The Creality Ender 3 is a versatile budget 3D printer with a generously sized heated bed that makes it great for using all sorts of high-temperature and specialty printing materials that aren’t always feasible to use with cheaper 3D printers. Finding the best filament brands, however, for your Ender 3 can be difficult, but we’re here to help!
In this article, we’ll cover the best overall and budget PLA, ABS, PETG, and TPU filament brands to use with the Ender 3, what to look for when buying 3D printer filament, and explain which materials you absolutely should not use in your Ender 3 3D printer.
|Filament for Ender 3||Summary||Sizes||Colors||Price/kg (~)||Best Offer|
|Prusament PLA||Best PLA||1.75mm||22||$36|
|Hatchbox PLA||Best budget PLA||1.75mm, 3mm||22||$23|
|Sunlu ABS||Best ABS||1.75mm||10||$22|
|Overture ABS||Best budget ABS||1.75mm||4||$20|
|Prusament PETG||Best PETG||1.75mm||20||$36|
|Sunlu PETG||Best budget PETG||1.75mm||4||$22|
|Overture TPU||Best TPU||1.75mm||10||$26|
|Duramic TPU||Best budget TPU||1.75mm||5||$23|
Best Filaments for Ender 3 in 2023
Prusament PLA filament is made by the same company behind Prusa 3D printers and is considered one of the most accurate and affordable PLA filaments on the market. While most filament manufacturers use 0.05mm +/- tolerances (meaning the filament can be 0.05mm more or less than the advertised size at any point in the spool), Prusament uses a 0.02mm +/- tolerance.
This means that Prusament prints are more accurate, with smoother surfaces and cleaner top layers. You are also less likely to run into problems with filament jamming or getting stuck in the hot end as well.
Prusament filaments are created with high-quality raw materials. To avoid breakage and inconsistent extrusion during printing, they are wound to a perfect tension on the spool. Once you set up the best PLA filament settings for your machine, it is easy to get great adhesion and print quality with this Prusament PLA.
|Spool Sizes||1kg, 2kg|
|Nozzle / Bed Temps||215°C / 50-60°C|
Easily the best filament for Ender 3 printers working on a budget, Hatchbox PLA has high tolerances, great print quality, and superb layer adhesion for a low-cost filament. With 0.03mm +/- tolerances, Hatchbox is a good filament capable of achieving smooth prints in the Creality Ender 3.
Hatchbox PLA has a glass transition temperature of 60°C and a typical printing temperature range of 185°C to 200°C, making it a filament that prints well on most printers with an extruder heated to 200°C.
When printing at the optimal temperature range, Hatchbox’s material properties result in non-brittle finished pieces with great layer adhesion.
Hatchbox’s biggest selling point is its price, with 1KG spools costing around $20, making it one of the cheapest high-quality filaments on the market. For Creality Ender 3 owners who are looking for a better filament at a low cost, Hatchbox PLA makes an excellent choice
|Diameters Available||1.75mm, 3mm|
|Nozzle / Bed Temps||185-200°C / 60°C|
Sunlu ABS is affordable and reliable with a dimensional accuracy of 0.02mm +/-. While they don’t have as many color options as other brands, the colors that are available are vibrant and smooth when printed. Plus, its ABS takes post-processing very well, so it is easy to smooth and paint it to any other color after printing.
Sunlu is known for making high-quality 3D printing filaments at affordable prices, so this filament is a perfect option for anyone on a budget. If you are making a lot of large-scale objects like 3D printed cosplay armors, 3D printed helmets, or props, this can keep your 3D printing costs low without sacrificing print quality.
|Nozzle / Bed Temps||230-240°C / 85°C|
Coming in at just under $20 per 1kg roll, Overture ABS is an excellent budget filament for Ender 3 3D printers. Made with an added resin compound, Overture ABS filament also boasts better bed adhesion and fewer fumes and odor than other ABS filament brands. Their tolerances of 0.03mm +/- also ensure excellent quality for finished prints.
Their color options are extremely limited, with only four available, but their ABS takes paint well, so it isn’t hard to add a coat or two to finished prints if you want more variety.
|Nozzle / Bed Temps||245-265°C / 80-100°C|
Like Prusament’s PLA filaments listed above, Prusament PETG is manufactured in-house with incredibly precise tolerances of 0,02mm +/-. One of the best filaments for the Ender 3, Prusament products are made with high-quality materials and wound onto the spools with excellent tension.
One of the best things about Prusament filaments is that each spool comes with a QR code to read a report on the quality testing and checks your specific spool went through, so you always know that you are getting a high quality and thoroughly tested product.
While some reviews complain about Prusament’s higher price point compared to other brands, they are also quick to point out that their quality is exceptional. Since PETG is one of the more difficult materials to work with in the first place, paying a bit more to ensure quality prints can make a huge difference in your printing experience—especially if you are new to using the material.
|Nozzle / Bed Temps||250°C / 70-90°C|
In addition to its great price point, Sunlu PETG filament works at lower nozzle and build plate temperature than most other brands at 200C and 80C respectively. These are comparable to what you would use with a PLA filament and make them easy to get smooth, quality prints on your Creality Ender 3.
Their color options are rather limited for their PETG filament line with only four colors available. PETG is difficult to paint (and post-process in general), so it is not as easy to just paint your finished prints the desired color after.
|Nozzle / Bed Temps||200-220°C / 60-80°C|
Overture TPU is a flexible filament that works extremely well in the Creality Ender 3 3D printer (keep reading for more information about using TPU filament in the Ender 3, because it does require some small upgrades and finessing for best results!)
With ten different color options, Overture is the best filament for makers who need their prints to look a specific way. Due to its rubbery texture, TPU prints cannot be painted after, so what you see is what you get with these products.
With a 0.03mm +/- tolerance, Overture will also give exceptional dimensional accuracy with its prints.
|Nozzle / Bed Temps||210-230°C / 25-60°C|
When considering the best filament for Ender 3 printers in terms of TPU, Duramic’s flexible TPU filaments are a cost-effective and high-quality option. With a dimensional accuracy of 0.05mm +/-, their precision quality matches the industry average.
Duramic TPU stretches three times its original length and is a high-strength material to keep it from ripping when stretched. It is also formulated to work with Bowden extruder setups like on the Creality Ender 3 with less jamming than other TPU filaments. Duramic TPU is the best TPU filament option if you don’t want to do much to upgrade your Ender 3 3D printer from its factory specifications.
|Nozzle / Bed Temps||220-230°C / 25-60°C|
What to look for when buying filament for your Ender 3
Filament comes in a few different diameters, with 1.75mm and 2.85mm being the most common. The Creality Ender 3 uses 1.75mm diameter filaments. Other sizes (2.85mm and 3.00mm) will be too large to fit in the extruder.
In addition to the basic diameter size, you should also pay attention to the tolerance of your filament. Most filament brands have a tolerance of 0.05mm +/-, which means their filaments may be 0.05mm bigger or smaller than 1.75mm (or whatever base size the filament is) at any point in the spool.
Some variations in the diameter of 3D printing filament are completely normal, and most will variate slightly from the stock size through the same spool. However, low-quality filament brands vary significantly more and can have such noticeable differences that their products have poorer print quality and even clog the extruder.
In terms of the Ender 3 nozzle size, most filaments are compatible with the stock 0.4mm nozzle that is included with the Ender 3 (V2 / Pro).
Best materials for the Ender 3
PLA (polylactic acid) is one of the most common 3D printing materials and is the easiest type of filament to use with your Creality Ender 3. Made from organic matter like corn starch or sugarcane, PLA is biodegradable and considered more sustainable than other 3D printing materials.
PLA prints at low temperatures, which is what makes it so popular among beginner 3D printers. This also means it has low heat tolerances and will melt in high temperatures. While it has excellent tensile strength, it is a stiffer material than other filaments, making it brittle and prone to breaking on impact.
Smoothing PLA is also relatively easy, with several methods that you can use to remove layer lines and get perfectly smooth 3D prints.
Typical Print Settings for PLA Filament
ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is a petroleum-derived thermoplastic that is popular in 3D printing due to its high temperature and impact resistance. It is harder to print with than PLA because it needs an all-metal hot end, heated build plate, and 3D printer enclosure for the best results. You can buy the best ABS filament, but without the right 3D printer you won’t get very far.
ABS is well-liked for 3D printing because it is easy to post-process. You can easily smooth it without sanding using either vapor smoothing or cold smoothing using acetone. The vapor smoothing process can be dangerous, so it is best to use caution when trying it. You can learn more about working with ABS and how it differs from PLA with our PLA vs ABS comparison guide.
Typical Print Settings for ABS Filament
PETG (polyethylene terephthalate glycol) is another petroleum-based thermoplastic common in 3D printing. PET plastics are some of the most widely used commercially and make up the majority of plastic water bottles, utensils, drink and dinnerware, and other product packaging. Filaments for 3D printing often add the glycol (G) because PET alone is extremely brittle.
PETG prints at temperatures similar to ABS; however, it has a much higher tensile strength and comparable impact resistance. This makes it a popular choice for printing industrial parts that require more durability than other materials.
Typical Print Settings for PETG Filaments
TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) is a rubbery, flexible material that is used to 3D print everything from gaskets to shoes to toys. While TPU prints at a lower temperature than ABS or PETG, it is still rather difficult to use in a 3D printer.
The Bowden style setup that comes standard on the Creality Ender 3 printer is not ideal for printing in TPU, but an easy upgrade to an all-metal hot end, upgraded drive shaft, and higher quality Bowden tube make it possible to use this common material with the Ender 3.
Typical Print Settings for TPU Filament
Materials to Avoid with the Ender 3
While glow-in-the-dark filaments are a lot of fun to use, they contain highly abrasive materials that will damage your brass nozzle. Since brass nozzles are relatively cheap, some users keep several on hand and swap them out as they become damaged.
However, unless glow-in-the-dark filaments are something you strongly want to use with your Ender 3, it is best to just avoid the material altogether.
Nylon filament is one of the most difficult materials to 3D print with. It requires a high printing temperature that your Creality Ender 3 can technically reach but has difficulty maintaining. Some users build enclosures for their printer and upgrade their hotend in order to 3D print nylon filament reliably. With just the Ender 3 stock configuration, it is better to avoid 3D printing with Nylon.
Like glow-in-the-dark PLA, WoodFill is an abrasive filament that will damage your brass nozzle. This can again be remedied by switching to an abrasion-resistant hardened steel nozzle.
PEEK is not a good filament for Ender 3 printers for several reasons. Like Nylon, it requires very high temperatures to print and is an expensive material. While you could add some modifications to your printer to make it more tolerant of the material, it is more feasible to use it with a 3D printer model that is built with PEEK’s specifications in mind.
A good quality filament will give you smoother prints, an easier print process, and fewer mechanical issues with your 3D printer than cheap low-quality off-brands. As we mentioned above, a good filament brand has low tolerances (variations in filament diameter) to keep the product feeding smoothly into the extruder.
High-quality brands also tend to have more transparency with what chemicals, additives, and materials are included in their filaments while cheap brands do not. This is important information to know, since any heavy metals, contaminants, or harmful additives will be present in your finished prints.
Most 3D filaments come in two options for packaging: spooled or coiled. Spooled filaments are typically better than coiled since they have consistent tension on the spool. This makes them feed into the nozzle more consistently and avoids having prints that are over extruded in some areas and under extruded in others.
However, not all spooled filaments are equal. Another quality issue that often arises with cheap filament brands is that they are wound poorly onto the spool.
Coiled filaments are common with brands that work with specialty colors and small batches like Proto-Pasta. They are also common as free samples, so you may receive a small coil of filament when buying a spool of another type of filament. Coiled filaments are good for small prints where the filament does not have to feed into the extruder for long.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of filament does the Creality Ender 3 use?
The Creality Ender 3 uses most of the common filaments, with the best filament for Ender 3 printers being PLA, ABS, and PETG. The Ender 3 can also use specialty filaments like TPU with a few basic Ender 3 upgrades. The same applies if you want to upgrade your Ender 5.
What size filament does the Creality Ender 3 use?
1.75mm is the filament size used on the stock extruder that comes with the Creality Ender 3, so look for those sizes when buying supplies for your printer. This includes the Ender 3 v2 and Ender 3 Pro models.
Finding the best filament for Ender 3 printers and your specific project is the best way to get quality prints every time. We’ve given you the best filament options for PLA, ABS, PETG, and TPU, their ideal print settings, and how to best use them in your Creality Ender 3 3D printer.
For PLA, we recommended the Prusament brand thanks to its high-quality materials and manufacturing process. As one of the easiest filaments to work with, PLA is a popular choice for beginners and users looking to test or rapid prototype parts, so it’s always a good idea to keep some on hand for your projects.
Our go-to ABS is Sunlu thanks to its great quality and affordable prices. ABS is a high-temperature filament, so if you’ve never used it before, make sure you read up on how to achieve good results with it. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a lot of false starts and warped prints.
PETG is another high-temperature filament that works in Ender 3, and Prusament has a great selection of colors for this material! PETG is a bit easier to work with than ABS and has amazing tensile strength and flexibility (for impact resistance), so if this is something you need in your prints, it’s worth trying!
Overture TPU is our top pick for flexible filaments for your Ender 3. Just remember what we said above about potentially needing some small upgrades to your machine to use flexible filament, because some of the Ender 3 factory parts don’t handle the rubbery, flexible material very well.
Which of these products is your favorite? Did you run into any issues when using them in the Ender 3? Let us know!