Discover the Perfect Materials for Your Innovations with Our Polymer Pyramid and Filament Maker

What is a Polymer?

A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating units called monomers, akin to a train where each car represents a monomer, and the entire train symbolizes the polymer. These versatile materials are omnipresent, forming the backbone of numerous products, from everyday plastics to the fibers in our clothing.

At 3devo, we empower innovators to unlock the potential of 3D printing by facilitating the transformation of these polymers into novel 3D printing materials. Our expertise in polymers, combined with our Filament Maker, allows you to experiment and develop new filament materials for 3D printing. Let's delve deeper into the Polymer Pyramid to guide you in selecting the best materials for your projects.

PC-ABS Pellets

The 3 Tiers of the Polymer Pyramid

The Material Pyramid categorizes plastics into three distinct layers based on their properties and applications, which can be expertly processed using our Filament Maker:

  1. Commodity Plastics at the base: Commonly used for their cost-effectiveness.
  2. Engineering Plastics in the middle: Renowned for their enhanced mechanical and thermal properties.
  3. High-Performance Plastics at the apex: Reserved for specialized applications requiring exceptional durability and resistance.

In industries ranging from manufacturing to prototyping, selecting the right plastic is crucial. The right choice can optimize lead times, reduce structural challenges, enhance manufacturability, and bring unmatched value to a product or innovation. At 3devo, we stand by to assist you in making the right choice, functioning as an integral part of your team.

Polymer Pyramid
Everyday Polymers: Commodity Materials

Commodity Polymers

Characterized by their ability to withstand low temperatures, these polymers exhibit moderate strength, minimal moisture absorption, and are often cost-effective.
PETG plastic pellets
PETG, derived from PET and enhanced with glycol, is a transparent, easily processed material widely used in plastic bottle manufacturing and 3D printing. It offers a balance of mechanical, chemical, and thermal resistance. Standard 3D printers can handle PETG, but drying at 65°C for 4 hours is crucial.
ABS Plastic Pellets
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is a widely-used 3D printing thermoplastic known for its strength and thermal stability. Ideal for rapid prototyping and mechanical applications, it's printed using heated-bed 3D printers. However, ABS emits toxic fumes and requires ventilation; it's recyclable but not biodegradable.
HDPE Pellets
High-Density Polyethylene - HDPE is categorized as a commodity plastic, known for its high strength-to-density ratio. Frequently used in the production of items like plastic bottles and corrosion-resistant piping, it offers a blend of durability and cost-effectiveness. Although it's one of the more straightforward materials to work with, HDPE still provides room for customization, particularly when processed with the right settings on standard 3D printers.
PLA Red and White pellets
PLA is favored, bio-sourced, and sometimes considered biodegradable in specific conditions. Thermoplastic in 3D printing is known for easy processing and rapid prototyping capabilities. It's compatible with most standard 3D printers and allows for diverse color choices. Additives, like ceramics, can also be integrated. However, it has limited thermal resistance.
Advanced Polymers: Engineering Marvels

Engineering Polymers

Engineering polymers are versatile materials prized for their flexibility, mechanical strength, chemical stability, and wear resistance. Other notable polymers in this category include PC, POM, and PA12.

PA6 Pellets
PA6, also known as Nylon 6, is a flexible and strong material widely utilized in textiles. With high dyeability, it maintains mechanical strength when stretched and is adept for 3D printing. Notably, PA6 has a high moisture absorption rate, requiring thorough drying. Once dry, it's easily processed and can be enhanced with additives.
TPU Pellets
TPU, or Thermoplastic Polyurethane, is an elastomer known for its elasticity and moldability. This versatile material can range from flexible to rigid based on its grade and is resistant to UV and moisture. Often used in 3D printing, it's ideal for flexible items like phone cases. TPU can be transparent, durable, and enhanced with additives like fiberglass.
TPE Pellets
TPE, or Thermoplastic Elastomer, is a flexible and moldable material renowned for its adaptability. It can be formulated to exhibit varying degrees of elasticity and rigidity to suit diverse applications. Commonly used in 3D printing, TPE is a top choice for items requiring a soft touch or flexibility. Resistant to many external factors.
PA12 Pellets
PA12 (Nylon 12) is an engineering-grade thermoplastic known for its balanced mechanical properties and cost-effectiveness. It's a preferred material in automotive and consumer goods, offering durability and versatility. While it doesn't necessitate specialized 3D printers like some high-performance polymers, PA12 is highly customizable, especially when enriched with specific additives.
PC pellets
Polycarbonate, commonly abbreviated as PC, is an engineering thermoplastic prized for its exceptional toughness and transparency. Ideal for making items like safety goggles, windows, and electronic displays, PC offers a unique blend of mechanical strength and optical clarity. While it's compatible with standard 3D printers, its versatility can be further enhanced through the incorporation of various additives.
PVA Pellets
PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol) is highly valued for its water-soluble properties. It's most commonly used in 3D printing as a support material, allowing for easy post-print removal. Outside of 3D printing, it's frequently used in applications like adhesives, films, and water-soluble packaging.
PCL Pellets
(Polycaprolactone) a.k.a. PCL is an engineering thermoplastic known for its low melting point and biodegradability. It's often used in 3D printing for prototyping and creating flexible products. Compatible with standard 3D printers, PCL is also commonly used in medical applications like sutures and tissue engineering.
Elite Polymers: Peak Performance

High-Performance Polymers

High-performance polymers have exceptional chemical resistance, thermal stability, and outstanding mechanical properties. Other polymers include PPS, PBI, and PPSU.

PEEK Pellets
PEEK, or Polyether Ether Ketone, is among the top-performing thermoplastics, boasting remarkable mechanical properties and stability even above 250°C. It is ideal for high-performance parts in aerospace and medicine and is compatible with specific 3D printers that can reach temperatures up to 400°C. Despite its high-temperature requirements, PEEK is relatively easy to extrude, but it's a material for the highly experienced.
PEKK Pellets
PEKK, or Polyetherketoneketone, stands as a premium thermoplastic known for its exceptional mechanical strength and heat stability. Frequently chosen for aerospace and medical applications due to its robustness, PEKK is suited for select 3D printers capable of handling elevated temperatures. While demanding specific processing conditions, PEKK offers adaptability, especially when fortified with specialized fillers.
PEI Pellets
PEI, termed Polyetherimide, shines as a high-caliber thermoplastic, merging exceptional heat endurance with formidable strength. Its unique attributes make it a first-choice in aerospace, automotive, and medical arenas. While its attributes demand specialized 3D printers, PEI's versatility isn't confined, offering adaptability, especially when augmented with niche additives.
PPSU Pellets
PPSU stands as a high-performance thermoplastic boasting unparalleled thermal and chemical resistance. Its robust characteristics make it a go-to material for rigorous applications in the medical and aerospace sectors. While its advanced properties may require specialized 3D printers, PPSU remains versatile, allowing for further customization through the addition of specialized additives.

Explore More Materials with 3devo

Dive deeper into the world of 3D printing materials with 3devo. Apart from the polymers mentioned in the pyramid, we have extensive experience working with a diverse range of materials that can fuel your innovation. Here are some examples:


What exactly is a polymer?

A polymer is a large molecule made up of repeating units known as monomers. Think of a train where each car is a monomer, and the entire train represents the polymer.

Why are polymers important in everyday life?

Polymers are integral to modern life, impacting almost every aspect of our daily routines. Polymers are everywhere, from the plastic containers we use to store our food to the fibers in our clothes, shoes, and even the tires on our cars. Their versatile properties – like durability, lightness, and malleability – make them ideal for a myriad of applications. They've revolutionized industries, from healthcare with polymer-based prosthetics and implants to technology with flexible electronic circuits.

What are the different use cases for each tier of the Polymer Pyramid?
Here is a short explanation with some examples: Commodity Polymers are commonly found in food packaging, toys, household products, and agricultural tools. Engineering Polymers are utilized in the automotive industry, electronics, medical devices, and sporting goods. High-Performance Polymers are essential in aerospace, oil and gas industries, high-end medical equipment, and advanced electronics.
How do I know which polymer is right for my project?

Your choice of polymer will depend on factors like the required mechanical and thermal properties, cost considerations, and the specific application of your project. Refer to our Polymer Pyramid and the detailed descriptions of each polymer to guide your selection, or Get in Touch with Us, and we can help you discover the right polymer for your needs.

What kind of polymers and materials can I use with your Filament Maker?

With our Filament Maker, you have the freedom to experiment and create 3D printing filaments using a wide variety of polymers and materials. Here are some materials that you can use:

Feel free to explore and experiment with these materials to create innovative 3D printing filaments. Our team at 3devo is here to assist you in understanding and working with these materials to achieve your project goals.

For further insights, you can dive deeper into the world of polymers and filament-making through our blogs:

Are all polymers environmentally friendly?

Not all polymers are recyclable. While some, like PLA (Polylactic Acid), are derived from renewable resources and are biodegradable, many others are petroleum-based and can persist in the environment for long periods. It's essential to be informed about the environmental impact of the polymer you're using, considering factors like its source, biodegradability, and recyclability. Learn here to find out more about Which Plastics are Recyclable. Check out more on our mission of providing options for Recycling Filament using recycled plastics. 

What's the difference between PLA and ABS?

PLA (Polylactic Acid) is a biodegradable polymer derived from renewable resources like corn starch, making it more environmentally friendly. On the other hand, ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is a petroleum-based plastic known for its strength and flexibility but is not biodegradable. Check out our comprehensive guide on the Difference Between ABS and PLA for more guidance. 

Want to learn which Polymer is right for you?

Our materials expert is happy to answer all of your questions.