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Hot Stuff: Picking the Perfect Filament for Scorching Summer Days

Backyard with garden lights.

It is a good idea to do a little research before decidng which filaments to choose for printing models that will live outdoors. Did you know there are test results that filament manufacturers list on Technical Data sheets regarding resiliency? Two criterias to look for are Heat Deflection temperature (HDT) or Vicat softening temperature. Data about one or the other is usually given.

By way of explaining HDT, imagine you have a plastic ruler. That ruler can hold its shape pretty well at room temperature. HDT is how hot that ruler can get before it starts to bend and droop under its own weight. It’s basically the temperature at which the plastic gets soft enough to sag. Think of it like this: the hotter it gets, the weaker the plastic becomes. HDT tells you the temperature where it gets weak enough to noticeably bend.

This first table gives general information about filaments. Heat deflection temperature can vary depending on the manufacturer and specific formulation of the filament.The values in the table represent a general range.

FilamentHDT
PLA (Polylactic Acid) 50°C – 60°C (122°F – 140°F)
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) 85°C – 100°C (185°F – 212°F)
PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol) 65°C – 80°C (149°F – 176°F)
Nylon Varies depending on specific type (60°C – 260°C / 140°F – 500°F)
Polycarbonate (PC) 140°C – 150°C (284°F – 302°F)
General HDT temperatures for filaments.
Flower in plastic, hanging pot.

Some filament manufacturers utilize Vicat softening temperature tests to measure the temperature at which a model made with the filament loses it stiffness and softens. “The Vicat softening point is closer to the actual melting or softening point of the polymer. Vicat softening temperature is typically always higher than the HDT for a polymeric material as the penetration load is always higher than a bending load on a material specimen.”1

This second table offers a list of specific brand filaments and their HDTs or VICATs. Use it to lead you in the right direction for finding the best filament to print your outdoor project.

BrandFlilamentHDT or VICAT
FormFuturaHigh Gloss PLA ColorMorph± 58° C (136.4°F) VICAT
FormFuturaTough PLA± 57° C (134.6°F) VICAT
Push PlasticHigh Heat +Tough PLA95.3°C (203.54°F) HDT
eSunABS+73°C (163.4°F) HDT
FormFuturaEasyFil ABS± 103° C (217.4°F) VICAT
FilamatrixPETG65°C (149°F) HDT
FilamatrixZenith PETG Copolymer71°C (159.8°F) HDT
PolyMakerPolyMax PETG82°C (179.6°F) VICAT
FilamatrixNylon Carbon Fiber147°C (296.6°F) HDT
FilamatrixNylon Glass152°C (305.6°F) HDT
Push PlasticCarbon Fiber Nylon172°C (341.6°F) HDT
Push PlasticPolycarbonate107°C (224.6°F) HDT
Raise3dPremium Polycarbonate117°C (242.6°F) VICAT
HDT or VICAT temperatures for specific filaments.
  1. Kartik Srinivas, “Heat Deflection Temperature (HDT) and Vicat Softening Temperature Testing.” ADVANSES, 24 Feb. 2022, https://advanses.com/heat-deflection-temperature-vicat-softening-temperature/#:~:text=The%20Vicat%20softening%20point%20is,load%20on%20a%20material%20specimen.

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