When picking a printer, one of the choices you'll consider is not only the resolution and size of printed items, but what materials they're made of – resin, nylon, and a variety of plastics are the most typical. Some printers can handle several types, others are more limited. Most printers, though, are able to use cartridges or spools of filament of low-cost ABS and PLA. "PLA is this really wonderful material, it's made from corn – if you've ever used a biodegradeable fork it's the same stuff," Pettis says. "It's very stable, very low shrinkage, and it smells like waffles when you print!" If only all our industrial waste were so friendly. A kilogram spool runs as little as $48 or so, and it comes in a range of colors.
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