekick 747 in NinjaTek Fire Red Cheetah TPU. (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Cheetah, NinjaTek

Fast TPU

Specifications

Print Temperature: 225 to 250 °C
Bed Temperature: 0 to 50 °C
Colors: 11 solid colors, like Fire Red and Sapphire Blue
Typical Price: $29.95
Spool Size: 500 g

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to print
+
Very tough

Reasons to avoid

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Plastic spools
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No translucent colors

Cheetah TPU has a shore hardness of 95A making it very soft and flexible, yet NinjaTek claims it can print twice as fast as normal TPU. Hence, the Cheetah moniker. We tried running it at 60mms – as suggested by their website – and only got jams, even with a direct drive. 

Slow and steady is still the way to go when you’re printing filament with the properties of a wet noodle. Our Fire Red OG Rocktopus was run at a more conservative 40 mms and turned out pretty nice with a little stringing that was easily trimmed off.

Buy: NinjaTek Cheetah TPU Filament (opens in new tab)

MORE: Best 3D Printers

MORE: How to Store 3D Printer Filament and Keep it Dry

MORE: How to Buy the Right 3D Printer

Denise Bertacchi
Freelance Reviewer

Denise Bertacchi is a Contributing Writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering 3D printing.

  • Ireeb
    Which criteria were used to rank these filaments? Did you perform any mechanical tests at all? They can behave drastically different under stress and there you see some more differences between strong and cheap filaments.
    Reply
  • Giroro
    It's completely baffeling that a cheap "cardboard spool" is a pro and better "plastic spool" is a con.

    First: cardboard holds moisture and degrades in shipping, meaning your brand new vacuum-sealed filament can arrive wet and dusty.

    Second: it's just outright nuts to me that somebody buying materials for an inefficient and highly wasteful plastic manufacturing process would be morally opposed to using plastic or creating plastic waste. These things aren't even bulk packaged. To 3D print, you need to buy piles of individual rolls, each with its own vacuum bag and packet of silica gel, put into a roll sized box, that's put into a bigger box before being shipped halfway around the world to your doorstep.

    There's nothing "green" about 3D printing, and there never will be. Any attempt to convince you otherwise is a brazen marketing gimmick spoken from the mouth of a salesman. It's a hustle. They may as well be a used car dealer trying to sell you the benefits of organic, locally-sourced, farm-to-table gasoline.
    If you're not comfortable with waste or throwing away plastic, then maybe learn how to whittle instead?
    Reply
  • Ireeb
    Giroro said:
    It's completely baffeling that a cheap "cardboard spool" is a pro and better "plastic spool" is a con.

    First: cardboard holds moisture and degrades in shipping, meaning your brand new vacuum-sealed filament can arrive wet and dusty.

    Second: it's just outright nuts to me that somebody buying materials for an inefficient and highly wasteful plastic manufacturing process would be morally opposed to using plastic or creating plastic waste. These things aren't even bulk packaged. To 3D print, you need to buy piles of individual rolls, each with its own vacuum bag and packet of silica gel, put into a roll sized box, that's put into a bigger box before being shipped halfway around the world to your doorstep.

    There's nothing "green" about 3D printing, and there never will be. Any attempt to convince you otherwise is a brazen marketing gimmick spoken from the mouth of a salesman. It's a hustle. They may as well be a used car dealer trying to sell you the benefits of organic, locally-sourced, farm-to-table gasoline.
    If you're not comfortable with waste or throwing away plastic, then maybe learn how to whittle instead?
    Glass-half-empty kinda guy right there.
    I really love the logic of "we can't reduce the impact on the environment to zero, so we should just not care at all." It's like saying "the catalyst in the car doesn't reduce the emissions to zero, so we should just remove it and all filters." While yes, a gas car will never emit fresh air, we should still try to reduce emissions as far as possible, or else we'd have many more problems much faster. Unless you love breathing in the thick black smoke.

    PLA is a bioplastic. It's created from plants, that consume CO2. When you either compost or burn PLA, you're only putting back the CO2 to the atmosphere the plants took out of it. The same goes for cardboard, and many manufacturers even use recycled cardboard. Other plastics, such as those the spools are made from, are made from fossil materials that used to be underground as oil. We pump that to the surface, turn it into plastic and burn it, now we've added CO2 to the atmosphere that wasn't there before.

    By the way, cardboard spools are usually more expensive to manufacture than plastic spools. But where I live, cardboard is cheaper to dispose of than the kind of plastic spools are made from. I haven't had any issue with cardboard spools so far, no damaged spool, no wet filament. The only time a print failed because a spool got stuck was on a plastic spool.
    3D-Printing will always use up some resources, but there is still a large difference between using fossile vs. renewable ressources. And even if we can't reduce the amount of fossile ressources to zero, we can still try to reduce them as much as we can instead of trying to burn limited ressources as fast as we can.
    Reply
  • graycyan1
    Great article in which I gained more information regarding PLA filament and got the best website for the PLA filament which also has a PLA filament subscription.
    Reply