Popular filament types:
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene
Here is an older (2011) video that explains the basics of ABS, PLA and PVA quite well. I would no longer say PLA is experimental, but I think the rest of the information is still accurate.
It's also worth mentioning there has been some preliminary research on emissions from 3D printers, which is worth investigating if you plan to use the material around kids. Many educators prefer using PLA over ABS for two reasons:
- Starch-based PLA emits fewer ultrafine particles (UFP) and many people report it having less fumes than ABS.
- ABS requires a heated build plate (more preheating time needed, often more expensive machines), while PLA does not require a heated build plate.
Here are some additional resources about these major types of plastic.
- Makerbot: About PLA
- 3Doodler: ABS vs. PLA
- MakerGeeks site (check out side bar for some of the very wide selection of filament types they sell)
- The 2014 MAKE magazine Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing has an excellent spread about filament types.
Updated 2.27.14 by Luka.
Updated again 3.16.14 by C. Mytko.