PETG vs PLA Filaments: Material Differences

PETG and PLA (PETG VS PLA) filaments are placed under the category of polyester plastics. Similar to FDM 3D printings, both PETG and PLA are thermosoftening plastics. It means the filaments start to melt at a particular temperature and are returned to their original solid state when cooled. In general, luckily material quality will not degrade even after repeated heating up and cooling down the filaments. Majority of PETG and PLA filaments are to hand at each of 1.75mm and 2.85mm in diameters.  

If you are looking for a filament with the best physical properties, then go with PETG without a shadow of doubt. Nonetheless, PLA would be more handy for perfect and art-conscious prints.  

In this article, let us study in detail regarding these filaments along with comparison and pick out the filament which would satisfy all your needs.

What Is PLA?

PLA or Polylactic Acid is a widely famous thermosensitive filament used in 3D printing. It is user friendly, easily available in a wide variety of colors and doesn’t exhibit harming fumes. Since PLA has quite surprising adaptability and printing ability, it is preferably recommended to beginners.    

What Is PETG?

PETG stands for Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol. It is a thermosetting filament, which helps to print solid dimensions and prevents shrinkage. Glycol present in the filament plays a vital role in expressing well finished features of a 3D print. PETG is highly temperature resistant and waterproof filament with excellent electrical properties. It is widely used by professionals, because it has high durability like ABS and excellent printing ability like PLA.

PETG vs PLA: Characteristics: 

Strength: 

After many tests and researches, PETG is found to be quite stronger than PLA to a great degree. Even though PLA might be popular enough in usage, when it comes to matters of strength PETG stands a step beyond it and this is due to high durability and tensile property.

PETG is highly resistant to peak temperatures, where PLA filaments might start to warp. It is also important to note that PETG being a hard filament consumes plenty of time to melt as opposed to PLA filaments. 

While using PETG as printing material, your 3D printer may exhibit oozing and stretching for which you have to again adjust the settings to get rid of those issues. On the other hand PLA is also used for easy prints and getting smooth finishings.

PETG being a hard filament and may be complicated while printing, luckily it has the surprising ability to stick on to the print bed instantly and also heads off the print detaching from the printer bed. This is the major reason why PETG requires low pressure while printing the first layer.     

PLA+ is also a popularly known filament, it is an improved form of PLA possessing all top features of general PLA filaments. It is hard, greatly durable and has greater ability of sticking to the print bed than PLA. Finally,  the conclusion is that PLA+  is finer than PLA but not PETG filament.       

Temperature: 

Temperature resistance undoubtedly goes to PETG. Arnite 3040 from Nexeo, a brand of PETG, is recorded to resist extreme temperatures till 250 °C. General PETG filaments can tolerate only a temperature of about 75 °C. Whereas, PLA 3D printed parts on the other hand can stay in the solid state only under 55 °C. 

Safety: 

PLA occupies top position as a safer filament in this regard. It is because the PLA filament is majorly composed of organic materials and has the ability to convert into lactic acid without causing any distress to the user. 

It produces a likable and relaxable aroma during printing, which makes it unique from other filaments like ABS and Nylon.

When it comes to PETG, of course it is also a safer filament than ABS and Nylon, but stands behind PLA in this regard. It has been experienced that PETG exhibited weird aroma, but this is based on the brand and temperature you provide.

When looked deeper into these filaments, both bring out similar results in safety and are obvious filaments for your needs. 

Biodegradable And Recycling:

PLA stands first in biodegradability and recyclability. PLA when left out for a long time arrives back to its original natural components. Although, both the PETG and PLA filaments can be reused as new filaments after recycling, PETG do not have the ability to easily break down and it is a must to recycle it technically.

Shrinkage During Cooling: 

When cooled both PLA and PETG are shrinked, this rate of shrinkage is very low in contrast to other 3D printing filaments. The shrinkage rate may hardly be around 0.20-0.25%. PETG may exhibit slight naked shrinkages, while the shrinkage of PLA can be ignorable.

Food Safety:

In regard to food safety, PLA and PETG both are pretty safe filaments. Their printed products are used in a wide range for the storage of food products. 

Since PLA is made up of sugarcane and corn extracts, it is considered as an organic filament and is safe enough to store food in its 3D prints.

On the other side PETG is heat resistant and many other solvents, it is also a safe filament, but stands a step behind PLA when compared.

Ease Of Printing:

PLA is best for ease printing and is mostly recommended for new beginners. PLA when compared with PETG in regard to ease printing, doubt PLA wins. 

Many experienced users reported that PETG has the same durability like ABS, but has easier printing ability like PLA. It means that there is no huge difference between PLA and PETG in ease of printing.

It is important to fix the settings properly, particularly retraction settings while printing with PETG filaments.

Transparency: 

Transparency can be easily attained with PETG in contrast to PLA, a best example of PETG is Taulman’s T-Glase. Although PLA too has transparency properties but only in some selective brands.   

Outdoor Use: 

Since PETG is highly resistant to extreme temperatures when compared to PLA, PETG is most suitable for outdoor uses. In the same case of outdoor use, PLA plays a greater role than PETG by providing longer durability when painted. 

PETG VS PLA: Differences in printing: 

Warping: 

In contrast to other filaments where printing is done in a suitable environment to avoid warping, PETG undergoes only minimum warping issues while printing even after applying low extrusion temperature. PETG is widely used for entry-level printers due to its ease of printing.   

Same hardware which is used for PLA can also be used for PETG for printing most of the parts. Only difference is to provide extra degrees of temperature for the printer bed and hotend. Moreover, which also means larger parts can be printed with PLA as well as PETG without the tension of warping.   

Post-processing: 

With regard to PLA in post-processing, it is very easy with a wide range of choices. But when it comes to PETG, it becomes complicated to remove the support structures due to its strong adhesion property. 

Sanding is one of the methods in post-processing, which makes the part’s surface smoother and makes it attractive and thus PETG can easily undergo this process in spite of other FDM processes.

Price: 

Although many say that PLA is cheaper than PETG. But the fact is it all depends on the brand of filament you purchase. In fact the materials of PLA can also range beyond hundred dollars. It is important to analyse the factor leading to high price and it is nothing but the quality of the material. Any of the PLA and PETG filaments which are composed with extra materials like carbon fiber are highly expensive than general filaments. While choosing any of these filaments it is good to visit or contact the nearby standard manufacturers and compare their qualities along with the price.   

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