Guide: How to Print with PETG

After the novelty of PLA has worn off, you might start considering more practical applications for your 3D Printer. There are dozens of filament types out there, but PETG is often the most balanced choice.

PETG is extremely durable, has a moderate amount of flex and best of all, it’s quite easy to print. It’s widely used in the manufacturing industry, where it can be injection molded, vacuum formed and even 3D printed. As an FDA Approved resin, it’s also food safe and recyclable.

We’re going to look at the most important differences to be aware of when moving from PLA to PETG. Small adjustments will make a world of difference, often those which are overlooked or lack general explanation. Once your settings are tweaked and configured correctly, PETG can print just as well or better than the traditional choices.


PETG Brands

I’ve used several options available on Amazon with mixed results. Although I found Hatchbox to be the easiest to print, the surface quality was somewhat mediocre and often had a rather bland finish. Inland was an improvement but seemed to string and ooze the most, requiring some additional work to remove the excess plastic. My personal preference is the eSUN brand when it comes to PETG, where the Semi Transparent line of filament produces gorgeous results and has the least issues with stringing during print.

For first timers however, I would advise starting with the absolute cheapest (reputable) option available. You may very well go through several rolls before you have the settings tuned as desired. In my case, I wasted an entire spool when creating a set of functional parts, only to later find they were as brittle as potato chips, splitting into pieces under very little pressure.

Bed Leveling

Since PLA is often the first material every new maker uses, most will be familiar with using a sheet of notebook paper to space the nozzle from the bed. PLA essentially needs to be smushed into the build plate, where a very small gap is required for optimal extrusion.

PETG on the other hand works best with a slight gap between the nozzle and bed. If the nozzle is too close, it won't flow properly and may cause the extruder to jam. However, if it's too far, the filament won't stick to the heated bed.

Using the same approach for leveling as PLA, substitute the thin notebook paper with a thicker sheet such as an index card.

Print Temperatures

PETG has a higher melting point than traditional filaments such as PLA, where it flows best between 240-260C and sticks to a heated bed at 75-95C. Every spool of filament is different to some degree, but it will include the Manufacturer's optimal working temperatures listed on the side.

I would suggest printing a Temperature Tower first, where this will give you an idea how it looks, feels and prints at incremental temperatures. If the nozzle is too cold, PETG layers will not bond to each other and delaminate with ease. If the nozzle is too hot, it will cause excessive stringing, oozing  and blobbing.

Nozzle Temperature: 240C - 260C
Bed Temperature: 75C - 95C

Note: Perform a PID Tune on your extruder when switching to PETG. This will prevent heat fluctuations and keep the nozzle as close to the desired temperature as possible.

As a word of caution, many 3D Printers do have a white PTFE lining inside of the hotend. This tube is not designed for excess temperatures, where it will begin to degrade around 245C and becomes toxic in excess of 260C. While you can still print PETG at the lower end of the recommended spectrum, this will greatly accelerate the wear of the PTFE liner.

While they are cheap and easy to replace, long term printing will be better served by using an all metal hotend. The Micro Swiss All Metal Hotend and E3D V6 are both popular choices. These eliminate the plastic PTFE tubing and are capable of printing at much higher temperatures.

Cooling Fans

Most articles and discussions concerning PETG makes extremely different claims as to what works best in terms of cooling. Among the top search results on Google, one adamantly states a cooling fan is needed, while the next says no cooling fan should be used at all. This vast range of opinions does nothing more than impose even more confusion on which one is correct.

The truth of the matter is PETG will print anywhere from 0-100% fan speed depending on your intended goal. The amount of cooling should be chosen based on the purpose of the part.

Low Fan Speed: The less cooling used, the stronger the part will be. The molten plastic essentially melts into the previous layers, providing exceptional adhesion to one another. The downside is that this can lower the aesthetic quality, a trade off for much stronger parts.

As can be seen in the image, bridges and overhangs will suffer the most without proper cooling. To address this problem, it is recommended to use the Bridging Fan Speed Override setting in Simplify3D or a similar feature within your desired slicer software.

PETG Temperature Tower
PETG Temperature Tower
Dii Cooler vs Stock Cooler
Dii Cooler vs Stock Cooler

High Fan Speed: The faster the part is cooled, the better it will look when finished. This is often the best choice for vanity prints such as masks, vases and other aesthetically pleasing designs. It will not offer the same level of durability as prints that set at room temperature, however the overall surface finish will be a drastic improvement.

The temperate tower on the left was printed at 100% fan with a 50mm blower fan and the Dii Cooler, where the tower on the right was printed using the low powered stock fan. The higher powered fan causes the plastic to set quickly, which prevents the bridges from sagging and overhangs from warping at the edges.

PETG Print Settings

Printing PETG successfully is all about finding the right balance of settings. While it can be a bit more complex at first, it is a considerably better choice for most applications. There is no getting around the need to experiment, however the following should work as guidelines when building your own PETG configurations.

Print Speed: Use a slow speed for the first layer to ensure proper adhesion to the build plate. This should generally be around 20-25% of your normal print speed. Start with 30 mm/s for your PETG prints as the base speed and increase this gradually until you find the perfect speed for your printer.

Print Speed (Layer 1): 10 mm/s
Print Speed (Layer 2+): 30 mm/s

Retraction: PETG is notorious for creating strings and blobs, where finding the correct retraction values will help to minimize this. Start with these settings and tune as needed, increasing the distance if excessive stringing is present, or decreasing if you experience clogs.

Retraction Distance: 1.0 mm
Retraction Speed: 30 mm/s

Temperature: The heat applied to PETG can cause a wide range of results to both the look and strength of the material. The recommend temperatures below are middle values, where you can tweak these as needed. More heat to the extruder will increase the flow of plastic (and increase stringing), where 245C is a good starting point.

Extruder Temperature: 245C
Bed Temperature: 85C

Fan Speed: The cooling fan speed is described in depth above but make sure the first layer is set to 0% to ensure proper adhesion. For the remaining layers, choose the fan speed based on the purpose of the part. Lower fan speeds for strength and higher fan speeds for aesthetic items. The "Bridge Fan Speed Override" is essential for good bridges regardless of your other settings.

Fan Speed (Layer 1): 0%
Fan Speed (Layer 2+): See Details Above
Bridging Fan Speed Override: 100%

First Layer Height: 90%
First Layer Width: 100%

Use Skirt: Enabled (Clears the nozzle of any excess residue)
Skirt Outlines: 2

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21 thoughts on “Guide: How to Print with PETG

  1. PETG has been a difficult filament for me… and your post is the first that covers a lot of in-depth content. I have applied all your suggestions, especially speed. I look forward to printing better with PETG

    1. I’m glad to hear that it helped, appreciate the feedback as well. Definitely let me know how it goes for you, PETG is amazing to use once you get it printing correctly!

  2. I have had issues with PETG as well.
    My findings: You need to add around 0.1mm extra distance compared to PLA. I do this in the preamble GCODE.

    Have yet to find optimal printing surface. Now I use glass with water/PVA glue mix. Does not stick hard. And I do get warping sometimes. Will have to put the sides/top on the printer to try again. Some say an enclosure helps. Or use brim/raft. I often use both got ABS (which I like a lot). Working on my enclosure, since I have seen splits mid-part on my HIPS prints.

    Had lots of stringing issues. Even where head does not move.
    Using an extrusion test from thingiverse, I am down to around 80% extrusion. This combined with the 0.1mm extra bed distance has removed much of the random stringing (which is caused by the nozzle going into the plastic, which sticks to the side of the nozzle, and causing stringing that way). Still get retract/move stringing. Coast would likely be an option here (stop extruding shortly before retract).

  3. I had heeeeaps of trouble swapping to petg last week.
    Here’s what I did to get it working.

    1- start with abs profile and work from there
    2- bed 50deg, nozzle 238-245
    3- no fan on first layer, then full fan
    4- adhesion , I just use a glue stick and it’s good
    5- first layer 0.25mm, following layers 0.2mm
    6- first layer nice and slow to start with. Start at 15mm/sec, then work up.
    7- CHECK THE FILAMENT DIAMETER. under extrusion stops the print from sticking.
    8- put lots of lines on the skirt to get the shit off the nozzle, and give time to tune before the print starts. until you’re tuned enough to start clean. A messy nozzle will wreck your print.
    9- slow it all down to start. Like 20-30mm/second, then work up.
    10- retraction 5 to 7mm, speed 45mm/sec
    11- nice quick travels. Like 100mm/second

    I’m getting pretty good prints with the above. Still working on it, but I was ready to throw the petg in the bin until I got to this point.
    Now, I’m a convert. Strong prints that can be put into service as mechanical parts. Not just visual prototypes.

    Also I’m printing on a genuine prusa with no enclosure. Just room temperature.

    Stick with it, petg isn’t a scam like I thought. It is as good as they say, just a tricky to tune.

    Oh also if you’re using the current version of cura, 3.1, uninstall it and get 3.04.
    3.1 has a bug that sets all nozzle temps in the g-code to 210 regardless of your settings.

    1. I have no problem with Cura 3.1. It sets the temps I ask for every time. I’m slowly tuning my PETG. Finding I can use very little fan if I want a strong part. Currently printing at 230 and 3% fan. Much more fan and the surface is very matt and the parts have little strength.

      1. PETG printed with low/no fan will be exceptionally strong. I have printed PETG temperature towers that were impossible to break by hand. I believe the matte color however comes more from the temperature you are using though. The parts I printed at 230C were a matte color and very brittle, but the parts done at 245C were translucent and nearly indestructible (both at 100% fan). I have found that 25-50% fan offers a good balance of strength/aesthetic quality, but you can go 0% for high durability or 100% fan for visual pieces.

    2. Thanks Cameron. Struggled with this stuff for about 6 hours. Tried your settings and it worked the first time! I also have a genuine Prusa with no enclosure. I’m using Simplify3D with your settings and getting great results. Kudos.

    3. Have You done any bridging with PETG and these settings?
      I’m trying to realise bridging but can’t get even a small bridge to print succesfully, just a lot of sagging resulting in a terrible moon landscape as a surface.
      Printing something like this: results in a drama (as no supports can be used).
      Using home made MK2 with esun PETG (acording to the packaging printable between 230 and 250 degrees).
      I’m printing on glass with hairspray which works superb.
      Using E3d V6 and a direct drive extruder.
      Printing normal parts with the following settings in S3D with no problems at all:
      – 235 degrees
      – 40mm/s
      – Nozzle 0.4, layer width 0.4mm (and also tried 0.48mm)
      – first layer at 60% speed, height 0.2mm (same as PLA) no stringing, width 100% without layerfan
      – other layers at 0.25 height, layerfan 68%
      – retraction 1.8mm at 40mm/s (to fast will grind the filament)

      Tried quite a few settings for bridging, going slow with 80% flow making the filament stretch, or fast with 80% flow using the layerfan override at 100% for bridges. but still no respectable result with overhangs/bridges.

      any good suggestions?

      1. Looking at your part, it looks like you may be confusing overhangs with bridging? I cold be wrong.

        The biggest breakthrough I had with both was changing to Slic3r Prusa edition.

        My overhangs are killer an bridging (stretching between 2 points) works great too.

        All I do now is select default settings for each material, enable “detect bridging” and everything just works.

        The reason I changed from Cura to Slic3r was because of some surface defects I was getting in Cura.

        Guys in another forum explained how to fix it, but by that time I was already hooked on Slic3r.

        If you like I can try to print that fan part using the esun transparent orange petg, stock settings and see what comes out.

  4. As someone who has NO IDEA what they are doing with PETG, can I just say THANK YOU to people like you who help me avoid at least some of these headaches!!!

    1. I’m glad to hear that the information helped! PETG definitely takes a bit more finesse than PLA but it’s a fantastic material once you get it dialed in. The strength and flexibility alone make it one of my favorite filaments, not to mention the semi-transparent brands look amazing.

  5. Just want to say thanks as well I just have just started using PETG and results were not so well until I read your how to guide. Prints look so much better now. Thank you Brett!!!

    1. Hey Chris,

      I am very glad to hear that this has helped! It definitely took a lot of experimenting to figure it out, but the small changes make a world of difference when printing PETG. It’s a fantastic filament overall so I am just glad I can help others get the hang of using it.

  6. Super new with Printing. You are getting me worried about my hardware of my Prusa 3. Do I have to worry about the liner, heck, do I even have a liner to worry about? Thanks for the great site. I am going to go home and print some more PETG.

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Do you have a Prusa MK3 or a Prusa i3? The former is the latest model that runs around $749 and the Prusa i3 is just a design utilized by a lot of 3D printers. If it is the MK3, you have the E3D V6 hotend which is perfect for printing PETG as they are made of all metal (no liner). If it is just a Prusa i3, you may want to check and find out what hotend is installed. You can still print PETG with a PTFE tube lining but it will deteriorate over time.

  7. Thanks Brett,

    I’ve been trying to find the right settings for months now (always gave up and returned to PLA) but after setting it exactly like you recommend it magically worked

    I’m thrilled, have so many unused PETG and a long queue of prints

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Ofir,

      That is fantastic! I’m very glad to hear that this article helped get PETG printing correctly for you. It can definitely be a headache figuring things out, but once it works right it is a wonderful material to use.

  8. Just a quick note to let you know this article is still helping. I’m currently trying to get my Ender 3 to print PETG and you have helped me a BUNCH. I’ve installed a Micro Swiss all metal and am having good luck with it, so far no jams or plugs (knock on wood). With the help you have provided here I am well on my way to much better prints. As you stated in the beginning there is much confusing information out there for PETG but you have provided information that is helping me greatly because you take the time to explain the WHYs of the various settings you recommend.

    THANK YOU!!!

    1. Hi Glenn,

      Thanks so much for the feedback! I am very glad to hear that this still serves as a decent guide for printing with PETG. It was written a couple years ago with my Maker Select in mind, which uses a Direct Drive hotend and has some slight differences from Bowden hotend settings (like what the Ender-3 has) but the large majority is applicable to both types.

      The main difference between Direct Drive and Bowden is the retraction settings, where 0.5 to 1.0 distance is good for DD, but 3.5 to 4.0mm distance seems to be the sweet spot for Bowden. Otherwise, everything should be about the same. I also use the Micro Swiss All Metal Hotend on my Ender-3 and like you mentioned, it has been absolutely great to me. The drop-in install makes it super easy to setup, and it has performed flawlessly as well.

  9. Wow and to think I almost stopped trying to print PETG. Your instructions are spot on.
    I have found the biggest issue for printing PETG is the build plate to Extruder height.
    I am running an Ender 3 Pro and after leveling the build plate, I set my distance at .2.
    I use feeler gauges to set. I started at .3 but no adhesion.
    Thank you very much for a great jump off point

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