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PLA vs PETG Filament - Which is better for 3D Printing?

With varying benefits and requirements, choosing between PLA and PETG might be confusing for beginner 3D printers. This article explains each in detail, and how they can be used.


PLA vs PETG Filament - Which is better for 3D Printing


There are many different materials that you can make use of when 3D printing, which you will have noticed range in both price and capabilities. Each material has its own requirements and prerequisites to use and can be used in various applications for different print outcomes. Just knowing what you want to print is not really enough - you also need to figure out which material will be most suited. Will it be used outdoors or in direct sunlight? Will it need to be food safe? Does it need flexibility or durability? These are all the questions that lead to choosing the filament type.

What are PLA and PETG


PLA and PETG are two of the most popular 3D printing materials for beginners and intermediates alike. Both of these materials are incredibly easy to work with and make for great materials to use for most of your projects.

While both are great choices to work with, they have different considerations and characteristics that make their applications slightly different. Let’s discuss some of the key differences between these two materials.

What are PLA and PETG?

PLA and PETG are two materials that are both used in 3D printing. Much like using different types of paper when printing normally, the material that you use to 3D print can have a significant effect on the outcome of the print. As an aside, whilst we're on the subject of printer ink, it may not surprise you to learn that PLA and PETG filament is actually cheaper than printer ink. Although with printer ink, you are also paying for the cartridge - and the spool for 3D printer filament is not that expensive to mass produce. So, that might be useful or useless information to you, but it was free.

Polylactic Acid (PLA)

PLA is often the first 3D printing material you should start with. This material is excellent to begin with as it has no prerequisites (such as pre-warming) to consider and does not require a higher temperature to use.

This material is created using plant starch extracted from crops. The sugar extracted from the starch is fermented and then polymerised or condensed into raw PLA.

PLA is known to be more brittle than other materials. This is due to the lower adhesive qualities of PLA, and the lower printer temperature when working with the material. PLA is also easy to discolour with heat and sunlight, so isn’t suitable for outdoor work.

CCL Code: CNS4743|
|Manufacturer: Sunlu

Polyethene Terephthalate Glycol-modified (PETG)

PETG is another very popular 3D printing material. While requiring a higher printer temperature than PLA — which means that it’s not usable with some 3D printers — PETG is still incredibly easy to work with and flexible.

This material is the kind of food-safe filament that is commonly used for water bottles and other plastic containers. Naturally, this shows that PETG will be a durable material for a lot of builds, and doesn’t lose potency due to water or other environmental factors.

However, using PETG has a couple of downsides. Alongside its higher temperature requirements, this material can also cause printing quality problems like over-adhesion and stringing. This means that while stronger, PETG is a bit harder to work with than PLA.

CCL Code: CNS4686|
Part Number: SLWTEPETG
|Manufacturer: Sunlu

Which is better? PLA or PETG?

To put it simply, it depends! Both PLA and PETG have their advantages and disadvantages and can be used in a variety of circumstances and applications.


Firstly, PLA and PETG print at very different temperatures. Where PLA prints at a nozzle temperature of around 210 °C and an optional bed temperature of up to 60 °C, PETG prints at a higher nozzle temperature of 220°C - 250°C and bed temperature of up to 75°C. This means that some printers will be unable to accommodate PETG.

PETG is much more sensitive to the environment in which it’s printed, whereas PLA is more resilient in this field. This means that a print using PETG will often have a lower general quality than a print using PLA.


While similar in popularity, PLA and PETG are two characteristically different materials. PETG is far stronger than PLA (which is brittle) and can withstand environmental wear (such as sunlight) far better.

This also means that PLA will break much more easily than PETG when under tension. This can be an important factor when printing parts for a larger project, so it’s important to consider how the materials you use will affect your final print.


PLA is in fact biodegradable and recyclable. This means that for those who are environmentally conscious, PLA is a great choice to ensure that your 3D prints are sustainable. But you can’t just recycle PLA like any other recyclable material.


Recycling PETG PLA


According to PLA cannot be composted at home. There’s mixed advice on how households should dispose of PLA (polylactic acid) packaging. Currently, most councils in the UK don’t accept compostable packaging in food or garden waste collections, so some companies have recommended that you recycle PLA instead."

Due to the lower melting point of PLA, it needs to be recycled separately from other materials. This means that you’ll have to hand it over to a recycling plant that knows how to deal with it, compost it, or grind it up and extrude it to use again as a new filament. Although PLA is compostable, it can only be deemed "composted" if it satisfies three conditions: decomposing into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass, and only industrial plants can do this according all UK councils, as they do not approve of any current home composting methods for PLA.

PETG is generally recyclable in the UK, although it depends on several factors. In the UK, recycling programs are managed by local authorities, and the rules for what can and cannot be recycled can vary depending on the area. PETG is a type of plastic that is usually accepted for recycling in many places, but it's crucial to touch base with your local authority to find out their specific guidelines and regulations.

In addition, whether PETG can be recycled or not depends on how pure and high-quality the material is. PETG that's uncontaminated and free of other types of plastics has a better chance of being recycled. Some recycling facilities may also require that PETG be separated from other types of plastic before they'll accept it.

All in all, while PETG can generally be recycled in the UK, it's crucial to check with your local authority and abide by their guidelines to make sure the material is correctly recycled.

Which is better for you?

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a great quality, easy-to-use filament that won’t let you down, PLA is amazing. However, if you’re needing extra durability and don’t mind the downgraded print quality, PETG is the better choice for you.

PETG is also better for those printing to use in outdoor environments or environments in which the print will be under high stress or tension. PLA is quite brittle and prone to discolouration, and will therefore wear easily.

If you’re looking to recycle or reuse your filament, PLA is biodegradable and recyclable — making it a great option for sustainable 3D printing.

In any case, both of these materials are great and shouldn’t be overlooked. It can be easy to want to use flashier materials for your prints, but lots of other materials have complexities behind the surface that may trip up a beginner — or even an unprepared intermediate.

These simple materials can create some great prints, while also being easy to work with and learn with. Whether you need a more durable material or a higher quality material, PLA and PETG have you covered on either base.

Last word

PLA and PETG are both great materials to print with and are both relatively easy to use. While they have their differences and requirements, both of them are great at what they achieve and are quite popular for that reason.

CCL has a wide range of PLA and PETG filaments in various colours and volumes, as well as other 3D printing equipment for you to choose from. If you’re looking for other advice on getting started with 3D printing, our 3D printing tips and tricks guide is filled with other tips to help you along your journey.