6 Best 3D Filaments for Outdoor Use: Weather-Resistant and Durable
We intensively reviewed the best 3D printing filaments and materials to make sure you get a perfect print. We printed prototypes on our printers, tested their outdoor performance, and here are the results.
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Last updated: November 01, 2021
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If you thought that you could use all the types of filaments outdoors and that they would be able to handle exposure to any weather element equally, rest assured you’re wrong. 3D printers are becoming more affordable and increasingly common in the construction industry, where architects and engineers can design objects and even whole houses
Trusted SourceThe world's first family to live in a 3D-printed homeA family in France has become the first in the world to move into a 3D-printed house. The four-bedroom property is a prototype for bigger projects aiming to make housebuilding quicker and cheaper. Could it cause a shift in the building industry? With curved walls designed to reduce the effects of humidity and digital controls for disabled people, this house could be an expensive realisation of an architect’s vision.
. While they are becoming cheap and famous, there are still limitations regarding the material used and handling different environments.
When printing models for outside utilization, you need the best 3D filament for outdoor use that can function normally under various humidity levels and lack of climate change for your builds to last longer. We examined different types of 3D printing filaments and selected six that performed the best outdoor functions. Hence, we considered factors such as UV resistance, heat resistance, ease of printing, and hygroscopic features in our selection.
ANYCUBIC PETG 3D Printer Filament is arguably one of the best PETG outdoors filaments. It is also one of the most popular brands among DIYers because it has an easy setup process and comes with everything needed to start using it right away. At a reasonable price, this filament will give you excellent outdoor performance. Its UV resistivity and tensile strength ensure that anything you build out of it lasts long, even when kept under direct sunlight for long.
This filament is best suited for environmentalists and families with children. It is odorless and non-toxic, making it safe for any child to use. The filament is also biodegradable and environmentally friendly, unlike its ABS and ASA counterparts. We also found out that the ANYCUBIC PETG type is best suited for people who would like to print much more quickly. Poly Ethylene-Glycol (PETG) material uses a lower temperature to print than other filaments and does not require a heated bed.
Why are we impressed?
The property we liked the most about this filament during our review is that it combines all the favorable properties of ABS and PLA materials. Therefore, this model is better than the two in resistance to alcohol, oils, and other solvents. This material also has a clear and gloss transparency, making it the most suitable filament for printing visually demanding builds. Another thing we liked about the ANYCUBIC PETG thread is that it is easy to print and reduces the risk of warping while building your workpieces.
What negatives must you be aware of?
What we don't like about this filament is that it is particularly vulnerable to scratches. It is not the kind of material you would want to have if you plan to use the product you are printing in areas with a lot of friction. You can remedy this disadvantage by treating your print with Epoxy Resin or Clear Vanish to increase your print's durability and friction resistivity. Another thing that we don't like about this material is that it is certainly not the best UV-resistant filament around. Although your print stays intact when exposed to long hours of direct sunlight, its original color might fade away. ANYCUBIC PETG 3D would be a perfect filament if it weren't vulnerable to scratches and excessive exposure to UV light.
Another PRILINE Carbon Fiber Polycarbonate is yet another best filament for outdoor use. The fiber offers exciting properties such as high chemical sensitivity, temperature tolerance, high strength, and stiffness. The perfect printing temperatures for this fiber range between 240 to 260 degrees Celsius for your nozzle and 90 to 100 degrees Celsius for the base plate.
The PRILINE Carbon Fiber Polycarbonate filament is best for building work pieces that need to be incredibly strong and lightweight. Its unique carbon fibers make it ideal for creating objects that require extreme toughness without compromising on weight. If you are looking for something durable but still lightweight, this filament is what you should choose.
What are its best features?
What we like about this filament is how versatile it is. We found out that you can use this material for almost any kind of print. Carbon fiber PC also has perfect dimensional stability and weight to strength ratio. Workpieces made from this material are actually five times stronger than carbon. Its stability minimizes warping, increases layer adhesion, and makes it easy for you to remove supports. We found out that the filament also makes prints that can withstand high temperatures compared to other polymers during our tests.
What could be improved?
What we think could have made this filament even better is reduced stiffness. The high stiffness of this material makes it easy for its prints to shutter when a high impact force is applied to them. This filament will not be the best choice for you if you plan to use your workpieces for applications with high-impact weights. Due to PRILINE's complex manufacturing process, the filament is more expensive and unsuitable for budget 3D printing.
If you are looking for an affordable yet reliable filament for your printer, then look no further. Anycubic ABS 3D Printer filament is one of the most popular filaments available today. With its excellent mechanical properties, low cost, and ease of availability, ABS 3D Printing is becoming increasingly popular among hobbyists worldwide.
Anycubic ABS 3D printer filament differs from its PETG counterpart in that the two use different materials. The former uses Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene while the latter Polyethylene Tetra-phthalate Glycol. One of the most significant performance differences between the two fibers is that ABS does not like to stick to itself and the print surface. This characteristic necessitates the use of heated build beds. When it comes to storage and hygroscope, ABS is the champion. It is easy to store and does not absorb moisture from its surroundings.
What makes it stand out?
During our tests, we liked how Anycubic ABS cooled rapidly. This property makes it the best filament to use when bridging. ABS is also the best fiber for printing 3D valuables that last longer as it produces robust pieces. We had an excellent experience with this filament when smoothening our products. When we polished the prints with acetone vapor, we got professional-looking and smooth items. This model is among the cheapest filaments around. Its pricing advantage and quality make it the best 3D filament for outdoor use in terms of value.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
This filament could be better if it didn't produce toxic fumes. When you heat it, expect the ABS to churn out an unpleasant odor since its structure consists of petroleum products. The fumes produced are toxic and demand proper ventilation when printing. The material also cools so fast that it creates cracks between layers. Another ABS weakness we deduced during our tests is that it does not stick to the print bed. Its high shrinkage rate and faster cooling properties are behind this disadvantage.
The Polymaker ASA filament works great outdoor due to its high UV, impact, and temperature resistance. This model is specifically designed for outdoor use, comes in 20 different colors, and a risk-free lifetime technical support. If, by any chance, the fiber isn’t performing as it should, you are guaranteed to get a refund.
Polymaker filament is made of Acrylic Styrene Acrylonitrile, a plastic that has similar properties as ABS. Initially, scientists built this material to be an alternative to ABS. It is more UV rays resistant, resists high temperatures effectively, and performs well in harsh environments compared to ABS. Since his plastic was a heritage of ABS, we found out that it still retains most of the drawbacks seen with ABS in our previous tests.
What makes it stand out?
What we liked the most about this filament was its exceptional ability to deliver reliable and quality prints. The material is perfectly resistant to weather and environmental stress cracks. It also has a high glass transition temperature. These excellent mechanical properties make it the best choice for real-life applications. The Polymaker ASA fiber also has a matte finish, making your final build look professional, smooth, and high-quality.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
What we didn't like about the Polymaker ASA filament is that it can be challenging to print. The material needs high printing and bed temperatures compared to other filaments. As mentioned earlier, the ASA plastic inherits most of the ABS properties. Therefore, it also emits smelly fumes, which are highly toxic. You need a well-ventilated printing room to avoid inhaling the poisonous fumes. Scientists initially produced this plastic to replace ABS, but it currently fails in terms of price. If it were priced lower than ABS, then it would be a perfect replacement.
Hatchbox PETG filament is arguably the best 3D filament for outdoor use available on the market today. Its unique blend of materials gives it superior strength and durability. Hatchbox PETG filament comes in 20 different colors and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. With its outstanding performance, Hatchbox PETG filament will give you excellent results every time.
The Hatchbox PETG filament is best for you if you need a chemically stable print that can resist wear and tear in any solvent. Its chemical resistivity is a result of Glycerol. The element is a resonant ring structure that rarely reacts with acids, bases, or other solvents. Products made using this material are incredibly strong and durable, making it the number one choice for prosthetic devices. This material makes products that can also be used outdoor as it also resists degradation caused by UV rays and radiation.
What are our favorite features?
During our tests, we liked this filament's optical properties. Hatchbox PETG is naturally transparent. It is the best material you can use if you want to create completely transparent 3D models. You will need to post-process your product to make it clearer. Hatchbox PETG also has high glass transition temperatures, meaning it can stand the harshest weather conditions. The filament is also much easier to use as it requires low printing and bed temperatures.
What could be better?
One thing we don't love about Hatchbox PETG filament, though, is its hygroscope properties. Based on our tests, moisture can get into your FDM prints through layer gaps. If the water freezes, it will lead to cracks. Consider painting your pieces with outdoor paints to block moisture from filling the holes to avoid this downside. Although the filament exhibited great strength and ductility properties in our 3D filament for outdoor use reviews and tests, electron microscope scanning tests done at Harvard University show that it can be a little brittle.
The last best 3D printer filament for outdoor use on our list is the PiderMaker SpiderFlex TPE. You can use this filament for several 3D applications, including phone sleeves, rubber tires, watch straps, gaskets, and other outdoor items. SpiderMaker SpiderFlex utilizes an elastic material known as Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE), which gives it rubber-like textures.
Spiderflex TPE is an ideal material for creating flexible products such as RC car tires, toys, phone cases, and so forth. The filament is also resistant to abrasion and always retains its flexibility even under low temperatures. Therefore, you can use it to make valuable materials that you will use in extreme conditions, such as automobile parts, sports goods, medical devices, and other outdoor equipment.
Why are we impressed?
What we liked the most about this filament was its rubber-like flexibility. In our tests, this material created extremely flexible shapes in that they were able to return to their initial form even after being heavily deformed. We also found that this material offers many advantages over traditional plastics, including low density, lightweight, biocompatibility, chemical resistance, heat and cold, good surface adhesion, and easy processing. In addition, Spiderflex TPE is highly recyclable because it does not require additives or fillers.
What negatives must you be aware of?
During our analysis, we found out that this filament was challenging to handle. Its flexibility might be a desired feature, but it is also why this material demands attention when printing. If you mess up with the recommended printing speeds or temperatures, you can easily damage your equipment. Since Spiderflex TPE is resistant to abrasion, wear, and friction, we found it impossible to smoothen and polish our prints. So, what you see when you are printing, is what your final product will look like.
Things to Consider
To choose the suitable 3D filaments for your next project, you should consider several factors. Based on these dynamics, you can easily select the best printing material for you. We have compiled all these criteria below and some additional information to help you find that perfect filament for your needs.
What Kind of 3D Filaments Are Good for Outdoor Use?
The best 3D filaments for outdoor use are UV rays and radiation-resistant. The materials can stand even the most extreme radiations from the sun without deforming, discoloring, or changing their shape. Outdoor filaments also need to be robust and resistant to friction, abrasion, and chemically stable.
When choosing the best 3D filaments for outdoor use, you must first understand what kind of application or projects you want to print. There are different types of 3D filaments available today, each suitable for specific purposes. Here are some of the essential factors you should consider.
Filaments consist of different materials. The material used to make your fiber determines its property and whether it is fit for outdoor use. For example, PLA plastic has excellent mechanical strength, while ABS plastic is more durable than PLA. On the other hand, PETG is very strong and resilient. TPE is flexible and resistant to abrasion and friction.
ABS boasts superior toughness, chemical stability, and impact resistance. Another material, such as Carbon fiber, is strong yet light.
The weight of any object plays an essential role in how well it performs. A lightweight filament is best suited for constructing parts of a moving object. For instance, if you are building toys or RC cars, you would want them to be highly lightweight to maneuver with less force. On the other hand, dense material is vital for stationery products or those that need to be stable enough. For example, if you are printing building blocks, you would want them to be heavy to make sturdy structures that are not prone to windy weather.
For a lightweight yet strong product, we recommend using the PRILINE Carbon Fiber we have listed above. The filament consists of carbon which is light and five times robust than steel. For a dense build, we recommend purchasing the ANYCUBIC ABS 3D Printer Filament covered above.
If you want to build a product that is resistant to bending, then you should choose a filament with higher diameter. With such a diameter, your prints will have a bigger layer width and hence not be susceptible to bending. On the other hand, if you want to build a flexible item that can curve easily, you are better off choosing a filament with a thin diameter.
For instance, if you were making a watch strap, you would need to use a material with a smaller diameter. On the other hand, if you were printing something else like a supporting exoskeleton, you would need to use a thick diameter.
For this, we suggest using the Polymaker ASA Filament because it comes in two sizes – 1.75 mm or 2.85 mm. You can use any of the two different models in your prints according to your bending resistivity needs. If you are looking for a material that is flexible and can bend easily, then we recommend using the SpiderMaker SpiderFlex TPE covered above.
Tolerances play an essential part when building objects. It determines how much your filament will deviate from a particular value. Each filament has a different tolerance level in which your printer may slightly vary from the set dimensions. In most materials, tolerances range from 0.01mm to 0.05mm. You should know that every millimeter matters. It’s therefore advisable to get the possible minor tolerance so that no gaps appear between surfaces.
The best printer filament with the least tolerance on our list is the ANYCUBIC PETG 3D Printer Filament. The material has a lenience of ±0.02 mm, which is less than the others on the market.
Each filament has different minimum and maximum temperature requirements. Each material is composed of various elements and chemicals, hence the difference. Overall, filaments that require lower temperatures are the best. They are easy to print, do not warp easily or shrink at a fast rate. They are also very adhesive to the printing bed and, therefore, easy to use.
The best material with a low recommended temperature is the ANYCUBIC PETG 3D Printer Filament reviewed above. It only needs temperatures of between 230 and 250 degrees Celsius. The fiber doesn’t even need a heated bed to print optimally.
When determining whether a specific filament is suitable for your model, you must also consider its printing speed. Some printers cannot handle faster speeds, while some work perfectly fine with them. Therefore, before purchasing a filament, check out what kind of speed your machine supports and whether it is compatible with it.
In general, slower speeds are more accurate, but they take longer to complete.
Fast speeds allow you to make multiple layers quickly. However, these layers tend to overlap each other resulting in poor quality. Fast speeds might also result in warping. We recommend using fast speeds only when you are printing a prototype. If you are building the actual product, stick to a medium or low rate of printing.
We recommend using the ANYCUBIC ABS 3D Printing Material reviewed herein since it offers high and low speeds at a great price. If you don’t mind the printing speed, you can opt for SpiderMaker SpiderFlex TPE material which prints flexible and abrasion-resistant products at a chameleon pace. You should only purchase it if your printer supports slow speeds.
Filaments have their own weather resistance ratings. These indicate how long the object printed by a specific filament lasts outdoors without getting damaged. When choosing the best filament for you, consider the type of environment you will be using it. Will it be humid, sunny, or rainy? All this information helps determine the ideal filament for your project.
If you’re planning to build a structure outside, then look for a filament with UV protection.
If you plan to use your item in a humid place, use a material with good hygroscope features. For a rainy or moist setting, then you need a waterproof fiber. Most of the time, there won’t be anything special added to protect against ultraviolet rays, humidity, or solvents. So, just choose the suitable filament based on the environment where you plan to place your creation.
For a humid place, we recommend buying the ANYCUBIC ABS 3D Printer Filament covered in this guide. The material does not absorb water from its surroundings. If you intend to use your item in a setting where it will be exposed to UV rays, then go for Polymaker ASA printing fiber. Regardless of how much sunlight you subject it to, it will never bend, become weak or fade in color. The ANYCUBIC PETG 3D Printer Filament from this guide will fit all your needs for an environment with many chemicals and solvents.
The kind of 3D printer you need for your design will depend on the type of filament you will be using for your prints. The printer should be able to work perfectly with the fiber you will be using. It should have the recommended nozzle diameter and be able to attain the specified temperatures.
If you are printing many items, you would be better off purchasing a machine that can print in bulk quickly. If you are printing a few products, you can use any 3D printer available within your budget constraints.
The environment from which you will be building your items also matters. If it is outdoors, then you need a machine that can handle sudden weather changes well. For indoors, the building controls the weather. Therefore, you do not need special printers.
When working with filaments explicitly made for outdoor purposes, you must take extra care while handling them. They may contain harmful substances like lead, cadmium, arsenic, and so forth. Others such as ABS and ASA produce toxic fumes when heated up.
Therefore, before starting any job, ensure that the area around your workspace is clean and free from dust particles and any solvents. Also, wear gloves and goggles to prevent these materials from penetrating your body. Always keep away from children who might get hurt due to the careless handling of these materials.
You also need to make sure the room ventilation is perfect. Any fumes that will be produced during the exercise need to exit the building. Open all your doors and windows for maximum ventilation. You can also consider printing from a tent if your house doesn’t allow free air movement in and out.
The six filaments reviewed in our guide are the most popular and certainly the best for outdoor use. The materials will give you strong and durable prints that are resistant to outdoor conditions. Our Editor’s Pick, the ANYCUBIC PETG 3D Printer Filament, builds products with the best chemicals, oils, and other solvents resistivity.
For our Premium Pick, we settled for the PRILINE Carbon Fiber Polycarbonate, its five times stronger than steel, lightweight, and has perfect dimensional stability to weight ratio. These characteristics make it the most suitable for building outdoor performance products.
The filament that offers you the Best Value is the ANYCUBIC ABS 3D Printing material. The fiber builds durable, UV radiation resistant, and waterproof items. Due to its fast cooling property, it is also the best filament you should use for bridging. Once you finish building your product, you can polish it with acetone vapor for a professional and smooth finish. These features make ANYCUBIC the best 3D filament for outdoor use on the market.
The world's first family to live in a 3D-printed home
A family in France has become the first in the world to move into a 3D-printed house. The four-bedroom property is a prototype for bigger projects aiming to make housebuilding quicker and cheaper. Could it cause a shift in the building industry? With curved walls designed to reduce the effects of humidity and digital controls for disabled people, this house could be an expensive realisation of an architect’s vision.