PLA vs TPU: What is best for 3D Printing?

PLA vs TPU: What is best for 3D Printing?

PLA vs TPU: What is best for 3D Printing? 

When discussing materials it is important to know the differences between them. PLA and TPU 3D Printing Filament both have their advantages, in this blog we will try and set out the differences between them. 


So what is PLA filament? Or to give it its full name - PolyLactic Acid?

Well PLA is the most commonly used material for 3D Printing due to it being the easiest filament to print with. PLA is different from most thermoplastic polymers because it sourced from renewables such as corn starch or sugar cane.

PLA is a biomass plastic and is catergorised under the term “bioplastics”. Polylactic acid is also biodegradable which gives you a clear conscience about using the material for your 3D Printing.

PLA is also considered a food safe material, however there can issues when 3D Printed due to the micro gaps in between layers than can harbour bacteria.

Polylactic Acid is best for 3D Printers who are just starting out as it is forgiving when printed. It is perfect for rapid prototyping and is normally the go to material if you want something done fast.


So what is TPU filament? Or to give it, it's full name - Thermoplastic polyurethane. 

TPU Filament is a widely used filament that gives elasticity to your prints, it also has resistance to grease, oil and abrasion. 

In 3D printing technology, usually ABS and PLA are considered as standard for printer filament but due to poor flexibility, they can’t be used in bending prototypes. However, TPU filament is flexible in nature. It can bend easily without any effect on the design, strength and durability. A mild soap can be used for its cleaning.

So! PLA vs TPU: The Pro's & Con's

If you are looking for the easiest filament to print with then it is a no brainer you have to use PLA. PLA is more environmentally friendly and is compostable. 

However if you want to add flexibility to your prints then you have no choice but to use TPU! 

In short: 

PLA is easier to print with, more environmentally friendly and is the go to material for beginners. 

TPU is for flexible parts that need to be able to return to it's original state.

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