There are different types of materials that you can use for 3D printing. Among the common materials are TPU and PLA. What is the difference between them and which one should you use for 3D printing? Read our TPU vs PLA guide below to find out.
Both PLA and TPU are common materials used for 3D printing. However, the materials have different properties, behave differently when in a 3D printer and have various pros and con to consider.
PLA is an acronym for Polylactic Acid.
This is the easiest material to 3D print and, therefore, is the most common.
One of the differences between PLA and most thermoplastics is that the former is made from organic materials such as sugarcane and corn starch.
PLA is a bio-degradable plastic that is categorized as a ‘bioplastic’. Since polylactic acid is biodegradable, you may feel a little better when 3D printing using PLA since you won’t be harming the environment.
PLA is also food-safe. However, when printing foods, issues can arise due to the gaps between the layers, which can make it easy for bacteria to thrive.
If you are just getting started with 3D printing, you should use PLA filament. This material is more forgiving when printing and works excellently for rapid prototyping.
Here is one PLA filament that we recommend:
AVAILABLE ON AMAZON
TPU is an acronym for Thermoplastic Polyurethane. This filament is mostly used for prints that have to be elastic as well as resistant to abrasion, oil and grease.
Here is one of the best TPU filaments on the market:
AVAILABLE ON AMAZON
On the other hand, TPU is flexible in nature. The material can bend without any effect on the durability, strength or design or the print.
After printing a model with TPU filament, you can use a mild soap to clean it.
PLA vs TPU: The Pros and Cons
PLA is the easiest filament to print with. The material is organic and more environmentally friendly.
However, if you want your print to have flexible properties, i.e., be able to bend, you will need to use TPU.