Don’t print with crappy plastic. Here’s the best 3D-printing filament you can buy

best 3d printer filament spools

Filament is to 3D printers what gasoline is to cars. You need it in order to run your machine; you can get it from a variety of different places; and it’s available in various levels of quality. Not all filament is created equally. Just as you can fill your car’s tank with premium gas to make it run better, it’s also possible to load up your printer with nicer filament that will optimize the machine’s performance.

But what filament should you choose? Before you purchase your next spool of plastic from the bargain bins of the internet, check out this handy guide to the best 3D printing filament out there. Your printer will thank you.

Hatchbox: cheap, reliable, and vast

best 3d printer filament hatcbox

Hatchbox is a 3D printing enthusiast’s dream store. Whether you need just one spool or fifty of them, Hatchbox has you covered. With every color of PLA and ABS you could ever dream of, along with other specialized filaments like PETG and TPU, you won’t just find what you need here — you’ll also find what you want.

Plus, in addition to its regular catalog of plastics, Hatchbox offers a variety of limited edition filaments, such as their special glow-in-the-dark PLA. Overall, Hatchbox is arguably the top dog when it comes to material variety, color options, and consistent quality from spool to spool.

Proto-Pasta: fun, personal, and interesting

best 3d printer filament proto metal

ProtoPlant is the only company on this list that makes filament with its own proprietary industrial extrusion technology. Why does that matter? Well, basically, it gives the company a higher degree of control over what kinds of materials it can process, as well as more control over the quality of the end result.

Thanks to this tech, ProtoPlant can be (and is) highly experimental with its filaments. It was the first company to release a carbon fiber composite reinforced PLA, and has since gone on to release a wide range of other incredible materials, including steel, iron, high temperature, and conductive PLA. We’re definitely excited to see what these guys will think up next.

Taulman: professional, strong, and nylon

best 3d printer filament taulman

Nylon and PETG are materials that are unfamiliar to many 3D printing enthusiasts, but highly sought after by others. While more expensive, nylon and PETG filaments offer numerous advantages over traditional plastics like PLA and ABS. As such, you’d think that tracking down these high quality plastics would be a chore, right?

Well, not with Taulman. With a thick catalog of plastics ranging from regular PLA to silky smooth nylon and PETG, Taulman has you covered. As an added bonus, the company’s site is also super straightforward and professional. If you’re looking for a specific type of performance, Taulman’s no-nonsense spec breakdowns will ensure you find exactly what you’re after.

3Dfuel: eco-friendly and pleasant smelling

best 3d printer filament 3dfuel

3Dfuel has an interesting policy on what goes into its plastics, and by that we mean that, well — just about anything goes into its plastics. We’re not just talking eco-friendly biodegradable stuff, either — we’re talking filament made from various kinds of industrial waste. In addition to normal spools of thermoplastic, the company makes filament from coffee waste, old beer wort, and discarded hemp stalks. There’s even one, called  “landfillament” that’s created from upcycled landfill plastic. Thankfully the “landfillament” is left out of the aromatic category that the coffee and beer plastics fall into.

If all that craziness isn’t enough for you, and you want some more traditional plastics to put through your machine, 3Dfuel also offers a wide range of PLA spools. From standard printing plastic to high-end stuff, 3D-Fuel has not only the plastic, but also the information to help you make the right choice.

NinjaTek: technical, flexible, and professional

best 3d printer filament ninjatek

So we’ve got ultra-tough plastic, coffee- and beer-based plastic, and glowing plastic on this list. What else could you possibly want? How about flexibility. NinjaTek is the leader in flexible filament production, and offers a wide range of plastics that allow you to create soft, squishable parts in your printer.

Now to be fair, lots of printing companies offer some sort of soft or flexible filament option these days — but in our experience, none can hold a handle to NinjaTek’s plastic in terms of durability and performance.

Gaming

As deaf gamers speak up, game studios are finally listening to those who can’t

Using social media, personal blogs and Twitch, a small group of deaf and hard-of-hearing players have been working to make their voices heard and improve accessibility in the gaming industry.
Social Media

3D Facebook photos jump out of the newsfeed, no glasses needed

You're not seeing things -- that photo in your Facebook newsfeed is 3D. Launching today, 3D Facebook Photos use the depth maps from dual-lens smartphones to add dimension to an image as you move your phone.
Emerging Tech

3D-printed paste could hold buildings together amid natural disasters

A 3D-printed cement paste could one day be used to make buildings more resilient to natural disasters. That's because, as crazy as it sounds, it actually gets tougher the more it cracks.
Home Theater

Brainwavz Blu 300 wireless earbuds deliver major water resistance at a low price

Brainwavz is known for its mid-range offering like the quad-driver B400 or the 3D-printed B200, but that's not all the company does, as proved by its latest product, the Blu 300 wireless earbuds.
Emerging Tech

Need an outfit for Halloween? Check out these 3D-printed costumes

Cutting close to Halloween and missing that vital component to your costume? Maybe 3D-printed Halloween costumes are the way to go for you. Check out our list of favorites accessories.
Emerging Tech

From flying for fun to pro filmmaking, these are the best drones you can buy

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

With cameras that know dogs from Dodges, Honda is making intersections safer

Honda and the city of Marysville, Ohio are working on creating a smart intersection. The goal would not only help better direct the flow of traffic, it could also help save the lives of pedestrians and cyclists.
Emerging Tech

Get your head in the clouds with the best vaporizers for flower and concentrates

Why combust dead plant matter when you could vaporize the good stuff and leave the leaves behind? Here's a rundown of the best vaporizers money can buy, no matter what your style is.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best gear and gadgetry you can snag for $100 or less

A $100 bill can get you further than you might think -- so long as you know where to look. Check out our picks for the best tech under $100, whether you're in the market for headphones or a virtual-reality headset.
Emerging Tech

What the heck is machine learning, and why is it everywhere these days?

Machine learning has been responsible for some of the biggest advances in artificial intelligence over the past decade. But what exactly is it? Check out our handy beginner's guide.
Emerging Tech

Here are the best (and least likely to explode) hoverboards you can buy

With widespread reports of cheap, knock-off Chinese hoverboards exploding, these self-balancing scooters may be getting a rough reputation. They're not all bad, though. Ride in style with our picks for the best -- and safest -- hoverboards
Emerging Tech

Boston Dynamics is trying to make fetch happen with its new working robot dog

Boston Dynamics wants to see Spot in the workplace, but not as part of take-your-dog-to-work days. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the technology company believes its extraordinary robo-dog is now ready to start work.
Emerging Tech

Regular paints and plastics will soon be able to ‘heal’ like skin

Imagine if paints, plastics, or other coatings could heal up like human skin in the event that they suffered damage. Thanks to researchers at Clemson University, such technology is almost here.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how Microsoft’s Hololens is helping NASA build the new Orion spacecraft

Lockheed Martin is turning to Microsoft’s mixed reality Hololens smartglasses to help build NASA's Orion spacecraft, which could one day help rocket astronauts as far afield as Mars.