MakerBot have designed and developed the Tough PLA Filament with designers and engineers in mind. This MakerBot Tough PLA creates strong and durable prototypes and fixtures. This unique filament is as tough as ABS, yet is as reliable to print with as PLA. This MakerBot Tough PLA has been optimised for the MakerBot Replicator+ and MakerBot Replicator Desktop (5th Gen) 3D Printer.

The filament features a tensile and impact strength that is similar to ABS filament, but warps less than ABS with more reliable print results. The Tough PLA Filament is more durable than PLA, this means it can flex more than PLA before it breaks. This filament is also suitable for printing jigs and fixtures with threaded and snap fits that can withstand repeated use.


The tensile test (shown below) shows under a tensile load, MakerBot Tough PLA will deform elastically and return to its original shape before hitting peak strength. Beyond this peak, Tough PLA will exhibit a very long plastic deformation range before break that outperforms ABS. In contrast, typical PLA will simply fracture. These mechanical properties make MakerBot Tough PLA ideal for prototyping many functional features such as living hinges, snap fits, interlocking parts, and threaded features.

There are many uses for the Tough PLA filament, these include ‘Living Hinges’:


A living hinge is a flexible and thin hinge, which is made from the same material as the two pieces it is connecting. This hinge offers a compact design and is easily manufactured, it’s a perfect alternative to mechanical hinges. Living hinges are very popular in products such as product packaging and disposable containers. It’s not always easy creating living hinges in the prototyping process, so it requires the use of another material (for example industrial tape or sheets of polypropylene), this can be time consuming and doesn’t always represent the final product. MakerBot’s Tough PLA is designed to deflect and deform before failing and so it’s perfect for resilient mechanical features like living hinges. The Tough PLA filament has plastic elongation, which lets it bend into position, it is also durable enough to withstand repetitive use, whereas PLA is brittle, this may cause it to snap.


 Another use for the Tough PLA Filament is ‘Snap Fits’:


The Tough PLA is also perfect for features that interlock or snap into place, the snap fit works in conjunction with the living hinge and tightly secures the lid of the object to the base, meaning it can be opened and closed for the prototype’s lifetime. The ability to print dynamic, functional prototypes in the office means engineers can test an expanded range of design features at a low cost and on demand.


‘Interlocking Parts’ are another use for the Tough PLA filament:


Interlocking parts are a popular feature for models that need to be regularly assembled or disassembled. To make them functional in a prototype, the materials used to print the model must be able to withstand both friction and tension. Normal PLA filament is prone to breaking under force and is for that reason not suitable for printing interlocking parts. The MakerBot Tough PLA filament is great for printing interlocking parts, such as pivots and ball joints because the material is resilient enough to slide and lock into place, but also smooth enough to withstand continued use over long periods.



The above image shows what happens when you use a ball and socket joint with both normal PLA and with Tough PLA. PLA breaks, but Tough PLA is flexible enough to resist breaking when the socket is pushed around the ball. The smoothness of Tough PLA can also resist wear and tear from the friction of rotation.


The ‘Precise and Durable Threaded Features’ are commonly used with the Tough PLA filament:


The properties of MakerBot Tough PLA filament allows for precise and durable threaded features on prints. The Tough PLA can be cleanly drilled to create precisely sized holes and precise threads can be cut into holes using standard tapping tools. This process results in durable fastening features, which enables parts to be assembled to each other or integrated into other functional prototypes and assemblies. The resilience of Tough PLA allows parts to be repeatedly assembled and dissembled.


Whatever the application, whether you are printing a living hinge, a snap fit, an interlocking part or threaded features, the new MakerBot Tough PLA filament enables you to go beyond concept modelling and gives you the ability to create durable, high-impact strength prototypes and fixtures. MakerBot have developed and created the Tough PLA to give professional designers and engineers more ways to produce the prototypes they need faster, more efficiently and make the most out of their MakerBot printers.

The Slate Gray Tough PLA Filament is sold as a bundle and the bundle includes 3 Large Spools of Tough PLA and a Tough PLA Smart Extruder+. Shop for the Tough PLA Bundle here!