PCTG Filament Has Interesting Properties

Early 3D printers used ABS, but bad fumes and warping made most people go to PLA. However, PETG has a lot of the great properties of ABS along with some of the ease-of-use of PLA. According to a recent [VisionMiner] video, however, PCTG — Polyethylene Terephthalate-Glycol — could be the next filament of choice. The filament itself is from Essentium, but it appears that [VisionMiner] is a reseller of the filament (along with other engineering plastics). Thus the video below has a bit of marketing speak in it, but it also has good information and examples of using PCTG.

The plastic is relatively inexpensive, but still not as cheap as PLA or even PETG. A 750g roll is about $40 The benefits? According to the video, this plastic is stronger, tougher, and clearer than other common options.

The material will print on many normal FDM printers. It requires 250 °C to 270 °C on the nozzle and 70 °C to 80 °C on the bed. Just be sure your hotend can handle the higher temperature. If you have PTFE in there it is probably your limiting factor, although you also need temperature sensing that can go over 250 °C, as well.

Speaking of temperature, apparently the filament can have a glossy or matte finish depending on the print temperature. We wondered if the layer adhesion — which is supposed to be very strong — changes based on the print temperature.

If you are printing with PLA or even PETG with good results, you may not need PCTG. But if it would prevent you from having to print with other materials that are hard to set up for like nylon, it might be worth experimenting with a roll to see how it works out.

Carbon fiber filament is cool if your nozzle can stand it. We have to confess, we still haven’t made it through the thirty types of exotic filaments we listed awhile back.

36 thoughts on “PCTG Filament Has Interesting Properties

  1. Honestly, sounds a lot like … PETG (just from a quality manufacturer)…
    After dealing with headaches from cheaper brands & being surprised at how forgiving/easy to print Atomic Filament PLA was I figured I’d just stick with them and got the same color in PETG.
    Lo and behold: it was super easy to print & very forgiving. Also basically didn’t warp unless you really run fast and loose with it.

    I was trying to clean up a print (excess support material) and even with brand new x-acto blades cutting a layer off was incredible difficult. Compared to nGen the strength isn’t even in the same ball park – this stuff was seriously strong.

    Now for the kicker: with both atomic PLA & PETG if you print on the low end of the temp range they both came out with a very matte finish. At the high end? You guessed it: very glossy finish (and yes they say higher temp = better layer bonding). And it’s only like $31 for a kilo. Oh I got the dark Cherry red which they called ‘PETG Pro’

    1. 100% agree, I’ve had the same experience. I have no conflict of interest, or affiliation with Atomic Filament, but I’ve been a super happy customer for a year or two and can’t recommend them enough. I mostly buy their PETG and it really feels like a different product than other PETG filament I’ve tried.

  2. But PETG already has very high resistance to oil and grease and thus can be lubricated with it. That’s why I use it for printing change gears for my old Myford lathe, from a Thingiverse set. Would PCTG be much of an improvement on this?

  3. No, modern, good 3D printers also “use” ABS. ABS is very different from PETG, and I hate to use it for functional parts. So upgrade with an all-metal hotend and an enclosure, and you are good to go for ABS, PA and PC.

      1. You’re making some pretty big assumption there: 1) Worker’s health is adequately protected 2) Emissions from manufacture are the same as what’s generated from thermal degradation in printing.

      1. probably meant section (s and d are right next to eachother), oh the irony of typos in a post complaining about grammar (also pretty sure even with that correction that sentence still reads awkwardly, should be an ‘a’ or ‘the’ before youtube)

  4. I suppose printing in black PCTG for outdoor might be a little risky in some climates, since the 70 C glass transition temperature might eventually get a little melty in extended direct sun. I asked and received this info from Brandon at Essentium regarding UV resistance and outdoor durability, since there is nothing in the datasheet on these points.

    “PCTG generally has excellent UV resistance for normal outdoor sun exposure. With artificial high intensity UV lamps, it may start to exhibit some surface crazing, but that would be equivalent to decades of outdoor UV exposure. I personally have several brackets printed from PCTG both natural and black at my house that have been in the sun for several years with no noticeable degradation. It is certainly on a level playing field with ASA and much easier to print with.”

    1. That, for me, would be a primary selling point. PETG and PLA cover most all of my material needs, but I wanted to print ASA for UV resistance, but I’m just not setup for the difficulties of ABS/ASA printing. If PCTG were UV stable, it would find a home in my filament collection.

  5. I’ll put in my 2 cents here-
    So this is coming from someone who has tried a few brands of PETG and *hates* it with a burning passion. It’s flow characteristics suck, it welds itself to PEI, it’s very picky about the pressure it’s laid down with, its a globby mess, it hates being sanded, tapped, screwed into…
    I ordered a roll of PCTG to test the hype- It’s real. Its flow characteristics are great, it sticks well but releases just fine from PEI (i tried 3 different brands/surface finishes), it doesnt care how it’d laid down, and it prefers to stick to itself than anything else. I dont get any more globs on the nozzle than with PLA, annd they peel off cleanly. It sands & taps just fine.
    Its…. tough. really tough. It completely forgets it was printed in layers, even when you cool it enough to get perfect 30deg overhangs. I’ve found that sometimes is breaks like glass and other times it stretches and yields and pulls apart like rubber. Both take a great amout of force. Really curious, i havent been able to figure out what circumstances lead to either failure mode. Seems kind of random.

    It has one, major, glaring issue. It’s usable temperature range. I tested 100x12x3mm sample bars with an 80g weight in the middle in my convection oven at 65c and it failed. With all of this material’s amazing properties, I can’t throw a PCTG part in my back seat in the summer while I go have lunch. If they could pull some material science magic and get another usable 10-20c out of it, it’d be a wonder material.
    Until then, I’m really not comfortable using it unless im 100% sure the part wont see heat or sunlight.

    1. I find your experience with PETG interesting as I’ve had no such problems with it. It prints as easily as PLA for me. I use PrintBite for my beds and it adheres wonderfully to it and realeases when the bed is cooled a bit–just like PLA does.

      I’ll look into getting some PCTG to see the difference for me.

      1. It’s easy enough to print with PETG, the problem is getting the same visual/ dimensional quality as PLA. I have tried many different types and PETG prints always look more goopy and boogery no matter what I do.

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