We’re excited to continue this ongoing series on our blog spotlighting some of the best material options for industrial 3D printing. Last month, we told you everything you need to know about 17-4 stainless steel, one of the most commonly used materials for 3D metal printing services.

As the world of additive manufacturing continues to expand, so too does the range of materials that can be used for 3D printing. One such material that has been gaining traction is polypropylene, known for its versatility and durability. In this comprehensive article, we’ll delve into what makes polypropylene a sought-after choice in the 3D printing community, its properties, applications, and tips on how to print with it.

Understanding Polypropylene

Before diving into the specifics of 3D printing with polypropylene, let’s first understand what this material is all about.

What is Polypropylene?

Polypropylene is a thermoplastic polymer that’s widely used in a variety of applications. It’s known for its resistance to chemicals, elasticity, and toughness.

Due to its low cost, it has become a popular material for both consumer and industrial applications. In the context of 3D printing, polypropylene offers unique advantages that make it an excellent choice for certain types of projects.

Polypropylene part

Properties of Polypropylene

The key properties that make polypropylene suitable for 3D printing include:

  • Durability: It’s resistant to many chemical solvents, bases, and acids.
  • Flexibility: It can bend significantly without breaking, which is perfect for objects that must withstand pressure.
  • Fatigue Resistance: Polypropylene can endure the stress of repetitive movements, making it ideal for hinges and moving parts.
  • Insulation: With low electrical conductivity, it’s an effective insulator.
  • Translucency: It allows for the creation of semi-transparent objects.
  • Recyclability: Polypropylene can be recycled, which aligns with sustainable manufacturing practices.

Why Use Polypropylene in 3D Printing?

Polypropylene’s properties make it a strong candidate for many 3D printing applications, but why exactly should you opt for it over other materials?

Advantages of 3D Printing with Polypropylene

  • Lightweight Parts: Its low density makes it ideal for applications where weight is a concern.
  • Living Hinges: Its fatigue resistance is perfect for creating thin hinges that can bend multiple times without breaking.
  • Chemical Containers: Due to its chemical resistance, polypropylene is suitable for containers and parts that will be exposed to harsh substances.
  • Waterproof Objects: Polypropylene doesn’t absorb water, making it great for water-tight applications.

Applications in Various Industries

Polypropylene has found its way into numerous industries, including automotive, aerospace, medical, and consumer goods. Its ability to produce durable, flexible, and chemical-resistant parts makes it a valuable material for manufacturing components like car bumpers, medical devices, and reusable containers.

3D Printing with Polypropylene

When it comes to 3D printing with polypropylene, there are certain considerations and best practices to ensure optimal results.

Choosing the Right 3D Printer

Not all 3D printers are suitable for printing with polypropylene. You’ll need a printer capable of reaching the necessary extrusion and bed temperatures. Additionally, a heated bed is nearly essential to prevent warping and to ensure proper adhesion.

Print Bed Adhesion

Speaking of adhesion, one of the challenges with polypropylene is getting the first layer to stick to the print bed. Using a polypropylene sheet or packing tape on the bed can help, as polypropylene sticks well to itself.

Printing Settings

To print successfully with polypropylene, you’ll need to fine-tune your printer settings. The extrusion temperature should be between 220-250°C, and the bed temperature should be around 85-100°C. Printing speed should be adjusted according to the intricacy of the print, but generally, a moderate speed works well.


Polypropylene can be difficult to sand or glue due to its chemical resistance. However, it can be welded using a soldering iron or a hot air gun. This can be useful for assembling larger parts or making repairs.

Challenges of Printing with Polypropylene

While polypropylene has many benefits, it also presents certain challenges when used in additive manufacturing.

Warping and Shrinkage

One of the most common issues is warping, which occurs due to the material’s tendency to shrink as it cools. Ensuring a consistent temperature and using a heated bed can mitigate this issue.

Limited Availability

Compared to materials like PLA and ABS, polypropylene filaments are not as widely available and can be more expensive. However, as demand grows, we can expect more options to become available in the market.

Best Practices for Printing with Polypropylene

To maximize the success of your polypropylene 3D printing projects, follow these best practices:

  • Use a heated bed: This is crucial to avoid warping.
  • Apply a polypropylene-based adhesive to the bed: Such as a sheet or tape to improve first-layer adhesion.
  • Print with a brim or raft: This can help with bed adhesion and reduce warping.
  • Enclose your print area: Keeping a consistent temperature around the print can prevent warping.

Polypropylene in the Future of Additive Manufacturing

The future of polypropylene in additive manufacturing looks bright. As technology advances, we can expect to see improved polypropylene filaments with even better printing properties, wider availability, and more competitive pricing.

Innovations in Polypropylene Filaments

Research is ongoing to enhance the quality and ease of printing with polypropylene. This includes developing filaments with additives to reduce warping and improve bed adhesion.

Sustainability and Polypropylene

Polypropylene’s recyclability makes it an attractive option for environmentally conscious manufacturers. As the industry moves toward more sustainable practices, the use of recyclable materials like polypropylene is likely to increase.

Expanding Applications

As we overcome the challenges associated with printing polypropylene, its applications are expected to expand into new areas, making it an even more versatile option for designers, engineers, and manufacturers.


Polypropylene is a valuable material in the world of 3D printing, known for its strength, flexibility, and chemical resistance. While there are challenges to overcome when printing with it, following best practices can lead to successful and high-quality prints. As the technology and materials continue to evolve, we can expect polypropylene to play an increasingly important role in additive manufacturing.

By understanding the nuances of printing with polypropylene and staying abreast of the latest advancements, you can leverage this dynamic material to create innovative and durable products for a wide range of applications.

If you’d like to discuss using polypropylene for production 3D printing services, the experts at Uptive are more than happy to help.