What is eco-friendly 3D printing material?

3D printing has transformed how we create, design, and manufacture. Have you ever stopped to consider the environmental impact of the materials we use? Let’s take a closer look at eco-friendly 3D printing materials. 

Traditionally, 3D printing predominantly used materials that were not environmentally friendly. Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastic is a perfect example. While it's popular in the 3D printing world for its durability and ease of use, there's a catch. ABS is largely petroleum-based, which is a non-renewable resource. With rising environmental concerns, manufacturers are no longer turning a blind eye. The green shift from petroleum-based to green materials solutions is being made. The 3D printing world is catching up! The materials needed for filament extrusion 3D printing are known as Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). At its core, FDM uses thermoplastics.

Let’s be real – thermoplastics are not often environmentally friendly. 3D printing manufacturers are now paving pathways for recycling these thermoplastics. All printing errors and old printed parts can be reused, preserving the same quality and performance.

To help give you an understanding of the material options available for 3D printing, see the categories below. Choose and support materials that are sustainable and eco-friendly.


🌿 R-PET: The Recycling Champ

From recycled goodies like old plastic bottles or even leftovers from the material-making process, R-PET is a game-changer. It's versatile, trusty, and doesn’t skimp on quality. The best part? Some of the brainy folks manufacturing R-PET even say it's food-grade material. So, once you're done with your R-PET creation, you can throw it back into the recycle bin. Depending on where the waste comes from, your R-PET filament can be anywhere from 45% to 100% recycled!

🌿 R-PLA: The Green Printer’s Delight

R-PLA springs to life from the ghosts of the printing past. Once reimagined, this filament is both eco-friendly and a dream to print with. Most R-PLA filaments boast of being 100% recycled! With its biodegradable nature, R-PLA leads the charge toward sustainable 3D printing.

🌿 Recycled Tire – TPE: The Rugged Black Beauty

Imagine a tire getting a glam makeover into a 3D printing filament! This filament is a blend of TPE and good ol' recycled tire rubber, boasting more than 20% of the latter. It's not just flexible but also sturdy. It’s a good fit for the robotics industry. 

🌿 Recycled TPU by Recreus – Reciflex

Consider this – the waste from shoe-making and TPU filament production is given a second life as Recycled TPU. Whether it's phone cases, drone guards, or robot wheels, Recycled TPU has got your back.

🌿 Recycled HIPS:

Ever wondered where your old window frames or the insides of discarded fridges end up? Say hello to Recycled HIPS. It's durable, waterproof, and perfect for packaging or housing your favorite gadgets.

Plant-based materials: Imagine printing with materials derived straight from nature!



Turning to PLA is not just an eco-friendly move; it's also a smart one. Using this plant-derived material, we slash the oil consumption typically used in making plastics by a whopping 30-50%! It's a win-win. Braces, splints, and guards can now be 3D-printed using PLA, making them durable and biodegradable.

A shining example? XO ARMOR's products. Made entirely from plant-based PLA+ (an improved formula of PLA), XO Armor guards are being created and printed in a medical facility. It's not just about the products; it's also about the passionate professionals behind them. Our doctors are not just medically adept; they're eco-warriors in white coats. Equipped with the latest in 3D scanning and printing tech using PLA+, they're taking medical facilities to new sustainable heights. Doctors Going Green using XO technologies!

🌱  PA11

PA 11 is not easily decomposable in the environment. Hence, PA 11 formulations containing PBS may be only partially biodegradable. There are numerous applications of PA-11 Nylon and it is used in various fields, including Eyewear, Automotive, Textiles, Aerospace, and Electronics.

🌱 Biodegradable ABS 3D Printlife – Enviro

From prototypes to flashy accessories and temperature-resistant parts, this green marvel retains all the beloved ABS properties. Plus, it's compliant with biodegradability standards (ASTM D5338) and is a breeze to print with.

🌱 Printlife - BioPETGTM

This remarkable material retains all the strong features of standard PETG - from impact resistance to durability and even high chemical and water resistance. Plus, it boasts an FDA food-grade material. So whether you’re creating a stylish water bottle, a durable lunchbox, or any item that demands resilience against chemicals, moisture, and everyday wear and tear, BioPETG™ has got you covered.


Imagine turning waste materials into gorgeous new creations. The best material is PLA matrix, which, when paired with different waste materials (think bio-based, biodegradable goodies), leads to a final print that's kinder to our planet.

🦪 Polyester with Oyster Shell Nanovia – Istroflex

An industry pioneer, this compostable, flexible filament blends biodegradable polymer and oyster powder, giving it an off-white hue. Known for its Shore 93A hardness and ease of printing, it’s also food-safe.

🌱 Hemp PLA 3D FUEL – Entwined

Made with a PLA binder and hemp, this filament stands out for sustainability—hemp grows densely, requires no herbicides or pesticides, and offers an earthy brown hue.

🌊 Algae PLA 3D Printlife – Algix

This filament uses a PLA foundation mixed with environmentally detrimental algae extracted from nature. The increasing spread of harmful algal growth is a significant concern. This unchecked growth depletes oxygen in aquatic systems, leading to reduced biodiversity and a decrease in fish populations.  

🌲 Wood PLA

Wood and PLA join forces for a filament that smells and feels authentic. Depending on the wood type—alder, cedar, or birch—it offers varied hues and can be sanded post-printing.

🪨 Mineral-filled PLA Polymaker – PolyTerra

With organic minerals cutting down its plastic content, this filament boasts strength, a matte finish, and a range of colors. Ideal for artistic pieces!

Coffee PLA 3D FUEL - Wind up

 Imagine printing with your morning coffee! Made of coffee waste by-products, it offers a unique grainy texture, making it perfect for stylish decor.  

Comparison chart for 3D printing material


Whether you're buying a 3D product or printing your own, don't shy away from asking the tough questions. Is it sustainably sourced? Your roadmap to making sustainable choices in the 3D printing world.