Which Polymaker PLA should I use?

Discover the best Polymaker PLA for your application with our quick guide.

Polymaker PLA Introduction

PolyLite™ PLA, PolyTerra™ PLA & PolyMax™ PLA

PLA is one of the most widely used 3D printing materials on the market with many variations and formulations available. Polymaker offer 3 different ranges of PLA material;

PolyLite™ PLA, PolyTerra™ PLA and PolyMax™ PLA.

What do these names ultimately mean and what filament should you use?

Tl;dr - If you're not sure where to start and just need a reliable and high quality material we recommend starting out with PolyLite™ PLA or PolyLite™ PLA+ Pro.

PolyLite™ PLA Filaments

PLA, PLA Pro & Special Effect Filaments

PolyLite™ is a family of 3D printing filaments made with the best raw materials to deliver exceptional quality and reliability. The PolyLite™ family covers common 3D printing filaments beyond PLA such as PETG, ABS and ASA.

PolyLite™ PLA is a high quality yet cost-effective PLA material for everyday printing projects. PolyLite™ PLA is manufactured with high quality Ingeo PLA by Natureworks. The grade of PLA chosen delivers high strength and enables PolyLite™ PLA to be one of the most rigid PLA materials on the market.

PolyLite™ PLA Pro is a high performance PLA+ material, ideal for mechanically demanding PLA projects. It is an impact modified formulation of PolyLite™ PLA which delivers superior impact strength while retaining the high strength and rigidity of PolyLite™ PLA.

PolyLite™ PLA is a core ingredient for a range of specialty materials and has been the foundation for the following special effect PLA filaments;
- PolyLite™ Silk PLA
- PolyLite™ Glow in the dark PLA
- PolyLite™ Galaxy PLA.

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PolyTerra™ PLA Filaments

Sustainable Matte PLA & PLA+

PolyTerra™ PLA is a new and unique PLA filament type that is blended with organic compounds to deliver a more sustainable filament which uses less raw PLA plastic. PolyTerra™ PLA prints parts with an attractive matte finish and is softer than regular PLA, making it less brittle and allowing for easier support removal and sanding.

PolyTerra™ PLA+ is a strength optimized version of PolyTerra™ PLA with a different ratio of PLA to bio-organic compound. PolyTerra™ PLA+ prints parts with a silkier surface finish and offers better tensile strength and inter-layer adhesion than PolyTerra™ PLA while still using less raw PLA plastic than regular PLA filaments.

For every spool of PolyTerra™ PLA or PLA+ purchased, Polymaker will plant one tree in the area where the spool was purchased. This initiative aims to offset the carbon emissions released when manufacturing PolyTerra™ PLA filaments.

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PolyMax™ PLA Filament

Tough & Ductile PLA Filament

PolyMax™ is a family of advanced 3D printing filaments produced with Polymaker’s Nano-reinforcement technology, to deliver exceptional mechanical properties and printing quality.

PolyMax™ PLA is a ductile PLA+ material specifically engineered to mimic the mechanical properties of ABS. It offers excellent impact strength, fracture toughness and ductility making it a popular filament among designers and functional prototypers. Whereas PLA and PLA+ will typically break with a brittle failure mode, PolyMax™ PLA has a ductile failure mode; bending and deforming before facturing.

PolyMax™ PLA is commonly used as a replacement to ABS for mechanically demanding applications where heat resistance is not important.

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Polymaker PLA Mechanical Properties

Data is normalized and has been tested using 2022 standards. Data may not be directly comparable with Polymakers current TDS releases 5.1 and 5.2. Charts are intended for reference and comparison purposes only. Due to the nature of 3D printing, data should not be used for design specifications or quality control purposes.

Tensile strength characterizes the maximum stress required to pull the specimen to the point where it yields or breaks. Tensile strength at break measures the stress at which a test specimen breaks.

Isotropic materials are those which have the same physical properties when measured in different directions. Due to layer lines, 3D prints are inherently anisotropic in nature showing better strength in X and Y axis and weaker along the Z axis.

Charpy impact strength tests the amount of impact force or energy (kJ/m2) that is required to fracture the test specimen.

Bending strength represents the highest stress experienced within the material at its point of yield or break.
Young’s modulus measures the resistance of polymers to deformation under stress along a single axis. Young’s modulus can be used to estimate the stiffness of structures made by the material.

PolyLite™ Family

If you are just looking for a cost effective, reliable and high quality PLA filament or if you specifically require a strong and rigid PLA with excellent inter-layer bonding, we recommend trying PolyLite™ PLA.

If you are looking for a cost effective PLA+ material for mechanically demanding applications or you simply require a material that is more impact resistant than regular PLA, we recommend trying PolyLite™ PLA Pro.

Polymaker PolyLite PLA+

PolyLite PLA

High quality PLA

Highest rigidity & strength.

Best layer adhesion.

Low impact resistance.

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PolyLite PLA Pro

High quality PLA+

High impact strength.

Great layer adhesion.

Formula maintains high rigidity & strength.

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PolyTerra™ Family

If you are looking for a more sustainable PLA filament with a wide colour selection, matte surface finish and easy post-processing (support removal and sanding), we recommend trying PolyTerra™ PLA.

If sustainability is important and you print mechanical projects more then aesthetic models or if you are looking for a material with a unique semi-gloss surface finish we recommend trying PolyTerra™ PLA+.

Polymaker PolyTerra PLA Filament

PolyTerra PLA

Sustainable Matte PLA

Matte surface finish.

Moderate impact resistance.

Easiest to sand.

Easiest to breakaway supports.

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PolyTerra PLA+

Sustainable PLA+

Semi-gloss surface finish.

Moderate impact resistance.

Better layer adhesion and strength than PolyTerra PLA.

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PolyMax™ Family

If you are a prop maker, designer or prototyper looking for a durable and easy-to-print filament with comparable mechanical properties to ABS we recommend trying PolyMax PLA.

High impact strength and a ductile failure mode make it an excellent choice for jigs, fixtures and manufacturing aids meanwhile the material stiffness delivers a suitable material for snap-fit components.

PolyMax PLA Tough Polymaker Filament

PolyMax PLA

Tough & ductile PLA+

Highest impact strength & fracture toughness.

Excellent ductility.

Best alternative to ABS.

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The PLA materials in Polymakers portfolio can be printed with similar settings but as each material displays slightly different physical properties the best results will always be achieved by adjusting the settings based on the model and material.

For example the PolyTerra™ PLA formulation benefits from lower bed temperatures (40°C - 50°C) when compared to printing the same model in PolyLite™ & PolyMax™ PLA.

If you need any advice for printing Polymaker PLA with your printer we have some additional recommendations on our store on the product pages under "Specifications & FAQ" or you can reach out and contact us.

PolyLite™ PLA Pro and PolyMax™ PLA are both impact modified PLA materials and can be printed with standard PLA settings. As impact modified PLA materials they share some similarities but each offer unique advantages depending on your application.

PolyLite™ PLA Pro is a more cost-effective PLA+ material combining high rigidity, tensile strength and impact resistance. It is a impact modified version of PolyLite™ PLA and is an excellent material for general applications. PolyLite™ PLA Pro offers higher rigidity than PolyMax™ PLA which can be advantageous for a wide range of applications.

PolyMax™ PLA is a better described as a Tough PLA because it closely mimics the mechanical properties of ABS. ABS often exhibits a lower stiffness than PLA which enables it to flex for snap fit components without breaking. The stiffness of PolyMax™ PLA is similar to ABS making PolyMax™ PLA a better all-round ABS replacement. The unique properties of PolyMax™ PLA are due to a process called nano-reinforcement which adds ductility and fracture toughness to the material. Ductility is the ability of a material to exhibit plastic deformation before fracture, the opposite of ductile materials can be seen as brittle materials. In simple words, PolyMax™ PLA will bend instead of breaking.

In real life drop tests PolyMax™ PLA offers better resistance to fracturing when compared to PolyLite™ PLA Pro.

Nano-reinforcement technology is applied to PolyMax™ PLA to improve the fracture toughness and ductility of the material.

Nano-reinforcement should not be confused with reinforcement technologies like composite-reinfrocement (i.e Carbon Fiber, Glass Fiber) filaments.

  • Nano-reinforcement does not negatively impact printing quality.
  • Nano-reinfrocement does not make the filament any more abrasive than regular PLA.


Nano-reinforcement does deliver high mechanical properties with excellent printing quality.

PolyLite™ PLA was Polymakers first cost effective & high quality PLA filament with "lite" meaning light on the wallet. 

The density of PolyLite™ PLA is 1.17 g/cm3 and PolyLite™ PLA+ Pro is 1.22 g/cm3 which is on par with other PLA materials. It is not a light weight or foam PLA.

Need Help?

Dont know where to start? Or which filament will suit your application?

We have a broad range of support options including Telephone Support

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