Materials-for-Outdoor-Use MakerHero Australia

Materials for Outdoor Use

3D printing provides users an incredibly wide range of applications, some of which will take us outside into the hot, Australian outdoors. With our climate comes rain, wind, sun, cold and a multitude of other factors. Not all 3D printing materials are suited for these factors, we'll be taking you through the ones that have unique properties that will let you take your projects out into nature.


As most filaments are made of various processed petroleums, most of them are unaffected by biodegradation. This brings our focus to PLA, one of the most commonly used printing materials that is a bioplastic. While bioplastics are plant-based products, this does not mean that they are biodegradable. PLA requires specific recycling and composting systems and will not biodegrade by simply leaving outside. Due to this, almost all printing materials will be safe from biodegrading.

However, if biodegradation is a requirement you wish to have for your print, there are some suitable materials out there like 'NonOilen' by Fillamentum, 'Algix Alga' by 3DPrintLife, and 'Compost3D'.

Thermal Resistance

In the hot sun, during summer in the outdoors, 3D prints outside are prone to get hot and warp quickly. While you may be aware of the printing temperature of the print, this is not the safe temperature for the print to operate at. Each material has a glass-transition temperature which is the point at which the plastic becomes malleable. To prevent warping of a print, it's important to always keep it below this temperature. 

It is also important to understand that while the air temperature is a certain temperature, surfaces in the sun can get much hotter. For example, if your 3D print is bolted to a metal sheet in the sun, this sheet can easily heat up past the glass-transition temperature. Shown below is a table of common printing metals and their glass transition temperature:
55°C 70°C 95°C 120°C 65°C


Naturally, in the outdoors, moisture is a significant factor that can affect prints. Along with air moisture, your print might be in a location that regularly encounters rain or water. Due to the hygroscopic nature of some materials, they may not all be ideal for you application.

Hygroscopic materials have a tendency to absorb water. This causes the part to warp, which may in turn lead to cracks, dimensional warping, or weakness in the print. However, all of the materials may still be used outside so long as this is not a concern.

Note that this does not mean all the materials are waterproof. If waterproofing is a requirement, further measures must be taken and only a few select materials should be used. The table below shows which materials are affected by water:

Hygroscopic Materials Unaffected by Water

UV Protection

Finally, with the harsh Australian sun comes the concern of UV protection. UV is commonly known to break down polymers and our 3D printing is no different. Surprisingly, most of the printing materials aren't affected by UV radiation. Even PLA is quite resistant to UV. However, PLA is not recommended for applications in the sun as repetitive heating and strain can still cause parts to break. Thus, it's very important to note the thermal properties of the material as well if the print is going to be in the sun. Filaments recommended for UV applications are PETG and ASA, the latter having a greater resistance to UV than PETG.

It's also important to note that the pigments used in some filaments are also susceptible to UV and may fade in colour over time. 



Given the main factors of using 3D printing for outdoor use, we can conclude that the best materials for most use cases are PETG and ASA. However, these two materials don't always have to be used outdoors. Depending on the four factors that the print is submit to, some of the other filaments may still be usable depending on your preference.

To find out more about the materials we offer and their unique properties and applications, head on over to the MakerHero Materials page through the button below!

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