What is the most common material used for 3D printing?

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3D Printing can produce a wide range of products, and the materials used are as diverse as the results. The material determines the texture, shape, and strength of the product. Therefore, something flexible is required to produce such results. The answer to “what is the most common material used for 3D printing” is more than simply plastic.

Most importantly, these qualities in the results are achievable. And with comparatively fewer steps. However, cost-effectiveness and strength are the key factors that determine material quality.

Using a 3D printer is in some ways, similar to using a traditional printer. That is to say, you’ll have to submit a detailed image of the design to the printer. Those details get rendered in STL (Standard Triangle Language).

The rendered details convey the required information to the printer to read the design from all sides, and angles; and understand the dimensions.

The most popular material used for 3D printing

Plastic remains the most popular material used for 3D printing. Now, this isn’t the “everyday” plastic that you know. 3D printing requires a special kind of plastic that is purpose-made.

The two most commonly used plastics are:

  1. Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) – PLA is by far the most popular. This printing material is completely biodegradable and made from renewables like cornstarch. In other words, for those who might be hesitating to use 3D printers to protect the environment, this should be a perfect choice. PLA also has a low melting point, which makes it suitable for usage at home.
  2. Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) – ABS offers the best strength and flexibility you can find. That is to say, ABS is perfect for printing car components or household appliances. Moreover, it is cost-effective which makes it a commonly purchased material.

There are also other plastic options available, such as PVA (Poly Vinyl Alcohol) and PC (Poly Carbonate) available but they are the less popular choices.

Given the two types of commonly used plastics, it is ultimately your choice. Do you need an environment-friendly solution or are you looking for strength and flexibility?

However, there are plenty of other materials that are used for 3D printing as well. For instance, metal, carbon fiber, and graphite. In short, it all depends on what do you want to print, components or miniatures and you pick the material accordingly.

3D printers for miniatures

There’s a debate that FDM printers work for miniatures. But the more popular choice of 3D printers is resin printers. Even though plastic is popular, it is not so easy to work with and the miniature will not please you.

On the other hand, resin printers are easier to use and the print quality is good. Moreover, you can find cheaper printers for miniatures and get good quality. However, resin is super toxic and slightly difficult to work with, if you’re only getting started.

Therefore, make sure you have good ventilation and the right temperature. You may also need to troubleshoot the printer from time to time.


Having a 3D printer can be a great learning experience for the creatives. However, when it comes down to buying one it is more of a question of what is that you want to do rather than what’s the popular opinion.

Therefore, explore your options and find the 3D printer that you can learn easily and work with, regardless of the material used.

Even if knowing all the tips/important info we’ve provided you with, you’re still puzzled what to look for when shopping. Here’s a nice list of best 3D printers for miniatures.

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