There are 4 materials that we can recommend to 3D print our planes (category A or B parts):
PLA, TOUGH PLA, PETG and LW- PLA. Let compare them!
This table is the summary of the most relevant material´s properties for a 3D printed airplane.
These properties can change slightly between different filament manufacturer, printing parameters and environment condition such as temperature or moisture.
Data from CNC kitchen
Low warping, easy to find and great tensile strength. Probably the best material for beginners. Nevertheless this material is too brittle, so crash resistant is not good, its glass transition temperature is too low this mean that during hot days or in contact with hot electronic the material will be deformed.
Density is also quite high so depending on your pilot skills and the model this option might not be recomended for you.
If you are worried about crash resistance this is your material. With an impact resistant 3 to 4 times higher than regular PLA this material is perfect for belly landing models or to parts specially exposed to impacts like landing gear. Printability, temperature resistance or maximum tensile strength are relatively similar to regular PLA, but still the density is a bit high.
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If you are really worried about the performance of your airplane, this is your material! density is half of the previous option this mean that you will be able to 3D print airplanes with the same wing loading of old balsa planes! Nevertheless, As you can see in the table its mechanical properties are very different from previous options, our designs are taken into account those properties so you don´t have to worry about the strength of your airframe.
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The main advantage of this material is its higher glass transition temperature so you don´t have to worry about the integrity of your model during hot days. Impact resistance is 60% higher than PLA making this material also better for belly landing. In the other hand this material is harder to print than the previous options and density is high.
*Although you might think at first that LW-PLA is very expensive you should take into account that due to his foaming effect the flow used is 50%, this mean that 1kg of LW-PLA is equivalent to 2kg of PLA.