What Materials Are Used for 3D Printing?

In this blog, we will uncover and examine the different materials used in 3D printing. From plastics to wood, just about anything can be created from this unique technology. If you’re curious about 3D-printed materials and what can be made with them, read on!

Before we dive in, let’s first get a quick understanding of what 3D printing is. In short, 3D printing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file called a CAD model. The object is made by layering materials on top of each other until the desired shape is formed. This technique can create all kinds of objects, from kids’ toys to complex parts for machines.

The Most Popular 3D Printing Materials

Now that we’ve defined 3D printing let’s take a look at some materials that can be used. While there are a ton of different materials, we’ll focus on a few of the most common ones:


Plastic is the most popular type of 3D printing material. It’s strong, lightweight, and versatile, which makes it perfect for a variety of applications. Many different types of plastic can be used in 3D printing, including ABS, PLA, PVA, PETG, and PC. Each has unique benefits and applications that make it perfect for different objects.

1. ABS

ABS, or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, is a thermoplastic polymer that is commonly used in 3D printing. It’s strong, durable, and well-suited for applications where strength and durability are important.

2. PLA

PLA, or polylactic acid, is a biodegradable thermoplastic that’s derived from renewable resources like corn starch or sugarcane. Due to its low environmental impact, PLA is a popular choice for 3D printing. Additionally, PLA prints can have a glossy or matte finish, depending on the type of filament used.

3. PVA

PVA, or polyvinyl alcohol, is a water-soluble support material that can be used with other materials like PLA or ABS to create complex 3D prints. It is commonly used as a support material because it dissolves easily in water, making it easy to remove after printing.


PETG, or polyethylene terephthalate glycol-modified, is a strong and durable thermoplastic that is often used in 3D printing applications where strength is essential. PETG is also easy to print with and has good chemical resistance, which is ideal for applications involving harsh chemicals.

5. PC

PC, or polycarbonate, is a strong and durable thermoplastic that is often used in 3D printing applications where strength and durability are important. PC is also heat resistant and has good chemical resistance, making it a popular choice for many applications where the printed object will be exposed to high temperatures or harsh chemicals.

Newer 3D Printing Materials

While plastic is the most common type of 3D printing material, there are a number of newer materials that are becoming increasingly popular. These materials include metal, ceramic, resin, glass, wood, and powder.

1. Metal

Metal 3D printing offers a host of properties that cannot be replicated with other materials. These include ductility and strength as well as conductivity and heat resistance. Also, metal 3D prints can be given a variety of finishes, including brushed, anodized, or even polished, which is great if you’re looking for a high-end look. Materials include stainless steel, aluminum, and titanium.

2. Ceramic 

Ceramic 3D printing is a relatively new technology that’s growing in popularity. Ceramic 3D printing has many benefits over traditional manufacturing methods, including producing parts with superior strength and rigidity. Alumina is the most used ceramic material in 3D printing. It’s a robust and lightweight material that can withstand high temperatures and is resistant to corrosion.

3. Resin

Resin 3D printing is another newer technology that offers many benefits. When exposed to UV light, it hardens into a solid, so it is ideal for highly detailed and intricate work. Also, the resin is much less likely to warp or deform during printing than other materials, so it’s often used for applications where precision is required.

4. Glass

While many people are familiar with plastics and metals, glass is another material that can be used with 3D printers. Glass has a number of unique properties, which makes it perfect for creating displays or cases for electronic devices. In addition to being heat-resistant and durable, the glass comes in a variety of colors and finishes, so designers can create beautiful objects with it.

5. Wood

The use of wood for 3D printing has steadily increased in recent years. Wood is a versatile and environmentally friendly material with a unique look and feels that can add a touch of warmth to any object. It’s also relatively easy to print with and can be sanded or stained to create a variety of different finishes.

6. Powders

Powders offer a unique way to create 3D objects by allowing you to print with multiple materials at the same time. They can be made from a wide range of substances, including metals, plastics, and ceramics. One advantage of using powders is that they can be easily recycled and reused. And since the vast majority of powders are non-toxic and have low emission levels, they are ideal for use with medical products.

The Many Uses of 3D Printing Materials

3D printing technology has progressed by leaps and bounds in the last few years. What was once a niche hobby for enthusiasts has become a mainstream technology with applications in all types of industries. Among the most exciting aspects of 3D printing are the potential applications made from the many materials.

1. Logos and Business Branding

With today’s technology, it’s now possible to create detailed three-dimensional logos and other branding elements that really grab attention. Pens, keychains, and magnets are among the most popular promotional items for business branding. Not only do these products have a high-end look, but they’re also very durable.

2. Household items

3D printing materials are well-suited for use in the home and offer a great way to spruce up your décor. Everyday household items like vases, bowls, soap dishes, and even picture frames can now be easily printed in various colors and styles. And because many of these materials are so durable they can withstand repeated use without showing signs of wear and tear.

3. Office Items

In addition to consumer products, there are also many office applications for 3D printed materials. Everyday items like paperweights, staplers, tape dispensers, and lamps can all be easily printed using this technology. And because these products can be customized with company logos or personal messages, they also make great promotional items or gifts.

4. Airsoft Applications

3D-printed airsoft guns and accessories are becoming more popular as the sport continues to grow in popularity around the world. Airsoft is a sport that is similar to paintball but with softer pellets that are less likely to cause injury. Print materials make it possible to create custom airsoft gun parts and accessories ideal for competition. Some of these products include pellets, targets, gun scopes, and bipods.

5. Automotive Applications

One of the most popular uses for materials for 3d printing in the automotive industry is creating accessories such as spark plugs, gearshift knobs, and engine covers. These parts can be made in many colors and styles, giving car owners a way to save money and personalize their vehicles. It’s also possible to print larger items like car bodies and tires.

6. Gadgets and Electronics

This technology is also being used to create new gadgets and electronic devices. This includes everything from phones and tablets to wearables and drones. Replacement parts for existing devices can also be easily printed, making it possible to extend the life of your gadgets. This is especially useful when dealing with devices that are no longer manufactured.

7. Figurines and Toys

Toys and figurines are among the most exciting uses of 3D printing. Thanks to its ability to print in multiple colors and finishes, it’s now possible to create highly detailed figurines that look just like their real-life counterparts. This opens up whole new possibilities for toy creations such as action figures, statues, and even bobbleheads. It’s also great for marketing characters from movies, video games, or even celebrities as collectible toys.

8. Prototypes

Virtually any product you see on the shelves today started as a prototype. The benefit of 3D printing is that it’s relatively inexpensive to produce compared to other methods of manufacturing. By creating prototypes early on in the design process, engineers and designers can test out different concepts quickly without hefty price tags or hassle. This speeds up the entire product development cycle and helps companies get new products to market faster.

Emerging 3D Printing Materials

Developments are always taking place in the world of 3D printing. In the future, we can expect to see even more innovation and creativity in how these materials are used. The most promising materials under development include graphene, nanocrystalline cellulose, and carbon fiber. With their unique properties, there’s no telling what new products we’ll see in the future.

3D printing is an incredible way to create anything you can imagine! Whether you are starting from scratch or need help finishing a project, we’re here to turn your visions into reality. Visit us today at Midwest Designs for custom 3D printing services. From start to finish, we’ll make your 3D dreams come true!