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PETG vs Acrylic: Which Material Should You Use?

PETG vs Acrylic: Which Material Should You Use? | 3D Printing Spot

Updated by

The Spot Team

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December 31, 2020

When you get into 3D printing, you start to realize that are many different types of materials that you can use for all sorts of projects. Many people have discovered that PETG and acrylic are great materials to use when it comes to making a multitude of items. So, between PETG and acrylic, which material should you use?

In most cases, you should use PETG over acrylic. PETG is more affordable and 5-7 times stronger than acrylic. Acrylic has a nice gloss finish, but is very brittle and should only be used for show pieces and not working parts.

It is always better to go for a stronger more durable material when you can. Let’s dig a little deeper into their differences and find out more.

Table of contents:

Should You Use PETG or Acrylic?

PETG, also known as polyethylene terephthalate glycol, and acrylic both have good qualities and some not-so-good qualities. Still, PETG rises above acrylic just enough to be a better material to use for most cases. It is the strongest and most reliable material for making any custom items using a 3D printer.

Here is why PETG is better than acrylic:

  • Affordable- PETG is affordable in the first place, and when you factor in how strong it is, that means you will not spend as much money buying more to make replacement parts when the original wears out. You are not likely to ruin to it as fast as you could damage acrylic.
  • Great material for long term use- PETG’s strength will allow it to withstand damage for years, in most cases, and does not break as easily as acrylic. It can withstand higher amounts of pressure than acrylic.
  • Easy to clean- PETG only requires soap and water to clean it. There are no special chemicals involved in getting rid of any dirt or bacteria.
  • Strong- PETG is 5 to 7 times stronger than acrylic and can withstand 30 times the amount of impact that glass can.
  • Food Safe- PETG is FDA-approved and is the material used in most reusable water bottles and food storage containers.
  • Recyclable- PETG can be reused over and over again for other projects, and it is biodegradable.
  • Does not have a strong odor- During the printing process when high heat is applied, PETG does not omit strong fumes like most other 3D printing filaments.
  • Good layer adhesion– PETG is quite soft which makes it sticky and allows it to stick well to the print bed. This causes the parts of what you are creating to be strong and durable.

Acrylic also has some of these qualities, but it comes no where near to being as strong as PETG. Essentially, the only category where acrylic exceeds PETG is aesthetics, where its perfect gloss finish beats PETG’s slightly less glossy one.

If you are making something that you hope will stand the test of time, then PETG is your go-to over acrylic. If you want something pretty but fragile, then you can consider going with acrylic.

PETG is a Good Compromise

PETG is the perfect mix of PLA’s predictability and ABS’s strength and durability. PETG is even completely environmentally friendly because it can be recycled.

It is also able to handle very high temperatures, making it resistant to shrinking when exposed to high heat, unlike other materials. When you do the printing process correctly, it will also not warp as easily as other materials.

Whether you are a professional or just enjoy working with a 3D printer, PETG is very easy to work with and should be a standard filament in your toolbox.

Is PETG Scratch Resistant?

For such an amazingly strong material, you would think that it would not be able to scratch easily. Unfortunately, though, it does scratch much easier than acrylic, which is basically scratch resistant.

PETG does scratch easier than acrylic because it is a softer material. However, PETG is still plenty strong. Being softer than acrylic allows it to flex, bend, heat, chill, survive impacts, and overall be much more durable than acrylic.

Is PETG Flexible?

PETG is a very flexible material. It is noted to be as flexible as PET, which is the same as PETG just without the glycol, but it has a very small amount of warping and shrinking in comparison when exposed to very high temperatures.

It does not bend as easily, is still much harder to break when bent compared to acrylic. Acrylic is known to break just from a squeeze in your hand, at certain thicknesses.

If you are looking for a filament that has a combination of other filaments you know and love, then PETG just might be the best choice for you.

Is PETG Food Safe?

PETG is FDA-approved, meaning that is, in fact, food safe. It is commonly used in reusable water bottles, food storage containers, and the containers that vegetable and other oils come in for cooking due to its chemical resistant abilities.

However, a food-safe coating spray must be applied to all parts in the 3D printing process in order to keep the finished product food safe. Otherwise, the parts could become contaminated with oils, other melted filament, or various other non-food-safe materials.

Can You Paint PETG?

Once you have completed making objects with your 3D printer out of PETG, you may want to paint them during post-processing. Don’t worry—you can paint on PETG rather easily.

It is recommended to follow the following steps in order to have great paint coverage and to ensure that it will stick, properly.

  • Clean any dust, dirt, or debris off of your PETG model
  • Sand it well
  • Begin applying the primer in thin, even coats
  • Sand the PETG model after the first and last coats (this will ensure a smooth surface)
  • Allow each coat to dry completely according to the directions that are on the primer

Once you have followed all of these steps, you can begin to paint on your model. It is always important to use a little amount of paint at a time, moving in small slow strokes, so that you can easily see if the paint job is coming out the way you want it to look.

The Cons of PETG

PETG really seems to be the perfect material for a multitude of projects. However, like everything else in the world, there are some downsides to PETG.

Here are some cons of PETG:

  • PETG scratches very easily compared to acrylic’s scratch resistant abilities.
  • If PETG is exposed to UV rays from then the edges may yellow
  • PETG cannot be cleaned with any alcohol-based cleaning products. Otherwise, the material will begin to crack and break down, overtime.
  • PETG cannot be polished to achieve a shiny, glossy look.
  • PETG can often be stringy during printing if the retraction settings are not exactly right.
  • PETG is so sticky that it can cause your printing supports to stick too well to the PETG and leave visible marks when you try to remove them.

There’s no single do-it-all filament. PETG is great for a wide variety of scenarios, but there are more niche cases where it just isn’t a great fit.

PETG is a good all-around filament, while filaments like acrylic are best for specific use cases.

Tips for Using PETG

If you choose to go with PETG over acrylic, you should know some useful tips on how to get the best results from it. Thankfully, PETG is known to be a very forgiving material meaning that you do not have to worry too much about messing things up and wasting money.

Here are some tips to follow when you are using PETG:

  • Try an alternative for supports. Since supports tend to get stuck to PETG during the printing process, it is recommended to use a dual extruder with another type of filament instead. On the other hand, if by chance you have a dual extruder 3D printer, then you can print supports with a filament that works well with PETG or one that will dissolve after you are done printing.
  • Set your printer to exact settings. When you are using PETG, you need to make sure you know the perfect speed and distance settings that will not cause it to come out in strings. It is also recommended to turn off your cooling fan the first layers so that it will not warp too much.
  • Make sure that you have a great surface to build on. As mentioned many times in this article, PETG is quite sticky. You will want to make sure that you have some painter’s tape for your surface. You may also use hairspray or a glue instead to help prevent the material from getting stuck to the print bed.

These tips help you use PETG like a pro without running into any problems.

The Best PETG Filaments

If you are someone who simply enjoys making anything you want with your 3D printer, then you can choose a cheap PETG filament and be completely satisfied with it.

Others who are into more serious endeavors may want to look into a few PETG filaments that are a bit more expensive.

Here are some of the best PETG filaments:

  • Reprapper Easy-to-Print PETG Filament for 3D PrinterThis filament would be perfect for a person who makes things as a hobby. It is very affordable and has a number of different choices for colors.
  • MatterHackers PRO Series PETG– This is the best filament for people who use a 3D printer for more serious things. It is definitely more expensive, but you are getting what you pay for.
  • MatterHackers Build Series PETG– This filament is priced much lower than the PRO series. It was specifically designed for any type of designer, whether you are a hobbyist or professional. It is known as the best “go-to” filament.

There are only a few best options listed above. In the end, you can use whatever PETG filament you prefer and get good results. As long as you follow the tips for working properly with PETG, everything should run smoothly with little to no complications.

How to Store PETG

Knowing the proper way to store your PETG filament is extremely important. The last thing you would want is waste the money you spent on it all because you did not put it away correctly.

Raw PETG filament will absorb moisture in the air around it which will cause the filament to become brittle. This is known as being hygroscopic. The best way to store PETG filament is to keep it in a filament storage container.

If happen to forget to put your filament away and you think that it has gotten wet, then you can also purchase a filament dryer, which will take most of the moisture out of it. Unfortunately, sometimes not all of the moisture can be taken out of it, and the filament will be ruined.

So, be sure to store your PETG filament in its proper place when you are finished with it.

What Are Some Other Things That PETG Is Used For?

Since PETG is such a durable and affordable material, it’s no wonder that it is used to make all sorts of different products from all types of niches.

PETG is used to make items such as:

  • Mechanical parts
  • Parts for drones
  • 3D printer parts
  • Homemade jewelry
  • Soda bottles
  • Medical implants
  • Medical and pharmaceutical device packaging

Essentially, any translucent part that you want to make can be made using PETG. As long as you follow all the tips when working with PETG, it should come out well.

Now that we have gone over all of the important information about PETG, let’s take a look at acrylic and the advantages and disadvantages that come with choosing to use it.

The Pros and Cons of Acrylic

As mentioned earlier, PETG is much stronger than acrylic making it the perfect material to last for long periods of time. Although it would be better to use PETG because of that, acrylic would also be an okay choice due to some of its great qualities.

If you are going with acrylic over PETG, then you are probably going for a very attractive finish on whatever it is you are makingbecause that really is the only quality it has that is better than PETG. Acrylic has a very clear and glossy finish to it—which can definitely be perfect for some projects.

Keep reading to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of using acrylic.

The Pros of Acrylic

Choosing to use acrylic over PETG would not be in the end of the world. It is a great material that comes with many pros.

Here are the pros of using acrylic:

  • Acrylic is mostly scratch resistant. While it can still become scratched, it does not do so easily. The surface tends to stay scratch-free much longer than PETG.
  • Acrylic is a very versatile material making it great for almost any project.
  • Acrylic has a beautiful, glossy, and clear finish.
  • Acrylic is more flexible than PETG and can bend much easier.
  • Acrylic is affordable.
  • Acrylic is easy to find in almost any standard color.

Acrylic will have more of a “stand out” finish than PETG. If this is what you are looking for, then there would be nothing wrong with choosing acrylic over PETG for your project. Just try to avoid placing the model or trinket in any high traffics areas, as it will be fragile.

The Cons of Acrylic

Most of the qualities that make PETG a better material than acrylic are the qualities that acrylic lacks.

Here are the cons of using acrylic:

  • Acrylic is very brittle and will break easily if it dropped or too much pressure is applied to it.
  • Acrylic will start to quickly break down if harsh cleaning products are applied to it.
  • Acrylic cannot easily be recycled.
  • Acrylic can only be reused if it is in great condition.

Most people tend to use acrylic when they are trying to make a show-stopping display for a store, or really anything that you would want to catch someone’s attention with.

While acrylic is not the worst material you could choose for your 3D printing projects, unless you absolutely need that nice glossy finish, PETG is more durable and affordable.

Conclusion

The decision on what material you should use between PETG or acrylic will ultimately come down to what you prefer: durability or looks. They both have pros and cons, but PETG is far more efficient in outlasting acrylic and saving you a few bucks.

Though, PETG also has a beautiful clear finish as well—just not that perfect glossy finish that acrylic has. For most people, the slight difference in gloss on the finish isn’t worth sacrificing the durability, so PETG is going to be the better choice.

Just remember our tips when storing and using your PETG and you’ll be cranking out high quality, durable prints in no time!

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PETG vs Acrylic: Which Material Should You Use?

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