Designed in the US



ABS vs PLA: Head to Head

It’s time to talk plastic!

As you may have noticed when you first backed us, your 3Doodler comes with a bunch of plastic “ink”. You have a choice between ABS and PLA, and many of you have asked us what the difference is, which we prefer and which you should choose. The team has been toiling away and we are now pleased to release our ABS vs PLA Infographic.

To reiterate some of the key points made in the infographic:

• We love using ABS for 3Doodling from stencils (like our Eiffel Tower), making bendable items (like jewellery), for spirals, and for drawing directly upwards off the page

• We love using PLA for 3Doodling on windows, metal and an array of other surfaces (because it sticks a lot better), and for those lovely translucent 3Doodles

Our overall verdict is as follows:

• We genuinely like using both plastics, but for different purposes. We’ve made great things with each, but at the end of the day it depends on the use, look and feel you are going for

• From what we have seen so far most people starting out with the 3Doodler like to 3Doodle upwards, make things that are strong yet bendable, and create easy to peel stencils, so if you are new to plastics and want maximum versatility at the outset, we suggest you start with ABS and experiment with PLA later on (but please do give it a try, as they are both great materials in their own unique ways)

Please feel free to send us any comments or questions. This is the first draft of the infographic and we plan to update it with any know-how that comes our way from the 3Doodler community.

Next Steps

This time next week we’ll be releasing a survey to all backers of a 3Doodler pen asking you to choose between ABS & PLA. At the same time we’ll be collecting Hall of Fame names (those of you who have had a survey on this already, we have yours!), and we’ll be asking for your shipping address (don’t worry, we’ll ask again before we actually ship).

You will have exactly two weeks to complete the survey, following which plastic orders will be set. As mentioned before, we can’t do mixed sets of ABS and PLA, and in addition to the wide array of plastic sources available to you, we will be offering 3Doodler plastic strands for purchase on the 3Doodler e-commerce store in due course.

Thank you!

The 3Doodler Team

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Chief Doodler
Our very own Chief Doodler (the world's best job title?!), and a long-time hater of all things poorly designed, Faraz's mission is to rid the world of every poorly conceived idea that has made an impression on the public eye. Faraz established his own design studio in 2012, met Daniel through Airbnb in 2012, and became Chief Doodler in 2013. This article is connected to Faraz's .

Latest posts by Faraz (see all)

  1. JoshJosh04-22-2013

    How about toxicity??

    • Emma ParkingtionEmma Parkingtion04-23-2013

      Hi Josh.

      This is a very convoluted topic with a whole variance of opinions. It’s safe to say that neither plastics are harmful in the form provided and in the use case (and temperatures) applied in the 3Doodler (or in 3D printing). And we don’t believe either is more harmful than the other.


      The 3Doodler Team

  2. NyamNyam04-22-2013

    I would prefer ABS plastic.

  3. Maxim de BieMaxim de Bie04-22-2013

    Thanks for this overview this answers some of the questions I have been having. I’ll start with ABS then, and try PLA lateron. Looking forward to my 3Doodler!

  4. LCLC04-22-2013

    You mention that you can’t do mixed sets, but for those of us getting multiple bags of plastic, could we get one bag of each kind?

    • Emma ParkingtionEmma Parkingtion04-23-2013

      Hi LC,

      The logistics involved make it really hard for us to do this I am afraid. But we will be making additional small packs of plastic available on our e-commerce store, and both plastic types are widely available. We really don’t foresee this being a problem for backers down the line, and hope you understand that with 25,000+ upfront orders we have to make sure we can deliver.

      Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions!

      The 3Doodler Team

  5. Lukas BlakkLukas Blakk04-22-2013

    Does the 3D doodler only work with one? Can we set the heat on it depending on material? I would love to be able to have stock of both types of plastic on hand and switch around depending on the end project needs.

    • Emma ParkingtionEmma Parkingtion04-23-2013

      Hi Lukas,

      There is a 3-way switch, OFF, ABS and PLA. The ABS and PLA switches then determine the heating ranges to be applied.

      Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have anymore questions!


      The 3Doodler Team

  6. broken drumbroken drum04-22-2013

    ABS can be worked with after print using acetone to soften blemishes and make it shiny using a dip or wipe. Acetone is also used to glue pieces together on a larger print.

    PLA can be glued using super glue. Acetone merely makes it cloudy.

    My pref is ABS even though it has less base sticking ability.

  7. Beyond ABS/PLABeyond ABS/PLA04-22-2013

    Would something like a Nylon-based co-polymer (Taulman 645, 618, etc) also work with the 3Doodler?

    • Emma ParkingtionEmma Parkingtion04-23-2013

      Good morning!

      We haven’t tested for this and as such we would not recommend it. We’ll be testing other materials aside from ABS and PLA in due course, but strongly suggest sticking with those two for now. As an aside the warranty will also be limited to these two.

      If you have anymore questions please do not hesitate to contact us!

      The 3Doodler Team

  8. Betsy A. RileyBetsy A. Riley04-22-2013

    Clearly I should start with the ABS plastic and add PLA later.

  9. iota1iota104-22-2013

    There’s no way we can use both? You can’t have two temperature control settings? I too think both plastics have their advantages and I’m disappointed I can’t use both. But if I must choose, it just wouldn’t be a 3Doodler without the ABS

    • JeffJeff04-22-2013

      I think it is the plastic orders that can’t be mixed. I assume the 3Doodler itself will work with both plastics. Hopefully there is a rep who can clarify this for us all.

      • Emma ParkingtionEmma Parkingtion04-23-2013

        Hi Jeff,

        You are correct in saying that the plastic orders can’t be mixed, but the 3Doodler does work with both ABS and PLA.

        There is a 3-way switch, OFF, ABS and PLA. The ABS and PLA switches then determine the heating ranges to be applied.

        Hope this helps answer your question!

        The 3Doodler Team

  10. njuangorenanjuangorena04-22-2013

    PLA looks attractive for being biodegradable and requiring less energy to melt… but then ABS is widely available (cheaper?) and seems to be the choice for most applications… I would go ABS too

  11. tomastomas04-22-2013


  12. Jimwants 4DJimwants 4D04-22-2013

    I’ve already thought of several projects I want to try. I’m familiar with ABS, so I want to start with that. Hope it comes soon. Same color choices for both kinds of plastic?

    • 4dOranges4dOranges11-20-2013

      No there is no clear or translucent ABS. I also believe that there is not glow in the dark PLA

      • Emma ParkingtonEmma Parkington11-25-2013


        We currently don’t have clear plastic available in the ABS or glow in the dark for PLA, but you are able to use both ABS or PLA in the 3Doodler by changing the temperature settings (the switch on the side of the pen), so you could buy a pack of ABS and PLA and use a mixture of both on your doodles!



  13. HansemannHansemann04-22-2013

    Have been using PLA for years now, with very pleasing results all over. I would really like a go at ABS, and drawing standing “drawings” really draws my attention ;)

  14. taylor gimbeltaylor gimbel04-22-2013

    I’d definitely like the ability to draw upwards, so ABS for me, please.
    (Did we choose one or the other when we made our contribution?)

  15. Paul ArskogPaul Arskog04-22-2013

    For what I would like to do ABS.

  16. GuilhermeGuilherme04-22-2013

    I prefer both !!! :(

  17. Erik BroedersErik Broeders04-22-2013

    My preference goes to ABS in the first place. Love the option to switch to PLA later though!

  18. suprdoxsuprdox04-22-2013

    The FAQ states that the pen comes with 2 temp settings – so can cater for both ABS and PLA. Given the nice summary, I guess ABS would be the best starter for most people.

    Cheeky question though – could you guys just be Uber-nice and send a mix of both? Uber-please?!

    • Emma ParkingtionEmma Parkingtion04-23-2013


      The logistics involved make it really hard for us to do this I am afraid. But we will be making additional small packs of plastic available on our e-commerce store, and both plastic types are widely available. We really don’t foresee this being a problem for backers down the line, and hope you understand that with 25,000+ upfront orders we have to make sure we can deliver.

      Hope this helps!

      The 3Doodler Team

  19. joni holingerjoni holinger04-22-2013

    Thanks for this….I have no idea what I am going to make but can hardly wait to have it in hand to see what inspiration hits.

  20. ChrisChris04-22-2013

    They already mentioned earlier I believe that the 3Doodler supports both, but to sped processing of orders they where only allowing you to order one type of plastic from your pledge and you can buy more plastic either from them or any supplier that supplies it with similar specs (I think they linked a few in the kickstarter).

  21. berndbernd04-23-2013

    Not sure if I understood the whole thing. Why do I have to make a verdict as obviously both types are fine. From my experience with 3D printing I really do not like the smell of ABS, but nevertheless in my backing description it is stated:
    PLUS two bags of mixed color plastic
    So I would go and choose one bag being ABS plastic and one bag being PLA.

  22. SarabaSaraba04-23-2013

    Cheers, Thanks for the heads up.
    I can’t wait to get to use it. I have countless fun projects to try it on.

    Keep up the great work!

  23. SarabaSaraba04-23-2013

    ops.. forgot.. ABS please :)

  24. Aaron CheatwoodAaron Cheatwood04-23-2013

    I would like both, for different reasons. However, for my kickstarter order, I would prefer ABS.

  25. Eric PasquinoEric Pasquino04-23-2013

    I would like abs please

  26. MikaMika04-23-2013

    I think it would be best to start with ABS^^

  27. Sergey MuravskiySergey Muravskiy04-23-2013

    ABS for sure.

  28. Jeremy RudolphJeremy Rudolph04-23-2013

    PLA for what I’m looking to do seems like the best start, however, it would be fun to experiment down the road with ABS. I’m curious when I could order ABS through the site, or if I could go into any local hardware store / order from somewhere online, any help appreciated. :)

  29. SteffenSteffen04-23-2013

    I’m using PLA in all of my 3d-printers and have very good results with it. If the doodler can handle both, I would opt for ABS in my delivery as I have already a lot of PLA and thus have the opportunity to use either plastic.

  30. MoragMorag04-23-2013

    Thanks so much for the clarification. Based on what my boys and I want to do with the 3Doodler, we’re going to opt for the ABS initially.

  31. kribyskribys04-23-2013

    PLA, please. Stickiness to other materials and enviromental properties are most important to me.

  32. CandyCandy04-23-2013

    Will we be able to choose the colours? Or will it be completely random for each bag? Or will you be choosing a fixed set of colours for either plastic? If so, please do let us know, since it would be another deciding factor for choosing either plastic!

    • Emma ParkingtionEmma Parkingtion04-23-2013

      Hi Candy,

      Unfortunately you won’t be able to choose the colours that are sent to you with the 3Doodler, but we are making sure that the colours sent are incredibly awesome and that you won’t be disappointed when they arrive!

      You will, however, be able to choose your own colours on our online store once they are available.

      If you have anymore questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

      The 3Doodler Team

  33. Kevin GriffinKevin Griffin04-23-2013

    Could you consider providing a “mixed bag” of ABS and PLA for those of us new to the whole 3D printing experience? Is it easy to tell the difference between the two when in the stick or string form? It would be nice to be able to try both and make some discoveries as to which material works best for our needs. If it is a “either or choice” though, I believe I would start with ABS.

  34. Pamela OlinPamela Olin04-23-2013

    ABS for me so I can go up off the page!

  35. lisa rogerlisa roger04-23-2013

    ABS please!

  36. Jonathan PerryJonathan Perry04-23-2013

    I thought you guys were very professional and would do well but, WOW! Kickstarter is changing the world! Yours first (and then maybe mine)!

    ABS all the way! I am also looking at 3D printers, but your doodler will keep me busy for awhile! Are you shipping soon?

  37. RobRob04-24-2013

    PLA first and then ABS as I need to construct items within metal (often painted) enclosures.

  38. Ricardo Cheida de OliveiraRicardo Cheida de Oliveira04-24-2013

    ABS. Please.

  39. DerryDerry04-24-2013

    Is the filament the usual 1.75 mm in diameter?

    I’ve got access plenty of 1.75 ABS, so if it can use that it would be good to try the different material.

  40. mattmatt04-26-2013

    hey, I got an email from you, “This time next week we’ll be releasing a survey to all backers of a 3Doodler pen asking you to choose between ABS & PLA.”
    but never got another email?
    I’d like ABS please!

  41. KarenKaren04-28-2013

    How do you load the plastic into the back of the 3Doodler, do you just shove it in?

    • Emma ParkingtionEmma Parkingtion05-06-2013

      Hi Karen,

      We don’t suggest shoving anything into the 3Doodler. While we’ve been prone to kick the soda machine or photocopy machine when it doesn’t work, that’s not going to work with the 3Doodler.

      Here’s what to do: Once you have your nice straight strand of ABS or PLA in hand you can gently insert it into the back of the pen, feeding it down the loading tube until you reach a stop. The plastic will then be gripped by the pens gears and fed further into the pen on its own. If the plastic doesn’t take at first you can gently push it down until it does. If in doubt mark the plastic lightly so you can see it move as it feeds into the pen.

      And please under no condition try to pull it back out of the pen once gripped! The pen has a reverse mechanism (holding both buttons at once), which reverses the plastic until, allowing you to then gently pull it out once released by the gears.

      If you have anymore questions please don’t hesitate to ask!

      The 3Doodler Team

  42. Drew BellerDrew Beller04-29-2013

    I have a 3D printer and was hoping to use my 3Doodler for play and to plastic weld some of my 3D printed designs. If I print my designs in PLA, would I be able to weld them with ABS from the 3Doodler?

  43. James WillmottJames Willmott04-29-2013

    ABS for me to start with, can’t wait to get going with this

  44. JamilJamil05-01-2013

    I’d go with ABS as well, I can always buy more in spool form from different suppliers or what have you in the future

  45. Mark ByfordMark Byford05-06-2013

    ABS for me please looking forward to it arriving…………

  46. griffin frost aka evonixgriffin frost aka evonix05-12-2013

    I would like abs and appear as griffin frost in the hall of fame.

  47. TracyTracy05-15-2013

    Do you have an idea of what the bags of ABS and PLA will cost when you put them in the store?

    • Emma ParkingtionEmma Parkingtion05-27-2013

      Hi Tracy,

      We are still working on the pricing of the bags of plastic for our online store! As soon as we have something confirmed we will update you.

      The 3Doodler Team

  48. i like this post very much

  49. Ann DavisAnn Davis06-19-2013

    I didn’t find the conductive plastic question mentioned in the email. Is there such a thing and maybe it might fit? I could go wild with my artwork if I could get something like that:)

    • Emma ParkingtonEmma Parkington10-08-2013

      Hi Ann,

      We don’t have any conductive plastic available at the moment but you never know what the future holds!

      We do however, sell both ABS and PLA plastic on our online store, in a variety of colours (32 in fact), found here:

      The additional plastic costs $9.99 for 25 strands!



  50. vincentvincent11-20-2013

    what is the diameter of the abs or the pla ????
    it would be realy helpfull

    • Emma ParkingtonEmma Parkington11-25-2013

      Hi Vincent,

      The plastic used in the 3Doodler is currently 3mm.

      Hope this helps!



  51. vincentvincent11-26-2013


  52. fatihfatih01-10-2014

    Can i use both(ABS and PLA) on one 3doodler? Do I need a different 3Doodler for different material?

    • Emma ParkingtonEmma Parkington01-11-2014

      Hi Faith,

      You can use both the ABS and PLA plastic in the 3Doodler. There is a temperature gage on the side of the pen that you change according to the plastic you are using.



  53. niallniall01-15-2014

    if i wanted to create sheet panels by drawing and shading in in abs would it be recommended to use pla as a braising/welding/soldering solution to join the panels?
    additionally would pla be a better format if one was to require rigid panels such as a bonnet of a car?
    whilst abs creates the springs?

    are the plastics interchangable and will they bond to each other under heat ie can i attach a pla part to an abs part or will covalent bonding be impossible after the extrusion stage?

    • Emma ParkingtonEmma Parkington01-22-2014

      Hi Niall.

      In response to your questions:

      “If i wanted to create sheet panels by drawing and shading in in abs would it be recommended to use pla as a braising/welding/soldering solution to join the panels?”
      We can confirm that both would work.

      “Additionally would pla be a better format if one was to require rigid panels such as a bonnet of a car?”
      Yes. PLA would be the better option.

      “Whilst abs creates the springs?”

      “Are the plastics interchangable and will they bond to each other under heat ie can i attach a pla part to an abs part or will covalent bonding be impossible after the extrusion stage?”
      Both plastics will bond.

      Hope this helps!



  54. niallniall01-15-2014

    can it be summed up that pla would create the door while abs would create the springy hinge for the door? ie movable parts plastics?

    • Emma ParkingtonEmma Parkington01-22-2014

      Hi Niall.

      Both could create a door but ABS would be a better hinge.



  55. EmilyEmily01-16-2014

    Could you order both at the same time and does it come with all the. Colors and how much is it

    • Emma ParkingtonEmma Parkington01-21-2014

      Hi Emily,

      When you first order the 3Doodler you are asked to choose between ABS or PLA to come with your initial order.

      You can however, order the other type of plastic directly from our online store so you can try both when your 3Doodler arrives.



      • Tim RyanTim Ryan02-19-2014

        Hi Emma,
        I accidentally ordered the incorrect plastic. I just emailed, asking if I could correct it (from “Tuxedo Black PLA” to “Black Belt Black ABS”). Is that something you guys would be able to fix?

        Thank You,

        • Emma ParkingtonEmma Parkington02-25-2014

          Hi Tim,

          I have emailed our Customer Service Team and asked that they respond to your email.



  56. EmilyEmily01-16-2014

    How do you know what tempeture to set it at

    • Emma ParkingtonEmma Parkington01-21-2014

      Hi Emily,

      PLA melts at a lower temperature than ABS, so we have designed the pen to have two temperature settings which users can switch between depending on the material in use at the time of 3Doodling. Please be sure to use the correct setting with the plastic you are using!

      Hope this helps to answer your question!



  57. Zachary PalmerZachary Palmer01-21-2014

    Hi! I am really excited about the 3Doodler and I have been wanting to start a small business selling things made by the 3Doodler.
    Would I need some sort of license/ contract signed by the 3Doodler and/ or Wobbleworks company and myself?
    I would also like to know how long the ABS and PLA strands are.
    Thank you, 3Doodler and Wobbleworks!

    • Emma ParkingtonEmma Parkington01-22-2014

      Hi Zachary,

      Can you please email us at and a member of the team will be able to respond to questions.

      Thank you


  58. Perry CarmichaelPerry Carmichael01-23-2014

    Is there or will there be a 1.75mm filament option? Is it already an option and there is a setting? Thanks! Love my 3Doodler & making gifts!

    • Emma ParkingtonEmma Parkington01-28-2014

      Hi Perry,

      There are a host of reasons why we used 3mm for the first edition 3Doodler, not least the ability to have more plastic in the pen without the strand out the back being too long.

      We will keep the idea of a 1.75mm model under review. But for the time being 3mm continues to make the most sense for us and the majority of our users.



  59. SidSid02-06-2014

    I am a young artist, is it worth it to get the 3doodler? Is it easy to use? How cumbersome is the pen itself? l want to get the 3doodler, but $100 is a lot to someone with no income, what are the pros/cons? How long does it last? Whats the milage for each plastic string?

    • Emma ParkingtonEmma Parkington02-25-2014

      Hi Sid,

      We would definitely recommend getting the 3Doodler if you are an artist and want to try some different techniques. You can view the work of people and what they have created by visiting our ‘Doodles By You’ page and this may help you decide if it’s something you would like to try.

      The 3Doodler is very lightweight and easy to use (Although it may take some practice in perfecting your technique!)

      The use of each strand of plastic depends on whether you are using the pen on the slow/fast speed and is dependant on the thickness of the line you are doodling.

      Hope this helps!



  60. YousifYousif02-14-2014

    Can I put in a spool of plastic.

    • Emma ParkingtonEmma Parkington02-25-2014

      Hi Yousif,

      3Doodler plastic is 10 inches in lenth and straight cut. We are not able to verify the quality or source of other materials used and the warranty that covers the 3Doodler is limited to 3Doodler approved ABS and PLA strands.



  61. TeddyTeddy03-14-2014

    So, when you order the 3Doodler with the 50 strands, do you get to choose what colors the strands are?
    Also, is there a way to order the 3Doodler on its own without ABS/PLA strands? If so, how much does it cost?


    • Emma ParkingtonEmma Parkington03-15-2014

      Hi Teddy,

      We currently don’t have the store set up to order the 3Doodler on it’s own and you can only pre-order the 3Doodler with the 50 strands of the ABS or the PLA.

      With the purchase of a 3Doodler, you’ll receive 2 plastic packs, the “Essential” and “Meta” in either PLA or ABS (whichever one you choose).

      You can always choose additional colors or mix packs by visiting our Plastics Store!


  62. MJ HopperMJ Hopper03-16-2014

    I just received the 3Doodler and am gathering the courage to try it out (new to plastics!). Somehow, my package of PLA got intermingled (mixed up with!) my ABS… Have I now RUINED everything??? Will my pen be self-destructing? …or is there some secret way to tell the PLA from the ABS that will allow me to separate them once again? I feel so STUPID!!!!
    Thanks! MJ

  63. ludoludo03-27-2014

    Hello what about the longevity of the plastic form? I am an artist and I am concern on how many years the piece will be resisting (some plastic are kind of falling apart after 15-20 years) ?

    Thanks a lot

    • Emma ParkingtonEmma Parkington04-01-2014


      ABS plastic will last forever, while PLA plastic is likely to last for 50+ years! Both plastics are pretty durable :)



  64. AlexAlex03-28-2014

    Hello, I had a question about this amazing device.. how does it power itself? Is it plugged in, or does it recharge, and also (This will be required either way) do you have different cords for different volts (or however it’s referred to) like how the US uses a different voltage than, say, somewhere in Europe?

    • Sean GillespieSean Gillespie03-31-2014

      Hi Alex,

      Thanks for your question. The 3Doodler is receives power through a wall outlet adapter and at the moment isn’t
      able to hold a charge separately. Yes we offer region specific power supplies.


  65. KyleKyle04-11-2014

    I loved my 3d pen, but the plastics they sent me did not last very long and now I’m stuck paying $10 if I want anymore. Are there any other options?

    • Emma ParkingtonEmma Parkington04-14-2014

      Hi Kyle,

      We haven’t tested the 3Doodler for this, so we cannot recommend buying plastic from elsewhere. As an aside the warranty over the pen will also be limited to 3Doodler approved ABS and PLA strands.



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