We are still amazed by 3D printing, considering how many opportunities it gave us. It combines creativity and technical skills, allowing us to go beyond what we are used to.
So there is no surprise that people start picking up 3D printing for hobbies, some try to implement it in their work, and some make a job out of it.
If you are a beginner in 3D printing, you have to learn what materials are out there and what is better to use. In this article, we are going to focus on PETG, a very common material used by professionals.
However, this article may still be relevant for you if you have experience in 3D printing and you are considering the material change. We are going to discuss the qualities of this filament and compare it to other widely-used materials, namely PLA and ABS.
PETG in Detail
PETG stands for polyethylene terephthalate glycol-modified. However, if you did not understand a single word, it is okay. If we put it easily, PETG is a thermoplastic that is popular among 3D professionals due to its alluring qualities:
Water, Heat, and Chemical Resistance
This quality makes it extremely useful for prints that have to withstand corrosive chemicals (salts, acids, and alkalis), high temperatures, or constant contact with water. Prints with PETG can last long.
Easy to Print
Even though the end material can withstand a lot, it is still surprisingly easy to work with it during printing. You will be able to admire the easiness of printing only when you work with less flexible materials.
It is obvious that the material is good for end-use parts due to all kinds of resistance but it is even more suitable, considering the glossy surface PETG provides.
Easily Achievable Transparency
It is slightly more difficult to color the PETG print but it is perfect when it comes to achieving transparency. PETG, therefore, makes good glass.
However, you can only find out whether PETG is suitable for your project if you compare it to other printing materials.
PETG vs PLA
PETG and PLA are often compared because they are from the same group of plastics, namely polyesters, and they are both thermoplastics. It is easy to use both of them.
As my tutor from Preply.com in 3D printing likes to say, there is no better or worse material, it depends on what purposes you will use them and your preferences.
PETG is mostly used for physical qualities, specifically water, heat, and chemical resistance. PETG is also considered to be more flexible and does not break as easily as PLA when bent. So if the end product will be used in harmful environments and you want it to be solid and long-lasting, PETG is a way to go.
However, PLA is more aesthetically pleasing, it is easier to shape complex forms, color, and glue them together (gluing is close to impossible with PETG). You can imitate other materials such as bronze, steel, wood, etc.
Both are recyclable and do not lose any quality after you cool them down, use, melt, and cool them down again. Consequently, you can reshape and reuse the end product as much as you want. Yet, PLA is biodegradable while PETG will need way much more time to break down to natural components. At the moment, the biodegradability of PLA is being discussed so it may not have this advantage anymore.
PLA is slightly cheaper than PETG but the difference is not so big that you give up the second one for the sake of saving money. As we can see, materials have different functions and purposes so you have to choose what suits the best for your project.
PETG vs ABS
ABS is one of the first materials used in 3D printing and was one of the most popular before PETG came around.
ABS is considered to have as good physical properties as PETG does but it is harder to print. PETG is a fine line between the strength of ABS and ease of use of PLA. You need temperatures around 100°C, heated beds, and build chambers for ABS. Moreover, if something is slightly off, you may face drastic defects. PETG requires only 50-70°C, no additional heated beds or build chambers, and is more forgiving if something went wrong.
ABS can be quite dangerous, taking into account the strong odor and toxic emissions. It is bad for your health to work with it for long. Such a threat does not apply to PETG.
Yet, ABS has an advantage: its easiness of post-production where you can paint and glue together with details. As you already know, PETG has no such properties.
PETG is an amazing tool for 3D printing that is mostly used for end-use parts and products that will be exposed to light, water, or corrosive chemicals. PETG has good clarity and is easy to print with.
However, if you need a complex form, color, or glue the details together, you will have to choose other materials. Still, PETG is widely used and loved by professionals.