Difference Between PLA And ABS


Injection molding is one of the most popular manufacturing processes used today. It involves injecting molten plastic into a mold, allowing it to cool and harden, then removing the resulting part from the mold. The two most commonly used plastics for injection molding are Polylactic Acid (PLA) and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS). PLA and ABS plastics have different properties, making them suitable for different types of applications.

PLA Vs. ABS – What’s The Difference?

What Is PLA?

PLA is a biodegradable thermoplastic derived from renewable resources such as cornstarch or sugarcane. Its excellent printability makes it perfect for 3D printing and other small-scale projects. PLA has a low melting point, making it easy to work with, but it tends to be brittle and not as durable as ABS.

What Is ABS?

ABS is a petroleum-based thermoplastic. Its properties make it ideal for injection molding and other industrial applications. It has good impact and heat resistance, making it strong and durable. However, ABS tends to be more difficult to work with due to its higher melting point.

Characteristics and properties:


  • Biodegradable.
  • Derived from renewable resources.
  • Excellent printability.
  • Low melting point.
  • Brittle and not as durable as ABS.


  • Petroleum-based thermoplastic.
  • Ideal for injection molding and other industrial applications.
  • Good impact and heat resistance.
  • Strong and durable.
  • Higher melting point.


  • PLA: Should be stored away from direct sunlight in a cool and dry place.
  • ABS: Should be stored in a cool, dry place with limited exposure to UV light or moisture.

How Strong Are PLA and ABS Parts?

  • PLA: it won’t be as strong under pressure or stress.
  • ABS: it can be more resistant to pressure and wear.

How Heat Resistant Or Fire Retardant Are PLA and ABS?

  • PLA: Not very heat resistant
  • ABS: More heat resistant

Comparison Chart

Properties PLA ABS
3D Printing Factors 1. Produces a glossy finish and is biodegradable 1. Produces a matte finish and is very strong
2. Has a low melting temperature and is easy to print 2. Has a higher melting temperature, so it needs more heat to make the parts stick together
3. Is made from renewable resources like corn starch, sugar cane and tapioca products 3. Is petroleum based, making it less environmentally friendly than PLA.
Finishing:  Glossy finish Matte finish
Environmental Friendliness: Made from renewable resources like corn starch, sugar cane and tapioca products so more friendly Petroleum based, making it less environmentally friendly than PLA.
Durability: less durable More durable
Warping: Less prone to warping More prone to warping in a heated environment.
Tensile Strength: Lower tensile strength Higher tensile strength
Elongation at Break: Generally lower elongation at break than ABS. Generally higher elongation at break than PLA.
Cost less expensive than ABS more expensive than PLA
Melting Point around 180°C around 220°C
Performance in outdoor applications Not suited for outdoor applications due to its low temperature tolerance and brittleness. Better suited for outdoor applications as it is more heat and humidity resistant than PLA.
Vibration Resistance Lower vibration resistance Higher vibration resistance
Application Areas 1. Automotive 1. Automotive
2. Electronics 2. Household Appliances
3. Food Packaging 3. Toys and Games
Printing Speed faster Slower
printability and accuracy better difficult/lower
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Which One Should Be Considered?

PLA Vs. ABS: Which Is Best For Beginners?

PLA: Easier to print with beginner 3D printers and is a good starting material.

ABS: Has more difficult printability than PLA, so not ideal for those just starting out in 3D printing.

PLA Vs. ABS For Kids?

PLA: Generally a safer option for kids since it has low toxicity and is biodegradable.

ABS: Higher temperature required to print, so not recommended for younger children.

Which Is Better For 3D Printing Projects – PLA or ABS?

  • If a project needs high heat resistance, ABS would be a better choice than PLA.
  • if the project requires a biodegradable material, PLA would be more suitable.

Ultimately, it is up to the 3D printer operator to decide which material will best suit their project’s needs.

Tips On Choosing Between Pla Vs Abs Filaments

  1. Consider the type of project you are working on.
  2. Consider the strength and temperature requirements of your project.
  3. Consider the environmental impact of the material you are using.
  4. Consider printing speed, cost and printability.
  5. Be sure to store materials properly in order to extend their life span.

Similarities Between Pla And Abs:

  1. Both are thermoplastics
  2. Both are strong and have good impact resistance
  3. Both can be formed into high-strength parts
  4. Both have good chemical and electrical insulation properties
  5. ABS is heat resistant, while PLA has a lower melting point

Frequently Asked Questions

When Should You Use PLA?

  1. want to measure a current flowing through a wire.
  2. need to measure both AC and DC current or voltage.
  3. looking for a more accurate way to measure current or voltage than what is available with an analog multimeter.

When Should You Use Clamp Meter?

  1. want to measure the amount of current flowing through a wire without disconnecting it from its power source.
  2. need to measure AC current or DC current without having to open up a circuit and put probes into it.
  3. want to get an average reading of the amount of current flowing through a wire over time.

Are PLA and ABS Flexible?

PLA is not very flexible, but it can be bent or molded with heat.

Are PLA and ABS Toxic?

PLA is non-toxic and biodegradable, making it a great choice for eco-friendly projects. ABS is not toxic, but it may emit fumes when heated that can be hazardous if breathed in.

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Why Is ABS Still Relevant In 3D Printing?

ABS is still a very popular and widely used 3D printing material because of its strength and heat resistance. It’s ideal for applications such as prototyping, engineering, robotics and medical devices where precision and durability are important.

Are ABS and PLA Interchangeable?

No, ABS and PLA are not interchangeable. While both materials are thermoplastics and can be used for a wide range of applications, they have very different properties.

Is PLA Waterproof?

No, PLA is not waterproof. It can resist some water, but it will eventually degrade when exposed to too much moisture or humidity.

Will PLA Melt In Water?

No, PLA will not melt in water. However, it can break down over time when exposed to too much moisture or humidity. It is recommended that you use a waterproof coating on any PLA parts that will be submerged in water.

Is PLA Resistant To Sunlight?

No, PLA is not resistant to sunlight. It will break down and become brittle when exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time. It’s best to store PLA parts in a dark, cool place if they aren’t used for a long period of time.

Can ABS Be Recycled?

Yes, ABS can be recycled. It should be noted that the quality of the recycled material will be lower than virgin ABS, so it may not have the same properties as a new part.

Can PLA Be Recycled?

Yes, PLA can be recycled in some cases. However, due to its low melting point and biodegradable nature, it may not be suitable for all applications. It’s best to consult a recycling expert if you’re considering using recycled PLA.

Can A Hairdryer Melt PLA?

Yes, a hairdryer can melt PLA. However, it’s important to use caution when heating PLA as the material can easily catch fire or emit hazardous fumes if heated too quickly or at too high of a temperature. It’s best to use low heat and move the hairdryer around constantly to avoid melting

How Long Do PLA Prints Last?

PLA prints can last indefinitely if stored in optimal conditions. Under normal conditions, PLA prints can remain intact for several years as long as they are not exposed to direct sunlight or excessive humidity.

How Long Do ABS Prints Last?

ABS prints can last for several years under normal conditions. However, they may become brittle over time if exposed to direct sunlight or excessive humidity. It is important to store ABS parts in cool, dry places to maximize their lifespan.

Is It Better To Print PLA Hotter Or Colder?

it’s best to print PLA at a slightly higher temperature if you want improved layer adhesion and better inter-layer bonding strength. However, printing too hot can cause warping and cracking of the part.

Can Printed PLA Get Wet?

Yes, printed PLA can get wet. However, it’s important to note that PLA is not waterproof and will degrade over time when exposed to water or humid environments. It’s best to keep printed parts dry whenever possible.

Can Printed ABS Get Wet?

Yes, printed ABS can get wet. However, it’s important to note that ABS is not waterproof and will degrade over time when exposed to water or humid environments. It’s best to keep printed parts dry whenever possible.

Can PLA Be Sanded?

Yes, PLA can be sanded. However, it should be noted that PLA does not have the same strength as ABS, so it may be difficult to achieve a smooth finish. Sanding PLA also releases small particles into the air, so it’s important to wear a respirator when working with PLA.

Can ABS Be Sanded?

Yes, ABS can be sanded relatively easily. Sanding ABS provides a smoother finish than sanding PLA, so it’s typically the preferred material for parts that require a smooth finish.

Can PLA Be Painted?

Yes, PLA can be painted.

Can ABS Be Painted?

Yes, ABS can be painted relatively easily.

Why Is It Difficult To Print?

  • PLA has a low melting point, which makes it quite difficult to work with when using traditional pre-heating techniques.
  • ABS tends to warp and shrink upon cooling, which can make it tricky to get the desired shape or size when 3D printing with ABS.


PLA and ABS are both popular 3D printing materials. PLA has a lower melting point, is biodegradable, and can be recycled in some cases. ABS is stronger, more durable, and can be sanded for a smoother finish. Both materials can be painted with the correct type of paint and primer to achieve desired results.

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