3D Pens, should you use PLA or ABS?

What are 3D Pens

3D Pens are currently one of the hottest topics in the ever-changing tech industry. Should you not have heard about this remarkable new device that allows you to paint in the air, creating solid, permanent structures from thermoplastics such as PLA or ABS, then you should read on to find out more.

Let’s first take a look at some images, which you can create with a 3D pen, to paint the picture so to speak.

3d printed bag

Here we have a bag created by a 3D artist called Kseniia Snikhovska; you can visit her website by clicking the link to her website.

Yep, this is exactly why is this technology captivating the tech market. It adds another dimension to art.
The adage, technology is merely a vehicle for art, (read more about this in The Guardian’s post) holds true here.

So with the possibilities of creating new, practical and even functional art pieces being endless, what kinds of plastics are required to combine with the magic of the 3D pen in creating 3D art.

Well, two plastics are currently dominant in the 3D printing industry.


Yes, just like 3D printing applications love these plastics for creating large-scale 3D prints, so 3D pens love these plastics due to their ease of use, practicality, durability and longevity.


PLA is far more suitable for beginners or kids, since its completely non-toxic and melts at a lower temperature.
It has the downside of being bio-degradable, a pro for the environment but not for the longevity of your 3d prints or paints.

If you leave PLA in the sun or outside it will eventually start to degrade, and the layers will separate.

The colour palette for PLA is possibly the biggest of all thermoplastics.

Let’s list the advantages of PLA:

  • PLA plastic is easy to use and child-friendly.
  • It is tacky and sticky, enabling you to print and print on surfaces like ceramics and glass.
  • Biggest colour palette
  • Increased fluidity with excellent cohesion between layers, making it very durable


ABS is possibly the most popular 3D printing material, and it can be used for any 3D print. ABS is strong, shatter-resistant, non-biodegradable and available in a variety of colours.

ABS is can also dissolve in acetone which can give it a very smooth finish.

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of PLA vs ABS.

  • It’s the most popular 3D printing material
  • It is Hard and Shock resistant
  • ABS plastic often has a glossy surface via acetone finish
  • ABS is not biodegradable but can be recycled.


At the end there is truly no winner, each of the two plastics has unique benefits and properties. PLA vs ABS, the choice is determined by what you need to print, and your experience with 3D printing.

Should you be interested in learning more about the advantages and disadvantages of PLA and ABS, as well as the properties and an in-depth printing guide, be sure to check out Pen and Plastic’s PLA vs ABS comparison.

As always, feel free to leave us a comment in the section below, we love to hear what you think about these two types of plastic filaments.