Assuming you've worked with a hobbyist grade 3D printer before, like Makerbot per say, what material do you guys prefer using?
Do you find any one material, such as ABS or PLA plastic, better for rapid prototyping?
I'm torn between PLA and ABS. PLA will print with little to no warping without a heated bed which reduceds your machine cost and turnaround time for production runs because you don't have to wait for the bed to cool down, also to me it smells like maple syrup pancakes when it's printing. It is however very brittle and won't withstand the heat of an automotive environment. ABS has superior mechanical properties dependant on the application but produces toxic fumes, warps horribly, and can't be printed w/o a heated bead. To proto anything that a FFF can print honestly you need both, PLA for the hard wearing components like gears, and ABS for structral components and brackets that need to handel varying stress loads without shattering.
One of my favourite is the Rubber filament because of its very unique characteristics. If you want different level of softness or elasticity for your object, this is the perfect material that you should use. It’s highly resistant to tearing and you can create with huge variety of items with this type of filament. See more details here: http://www.3d2print.net/shop/product/rubber-black-1-75mm/.
Aside from plastic ABS and PLA filament, I find the stiff and strong Taulman T-Glase very useful in my jewellery making. Yes, it’s more expensive but it’s very cost-effective for a jewellery designer like me. Plus, this 3D printing material is FDA approved as food safe. Btw, this is what I used: http://www.3d2print.net/shop/product-category/premium-filament/taulman-pett/