In this guide, let's compare ABS VS PLA for 3D printing. These are two most popular materials people use and please use this guide to decide which one to use.
Core Differences Between Resin and Plastic
Both ABS and PLA are used for FDM printing. The key difference when choosing between them is more optimal for commonly used parts.
1.0 - 1.4 g/cm3
~$23 / kg
~$23 / kg
PLA is a thermoplastic that is made from renewable sources like cornstarch or sugarcane. It's stronger than ABS and nylon. It's easier to print, but not as heat or chemical resistant compared to other materials like resin. PLA is perfect for a variety of applications such as cups, toys, bike parts and more.
- Easy & fast to print
- Great for rapid prototyping
- Doesn’t have impurities
- Not smooth surface
- Not temperature resistant, Can droop and deform over 60°C
- Can warp under stress or UV radiation
ABS is another common thermoplastic. It is popular in the injection molding industry because it has superior mechanical properties and is more durable and lighter than PLA.
However, ABS is harder to print than PLA, but ABS is still better to deflect heat than PLA and nylon. Some applications of ABS include LEGO bricks, car parts, bike parts, toys, constructions, and more.
- Great for prototyping
- High flexural strength than PLA
- Can stretch and elongate more before breaking than PLA
- Heat resistant
- Less brittle
- Use for low stress end use
- Not to be used in a heavy load bearing cpacity
- Toxic to human body after long exposure
- Can be brittle
- Prone to warping
- Toxic fume when burned
When To 3D Print With ABS Material?
Resin material is best used for SLA/DLP 3D printers (Sterolithography/ digital light processing) to cure liquid resin into layers.
Resin provides highly detailed part for scale models - Extremely fine details than using plastic.
When To 3D Print With PLA Material?
Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is the most common to print plastic material such as PLA, carbon fiber and Nylons. It's easy and affordable for making practical parts used to withstand stress.
These include: gears, handle, structural parts, moving parts and much more
ABS VS PLA Strength
PLA is stronger and stiffer than ABS, but both of them are not as heat-resistant compared to other materials. PLA is mostly used by hobbyists. ABS is weaker and less rigid, but it is tougher and lighter for stress load use such as bike pedal, and handles. Overall, both of them are great for prototyping applications.
How Much Weight Can PLA Hold?
Without high temperature influence, PLA can hold up to ~180 - 280 lbs based on the profile of the part such as a hook.
In order to create a strong part for a specific applications, please test them based on their tensile strength and flexural modulus properties.
How Much Weight Can ABS Plastic Hold?
ABS can hold as much as PLA in the range of 180 to 290 lbs based on good part design to handle stress load.
It stretches and elongates before breaking.
Is PLA More Brittle Than ABS?
Yes, PLA is more brittle than ABS. PLA is an organic material with about 37 MPA tensile strength. It doesn't stretch as much before breaking like ABS.
Difference Between PLA VS PLA+
PLA+ is more flexible and less brittle than regular PLA material. Overall PLA plus is slightly stronger, much more smoother to print, much more flexible, high temperature resistant.