The Ultimate 3D Printing Filament Guide: Ranking the Best to the Rest

Hello, 3D printing aficionados! Today, we’re diving deep into the world of 3D printing filaments. Whether you’re a seasoned maker or just starting out, knowing your materials is key to mastering this craft. I’ve ranked various types of filaments from best to…well, those that might need a bit more love and care to work with. Let’s break down what makes each type tick and why they landed where they did on my list.

The S-Tier: The Cream of the Crop

PLA Tough

Rank: S

PLA Tough tops our list for its exceptional strength and ease of use, making it a powerhouse in the 3D printing world. It retains all the beloved properties of regular PLA, such as low warping and no need for a heated bed, but with added durability that competes with ABS. It’s perfect for functional parts that require a bit more grit.

PLA-CF (Carbon Fiber Reinforced PLA)

Rank: S

PLA-CF is a dream come true for high-strength applications. The carbon fibers incorporated into the PLA matrix significantly enhance its stiffness and reduce its weight. This filament is ideal for structural parts, drones, and automotive components where strength-to-weight ratio is critical.


Rank: S

PETG combines the reliability of PLA with the strength of ABS, making it a versatile choice for both hobbyists and professionals. It’s weather-resistant, durable, and offers great thermal and chemical resistance, which makes it suitable for outdoor applications and mechanical parts.

The A-Tier: Reliable and High-Performing


Rank: A

The bread and butter of 3D printing, PLA is beloved for its user-friendliness. Perfect for beginners, it prints at low temperatures and does not emit harmful fumes. While it may not match the strength of PLA Tough or PLA-CF, its ease of use and wide range of finishes make it a go-to choice for many.

Silk PLA

Rank: A

Silk PLA offers a stunning, glossy finish that stands out from typical filaments. This material is fantastic for decorative pieces or any project that needs a shiny, smooth appearance without post-processing. It behaves much like regular PLA but dazzles with its aesthetic appeal.

Marble PLA

Rank: A

For those looking to print something that stands out, Marble PLA is an excellent choice. It mimics the appearance of marble, adding a unique, artistic touch to prints without compromising the ease of use associated with PLA.


Rank: A

PLA+ is an enhanced version of PLA that offers better toughness and higher impact resistance. It’s as easy to use as regular PLA but steps up the game in terms of strength and finish, making it a solid choice for more demanding projects.

The B-Tier: Great, with Some Considerations


Rank: B

ABS is known for its toughness and high-temperature resistance but falls into the B tier due to its printing difficulties. It requires a heated bed and can warp if not handled correctly. However, for applications like automotive parts or anything that faces heat, ABS won’t let you down.


Rank: B

Nylon is incredibly durable and flexible, making it perfect for gears and hinges. Its moisture absorption issue, however, means it needs to be stored properly and sometimes dried before use, which can be a hassle.

PETG-CF (Carbon Fiber Reinforced PETG)

Rank: B

Bringing together PETG’s durability with the lightweight strength of carbon fibers, PETG-CF is fantastic for functional parts. Like Nylon, its specialty uses and handling requirements place it in the B tier. Don’t even get me started on the price. Yeesh!

The C-Tier: Niche but Useful


Rank: C

TPU is your go-to for anything that needs to bend or stretch, such as phone cases or wearable parts. Its flexibility is a double-edged sword; it’s tricky to print with due to its elasticity, making it less user-friendly than stiffer materials.

Metal PLA

Rank: C

Metal PLA imparts a metallic finish to prints, ideal for jewelry or decorative items. However, its abrasive nature wears down nozzles, and its heavy composition can be challenging to work with, relegating it to the C tier.

The D-Tier: Specialist Use

Wood PLA

Rank: D

Wood PLA offers prints that look and feel like wood, which can be fantastic for decorative items. However, its inconsistent texture can lead to clogging and varying print quality, making it less reliable than other materials.


From functional filaments that blend ease of use with high performance to those that offer unique aesthetics but come with their quirks, there’s a filament for every project and printer out there. Remember, the right filament can make or break your print, so choose wisely based on the needs of your project and the capabilities of your printer. Here’s a quick recap:

Recap and Final Thoughts:

  • S-Tier (PLA Tough, PLA-CF, PETG): These filaments are top-notch for both ease of use and mechanical properties. They are perfect for prints requiring durability and minimal warping.

  • A-Tier (PLA, Silk PLA, Marble PLA, PLA+): Excellent for general use, offering a balance between aesthetics and functionality with minimal printing challenges.

  • B-Tier (ABS, Nylon, PETG-CF): Strong and durable options great for specialized applications, though they come with some considerations for printing.

  • C-Tier (TPU, Metal PLA): These materials cater to niche applications and require careful handling to achieve the best results.

  • D-Tier (Wood PLA): While offering unique textural finishes, the challenges associated with its use make it less ideal for regular use.

Tips for Choosing the Right Filament:

  1. Consider the Application: Mechanical strength, flexibility, or aesthetics? Your project’s requirements will heavily influence your choice of filament.

  2. Printer Specifications: Not all printers are suited for all materials, especially those requiring high temperatures or specific environmental conditions.

  3. Post-Processing: Consider what steps are necessary after printing. Materials like Silk PLA look fantastic without much work, while others might need sanding, painting, or other finishing techniques.

  4. Experiment: Sometimes the best way to learn is by doing. Don’t be afraid to try new materials and push the boundaries of your printer’s capabilities.

As you embark on your next project, keep this guide in mind to help navigate the wide world of 3D printing filaments. Whether you’re building a rugged drone or a delicate vase, there’s a perfect material out there just waiting to bring your ideas to life. Happy printing!

Stay creative, and let’s make something amazing!