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PLA Filament vs. ABS Filament: What's the Difference? - COEX 3D

PLA Filament vs. ABS Filament: What's the Difference?

Josh Bonnin

What are PLA and ABS filaments?

PLA and ABS are two of the most popular 3D printing filaments on the market. Both materials have their own unique advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to choose the right one for your project.


PLA is a thermoplastic made from corn starch or sugarcane. It is a biodegradable material that is relatively easy to print with. PLA prints at lower temperatures than ABS (for Coex 3D PLA, this is around 210°C - 225°C), making it a good choice for printers with limited temperature ranges. PLA parts are also typically smooth and glossy, with good detail reproduction.

However, PLA has some drawbacks. It is not as strong or durable as ABS, and it is not as heat-resistant. PLA parts can also warp if they are not printed properly.


ABS is a thermoplastic made from petroleum. It is a strong and durable material that is resistant to heat and impact. ABS prints at higher temperatures than PLA (Coex 3D ABS prints best at 230°C - 250°C), which can make it more difficult to print with. ABS parts are also typically matte and rough, with less detail reproduction than PLA parts.

However, ABS has some advantages over PLA. It is stronger, more durable, and more heat-resistant than PLA. ABS parts are also less likely to warp than PLA parts.

Which is Right for You?

So, which 3D printing filament is right for you? If you are looking for a material that is easy to print with and has good detail reproduction, then PLA is a good choice. If you need a material that is strong, durable, and heat-resistant, then ABS is a better choice.

Here is a table that summarizes the key differences between PLA and ABS:

Property PLA ABS
Material Corn starch or sugarcane Petroleum
Strength Medium High
Durability Medium High
Heat resistance Low High
Printing temperature 210-225°C 230-250°C
Warping Yes No
Detail reproduction Good Fair
Cost Low Medium

Here are some additional factors to consider when choosing between PLA and ABS:

  • The application: If you are printing end-use parts that will be exposed to high temperatures or impact, then ABS is a better choice. If you are printing prototypes or models that do not need to be strong or durable, then PLA is a good option.
  • Your printer: If your printer has a limited temperature range, then PLA is a better choice. If your printer can print at higher temperatures, then ABS is a good option.
  • Your personal preferences: Some people prefer the smooth and glossy finish of PLA parts, while others prefer the strength and durability of ABS parts. Experiment with both materials to see which one you like better.  ABS has the added bonus of being able to be Acetone smoothed.

Whatever you're printing, there's bound to be a material that will fit your needs. ABS and PLA are two very popular materials with different uses and we hope this helps you understand which may be best for your project. If you'd like advice in choosing 3D printing materials for your next project, feel free to reach out to us at support@coex3d.com


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